Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sexism row as Muslim children's play centre in Britain bans fathers and all boys aged over nine

But it sounds like they will get a pass over it

A children's play centre has barred fathers from attending with their children and is now facing an investigation by equality watchdogs.

Kids Go Wild is believed to be the first such play centre in the country to introduce a ‘women only’ policy – which also bans boys over the age of nine.

Bosses at the centre, which opened less than a fortnight ago, claim the policy was instigated for ‘cultural reasons’ and was in the interests of the ‘predominantly Asian’ local community.

Even so, yesterday Muslims in the Sparkhill suburb of Birmingham were among those who condemned the restrictions, which were advertised on a poster outside the centre.  It reads: ‘Ladies and children only. No boys over nine allowed.’

Councillor Habib Rehman, a Muslim father-of-four, said it was a ‘worrying situation’.  He added: ‘There’s something wrong when a dad can’t take his kids to a play centre.’

Ruksana Ayub, a Muslim mother-of-one, said while Muslim women may feel ‘more able to relax’ in a setting where they don’t ‘feel they have to cover up’, she thought it ‘quite shocking in this day and age that men aren’t allowed in’.

Another resident, who only gave her name as Gemma, said: ‘I have four boys, luckily all under the age of nine, but if one of them was older, I wouldn’t be able to take any of them.

According to the 2001 census, Muslims make up 54 per cent of the 30,000 population of Sparkhill – more than double the number of Christians.

The manager of Kids Go Wild, who would not give her name, said: ‘It’s a predominantly Asian community here and we’re catering for that.

'It’s not that men are an issue, ladies are more comfortable around women. Ladies have not questioned [the ban]. They’ve been asking for it.’

Emma Cross, of Manchester-based law firm Pannone and a specialist in discrimination law, said: ‘Under the Equality Act it can be lawful to limit your services to one gender or religious group, but you must be able to “objectively justify” what you have done.

‘To my mind it would be difficult for the centre to show it has met this test when it could have offered women-only sessions or days of the week instead.’

An Equality and Human Rights Commission spokesman said: ‘The Equality Act does allow for some services to be just for women or men-only, but this is the exception not the norm and must pass a strict test to be justifiable.

‘We will look into why Kids Go Wild is a women-only service.’ If the commission’s lawyer considered the play centre’s policy to be discriminatory, it would ask Kids Go Wild to change it, the spokesman added.


The man who dared to tell the truth about the charlatans of modern art

Pretentious pedlars of junk masquerading as art can breathe a little easier today, for the voice of one of  their greatest foes has been stilled.

To the very end, the writer Robert Hughes argued brilliantly that, where much modern art was concerned, the emperor had no clothes.

The Australian, who has died at 74 after a long illness, saw the Damien Hirsts and Tracey Emins of the modern art world as fly-by-night con artists, unencumbered by skill, who floated to the top of their profession on a sea of money supported by a cabal of critics, curators and art investors.

‘Hirst is basically a pirate,’ Hughes wrote of our richest living artist before a record-setting £111 million auction of the artist’s work at Sotheby’s in 2008.

‘His skill is shown by the way in which he has managed to bluff so many art-related people (from museum personnel to billionaires in the New York real-estate trade) into giving credence to his originality and the importance of his “ideas”.’

Hughes — a burly mountain of a man, said by one fellow countryman to resemble a ‘brick dunny’, or outhouse — held no truck with the nebulous realm of ‘concept art’. He believed artists should make things, should draw, paint, build and carve, and do those things well.

Sadly, it seemed to Hughes as if, all too often, those people dominating the powerful positions in the art world, and pulling the strings of the art market, had been deluded into thinking otherwise.

It is a favourite trick of such fools to dismiss someone like Hughes as an old fogey — as they also do to the brilliant Brian Sewell of the London Evening Standard, one of the last surviving critics in Hughes’s mould, who really knows his stuff and is not prepared to yield to the passing idiocies of fashion.

Hughes knew the difference between good modern art and rubbish modern art, and he really let rip — in glorious, beautiful, thundering prose — when it came to pointing out the vast difference between  the two.

He made his name with the book and TV series The Shock Of The New, which described the progress of modern art from the end of the 19th century to the end of the 20th.

