Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Unemployed single mother on British welfare who spends £2,000 on Christmas with 20 presents for each of her children
She's the sensible one. It is British socialism that has caused this destructive situation
While many families are worrying about how to afford Christmas this year, one jobless single mother has revealed she receives so much in benefits she has £2,000 to spend on designer gifts, clothes and partying.
Mother-of-two Leanna Broderick plans to buy 20 presents for each of her children, including Burberry and Ralph Lauren outfits, iPads and gold jewellery.
The 20-year-old, who has never worked, claims nearly £15,500 a year in state handouts.
She claims she is better off on benefits and would not get a job unless she could continue her luxury lifestyle, which includes designer outfits, holidays abroad, clubbing, lunches out and expensive gifts for her daughters Zelekah, two, and Zakirah, one.
‘Last year, I saved £2,500 and my kids had 50 presents each, including Burberry and Ralph Lauren clothes and dolls, DVDs and CDs.
‘This year, I’ve saved £2,000 and they’ll get 20 presents each, including iPads and a new Disney-themed bedroom to share, with designer wall art and bed linen,’ she said.
She is also buying gold earrings for Zelekah, who has pierced ears, and keeping £300 for the sales and £150 for a New Year’s Eve outing.
Miss Broderick, who left school at 16 with no GCSEs, said: ‘I don’t care if people get annoyed. I don’t take advantage, I just choose to save – it’s smart.’
She said there was ‘no point’ earning less in a minimum wage job and having to pay for childcare on top.
After becoming pregnant at 17 with her on-off 23-year-old boyfriend, Miss Broderick was allocated a temporary three-bed council house.
When Zelekah was eight months old she considered working in care, but then became pregnant again by the same man.
Now split from the girls’ father, she has a new two-bedroom council flat in Croydon, South London, with a garden, which is paid for by her £111 weekly housing benefit – part of £1,290 a month total claim.
She said: ‘I didn’t want to miss out on my kids’ childhoods or have someone else raise them. I’m not one of those girls who gets pregnant for the benefits.’
The money for Christmas comes from the £250 she saves each month, which she said shows she is ‘really responsible’.
She adds: ‘Anyone who thinks people on benefits don’t deserve nice things is talking rubbish. I work 24/7 as a mother. ‘This way, taxpayers know I’m raising two well-brought-up kids.’
But she admits Christmas might not be so lavish next year because of the Government’s benefit cuts. ‘I’m not against the cuts, but only if the Government helps me find a job,’ she said. ‘In the meantime, I’ll stay on benefits and get as much as I can out of it.’
Let’s do away with British insult to free speech
A law that can be used to arrest a man who said 'woof’ to a dog has no place in Britain
By Geoffrey Dear (Lord Dear is a Crossbench member of the House of Lords. Previously he was chief constable of West Midlands, and HM Inspector of Constabulary )
As a former police officer and chief constable, and as a member of the House of Lords, I fully understand the importance of free speech. It helps to preserve the unique set of beliefs and values that underpin our society.
But I strongly believe that Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, which makes it illegal to use “threatening, abusive or insulting” words or behaviour if they are likely to cause “harassment, alarm or distress”, can be used to undermine free speech because of the way it is framed.
That is why the House of Lords will vote tomorrow on my proposed amendment to this Act. If approved, it will see the removal of the term “insulting”.
The wording of Section 5 has been a concern since the passage of the 1986 Act itself. Although similar wording had appeared in earlier legislation, in 1986 the threshold was lowered to include anything “within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby”. No one need actually be alarmed – such alarm need only be “likely” in the view of police or prosecutors.
At the time, Professor A T H Smith, now Cambridge Professor of Criminal and Public Laws, said: “Because of the potential breadth of the language in which the section is drafted, it affords scope for injudicious policing.”
Threats and abuse are always wrong and outlawing them is clearly justified. The term “insulting”, however, is subjective and vague. Increasingly the police and other law-enforcement agencies are misinterpreting the legislation to such an extent that it is impinging on the right to free speech.
