Friday, December 14, 2012
Atheists Post Anti-Christmas Billboard in Times Square
It’s Christmas time, again, which means that American Atheists (AA), an activist non-profit, is back with yet another overtly-offensive holiday billboard. In 2010, the group posted a message in New Jersey calling the Christmas story “a myth” (The Catholic League erected a response). And in 2011, AA followed that up with another campaign, featuring Jesus, Satan and Santa.
Now, there’s yet another billboard alleging that Christ’s story is a fable — and this time, it’s proudly displayed in New York City’s Time Square.
The new message, which reads, “Keep the Merry! Dump the Myth!,” elevates the controversy that AA typically seeks to ignite by providing an image of Santa with a photo of Jesus suffering on the cross. The “merry” corresponds to the traditional Christmas mascot, with “myth” (in caps) is presented beneath the Christian savior’s picture, clearly in reference to Jesus’ death.
As is typically the case, representatives from AA have come forward to comment about the billboard, while explaining the organization’s motivations for posting it. Teresa MacBain, who serves as AA’s communications director, said that the holiday season is about “family, friends, and love” and that its beauty has “nothing to do with the gods of yesteryear.”
“Indeed, the season is far more enjoyable without the religious baggage of guilt and judgmentalism,” she added. “Dump the myth and have a happy holiday season.”
David Silverman, president of AA, added his own views on the matter, claiming that a large proportion of Christians are non-believers who are “trapped in their family’s religion.”
American Atheists Erect Jesus Myth Ad | War on Christmas
“If you know God is a myth, you do not have to lie and call yourself Christian in order to have a festive holiday season,” Silverman said. “You can be merry without the myth, and indeed, you should.”
While AA would argue that the billboard is intended to inspire atheists to “come out,” others will likely see it as offensive. The message will run through Jan. 10.
Row over 'white as snow' Miss France
The possibility that white women are the most attractive to most French people seems to be overlooked
A black rights group on Monday slammed the latest Miss France competition for producing a "white as snow" winner from a field it claimed was unrepresentative of the country's ethnic make-up.
Marine Lorphelin, 19, a brunette medical student from Burgundy, was on Saturday crowned Miss France 2013, having edged out Miss Tahiti, Hinarini de Longeaux, in the final round of judging.
Louis-Georges Tin, the president of the CRAN (Representative Council of Black Associations), on Monday lamented the lack of contestants from France's African and north African communities.
"The failure to represent the contemporary French population in an event such as this is obviously serious," Tin said in a statement issued jointly with Fred Royer, the creator of Miss Black France. "It amounts to denying the very existence of French people of African origin."
Of the 33 finalists in Saturday's contest, eight were from ethnic minorities with six of those coming from France's Pacific or Caribbean territories.
"In the antiquated world of Miss France, blacks apparently can only come from overseas departments," the CRAN statement said.
"As for Frenchwomen of north African heritage, they were 'represented' by only one candidate who was quickly eliminated (too Muslim perhaps?)."
France is home to around five million Muslims, most of them of north African origin.
The statement went on to express regret that "Miss France is as white as the end of year snow on the steeples of an eternal France."
Disability handouts to be cut or stopped for 330,000 claimants as British Government aims to end 'welfare for life'
The Government is to reduce or stop disability allowance for hundreds of thousands of claimants in a bid to end unchecked ‘welfare for life’.
The clampdown comes as new figures suggest that seven in ten of those claiming the benefit go through the system without proper checks.
Ministers intend to reassess an initial 560,000 claimants, and expect that 330,000 – nearly 60 per cent – will get no award or a reduced sum after the checks.
There are currently 3.2million adults claiming disability living allowance (DLA), costing Britain £13.2billion a year – equivalent to the entire budget for the Department for Transport.
The number of claimants has more than trebled since the benefit was created in 1992.
Disability minister Esther McVey said without reform, one in every 17 adults would be claiming DLA by 2018.
The Tory minister said the vast majority of claimants – 71 per cent – get the benefit ‘for life’, often having filled in an initial claim form about their capability themselves.
She added that about a third of people with a disability had a change in a condition in a year – some for the worse, but many for the better.
This suggests that in many cases claimants may no longer need the full benefit or any allowance at all.
The first 560,000 claimants will be reassessed by October 2015.
The group consists of those who report a change in circumstance or who have been given a time-limited award that comes to an end.
In a concession to critics, the Government will slow down the timetable for checks on the remaining claimants, which will begin in 2015. It is not clear that the same proportion will see benefits reduced in the second stage as in the first.
An independent review of the first stage of reform will be conducted in 2014.
The Government has already identified £630million in overpayments and £190million in underpayments, highlighting the turmoil in the welfare system.
Miss McVey said: ‘It has been considered a static benefit, not a dynamic one. But there will be people getting better thanks to medical advances or who overcome an impairment. So we need new and more regular assessments. ‘DLA is an outdated benefit introduced over 20 years ago.