Hughes explained why Picasso mattered and translated the alien dreamscapes of the Surrealists into language everyone could understand.

He was a tremendous fan of much modern art of the last century or so, but he diagnosed a sudden and steep falling-off in quality in the 1970s, with the emerging fashion for avant-garde works of minimal skill.

He believed that something had gone horrifically wrong in the last 40 years, as a result of what he called ‘the appalling commercialisation of the  art world’.  Money had become the driving force — and those with too much of it often have too little taste.

‘Most of the time they [the rich art investors] buy what other people buy,’ Hughes wrote. ‘They move in great schools, like bluefish, all  identical. There is safety  in numbers.’

Not surprisingly he triggered a backlash. For the power brokers of modern art are a notoriously touchy, defensive bunch. But Hughes couldn’t have cared less. He dismissed personal attacks by saying: ‘As far as I can make out, when an artist says that I am conservative, it means I haven’t praised him recently.’

Damien Hirst was his bête noire. Hughes damned the Briton’s work as ‘both simple-minded and sensationalist’, remarking acidly of Hirst’s infamous dead shark suspended in a tank of formaldehyde: ‘One might as well get excited about seeing a dead halibut on a slab in Harrods food hall.’
The acid wit of a very critical critic:

On Damien Hirst
‘His presence in a collection is a sure sign of dullness of taste.’

On Andy Warhol
‘He was one of the stupidest people I’d ever met in my life. He had nothing to say.’

And on Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe...
‘Can you imagine what it would be like getting up in the morning and the first thing you see is the by now unspeakably tedious cliche of Marilyn’s face staring  at you?’

On elitism
‘I don’t think stupid or ill-read people are as good to be with as wise and fully literate ones.’

On greedy art collectors
‘The new job of art is to sit on the wall and get  more expensive.’

On rich philistines
‘So much of art — not all of it thank God, but a lot of it — has just become a kind of cruddy game for the self-aggrandisement of the rich and the ignorant.’

On second-rate exhibitions
‘An ideal museum show would be a mating of Brideshead Revisited with House & Garden, provoking intense and pleasurable nostalgia for a past that none of its audience has had.’

On money
‘On the whole, money does artists much more good than harm. The idea that one benefits from cold water, crusts and  debt collectors is now almost extinct, like belief in the reformatory power of flogging.’

On self-doubt
‘The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is given to the less talented as a consolation prize.’

On being a critic
‘It’s like being the piano player in a whorehouse;  you don’t have any control over the action going  on upstairs.’

As for Hirst’s equally notorious diamond-encrusted skull — sold for £50 million in 2007 — Hughes bluntly dismissed it as ‘mere bling’.

Staring at the artist’s sculpture The Virgin Mother — a bronze monstrosity showing the Madonna half with skin and half without — Hughes declared: ‘Isn’t it a miracle what so much money and so little talent can produce?’

Nor was Hirst’s partner-in-crime Tracey Emin spared the vitriol. Her 1998 ‘masterpiece’ My Bed — a stained, unmade bed surrounded by knickers and condoms — was, Hughes scoffed, nothing more than ‘a stale icon of sluttish housekeeping’.

Whatever the fashionable art world thought of him, ordinary art lovers adored him. A true rebel, he became more of a revolutionary as he got older.

In his memoir, Things I Didn’t Know, Hughes admitted to being an unashamed elitist: ‘I prefer the good to the bad, the articulate to the mumbling, the aesthetically developed to the merely primitive, and full to partial consciousness.

‘I love the spectacle of skill, whether it’s an expert gardener at work or a good carpenter chopping dovetails..... My main job is to distinguish the good from the second-rate, pretentious, sentimental, and boring stuff that saturates culture today, more (perhaps) than it ever has.’

Although an exile in New York, he continued to care deeply about his native Australia. His 1987 book The Fatal Shore, on the history of the British penal colonies and the first European settlers in Australia, became an international best-seller. He wrote monographs on the Spanish artist Goya, Lucian Freud and the city of Rome.

For the true giants of art, Hughes was an unstinting champion. In his eyes, ‘a string of brushmarks on a lace collar in a Velasquez’ were far ‘more radical’ than Hirst’s shark ‘murkily disintegrating in its tank’.


