Thursday, October 18, 2012
Being straight no longer normal, Australian students taught
STUDENTS at 12 NSW high schools are being taught it is wrong and "heterosexist" to regard heterosexuality as the norm for human relationships.
The "Proud Schools" pilot program, implemented in 12 government schools in Sydney and the Hunter, is designed to stamp out "homophobia, transphobia (fear of transsexuals) and heterosexism".
Teachers are given professional development to learn to identify and stamp out any instances of "heterosexist" language in the playground, such as "that's so gay".
But at least 10 Liberal MPs are "extremely concerned" about the program, and will complain to Education Minister Adrian Piccoli this week.
The program defines "heterosexism" as the practice of "positioning heterosexuality as the norm for human relationship," according to the Proud Schools Consultation Report.
"It involves ignoring, making invisible or discriminating against non-heterosexual people, their relationships and their interests. Heterosexism feeds homophobia."
The program should "focus on the dominance of heterosexism rather than on homophobia," according to the minutes from the Proud Schools steering committee on March 22, 2011.
The $250,000 pilot program was initiated by the Labor government but Mr Piccoli has overseen its implementation in terms three and four this year at six high schools in Sydney and six in the Hunter.
"It is envisaged that this program will be made available to non-government schools as well," he said last year.
Upper house MP Fred Nile yesterday attacked the program, calling it "propaganda" and promised to raise the issue in parliament.
"I'm totally opposed to the brainwashing of high school students, especially when they are going through puberty," Mr Nile said.
"Homosexuals at most make up 2 per cent of the population - I don't know why the education department would give priority to promoting this (program).
"We will have more confused teenagers than ever ... children should be allowed to develop themselves."
In June, Mr Piccoli pledged the government's ongoing support of the pilot.
But last night his spokesman distanced the Coalition from the project, saying it was launched by his Labor predecessor Verity Firth in 2010.
"Minister Piccoli has continued to support the initiative. Professional learning is being developed to assist schools provide a safe and supportive environment for all students. All schools encourage their students to speak to each other and treat each other in a respectful manner."
He said any material prepared by a "third party" would not be approved for use in NSW.
The pilot drew on a similar program in Victoria, the "Safe Schools Coalition" to "support sexual diversity" in schools, which holds that gender and sexuality are not fixed but fluid concepts. In Victoria, each participating school is advised to erect a noticeboard specifically for gay, lesbian, transgender and "gender-questioning" young people.
Mr Piccoli's spokesman said Proud Schools was not based on the Victorian model, and noticeboards would not be required in NSW.
A Proud Schools consultation report also recommended that schools review existing PDHPE programs from Year 7 to "incorporate learning about same-sex attraction and sexual diversity".
The program was based on LaTrobe University research that schools are the "primary site of homophobic abuse".
Banned! Yard chief lays down the law on tattooed officers as those who can't cover them up are banned from joining the force
Good to see such "incorrectness" and disrespect for "diversity"
Police recruits to Britain's largest force were banned yesterday from having visible tattoos in a sweeping reform of its public image.
Scotland Yard Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said body art that can be seen by the public 'damages the professional image' of the service.
And he ordered a 'tattoo amnesty' in which anyone who already has marks on their hands, neck or face must declare them within weeks or be sacked.
The ban comes amid increasing concern among senior ranks nationwide over complaints from crime victims that some young officers appear 'thuggish'. They are particularly worried about the trend for tattoo 'sleeves' in which wrap-around tattoos are inked along the arm.
But rank-and-file representatives claim associating tattoos with criminals is old-fashioned and police should reflect the public they serve.
One Police Federation official said: 'If tattoos are offensive they should be covered but there is a bit of a generational attitude to them. 'Some see them as artwork and some don't. Tattoos are popular with high-profile footballers and pop stars. Many people we deal with also have them.'
Mr Hogan-Howe announced the tattoo diktat in a message to all 52,000 officers and staff yesterday.
He said: 'All visible tattoos damage the professional image of the Metropolitan Police Service.