In 2009 the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) observed: “Whilst arresting a protester for using 'threatening or abusive’ speech may, depending on the circumstances, be a proportionate response, we do not think that language or behaviour which is merely 'insulting’ should ever be criminalised in this way.”
The late Lord Monson, a champion of personal liberties, agreed. Speaking in the House of Lords in the same year, he observed that “the word 'abusive’ can be judged objectively, but 'insulting’ is totally subjective. What one person finds offensive, the next person may be indifferent to… It did not matter very much at first, because I think that the public 20-odd years ago were less thin-skinned than they are now… People are positively encouraged to be touchy, both by the media – whether deliberately or not – and pressure groups.”
The comedian and a fellow campaigner for reform, Rowan Atkinson, recently summed up the difficulties posed by the inclusion of the term “insulting” in the Act. He warned that, under Section 5, criticism, unfavourable comparison or “merely stating an alternative point of view” can be interpreted as an insult and lead to arrest.
The law, in its current form, has been used to arrest gay activists, Christian preachers and a student who called a police horse “gay”. A critic of Scientology was summoned under Section 5. And a young man who said “woof” to a dog was actually convicted, although a court later cleared him. There must be something wrong with a law that can be used by police, prosecutors and the courts in such an excessively broad way.
Opponents of reform argue, incorrectly, that by removing the term “insulting” from the Act, individuals will be at liberty to verbally abuse vulnerable people.
This ignores the existence of other pieces of legislation, better suited to tackling these offences. Laws such as public nuisance, breach of the peace, harassment and incitement to hatred ensure there are more than sufficient powers to bring perpetrators of such crimes to justice. Furthermore, as case law demonstrates, Section 5 in its amended form would still be sufficient to prosecute individuals who are being abusive. This includes foul-mouthed rants targeted at individuals – including the police – which are capable of being deemed as either abusive or threatening.
In a last-minute development, the Crown Prosecution Service now supports this view. In a letter to me, dated December 6, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, explained that: “Having now considered the case law in greater depth, we are unable to identify a case in which the alleged behaviour leading to conviction could not be characterised as 'abusive’ as well as 'insulting’. I therefore agree that the word 'insulting’ could be safely removed without the risk of undermining the ability of the CPS to bring prosecutions.”
Behaviour that is merely “insulting” should not be criminal in a democracy. The vote tomorrow is an important opportunity to enhance free speech. I hope the House of Lords will approve my amendment.
Free speech in Australia tripped up by too-broad law
BY: JAMES SPIGELMAN (A former Australian judge)
I WISH to discuss the boundary between hate speech, a significant factor in social inclusion, and free speech, perhaps the most fundamental human right underpinning participation in public life.
This issue has been controversial in Australia in recent years, in the context of the racial vilification provision in section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, which is proposed to be re-enacted as section 51 of the new omnibus legislation, the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012.
There may now have elapsed sufficient time for us to debate the issue dispassionately, and not on the basis of whether you like Andrew Bolt. The focus of that debate was not on the existence of a racial vilification provision but on the breadth of the conduct to which section 18C extends: namely, conduct "reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person".
The key criticism was directed to the fact the section made speech that merely "offends" unlawful. A similar, but less powerful objection, can be made to the reference to "insult".
These matters have long concerned me, but my thoughts have crystallised after reading a book by Jeremy Waldron, one of the foremost jurisprudential scholars of our time, with joint appointments to Oxford University and New York University law school.
From the perspective of society, Waldron emphasises inclusiveness as a public good, providing an assurance and sense of security to all members of the society that they can live their lives without facing hostility, violence, discrimination or exclusion.
From the other perspective, of those who are meant to benefit from this assurance, the fundamental human right that is affirmed is the right to dignity. Hate speech undermines the sense of assurance and denies the dignity of individuals.
The section of Waldron's hate speech book that is of particular significance for our debate is the chapter he devotes to establishing the proposition that protection of dignity does not require protection from being offended. As he puts it:
"Laws restricting hate speech should aim to protect people's dignity against assault. Dignity in that sense may need protection against attack, particularly against group-directed attacks. However, I do not believe that it should be the aim of these laws to prevent people from being offended. Protecting people's feelings against offence is not an appropriate objective for the law."
