Sunday, June 03, 2012

Students at elite Oxford college refuse to hang picture of the Queen because doing so would promote ELITISM

This is just part of a long tradition of contrariness at Oxford U

Students at Oxford University have been branded 'unpatriotic hypocrites' after they refused to hang a portrait of the Queen - because she was 'born into privilege'.

Undergraduates at Keble College wanted to spend £200 on a picture of Her Majesty to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.

But college members - whose alumni include the Duke of Kent’s grandson Edward Windsor - voted against the portrait because it promoted elitism.

Student representative Basil Vincent defended the decision.  He said: 'I think that some saw the portrait as potentially divisive.   'The general feeling was that enough is already being done to commemorate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.'

Another Keble student added: 'Nearly £200 to support someone who was born into a certain family is not really economical use of money.  'The Royal family do nothing but sit on their backsides and wave at people.  'They have never had to work in their lives and just live off their ancestor’s money.

'Also, we have a lot of international students and it is not fair to show some kind of political allegiance they do not agree with.'

Only 17 students voted for the patriotic painting to be bought while 54 voted against.

But the decision has angered student Alexander King, who proposed the patriotic motion.   He said: 'I proposed the motion as I felt in this Jubilee year it was important to recognise the glorious service the Queen has given this country.  'It was voted down mainly on the spurious contention that it would be divisive.

'I feel very sad that on this issue Keble has shown itself to be woefully out of touch with the rest of the British population, 80 percent of whom currently support the monarchy.”

Another student, from nearby Worcester College, said: 'I couldn’t believe it when I heard they had decided not to put up a portrait of the Queen.  'They have become a laughing stock of the university.  'How they can have the audacity to say it was rejected because she is born into a privileged family is beyond me.

'It is totally unpatriotic and very hypocritical considering the intake at Keble.  'I’d say 90 percent of the students at that college are born into rich families and have spent their lives living off their parents.'

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls graduated from the college in 1988 and former US President Ronald Reagan was elected to an Honorary Fellowship in 1994


Don't promote women and ethnic minorities in the courtroom just to fill quotas, says former top British female judge

Women and ethnic minority judges who are not up to the job have been appointed because of diversity targets, a former High Court judge has warned.

Baroness Butler-Sloss, formerly the most senior woman judge in England and Wales, said that there had been ‘too much enthusiasm for diversity and not enough for merit’ in the appointment process.  As a result, judges had found themselves ‘failing’ because they were ‘not able to bear the strain of the judicial process’, she said.

She told the House of Lords: ‘I have a vivid recollection of a woman judge many years ago who was a very fine pianist. She should have remained a pianist.

‘I strongly support diversity when - and only when - it equals merit,’ she said.

She added: ‘It will be very important that women - particularly those from ethnic minorities - who may not be able to bear the strain of the judicial process are not placed in a position where they may find themselves failing because there has been too much enthusiasm for diversity and not enough for merit. This is very important.’

Lady Butler-Sloss, who was head of the Family Division of the High Court and the first female Lord Justice of Appeal, made her comments in a House of Lords debate on plans to encourage more women and ethnic minority candidates to become judges.

Measures in the Crime and Courts Bill would extend flexible work hours for senior judges to help women to continue to sit on cases after they have children.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke is also proposing ‘positive action’ in the appointment of judges - so that if there are equal candidates, the woman can be chosen in the interests of ‘diversity’.

Responding to Lady Butler-Sloss, cross bench peer Lady Neuberger, the former chief executive of the King’s Fund, welcomed plans for non-judges to chair selection panels for senior judicial appointments.

She said the new measures ‘should not and would not change the overriding principle of appointments based on merit’.But she worried that existing judges were appointing too many people who were similar to them.  She said: ‘We all have an inclination to appoint people who are like us’.

‘I certainly found as chief executive of the King’s Fund that an astonishingly large number of middle-class, white, rather bossy women were being appointed.’ ‘I cannot think why that should be,’ she quipped.

She added: ‘Let us be clear. We have a wonderful judiciary in this country. It is highly talented, highly independent, not always beloved of Government - nor should it be - and of great merit.

‘That is why, where the judiciary plays an even greater constitutional role than it did in the past, it is so important that the judges should not be always in the majority-or arguably ever in the majority-in appointing people to become part of their own number.’

Lady Neuberger, who chaired an advisory panel on judicial diversity under Labour, said there was a ‘real need for the judiciary to be more reflective of the community it serves’.

Around 14 per cent of judges in England and Wales are women and three per cent are from black and Asian groups.

Lady Butler-Sloss was appointed as the coroner in the inquest into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed in 2006, but she stood down from the role the following year.