'This corporate announcement discusses a specific requirement from the Met dress code policy in relation to the display of tattoos. 'With effect from the date of this announcement, tattoos on the face, or visible above a collar line, or on the hands are not permitted. All other tattoos must be covered.
'The Met is aware that some officers and staff already have prohibited visible tattoos. These are defined as tattoos that cannot be covered by everyday clothing.
'It will be a requirement, by the Commissioner, that all officers and police staff with existing tattoos defined as 'visible' must register such tattoos as a formal written declaration to their line manager before November 12.
'Any officer or member of police staff who fails, without reasonable excuse, to declare and register an existing visible tattoo will be liable to disciplinary action. 'Such a failure is liable to be considered to be gross misconduct.'
Police officers are banned from having offensive tattoos, including ones with discriminatory, violent or intimidating slogans.
Many forces say they will deal with tattooed recruits on a case by case basis, with the quantity, size and prominence of markings taken into consideration.
But the Met is believed to be the first force to actively ban people with visible tattoos of any kind from joining the frontline.
The 'tattoo amnesty' means officers who already have such tattoos will not be able to secretly add to them without breaking the new rule.
Met officers have already questioned how officers from islands in the South Pacific where cultural tattoos are common will be affected. And they highlighted that many servicemen may find they are unable to join the police after leaving the Armed Forces.
Last year, Ian Pointon, chairman of the Kent Police Federation, said tattoos can act as an 'icebreaker' when dealing with the public. He said tattoos can be a 'good way' of opening a line of communication with the public and do not carry a stigma.
Lionel Titchener, 59, founder of the Tattoo Club of Great Britain, said he has tattooed dozens of police officers during his career.
He said: 'I'm based in Oxford and when Thames Valley Police changed their badge we had a lot of people come in to have it done. 'I've tattooed police women as well. Often they go back to work and their colleagues turn up a few days later asking for the same thing.
'It's an old-fashioned attitude to ban tattoos, so many have them done now that people do not look twice. It's very strange thing to do in 2012.'
Recycled rhetoric in Britain
Nothing new at all -- on either side of politics
In his speech to the Labour Party Conference earlier this month, leader Ed Miliband declared he was going to ‘do something different today’, to ‘tell you my story. I want to tell you who I am. What I believe. And why I have a deep conviction that together we can change this country.’ Such self-conscious attempts to give identity to hollow political leaders of tired political parties in empty political contests are now a ritual in British politics.
Every political leader in recent years has overstated his vision as a new vital force. Yet each attempt to do so belies the narrowing of political discourse, the hollowing out of ideas, and the terminal vacuity of today’s political poseurs. The spectacle of Miliband delivering a personal statement was nothing new at all. Like many political leaders before him, he was forced to talk about himself because he had nothing else to say.
Miliband is not the only leader to have emphasised his humble origins to claim that it gives him insight into a divided Britain. Nor is he the first to try to revive Victorian prime minister Benjamin Disraeli’s idea of One Nation politics. John Major also sought to reverse the Conservative Party’s decline by reinventing Disraeli, claiming in 1996: ‘Decent homes, rewarding jobs, a good education, shares, quality of life. Giving more people those opportunities is what One Nation Conservatism is all about.’ Five years earlier, and just prior to an unexpected election victory that produced a government hobbled by constant in-fighting, he, like Miliband now, paraded his humble roots. For Major, that meant Brixton and grammar school rather than Miliband’s Hampstead and a comprehensive school
The two fundamentals of Miliband’s speech are the same as Major’s. Twenty years separate them, but both consciously eschew the socialism that we might imagine their backgrounds would make them sympathetic to. Both claim that their origins give them insight that people from more privileged backgrounds cannot develop. Both claim to be able to unite Britain. And both emphasise merely basic educational standards as the means to economic recovery. Miliband wants to offer ‘that 14-year-old who is not academic’ a ‘gold-standard vocational qualification, a new Technical Baccalaureate’, which is ‘a qualification to be proud of’. It is as if nobody had thought of it before. Yet Major said in 1996: ‘Some children will choose to learn vocational skills. I’ve had enough of people who look down on those children and treat them as second best… So practical skills are being put on an equal footing with academic subjects… The old divide between universities and polytechnics has gone.’
