Monday, January 07, 2013

Britain's once great RSPCA is being destroyed by a militant tendency

The animal welfare organisation has badly lost its way under its present leadership. I once contemplated remembering its Australian offshoot in my will but the "animal rights" fanaticism of some of its senior people cut that thought stone dead. And that was years ago -- JR

One must always treat lawyers with respect, so let me state at once that I have absolutely nothing against Jeremy Carter-Manning QC. From his entry in Who’s Who, I see that he was educated at St Paul’s School, called to the Bar nearly 40 years ago, and that his recreations include “food and wine”, which he pursues in the Reform Club. I have no doubt he is esteemed in his profession.

Most of us might have passed our entire lives without ever hearing of Mr Carter-Manning QC, were it not for a bill submitted for his costs at Bicester magistrates’ court last month. He charged £73,310.80 plus VAT. (His two fellow counsel added another £90,000.) Mr Carter-Manning’s services cost £300 an hour, so I calculate that he worked for roughly 244 hours on this case.

What was he doing? According to Gavin Grant, the chief executive of the RSPCA, which hired him, he was watching “hundreds of hours of footage” of the Heythrop Hunt to see if offences had been committed under the Hunting Act. Eventually, the RSPCA brought 52 charges against four hunt members. Two were acquitted, but two pleaded guilty to four charges of hunting a wild mammal with dogs, a charge so minor that it is classified as “non-recordable”. They – and the hunt corporately – were fined a total of less than £7,000.

The costs that the RSPCA submitted to the court were £326,000. The district judge, who rejected the RSPCA’s attempt to conceal this amount from public gaze, described them as “quite staggering”. Despite the RSPCA “winning”, the charity therefore had to pay most of them itself.

As I say, no blame attaches to Mr Carter-Manning QC. He must live. If he can get £300 an hour for staring at grainy amateur film to see if hounds are chasing after foxes, good luck to him. But the more one reflects on this enterprise, the more extraordinary it is.

Charities must, by law, act prudently with their funds. The RSPCA often brings cases of animal cruelty to court, and since it regards hunting as cruel, this comes within its remit. But Mr Grant himself says that his organisation brought 2,000 prosecutions last year, at a total cost of £5 million, an average of £2,500 a go. If each of these 2,000 cases had cost the same as the Heythrop case, the RSPCA would have spent approximately £660 million on them – way beyond the means of any charity in the entire history of the planet.

So why, in terms of animal cruelty, was the Heythrop Hunt case considered more than 100 times more important than the torture of a pony, or the starvation of a cat, or alsatians, overcrowded and filthy, locked in a tower block all day, or all the other horrible things that human beings do to animals?

It wasn’t, of course. Even a fierce opponent of hunting could not make that claim. The difference is political. Under Mr Grant, who took over last year, the RSPCA is militant. The Heythrop Hunt was chosen because its country is in David Cameron’s constituency. Mr Grant has denied that he is fighting a class war: “This isn’t about accents,” he declared. But he also said to the Daily Mirror that those hunting with the Heythrop were “no different from badger baiters – apart from their accents”, so accents would seem to be on his mind. He says he wants the men to go to prison for between two and five years.

As you would expect, the RSPCA has its own legal department, well-versed, presumably, in looking at film of alleged animal cruelty. But that wasn’t good enough for Mr Grant. He had to get the QC in and pay him to watch the movies. He wanted this to be big.

A similar tendency to go for the dramatic gesture was visible when Mr Grant called for a boycott of all milk produced by farmers who had agreed to take part in the badger cull (later postponed) to help eradicate bovine – and badger – TB. People would not want to buy milk from farms “soaked in badgers’ blood”, he said. In Ramsgate, in September, RSPCA inspectors, worried about defective live animal transport, insisted on unloading sheep at the port and shooting more than 40 that they deemed unfit to travel. Two sheep also drowned in a water tank. Mr Grant has defended what the inspectors did, without qualification.

He is entitled to his views. But when you look at the main work for which the RSPCA is valued, you see that it is overwhelmingly the practical rescue and care of animals. On its website, the emphasis is on this good work, and on practical advice about disease, strays, worming etc. The RSPCA’s key “five pledges” do not mention prosecutions.

Because of its care of animals, the RSPCA is treated in a special way. Its inspectors wear uniforms, though they have no legal powers. Chief constables encourage its prosecution work. And – a little known fact – if the RSPCA brings a case and loses it, the costs of the defendants are usually borne by the taxpayer. So the RSPCA can prosecute almost without thinking. It can go to law as a marketing tool or to make a political point.