The Harm in Hate-Speech Laws

 by David Gordon

REVIEW of  The Harm in Hate Speech  By Jeremy Waldron

In many countries, though not in the United States, laws prohibit "hate speech." Those who, in Jeremy Waldron's opinion, uncritically elevate the benefits of free speech over competing values oppose hate-speech laws; but Waldron thinks that a strong case can be made in their favor. (Waldron thinks that there are "very few First Amendment Absolutists" [p. 144] who oppose all regulation of speech; but he thinks that many other First Amendment scholars are unduly critical of hate speech regulations.) Waldron is a distinguished legal and political philosopher, but the arguments that he advances in defense of hate-speech laws, taken on their own terms, do not seem to me very substantial.[1]

Hate speech, Waldron tells, us, consists of "publications which express profound disrespect, hatred, and vilification for the members of minority groups" (p. 27). "Speech," it should be noted, is used here in an extended sense; and it is the more lasting written material, movies, posters, etc, that principally concern Waldron rather than speeches, verbal threats, or imprecations, though the latter are not excluded. Many countries ban such speech:
The United Kingdom has long outlawed the publication of material calculated to stir up racial hatred. In Germany it is a serious crime to display the swastika or other Nazi symbols. Holocaust denial is punished in many countries. The British author David Irving … was imprisoned until recently in Austria for this offense. (p. 29)
One way to respond to this would be to assess hate-speech laws from the Rothbardian position that I deem to be correct. This would make for a very short review. For Rothbard, free-speech questions reduce to issues of property rights. If, for example, someone writes "Muslims get out!" on a wall, a Rothbardian would ask, "Whose wall is it?" If the author of the message wrote on his own wall, he acted within his rights; if, lacking permission, he wrote on someone else's wall, he violated the owner's property rights. People have no general right of restraint against insult. Furthermore, you do not own your reputation, since this consists of the ideas other people have of you, and you cannot own other people's thoughts. For that reason, laws against libel and slander are for the Rothbardian ruled out. Waldron asks, If laws forbid libel of a person, why not laws against group libel as well? A more un-Rothbardian argument could hardly be imagined.

I think it would be a mistake to leave matters there. Waldron — and those like him who reject libertarianism — would be unlikely to take notice of the foregoing criticism.[2] But another line of inquiry might be of more interest to them. We can also ask how good Waldron's arguments are if judged on their own merits rather than evaluated from an external perspective.

If we ask this question, we must first deal with a difficulty. Waldron's exact position is rather elusive. For one thing, it is not altogether accurate to say that he defends hate-speech laws, though this is certainly the general tenor of his book. He sometimes confines himself to saying that there are considerations in favor of these laws: these would need to be weighed against reasons for not restricting speech.
My purpose in putting all this in front of you is not to persuade you of the wisdom and legitimacy of hate-speech laws.… The point is … to consider whether American free-speech jurisprudence has really come to terms with the best that has been said for hate speech regulations. (p. 11)
But I do not think it admits of much doubt that for Waldron the arguments in favor of these laws are decisive.

Why, then, should we restrict hate speech? The primary consideration is that it assaults human dignity. In what Waldron, following John Rawls, calls a "well-ordered society," there is "an assurance to all the citizens that they can count on being treated justly" (p. 85). But hate speech disrupts this assurance.
However, when a society is defaced with anti-Semitic signage, burning crosses, and defamatory racial leaflets, that sort of assurance evaporates. A vigilant police force and a Justice Department may still keep people from being attacked or excluded, but they no longer have the benefit of a general and diffuse assurance to this effect [of being treated justly], provided and enjoyed as a public good, furnished to all by each. (p. 85)
This goes altogether too fast. If you encounter a pamphlet or sign hostile to your minority group, why would you conclude anything more than that someone wishes you and those like you ill? Would not the hostile view be merely one opinion among large numbers of others? Why would it suffice to weaken your sense of assurance that you were an equal member of society?

Waldron, fully aware of this objection, responds that it neglects the effects of contagion. Even though the effect of an individual hate message may be small, the message signals to other haters that they do not hate alone. The accumulation of many such messages may indeed serve to undermine the assurance of the harassed minority.
In a way, we are talking about an environmental good — the atmosphere of a well-ordered society — as well as the ways in which a certain ecology of respect, dignity, and assurance is maintained, and the ways in which it can be polluted and (to vary the metaphor) undermined. (p. 96)
Waldron elucidates the parallel that he draws between hate messages and environmental pollution in this way: We see that the
tiny impacts of millions of actions — each apparently inconsiderable in itself — can produce a large-scale toxic effect that, even at the mass level, operates insidiously as a sort of slow-acting poison, and that regulations have to be aimed at individual actions with that scale and that pace of causation in mind. An immense amount of progress has been made in consequentialist moral philosophy by taking causation of this kind, on this scale and at this pace, properly into account. (p. 97)
(Waldron refers here to the well-known treatment of "moral mathematics" in Derek Parfit's Reasons and Persons.)

