Saturday, July 21, 2012

US military to allow soldiers to wear uniform at gay pride parade

The Department of Defense, in a first-of-its-kind move, will allow active duty members of all branches of the US military to don their service uniforms while marching in an forthcoming San Diego gay pride parade, event organisers said on Thursday.

The move, confirmed in an internal defence memo, marks the first time the military has granted such blanket permission since the September repeal of he "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, under which gay individuals were allowed to serve in the military only if they did not divulge their sexual orientation.

"It is our understanding that event organisers plan to have a portion of the parade dedicated to military members," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Community and Public Outreach Rene Bardorf wrote in an internal memo.

"We further understand organisers are encouraging service members to seek their commander's approval to march in uniform and to display their pride," Bardorf wrote.

Citing national media attention to the issue, Bardorf granted approval for service members to participate, but limited that approval in scope to the 2012 San Diego Pride Parade only.

San Diego has a large military presence due to its naval base and the nearby Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Nearly 400 military members have already signed up to march in the parade, according to San Diego LGBT Pride, the organiser of the weekend festivities.

Many more are expected to participate in the military parade after the announcement went public, Fernando Lopez, the director of public affairs for San Diego LGBT Pride, told Reuters.

"We are hopeful that those who have feared coming to share in the joy of Pride out of concern for losing their military careers will be able to finally celebrate their full and complete selves," San Diego LGBT Pride, the organiser of the event, said in a statement.

In the past, only veterans of the armed services, not those on active duty, were allowed to wear their uniforms at gay pride parades.

In a second internal memo published on Thursday, Bardorf said that for parades other than the San Diego event for which he issued a specific memo, local commanders are given discretion in allowing service members to participate unless it is "likely to garner national or international interest or news coverage."

The approval for active service members of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force to participate in the gay pride parade in uniform comes in the wake of a number of important milestones fol lowing the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

The US military celebrated gay pride month at the Pentagon for the first time in June, an event that other federal agencies like the CIA had been celebrating for years.

More than 50,000 people are expected to attend the San Diego Pride celebration in all, organisers said.


An Englishman's love of animals surpasses all others

By Rachel Johnson (Rachel Johnson is editor-in-chief of 'The Lady’ and sister of Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London)

On Wednesday night we all trooped to Daunt’s in Marylebone High Street for the launch of my father’s new book. It’s called Where the Wild Things Were and is not, as he told the well-oiled crowd, a history of the Bullingdon Club, or even a tribute to the late Maurice Sendak. Not that anyone thought it was. The subtitle, “Travels of a Conservationist”, rather gives the game away – and this book is, to my mind, another compelling piece of evidence that when it comes to Englishmen and their supposedly repressed emotions, what chaps feel for their dogs or other dumb beasts (or, in my father’s case, pandas or the blue-footed booby) is the one love that truly dares to speak its name.

For his book is all about the threats to wild animals in wild places, and I feel uninhibited from mentioning that the paperback is available on Amazon, e-book, etc. I also see no reason not to allude to his speech, in the course of which he made jokes about missing planes, tigers, going to the loo on top of Kilimanjaro, and serially failing to be elected to Parliament. Despite the presence of three ex-Cabinet ministers in the crowd and his two politician sons, my father announced that the hidden upside of not being elected to Parliament was that “you don’t have to be an MP”.

Towards the end he said that growth has always come at the expense of nature, and that the need to generate income will always trump the urge to conserve, but he kept that bit very short. It wasn’t until after several bottles of Chianti at dinner that he decided to read out a passage from his own book. This was about an owl and a remote Brazilian tribe. The owl would hoot whenever a tribesman was going to die. “Give me the name,” hoots the owl, “and I will look after him for ever.” He laid the book down, profoundly moved.

Now, my father, unlike the relative lightweight Brigitte Bardot, is a blond who has devoted both halves of his life to animals, endangered species and the environment. Forgive me for banging on, but he is the chairman of the Gorilla Organisation, and is a UN ambassador for the Convention on Migratory Species. So it’s not all that surprising, his passion. As children, we used to ask him if he loved animals more than us. “Yes,” he would confirm.