I agree with Waldron. His detailed analysis supports the proposition that declaring conduct, relevantly speech, to be unlawful because it causes offence goes too far. The freedom to offend is an integral component of freedom of speech. There is no right not to be offended.
I am not aware of any international human rights instrument, or national anti-discrimination statute in another liberal democracy, that extends to conduct that is merely offensive.
Section 19(2)(b) of the proposed Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 introduces "offending" into the definition of discrimination for all purposes, not just for racial vilification. The new S19 defines, for the first time, discrimination by unfavourable treatment to include "conduct that offends, insults or intimidates" another person. Significantly, unlike existing S18C (or its replacement by the new S51), there is no element of objectivity, as presently found in the words "reasonably likely to offend". It appears to me the new bill contains a subjective test of being offended.
There are 18 "protected attributes" set out in section 17 of the draft bill, seven of which apply only in the employment context. These are wide ranging and, in some respects, novel.
The inclusion of religion as a "protected attribute" in the workplace appears to me, in effect, to make blasphemy unlawful at work but not elsewhere. The controversial Danish cartoons could be published but not taken to work.
Similar anomalies could arise with other workplace-protected attributes, such as political opinion, social origin and nationality.
Further, each of the four existing commonwealth anti-discrimination acts proscribe publication of an advertisement or notice that indicates an intention to engage in discriminatory conduct. Section 53 of the new omnibus bill goes further into freedom of speech territory by extending this proscription beyond advertisements to any publication.
The new bill proposes a significant redrawing of the line between permissible and unlawful speech. A freedom that is contingent on proving, after the event, that it was exercised reasonably or on some other exculpatory basis is a much reduced freedom.
Further, as is well known, the chilling effect of the mere possibility of legal processes will prevent speech that could have satisfied an exception.
When rights conflict, drawing the line too far in favour of one degrades the other right. Words such as "offend" and "insult" impinge on freedom of speech in a way that words such as "humiliate", "denigrate," "intimidate", "incite hostility" or "hatred" or "contempt", do not. To go beyond language of the latter character, in my opinion, goes too far.
We should take care not to put ourselves in a position where others could reasonably assert that we are in breach of our international treaty obligations to protect freedom of speech.
Children banned from dressing up as gingerbread men… because school says costumes are racist
Schoolchildren in Sweden have been banned from dressing up as gingerbread men for a Christmas parade because their teachers fear the costumes could be considered racist.
Youngsters from a primary school in Laxa told their parents they had been ordered not to wear the outfits for the St Lucia celebrations on Thursday. Traditionally, children dress as either St Lucia, or gnomes, stars, or gingerbread men for the candle-lit parade.
But heartbroken 10-year-old Mio Simiv was told he could not wear his gingerbread man costume to the celebration because it might be seen as 'offensive'.
Angry mum Jenny Simic told local media: 'I thought he had to have got it wrong so I called the school and they said people might find a brown gingerbread character offensive.
'I said, well then my son won't participate. He won't support some Ku Klux Klan procession - because that's what the little Lucias look like when they all come in with white hoods and white dresses.'
She later sent a text message to Mio's teacher to see if the ban still stood.
She received the response: 'I know what you think and what you're writing. Unfortunately we have no gingerbread men or songs in our procession! We cannot offer gingerbread cookies because of allergies among pupils.' A school spokesman blamed the row on a 'misunderstanding'.
District schools head Marghareta Zetterlund claimed: 'The children and their teachers chose the songs for the parade and they didn't chose the gingerbread boy song, so there will be no gingerbread boys.
'We don't serve gingerbread cookies because of possible nut allergies. I can't comment on who might find the costumes offensive,' she added.
But Mrs Simiv said: 'This is not what we were told at all. There was no misunderstanding, this is just an excuse.'
'Why should they remove these things from a traditional celebration just because someone might be offended? You could turn that around and ask, "Why are we removing it? Aren't brown people like us, or what? Can't they participate?"'
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.