Wednesday, September 26, 2012
France is set to ban the words 'mother' and 'father' from all official documents under controversial plans to legalise homosexual marriage
France is set to ban the words 'mother' and 'father' from all official documents under controversial plans to legalise gay marriage. The move which has outraged Catholics means only the word 'parents' would be used in identical marriage ceremonies for all heterosexual and same-sex couples.
The draft law states that 'marriage is a union of two people, of different or the same gender'. And it says all references to 'mothers and fathers' in the civil code - which enshrines French law - will be swapped for simply 'parents'.
The law would also give equal adoption rights to homosexual and heterosexual couples.
Justice Minister Christiane Taubira [above] told France's Catholic newspaper La Croix: 'Who is to say that a heterosexual couple will bring a child up better than a homosexual couple, that they will guarantee the best conditions for the child's development?
'What is certain is that the interest of the child is a major preoccupation for the government.'
The head of the French Catholic Church Cardinal Philippe Barbarin warned followers last week that gay marriage could lead to legalised incest and polygamy in society.
He told the Christian's RFC radio station: 'Gay marriage would herald a complete breakdown in society.
'This could have innumerable consequences. Afterward they will want to create couples with three or four members. And after that, perhaps one day the taboo of incest will fall.'
Leading French Catholics have also published a 'Prayer for France', which says: 'Children should not be subjected to adults' desires and conflicts, so they can fully benefit from the love of their mother and father.'
And Pope Benidict invited 30 French bishops to Italy to urge them to fight against the new law. He told them: 'We have there a true challenge to take on.
'The family that is the foundation of social life is threatened in many places, following a concept of human nature that has proven defective.'
And leading French bishop Dominique Rey has called on the government to hold a referendum on gay marriage.
He said: 'A referendum must be held to allow a real debate and to make sure the government is not in the grip of the lobbies.
'A majority of the population agrees with the traditional view of marriage.'
President Francois Hollande pledged in his manifesto to legalise gay marriage.
The draft law will be presented to his cabinet for approval on October 31.
The intolerant war on “parochial pensioners”
In forever fretting about the ‘bigoted attitudes’ of ordinary people, Britain’s political class exposes its own prejudices
When it comes to describing everyday people, the words ‘extremist’ and ‘bigot’ are an integral part of the British political establishment’s vocabulary. Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg might have hurriedly recalled a press release that branded opponents of gay marriage as bigots, but that only demonstrated that his minders have told him to keep his real views to himself. Poor Gordon Brown’s ‘Bigotgate’ moment, when, during the 2010 General Election campaign, he referred to a 65-year-old woman who asked him about immigration as a ‘bigoted woman’, was more compromising, because TV journalists recorded his outburst. Unlike Clegg, Brown couldn’t say ‘it wasn’t me!’.
Politicians’ promiscuous use of terms like bigot and racist to describe members of the public is not simply an affectation. Many of them sincerely believe that a significant section of the population - especially members of the white working classes and the elderly - are irredeemably prejudiced. Brown and Clegg’s throwaway remarks speak to a belief that people who refuse to accept the political class’s social etiquette and cultural assumptions about Europe, multiculturalism and family life are morally inferior. Today’s elite views ‘those people’, sometimes called ‘tabloid readers’ or ‘white van men’, as a kind of cultural enemy within.
The terms bigot and racist are frequently coupled with the word ‘extremist’. Why? Because, as a think-tank report published last week claimed, ordinary people have a natural disposition towards extremist ideology and causes.
Thankfully, unlike many parts of Europe, Britain has been more or less an extremist-free zone for a very long time. Now, however, a report published by the Extremis Project, an advocacy monitoring group devoted to discovering the extremist under your bed, warns against complacency on this issue. It asserts that, in fact, British people have a natural inclination towards supporting right-wing extremist parties. Its survey of 1,750 people ‘discovered’ that 41 per cent would be more likely to support a party that promised to end all immigration. Only 28 per cent indicated that they would be less likely to support such a party.