The observation that very little separates political leaders is not new, of course. But the motifs repeated over the past three decades of Britain’s political history are stark, and begin to offer a clue as to what might be going on.
At the Conservative Party conference in 2009, David Cameron’s Big Society idea was being hatched. He would put ‘Broken Britain’, he said, ‘back on her feet’: ‘Do you know the worst thing about their big government?’, he asked of New Labour. ‘It’s not the cost, though that’s bad enough. It is the steady erosion of responsibility. Our task is to lead Britain in a completely different direction.’
But the idea that the state had deprived people of ‘responsibility’ was something Tony Blair, of New Labour, had emphasised just five years earlier. In 2004, he announced a strategy that he claimed was ‘the culmination of a journey of change both for progressive politics and for the country.’ He added: ‘It marks the end of the 1960s liberal, social consensus on law and order… It was John Stuart Mill who articulated the modern concept that with freedom comes responsibility. But in the 1960s revolution, that didn’t always happen… Here, now, today, people have had enough of this part of the 1960s consensus…. That is the new consensus on law and order for our times.’
Even that was hardly new, though. At the Conservative Party conference more than a decade earlier, John Major had taken issue with people who believed that ‘criminal behaviour was society’s fault, not the individual’s’. Major, too, emphasised responsibility: ‘Do you know, the truth is, much as things have changed on the surface, underneath we’re still the same people. The old values - neighbourliness, decency, courtesy - they’re still alive, they’re still the best of Britain… It is time to return to those old core values, time to get back to basics, to self-discipline and respect for the law, to consideration for others, to accepting a responsibility for yourself and your family and not shuffling off on other people and the state.’
But even a decade before Major’s speech, Margaret Thatcher told political interviewer Brian Walden: ‘I think we went through a period when too many people began to expect their standard of living to be guaranteed by the state, and so great protest movements came that you could, by having sufficient protests, sufficient demonstrations against government, get somehow a larger share for yourself, and they looked to the protest and the demonstrations and the strikes to get a bigger share for them, but it always had to come from the people who really strived to do more and to do better. I want to see one nation, as you go back to Victorian times, but I want everyone to have their own personal property stake.’
For Thatcher, ‘one nation’ meant harking back to Victorian Values. Major similarly sought to get us Back to Basics. Blair thought that this could be achieved through his Respect Agenda. Cameron ordered the creation of the Big Society. Each leader promised that they could encourage personal responsibility, which would in turn transform British culture, end dependence on the welfare state, and reverse economic woes.
In spite of such ambitions, however, governments have found it increasingly difficult to let people actually take responsibility for themselves. The welfare state has not diminished, and endless policy initiatives find new ways to intrude on private life. As early as 1997, the then Labour government conceived of a ‘Quality of Life Barometer’, which would measure the government’s performance in improving individuals’ subjective sense of wellbeing - a project now more fully realised by the Lib-Con coalition’s Happiness Index. Political leaders who emphasise personal responsibility don’t even trust the people to look after their own emotional lives, let alone smoke or drink in public or find their way out of dependency on benefits.
Miliband’s grand projet - One Nation - doesn’t even bother to rebrand the nineteenth-century idea with a new name. Nor does he even attempt to give it substance. Instead, he merely offers a list of grievances, attached to his personal history. ‘That is who I am. That is what I believe. That is my faith’, he urges.
Today’s politicians have become increasingly hollow pastiches of their predecessors, echoes of long-passed political moments that ring around a public space as empty as the vision of Cameron, Clegg and Miliband. Unable to conceive of new political ideas, they recycle a diminishing pool of insipid slogans that they wave at the country’s very real problems. The constant refrain of ‘One Nation’, ‘personal responsibility’, ‘sense of wellbeing’, ‘rebuilding Britain’ and the rest belies the paucity of ideas about actual development. Instead of building things like roads, industry and homes, modern leaders emphasise instead restraint, austerity, and external crises that are beyond our control - the global economic crisis, climate change and terrorism - which might let them off the hook.