PC rampant in Ireland

Here’s a trenchant headline for you: “Transgender community celebrates 'great diversity of gender identity’ in new book.” And another: “President tells youth groups to be vigilant against racist attitudes and to value diversity in society.” Care to guess which venerable organ published them? Here’s a clue: “Multicultural awards take place in Dublin following three-year break.”

Actually, that last one is a bit of a scoop. To anyone who knows modern Ireland, the notion that Dublin went a whole three years without multicultural awards is frankly incredible. Somebody really screwed up. They’re supposed to happen every month at least. The newspaper is the Irish Times, which these days makes the Guardian look like the bulletin of the Prayer Book Society. Rumour has it that it employs a special nurse to soothe joints sprained by marathon sessions of finger-wagging.

This week was a good one for the finger-waggers. The Irish parliament passed a law stripping political parties of state funding unless 30 per cent of their candidates are women; in later elections the quota will rise to 40 per cent. This means that bright men will be dissuaded from entering politics because the system will fill the Dáil with dim hectoring feminists with DIY Sinéad O’Connor haircuts. (Incidentally, did you know that eight out of the past 10 World Hectoring Champions have been lady members of the Irish Green party? It’s called Comhaontas Glas. Don’t ask me how it’s pronounced: the bizarre vagaries of Gaelic pronunciation were designed to trip up the English.)

Anyway, my point is not that rigged elections will destroy the democratic mandate of the Dáil, though they will. It’s that an especially toxic strain of political correctness has infected almost the entire Irish intelligentsia. Small-government conservatives are treated like lepers – something that, the Guardian/BBC axis notwithstanding, isn’t true of British public life. Meanwhile, the sucking up to minorities is beyond parody: a recent Irish Times profile of the travellers made them sound like latter-day Athenians. How long before there’s a transvestite traveller quota in the Dáil?

Admittedly, the programme of thought reform is not complete: the Irish working class is still instinctively socially conservative. But it is, unsurprisingly, increasingly anti-clerical, and that takes us to the heart of the matter. Churchgoing in Ireland has fallen off a cliff, thanks to the clergy’s dreadful record of committing and covering up paedophile crimes. The moral vacuum at the top of a hierarchical society has been filled by political correctness, much of it imported from the European Union at the height of Ireland’s Brussels-worship.

PC ideology flowers on the ruins of religion. It’s not just Ireland: in Australia, Canada and metropolitan America, the Catholic Church is paralysed by scandal and the old Protestant denominations have turned into gibbering pantheists or angry sects. Secularism is spreading incredibly fast.

And Britain? Here the Church of England is finally losing its grip on public affection. As I say, bien pensant ideas don’t have quite the learnt-by-rote quality that they have in Ireland, but the colonisation of institutions by secular campaigners has gathered pace. The Government’s tired green doctrines don’t resonate with voters; nor does the redefinition of marriage. But political correctness isn’t about voters. These top-down initiatives may be post-religious, but they nevertheless perform a historic function of religion: to make our rulers feel good about themselves.


Boy Scouts, Chick-fil-A Prosper Despite Left’s Hateful Attacks

    Robert Knight

Twelve years ago, Bryant Gumbel called me an (expletive) idiot on CBS’s “The Early Show” for defending the Boy Scouts after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed their right to uphold moral standards for leaders and members.

Whether or not you agree with his unvarnished assessment, I’d like to think that most people would think he crossed a line.  Though he was caught on camera saying it, CBS denied it. Years later, Mr. Gumbel himself smugly confirmed it. This is what liberals mean when they lecture us about keeping a civil tone.

A couple of weeks ago, on July 17, the Scouts released a two-year study whose conclusion was that it’s still not a good idea to put males who sexually desire other males into the Scouts as either role models or members. The report followed the dismissal in April of an out lesbian Cub Scout leader.

As in June 2000, liberals exploded in outrage, with the media leading the charge.  “Once again CNN is cheerleading the fight for gay rights, this time within the Boy Scouts,” Media Research Center’s Matt Hadro reported on July 18. “An effusive Starting Point panel welcomed gay activist Zach Wahls on Wednesday and celebrated his cause of pushing the Boy Scouts towards acceptance of openly-gay scouts and leaders.