But why does contagion operate only with bad effects? Will not the cumulative effects of a series of individual encounters in which members of minority groups are treated with equal respect generate a positive atmosphere of assurance, in precisely the same way that Waldron postulates for the amassing of hate messages? Waldron assumes without argument a quasi–Gresham's law of public opinion, in which bad opinion drives out good.

But which process, the one that produces a positive atmosphere of assurance or the one that arouses Waldron to concern, will in fact prove the stronger? One reason to think that it is the good one is this. Waldron, in response to the charge that hate-speech laws suppress legitimate issues of controversy, notes that some matters are beyond dispute; an established consensus supports them:
Suppose someone puts up posters conveying the opinion that people from Africa are nonhuman primates.… Maybe there was a time when social policy generally … could not adequately be debated without raising the whole issue of race in this sense. But that is not our situation today.… In fact, the fundamental debate about race is over — won, finished. There are outlying dissenters, a few crazies who say they believe that people of African descent are an inferior form of animal; but for half a century or more, we have moved forward as a society on the premise that this is no longer a matter of serious contestation. (p. 195)
If Waldron is right, and only a "few crazies" believe the hateful doctrine, why is he so much in fear of the malign effects of allowing these people to publish their views unmolested by the state?

To be frank, I think that Waldron at times proceeds in a very unfair way. He says, in effect, to the opponents of hate-speech laws, "You say that you are willing to put up with the evils of hate speech in order to preserve the good of unhindered free speech. But you are not, in most cases, the ones who will suffer from hate speech. Why are you entitled, without evidence, to brush aside the suffering of those whom hate speech targets?"

That is not in itself an unreasonable question, but Waldron ignores one vital issue. He is endeavoring to make a case for the regulation of hate speech. He cannot then fairly shift the onus probandi entirely to the side of his opponents, saying to them, "prove that hate speech does not much affect its victims." It is for him to show that hate speech in fact has the dire effects he attributes to it. It is not out of the question that such speech sometimes does have bad effects, but it would seem obvious that we have here an empirical issue, one that requires the citation of evidence.

Waldron so far as I can see fails to offer any, preferring instead to conjure up pictures of people who, seeing or hearing examples of hate speech, recall horrid scenes of past persecution. To what extent do people actually suffer from hate speech? Waldron evinces little interest in finding out.

If Waldron has not succeeded in making a case for hate-speech regulation, is there anything to be said against such laws — aside, of course, from the libertarian considerations that we have for this review put aside? One point seems to me of fundamental importance. Waldron presents these laws as if they limited only extreme expression of hate, e.g., suggestions that people in certain groups are subhuman or need to be forcibly expelled from society, if not done away with altogether. He rightly notes that we are not obliged to like everyone or to deem everyone equally morally worthy:
Does this [the requirement that we treat everyone with dignity] mean that individuals are required to accord equal respect to all their fellow citizens? Does it mean they are not permitted to esteem some and despise others? That proposition seems counterintuitive. Much of our moral and political life involves differentiation of respect. (p. 86)
Hate-speech laws, Waldron says, do not ignore our rights to prefer some people to others. We further remain free to criticize minority groups, so long as we do not stray into the forbidden territory of outright hatred and denigration. Waldron claims that
most such [hate speech] laws bend over backwards to ensure that there is a lawful way of expressing something like the propositional content of views that become objectionable when expressed as vituperation. They try to define a legitimate mode of roughly equivalent expression.… Some laws of this type also try affirmatively to define a sort of "safe haven" for the moderate expression of the view whose hateful or hate-inciting expression is prohibited. (p. 190)
I do not doubt that Waldron has accurately quoted from the laws he mentions, but he unaccountably fails to comment on a quite well-known phenomenon. Laws of the type Waldron champions have often been used to suppress not just vituperation but all sorts of "politically incorrect" opinions. For example, as James Kalb notes in his outstanding The Tyranny of Liberalism, "the High Court in Britain [in 2004] upheld the conviction and firing of an elderly preacher who held up a sign in a town square calling for an end to homosexuality, lesbianism, and immorality and was thrown to the ground and pelted with dirt and water by an angry crowd."[3]

Those wishing further examples of how these laws work in practice may with profit consult the penetrating studies of Paul Gottfried, e.g., After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State and Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt.[4] Here we are dealing not with a matter of speculative psychology but of incontrovertible fact.
For Waldron, the state ought to watch vigilantly over us, ever alert that some miscreant may cross the boundaries (set of course by the state itself) of acceptable dissent from the regnant orthodoxy of multicultural society. I cannot think that such a tutelary power has a place in a free society.