‘At the moment the vast majority of people get the benefit for life without systematic checks to see if their condition has changed.’ The Coalition is replacing DLA with a new benefit, called the personal independence payment.
It will be designed to target more generous support towards ‘those who need it most’.
The new system will involve a medical expert assessing a claim in a face-to-face appointment, and regular later checks.
Last night, charities voiced a chorus of protest at plans to slash the disability benefit bill.
A poll by campaign group Disability Alliance found that 9 per cent of survey respondents said losing the disability living allowance ‘may make life not worth living’.
The group has also protested that the Government had identified cuts in spending before consulting on which elements of benefits needed to be reformed.
The clampdown on disability benefit emerged as the Conservatives and Labour traded increasingly bitter blows over efforts to cut the vast welfare budget.
At Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, David Cameron condemned Labour as the party of ‘unlimited welfare’.
Ed Miliband made clear Labour will oppose Government plans to cap most out-of-work benefits and tax credits to a below-inflation 1 per cent increase for the next three years.
Labour claims that the squeeze will hit lower income families who are in work but in receipt of tax credits as well as the unemployed, but the Prime Minister insisted that such concern is misplaced.
Working families would be more than compensated by other measures, most notably, a record increase in the basic rate income tax threshold to £9,440, Mr Cameron said.
Officials say the average working family would be £125 a year better off next year once the income tax break, the tax credit squeeze and the cancellation of a 3p rise in fuel duty are taken into account.
Savings from the welfare cap are so significant that it would take a 1p rise income tax to plug the gap.
Mr Miliband accused the Government of seeking to ‘divide and rule’, by portraying benefit claimants as ‘scroungers’.
The Pros and Cons of Minority Outreach
By David Bozeman
This is a tough one for conservatives and libertarians. Our message to Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, etc. is the same that we share with any American: if you work hard and make positive choices (i.e., stay in school. save money, avoid the pitfalls of sexual promiscuity, among others), you, too, can enjoy success beyond your expectations. That may sound condescending, but it’s born of equal doses of logic and compassion.
The response, of course, is that we don’t understand the discrimination and hardships these groups face. We certainly don’t deny that discrimination exists, and some have suffered the lingering effects endured by their elders. But we wholeheartedly believe that in 2012, Americans of any background can achieve far more than their leaders allow them to realize. Even in tough economic times, minorities are surpassing expectations every day. Republicans celebrated such Americans at their convention last summer: Marco Rubio, Condoleeza Rice and Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico, among others.
Nonetheless, conservatives are just not good at this sort of thing — we see individual potential, not group identity. But still, changing times demand that we modify our message. That doesn’t mean to compromise or go wobbly, it simply means that the type of outreach we should employ is not group-to-group but person-to-person. In fact, few Americans of any background will respond to cold analytical discussions of the Federal Reserve, the debt ceiling or the pertinent messages of Atlas Shrugged Part 2.
But for all our best efforts, we can never guarantee full equality of outcome. For all our laws banning discrimination, some individuals will have to work harder than others. That is a fact of human nature and not an indictment of traditional, free-market American principles.
How interesting that if you talk to most people one-on-one, they will heartily agree to such “conservative” tenets as hard work and self-sufficiency. They instinctively accept that life is not always fair, and they will rely on their own common sense over the blithering idiocy of self-serving politicians.
Indeed, most people, in their day-to-day lives, weigh right versus wrong and not conservative versus liberal or Republican versus Democrat. It is only when they don the cloaks of class and group identity that our fellow citizens surrender their individual judgments.
A friend, an African American, recently informed me that white conservatives just don’t grasp the historical significance of Barack Obama’s presidency. I conceded the point. The president does indeed inspire untold affection from many people of color (and other voting blocs). He stands with (or maybe just behind) Martin Luther King as a transformative figure. Conservatives who keep screaming “But he’s a socialist, he doesn’t care anything about you!” may as well be spitting into the wind.
So while conceding my friend’s point, I offered the following: Mitt Romney, John McCain, George. W. Bush and most other boring white guys on the right do not care any less than the president for the average person of color. They have just as much faith in you as the president does (in fact, some would argue more).
Conservatives do not relish failure in minority communities (we extol success stories because they often prove America’s limitless potential) or enact policies that destroy minority families. And the dreams inspired by Obama were no less attainable in 2007 than in 2008.
But that, in the end, is not really what matters. So much verbal energy has been wasted in the emotional terrain, but the pertinent question is not which party believes in you, but do you believe in yourself? Who do you want your children to look to as a role model in twenty years, Barack Obama or you? Who defines our national character, the most humble among us or Obama?
Ultimately, we conservatives will not forge a winning majority without acknowledging that it is not what we say that matters but what our fellow citizens hear.
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, 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.