Instead of answering the question ‘Who am I?’, the answer to which may be spun and invented to suit any given moment, it would be far better if politicians answered a far more difficult question: ‘What will I do?’ The fact that they have no new answers to that question is the real message of the party-conference season.
Companies Are Evil, So It's OK to Lie about Them
President Obama presented himself to the nation in 2008 as something new -- a change agent who would bring fresh ideas to our national challenges and solve problems in a post-partisan, unifying fashion.
In fact, as some noted at the time, his ideas were decrepit hand-me-downs, about as novel as disco or the leisure suit. He is a conventional, left-wing statist, George McGovern with a bigger smile, eager to bring ever-larger segments of American life under tight government control and direction. As for unity, his presidency has set new records for contemning the opposition -- a disdain histrionically pantomimed by Joe Biden.
Obama's deep hostility to the private sector has been evident throughout his presidency and popped up like verbal ticks during the first debate. He warned against putting seniors "like my grandmother at the mercy of the private insurance system." Those companies, he added knowingly, "are pretty clever about figuring out who are the younger and healthier seniors." He trotted out his old warhorse about companies "getting tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas," and he claimed that Obamacare protects people from "being jerked around" by insurance companies.
So hostile is the president to insurance companies that he stooped to misrepresenting the facts of his mother's illness and death the better to paint them as malevolent. In a 2008 debate with John McCain, Obama said this: "For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they're saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don't have to pay her treatment, there's something fundamentally wrong about that."
As Janny Scott, a former New York Times reporter, revealed in her biography of Stanley Ann Dunham Obama, it didn't happen. Mrs. Obama's medical expenses were paid for by CIGNA. There was a dispute with the company over disability insurance, but the company never attempted to deny coverage for her cancer treatment. When the White House was questioned about the Scott account, a spokesman did not dispute it, saying that it was all a very long time ago.
Obamacare was designed by people who believe passionately that private companies must be strictly controlled and regulated by Washington bureaucrats, who will run things far more humanely and even more efficiently. Mr. Obama cited the bogus statistic that Medicare has "lower administrative costs" than the private sector. This is specious. Medicare's administrative costs are spread over several different agencies. The IRS collects the taxes that fund the program, the Social Security Administration collects some of the premiums paid by beneficiaries, and the Department of Health and Human Services handles accounting, auditing, fraud and other issues.
Additionally, Medicare's population is older and sicker than the typical insurance pool. Their medical costs are accordingly higher, so as a percentage of total spending on the patient, Medicare's per patient administrative costs will be smaller. But that isn't because Medicare is more efficient.
This is not to say that insurance companies are virtuous. They are simply businesses, doing what makes sense for their customers and shareholders. It would never occur to Barack Obama that the best way to go after insurance companies whose behavior you dislike is to provide competitors. No, his plan, now just beginning to sting, is to create 159 new bureaus and agencies, and 11,327 pages of new regulations (so far).
Any first-year economics student could have predicted what happened last week in response to one feature of the law. Obamacare requires that companies with 50 or more full-time employees provide health insurance or pay a fine. A restaurant chain that includes Olive Garden and Red Lobster (not one of the 1200 well-connected companies and unions who've received waivers) announced that it will be placing more of its 180,000 employees on part-time status -- thereby diminishing the salaries of thousands of people.
The Obama Administration will perhaps regard this utterly predictable response (and this is just the beginning) as "jerking people around," and may, if reelected, issue regulations making it illegal to change an employee's status from full-time to part-time. That's how statists operate. Try firing someone in France -- which is why jobs are so scarce in France.
And so it will go, with the federal government chasing after private industry with more and more restrictions and penalties -- never seeing that they are circling the drain.
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.