Australia: Biased critics can't regulate

by Keith Windschuttle

THE recommendation by Ray Finkelstein that the Gillard government establish a news media regulatory body is not only the most serious assault yet proposed on press freedom in this country.

It would elevate to a position of power the one group of people most jealous of and hostile towards the news media: academics in media studies and journalism.

Finkelstein proposes a News Media Council chaired by a retired judge or eminent lawyer, with 20 part-time members. He says the council should both be, and be seen to be independent from government. On the critical question of who gets to appoint the chair and the members, without the government of the day stacking it with supporters, he proposes a committee of three academics appointed by the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Commonwealth Solicitor-General.

This recommendation is a bad joke. It is virtually impossible to find three academics who are not firmly committed to the Left. For the past 25 years, appointments in media studies at almost all Australian universities have been captured by the Left. Consequently, the academic literature is essentially a political critique designed to show the news media is at fault whenever it fails to support the Left's own jaundiced view of the world. If academics from this field ever gained the positions Finkelstein envisages, they would ensure his council was composed of people exactly like themselves.

One of the major flaws of Finkelstein's report is that he bases his case for media regulation on an uncritical acceptance of a number of case studies written by media academics. He should have been more sceptical. Let me offer two examples which I believe show the shoddy quality of academic research that now passes muster in university media studies. The authors are Robert Manne, professor of politics at La Trobe University, and David McKnight, associate professor of journalism at the University of NSW. In both cases, their targets for analysis are the The Australian. Both academics were sought out by the Finkelstein inquiry, which wrote to them asking for input. Manne gave oral evidence at the inquiry's Melbourne hearings and McKnight made a written submission.

In his recent Quarterly Essay, Bad News, Manne presented The Australian's coverage of my book The Fabrication of Aboriginal History as his first proof that News Limited had become a dangerous case of power without responsibility. "Because of the decision taken by The Australian to host the Windschuttle debate, the character of the nation was subtly but significantly changed." McKnight takes a similar line. In his new book Rupert Murdoch: An Investigation of Political Power, McKnight says The Australian initiated the nation's "culture wars" by launching "a public onslaught" on the story of the "Stolen Generations" and by its promotion of The Fabrication of Aboriginal History. McKnight says The Australian put my book on the national political agenda "with a sympathetic profile of its author, several news stories and eager support from its conservative columnists and contributors. Unsurprisingly, The Australian was Windschuttle's outlet of choice for responding to his critics."

In both these cases, the authors' content analysis is substandard and deceptive. It is true that in the course of this debate I wrote several articles in The Australian in response to my critics. But here is a list of other publications which also accepted my opinion pieces: The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review, Herald Sun, Courier-Mail, Adelaide Advertiser, Hobart's The Mercury and West Australian. Despite McKnight's assertion that The Australian carried "a sympathetic profile" about me, I can't find one fitting that description in my files. However, there were two profiles in Fairfax's SMH and The Age, one by Andrew Stevenson and one by Jane Cadzow.

ABC radio and television also gave me good coverage. Tony Jones on Lateline hosted two separate debates about my work, one with Henry Reynolds, the other with Stuart Macintyre. I went on Phillip Adams's Late Night Live and was interviewed by Michael Duffy on Counterpoint. To my delight, I also scored the hour-long morning interview on ABC Classic FM where, as well as talking about my work with Jana Wendt, I got to choose and introduce five favourite pieces of classical music. When I debated Henry Reynolds at the National Press Club, the ABC televised the entire proceedings of one hour.

In other words, rather than some right-wing conspiracy by The Australian to engage in a culture war to change the national character, the media coverage of my writings on Aborigines, in which I accused Australian historians of exaggeration, invention and corruption, was a response to a newsworthy story that virtually all major Australian media outlets took seriously. Academics such as Manne and McKnight, who use selective quotation and calculated omission in order to spin this into some dark plot to manipulate public opinion, cannot be trusted to tell the truth.

Yet Finkelstein has constructed his proposed media regulation regime on the faith that the academic colleagues of these two authors are honest brokers. Sadly, it is not so. In fact, if it came to a contest between the reliability of media academics and the journalists who produce our newspapers and news broadcasts, the latter would win by the length of the straight.

Finkelstein recommends that publishers who distribute more than 3000 copies of print per issue, or news internet sites with a minimum of 15,000 hits per year, would be subject to the dictates of his News Media Council. Quadrant falls well within this range.

If Finkelstein's oppressive scheme is implemented, we would feel compelled to defend the long tradition of press freedom by engaging in civil disobedience. While I am editor, Quadrant would not recognise the News Media Council's authority, observe its restrictions, or obey its instructions, whatever the price. We hope other publishers take a similar stand.



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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