Matthew Goodwin, spokesman for the Extremis Project, says the research shows that there is a strong disposition on the part of the British public to support right-wing extremists. To substantiate this claim, he says: ‘Consider this: 66 per cent of respondents in our survey would be more likely to support a party that promised to stand up to political and business elites; 55 per cent would be more likely to back a party that pledged to prioritise British values over other cultures; 41 per cent would be more likely to support a party that pledged to halt all immigration into the UK; and a striking 37 per cent – or almost two-fifths of our sample – would be more likely to endorse a party that promised to reduce the number of Muslims in British society.’
What is interesting about these comments is that Goodwin clearly believes that any rejection of the cultural values of the political and cultural establishment can be described as a ‘far right’ attitude. His implicit definition of an extremist is anyone who is uninhibited about expressing their disdain for such values.
That is why he exclaims: ‘Consider this - 66 per cent of respondents in our survey would be more likely to support a party that promised to stand up to political and business elites.’ So, people who wish to prioritise their own cultural values over those of others, especially the elite, are perceived as suffering from some kind of moral deficit. For Goodwin, it seems that any kind of populist rejection of the establishment and its values represents a dangerous kind of political malady. It is striking that the Extremis Project assumes that populism is intrinsically a marker for right-wing extremism; perhaps it has never encountered radical, left-wing or plain old conservative populism.
Goodwin can barely suppress his outrage that so many of his fellow citizens would support a party that stood up to the political and business elites. Of course, he is fully entitled to his pro-establishment opinions. But it is worth noting that, historically, standing up to the political elite was an act associated with radical forces, from trade unionists to the Suffragettes all the way to radical movements of both the left and the right. What the Extremis Project’s report does is construct a new definition of the words ‘extremist’ and ‘far right’ that flatters the sensibilities of the current political establishment.
The main target of the report’s enmity is the elderly. Goodwin argues that Britain’s older generations ‘appear relatively clear and resolute in their desire for a party that adopts a tough, populist stance toward elites [and] immigration’, whereas ‘younger Britons are significantly less favourable toward this narrative’. No doubt there is a significant generational divide between the elderly and the young on a variety of political issues. However, from a sociological point of view, it seems pretty clear that these divergent attitudes spring from differences in generational experiences and from very different uses of language. Clearly, the elderly experience change differently to young people and are likely to find adapting to new circumstances more difficult than their children find it.
However, a generational divide on specific policies should not be taken as evidence that older and younger people have fundamentally different attitudes towards political life. Old-aged pensioners who are uncomfortable with change, but who have voted for mainstream parties all their lives, are unlikely to constitute the shock troops for a new extremist paramilitary force. Similarly, young people who are more attuned to what can be said to pollsters are more likely to express opinions that they think the interviewer wants to hear; like Nick Clegg, they know the virtues of censoring your real views.
Cosmos vs the plebs
What is most interesting about the Extremis report is what it reveals about its authors. It speaks to a profound dissonance between two different worlds: that of the establishment and that of the plebs. This is especially vivid in another report published on the Extremis Project’s website, titled Parochial and Cosmopolitan Britain: Examining the Social Divide in Reactions to Immigration. Written by Robert Ford and published in June 2012, the report makes a crude distinction between backward-looking elderly people and the apparently more open-minded younger generations. The ‘younger, more cosmopolitan voters’ are represented as being more morally with-it than ‘the more parochial older generation’. Throughout the report, the term parochial is used to describe the elderly, whereas the young are categorised as ‘cosmopolitan’.
However, on closer inspection it becomes clear that the generational difference flagged up by the Extremis Project is really about class. So the elderly who are hostile to immigration are not simply old - they are also ‘less-educated’ and ‘parochial’. And in contrast, the ‘tolerant’ young cosmopolitans are ‘highly educated, economically secure, and used to effortless travel across borders and regular mixing with people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds’.