“Wahls is no stranger to CNN, as back in May he was lauded as a ‘very powerful’ activist during a soft interview. On Wednesday, the CNN panel oozed admiration for him. ‘I'm a big fan. I've followed you for a little while,’ Starting Point regular Margaret Hoover told him. ‘You're a wonderful spokesman for the effort for equality.’”  Ms. Hoover is the media’s idea of a “conservative.”

Later that day, as Mr. Hadro reported, “anchor Don Lemon gave the sappiest of interviews to former Cub Scout den leader and lesbian Jennifer Tyrell, booted from the organization because she is openly-gay. Lemon asked saccharine questions like ‘You doing okay?’ and ‘do you feel disrespected?’ and ‘You sound a little sort of downtrodden.’ … Unsurprisingly, no guest was brought on to defend the Boy Scouts.”

Over on, blogger Esther J. Cepeda opined that, “It’s obvious that the decision to treat gays as unfit for membership in an organization that seeks to instill loyalty, friendliness and bravery in their young charges is far from, in the words of the Scout oath, morally straight. But it’s their rope, and it’s up to the Boy Scouts to decide whether to use it as a lifeline or a noose.”

I don’t think it’s hard to figure out which sort of knot that many in the media would like to use on the Boy Scouts.

America got another taste of liberal intolerance and insanity this past couple of weeks when homosexual activists and Democrat mayors of several big cities erupted over Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s support of marriage. Mr. Cathy said in an interview published by the Baptist Press that he and his company believe that God created marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The company donates to pro-family organizations that progressives reflexively label as “hate groups.”

Led by CNN, the media portrayed Mr. Cathy’s remarks as an attack on gay marriage, even though Mr. Cathy discussed what marriage is, not what it isn’t.

The good news is that Mike Huckabee’s call for pro-family Americans and free speech lovers to observe Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on August 1 was a smash, with long lines around the fast-food stores. Since Chick-fil-A is privately owned, sales figures are unavailable, but they went to the moon and back. That should more than offset any boycott or in-your-face “Kiss-In.”

It would be nice if Americans similarly rose somehow to the defense of the Boy Scouts. In a July 31 Wall Street Journal column, “A Century of Eagle Scouts,” Michael S. Malone, author of the new book Four Percent, provides a wonderful reminder of how much the Scouts, founded in 1910, have accomplished and given back.

Of “more than 115 million boys who have passed through the Boy Scouts of America in the last 102 years,” about “two million have become Eagle Scouts,” Malone writes.

“Since the mid-1960s, all Eagle candidates are required, beyond earning the traditional 21 merit badges, to devise, plan, execute and manage a community-service project. … it was only recently that the National Eagle Scout Association decided to look beyond the anecdotal and tally up all of the Eagle service projects ever done. It came to the jaw-dropping total of more than 100 million hours of service. Eagle Scouts are adding more than three million more hours each year.”

Let’s recap: Chick-fil-A serves millions of delicious, nutritious chicken meals, unabashedly embraces Christianity and gives back to communities in numerous ways through its Winshape Foundation. The Boy Scouts train millions of boys in practical skills and the more important value of what it means to be a man.

No wonder the Left has declared war on them. They know the enemy when they see it.


Australia: Queensland Attorney-General to try and overturn legal decision on motels having to host prostitution services

THE Queensland Government will try to overturn a legal decision in favour of a sex worker who claimed a ban on her operating out of a regional motel was discriminatory.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal found the operators of a Moranbah motel had breached the Anti-Discrimination Act by denying  a sex worker a room.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the government had concerns about the decision and had requested Crown Law advice.

"The Government stands on the side of business owners and supports their ability to make decisions about what does or does not occur on their premises," said Mr Bleijie.

"If a conflict exists between the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 and the Liquor Act 1992, the Government will change the laws to ensure this inconsistency is resolved.  "This will also give certainty to our business owners that they are in control of their establishments."

He said he was seeking legal advice on whether the government could intervene in any appeal the motel owner may wish to make, or appeal the decision directly.



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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