But I have other examples to prove my point. My old tutor, the great historian Robin Lane Fox, gave a lecture at the British Museum last week called “War Horse”, on the fighting horse in art, literature and history, from Homer to Oliver Stone’s epic, Alexander. “I’ve waited all my life for this,” he told me before he took to the lectern. “This will blow your socks off.” And it did.

For RLF opened his address with an account of the divine horses of Achilles, Balius and Xanthus, who, when they saw Achilles’ beloved Patroclus dead, so brave, so strong, so young, began to weep, and refused to leave the battlefield.

It was quite hard for me to type those words, but it was almost impossible for Robin to speak them. I didn’t think he would manage to continue, so choked was he, describing how the horses’ fine heads hung with grief and their long manes trailed in the dust. To his eternal credit, Robin cried twice more in the course of his enthralling lecture, in between showing us slides of steeds that he had loved. “You care for horses much more than women,” I told him afterwards. “Of course I do!” he replied.

Dogs have an even more special place in the mad Englishman’s heart, of course. Nancy Mitford’s Uncle Matthew only ever read one book in his life, Jack London’s White Fang, written in the voice of a wolf-dog, which he said was so frightfully good he never bothered to read another.

I once went to a play about James Lees-Milne called Ancestral Voices. My husband and I sat impassively through the death of Alvilde, Lees-Milne’s wife, and several plangent scenes about old age and infirmity. But when Lees-Milne’s faithful dog and constant companion went to the happy hunting grounds, my husband burst into heaving sobs; and later, Jeremy Paxman admitted that his waters had broken at precisely the same point. Max Hastings, meanwhile, told me that the one piece he has written that caused the most reader reaction was not about the Second World War, or soldiering, or even the English weather. It was about whether to put down his Labrador.

So it’s wrong to say Englishmen never show emotion. As Anatole France said: “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Many Englishmen (especially those separated from their mothers at an early age and shipped off to freezing prep schools, as I think were all the ones mentioned here) reserve their displays of deepest feeling for them.


Not the Nanny State — the BULLY State

It is time we started calling liberal Democratic policymakers what they are.  We all too frequently lament the ever-reaching ‘nanny state,’ but that term violates a cherished cultural staple — nannies are Mary Poppins or such maternal substitutes as the TV character played by Fran Drescher.  Statists are not nannies, they are bullies.  Consider the following:

Deval Patrick (D), current Massachusetts governor, recently defended Obamacare in a conference call with reporters, referring to the law not as a tax but a penalty on “freeloaders” who take advantage of emergency rooms, roughly 1 or 2 percent of Americans.

Such uninhibited, feral denunciations of uninsured Americans is curious and out of character for modern Democrats.  Freeloaders?  Where is all this compassion for the little guy about which we’re always hearing the Dems boast?   And we just overhauled our nation’s health care system to deal with 2 percent of the population?  And furthermore, since when do liberals harbor such animosity toward freeloaders?  Liberalism has thrived for the last 50-plus years by transferring wealth and securing a permanent dependent class.

Then there’s the war on obesity.  If you think this is all about Oreos and 32 oz. Cokes, then I’ll cite for you a recent HBO documentary The Weight of the Nation, produced in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The target: fruit juice.  And you thought that bottle of Ocean Spray added health-kick bragging rights to your diet. According to pediatric obesity specialist Robert Lustig, “Juice is just like soda…”  Yes, according to the “experts,” fruit juice is full of sugar and lacks all the nutritional value of real fruit.  Let’s just hope Mayor Bloomberg of New York hasn’t heard about this one.

In truth, it is not the obese who are the gravest threats to our pocket books.  In a free, competitive market, those who make foolish choices (and obesity is not always the result of choice) would pay the penalty through higher premiums.   But the pertinent point here is an overall pattern that has become glaringly obvious.