The report concludes that: ‘Many of the factors that predict attitudes on immigration - age, education, migrant heritage and financial security - tend to overlap with each other. The result is a strong social division between the “cosmopolitan young” - highly educated, ethnically diverse and relatively comfortable with immigration - and the “parochial pensioners”: older, homogeneously white respondents who are deeply alarmed by the settlement of migrants.’
Here, the Extremis Project is drawing attention to the different moral outlooks of those who have benefitted from socio-economic changes and education and those who have lost out. And like Gordon Brown’s ‘bigoted’ pensioner, the people who have lost out serve as uncomfortable reminder of communities that are best written off as parochial fodder for extremist parties.
Bloggers’ imprisonment a dark point for Vietnam human rights
A press release from an Australian conservative Senator below
Queensland Senator Ron Boswell today condemned the imprisonment of three prominent anti-government bloggers by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, joining a growing chorus of human rights advocates around the world. “On Monday, three Vietnamese bloggers – Phan Thanh Hai, Ta Phong Tan and Nguyen Van Hai – were found guilty of spreading anti-government propaganda and jailed at a closed trial in Ho Chi Minh City that lasted less than six hours,” Senator Boswell said.
“Phan Thanh Hai, penname Anh Ba Saigon, was sentenced to four years in prison and three years house arrest. Ta Phong Tan, policewoman-turned-author of the blog Truth and Justice, received a ten year prison sentence and a five year house arrest term. Nguyen Van Hai, better known as Dieu Cay, was jailed for twelve years with five years house arrest.”
Senator Boswell criticised the sentences as an unjustifiable censorship measure by the Communist government of Vietnam. He also denounced the intimidation tactics used by Vietnamese police to prevent family members and supporters from attending the trials.
“The jailing of these bloggers by little more than a kangaroo court is a new dark point for press freedoms and human rights in Vietnam,” Senator Boswell said. “The only crime of these peaceful citizen journalists was to speak out against corrupt elements within their government.
This government is intent on wiping out all dissent against it on the Internet, as it has done by banning private media in Vietnam and tightly controlling the state-run newspapers and television channels.”
Earlier this year, Senator Boswell spoke in the Senate about Viet Khang, a Vietnamese musician imprisoned for posting two songs online critical of the government. Together with Labor Senator Mark Furner, Senator Boswell presented a community petition and successfully moved a motion in the Senate calling on the Australian government to improve its human rights dialogue with Vietnam.
Received via email
Australia: Fear of violence could keep offenders in jail
A useful step forward towards protecting the community
The New South Wales Government is planning to introduce legislation to ensure violent prisoners can be kept in jail beyond the term of their sentence, if there is a fear they will re-offend.
The Attorney-General Greg Smith is proposing that a Supreme Court Judge will be able to make an order that a person who is a serious risk to the community has to either stay in jail, or be released under strict orders.
He told AM that similar laws are in place for serious sex offenders and the community needs wider protection.
"At the moment, once you finish your prison term you're out." he said. "If you go to parole, you get parole and you're released under supervision but it's certainly not as strict as will be proposed under this legislation."
Mr Smith says it would be applied to murderers and other serious violent offenders who have shown no interest in rehabilitation.
He says it is not going to undermine the sentences handed down by judges.
"Some of these people get worse in prison, whether it's because of mental instability or other things, they turn into very dangerous people," he said. "So we're just looking out how do we best protect the community and we're closing the gap."
The Opposition leader John Robertson says the Parole Authority already takes into account whether a prisoner has undertaken rehabilitation programs.
"I think the government's looking for a distraction here," he said. "This proposed legislation would only impact on fourteen inmates over the next three years. "So I'm not sure how significant this change would be anyway."
But a support group for crime victims says it is backing the moves.
Howard Brown from Victims of Crime says measures used to encourage serious sex offenders to participate in rehabilitation programs have been proven effective.
"It's that interaction with one-on-one psychiatrists and psychologists which actually start to engage these people," he said.
"They just think 'I don't want to become engaged', but once they are engaged with these therapeutic processes, you can actually see that there is a change."
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 WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING 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.