“Freeloaders.”  “The obese.”  While space will not allow a thorough psychological assessment of the liberal mind, their compulsion to target and regulate the most benign activities of everyday Americans suggests a loathing of the very people they purport to champion.  While it is too simplistic to suggest that all liberals loathe average Americans, the fact remains that one does not seek to fundamentally transform a people or a nation that he loves.

Liberal thought and policy simmers with eye-rolling disgust at smokers, SUVs, Wal-Marts, Happy Meals, plastic bottles and grocery bags, gun shows, etc.  All things dear in West Virginia, Idaho, South Carolina and backwater towns everywhere.  With themselves fully ensconced in power, liberal statists can assure that overweight trailer-park moms and $10-an-hour iron workers in Tennessee who can’t afford health insurance because federal edicts have outlawed competition remain in their places, if not through government fiat, then by marginalizing them.  And they annoyingly hide behind the facade of acting in the public good.  But let us call them what they are: statists who label juice boxes, Oreos, Big Gulps and Happy Meals as enemies to be penalized through taxation and onerous regulations, are not nannies, they are bullies.


No  SlutWalk in response to Muslim cleric?

A Toronto Muslim cleric's comments that laws should make women cover up to avoid rape disgusted me. But what's going to sicken me more is the silence of the left.

Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana, a street preacher, thinks Canadian laws "give too much freedom to women." Excuse me? We need more freedoms for everyone, regardless of gender.

But something tells me he won't be criticized by the feminist organizations. Or by any of the so-called progressives. No. They'll just ignore it.

Yet silence wasn't what happened last year when in January Toronto Const. Michael Sanguinetti told a York University class that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." The officer's remarks were sharply criticized by most people - including Toronto chief Bill Blair.

His comments also spurred the now international phenomenon known as SlutWalk. Thousands of people have taken to the streets in cities across the world to decry Const. Sanguinetti's comments.

Is Atangana going to be the next object of the SlutWalk organizers' denouncements? I doubt it.

SlutWalk is only interested in easy targets. They want knee-jerk responses, simple for people to adopt, that don't require any thinking. After all, the original SlutWalks weren't about Sanguinetti in particular, so much as what his comments symbolized. To many, he symbolized how the media, police, the law and more were involved in victim-blaming and rape culture.

Both Sanguinetti and Atangana were solitary people who possess a limited audience. We can argue that neither of them are worth spilling much ink over. However Sanguinetti didn't argue to change the laws, he wasn't of a mindset promoting sexist theocracy and his comments were not - as his chief made clear - indicative of his organization as a whole. The opposite applies to Atangana. While not every Muslim cleric shares his views, they are shared by many in Canada and by many, many more in Arab states, where women are legally inferior to men.

Sanguinetti was met with SlutWalks because of his poorly chosen words about dressing modestly. Where were the SlutWalks for the Shafia girls? They were murdered because of their ‘immodest' ways. Where were the SlutWalks for Nazanin Fatehi? She's the Iranian youth sentenced to death (released after a re-trial) because she defended herself and her 15-year-old niece from a rape. That is victim-blaming. That is rape culture. And that is what Atangana is promoting.

Last April I wrote a column denouncing SlutWalk. Not because I supported Sanguinetti. Because even back then I knew the event was all about low-hanging fruit. I took issue with the idea that ‘the media' - of which I am a member - is somehow promoting the mass rape of Canadian women. It was never going to help real victims of sexual assault. It was simply an opportunity for people in a very liberal society to feel good about themselves by protesting something vague.

People wrote many blogs, letters and e-mails attacking me. One line particularly got their ire up: "Do a SlutWalk in Saudi Arabia and then you'll earn your stripes." Stand up for the women all across the world who are victimized - raped, tortured, murdered - because of the very laws Atangana is proposing.

I know the line angered them because, deep down inside, they knew I was right. Yet now they have the chance to prove me wrong. They can speak out against Atangana, who represents widespread misogyny far more than Sanguinetti does. Go ahead. We're waiting. Your victimized sisters across the world, seriously in need of your help, are also waiting.



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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