This is an abuse of the privileges our culture has traditionally granted it. These, including its many legacies, its charitable status and the patronage of the Queen, came because the RSPCA was an animal welfare organisation – and people strongly support that. Recently, it has become an animal rights organisation instead.

The doctrine of animal rights, developed by Dr Richard Ryder, who is on the RSPCA Council, regards human beings as morally identical to “other animals”, so they should never kill animals for food or clothing, let alone sport. Dr Ryder thinks that people who disagree are guilty of “speciesism”, which, like racism, is profoundly wicked. Mr Grant is highly sympathetic to these views.

A former Liberal Democrat activist, he sees his work as a political campaign. This alienates large numbers of people – farmers, horse-racing bodies, dog organisations – who work professionally with animals, not to mention officials and ministers at Defra. Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State, recently told the RSPCA to be “wary” of muddling charity and politics. Relationships which once were co-operative have become confrontational.

People are naturally starting to ask by what right the RSPCA acts. Despite its policy of never killing a “rehousable” animal, it admits to putting down 3,400 animals for non-medical reasons in 2011. Its membership has fallen to only 25,000. This is a tenth of the numbers who turn out to support hunts on Boxing Day and a fortieth of the membership of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Whom, then, does it actually represent? The RSPCA website does little to attract members, as opposed to donations. It looks as if it likes to trade on its huge, historic reputation, without answering to anyone.

Over 30 years ago, a comparable takeover occurred in the Labour Party. A mass movement originally designed to advance the interests of workers was infiltrated by the Militant Tendency. Today, a movement originally designed to advance the interests of animals hangs in the balance.

By the way, I notice a postscript on the bill submitted to Bicester magistrates’ court. “Counsel,” it says, “have carried out and will carry out other work in relation to this type of prosecution in general.” If you are thinking of giving money to the RSPCA, you might as well cut out the middle man and send it straight to Mr Jeremy Carter-Manning QC instead.


Now Girl Guides consider abandoning oath to God and the Queen after 102 years

The Girl Guides are considering dropping their oath to God and the Queen, in one of the biggest shake-ups in their 102-year history.

Girlguiding UK, the parent organisation which encompasses the Guides, Brownies and Rainbows, has launched a consultation that could see significant changes to the pledge girls take on joining.

The organisation's new chief executive, Julie Bentley, said yesterday: 'The promise has been part of the Girl Guides since its beginning – it is crucial and unique.

'We know from listening to our members that some people do find some parts of the oath challenging, and when members do make that oath we want them to mean it and believe it.

'Times do change, the world has changed and the way people view the world has changed. Our response is not to be stuck in a rigid way, but to respond to the needs of our membership.'

She told the Guardian that this was 'in no way a watering down of our values or moral compass'. 'Some people could be uncomfortable with a change, others might be encouraged,' she added.

The move follows a similar consultation by the Scout Association, which is also considering providing an alternative promise to welcome atheists as full members after complaints from parents and campaigners.

The consultation, which will close on March 3, is open both to members of the organisation and those outside it.

Guides currently promise to do their best, love 'my God', serve 'the Queen and country' and keep the Guides' law.

But the consultation exercise asks for opinions on a range of alternatives.

Girlguiding UK has 538,247 members, including 63,000 trained volunteers. But last year more than 50,000 girls were on waiting lists to join because of a lack of leaders.


Sweet Reason on the family from the Pope

Much of the Internet exploded in wrath over Pope Benedict XVI’s Christmas greetings to the Roman curia. Delivered in those historic halls painted by Renaissance artists, the Pope’s address was given to those tasked with administering the Vatican State and serving the Catholic faithful worldwide.

“Rant!” “Hateful!” “Outrageous!” These were some of the milder expletives cast at the Pope—the ones we didn’t have to delete. This storm of abuse arose because of a papal statement extolling marriage and the natural family.

Let us carefully note what is happening here. The acknowledged leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics is speaking to his brother priests about the essentials of the Roman Catholic faith. He is speaking in a forum recognized to be the sovereign territory of a city-state, known to Catholics as the Holy See.

Even so, even within these walls, the Pope is not free from abuse, much of it obscene. Those who think they can retreat behind their church walls in America, in France, in Britain, or anywhere else on earth, and ignore the world outside, need to pay close attention to what is happening to Pope Benedict XVI’s Christmas message to his brethren.

Leon Trotsky, that old Bolshevik revolutionary, had a point: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” And here we see it. There is a worldwide reaction—from the U.S. and Canada to Australia and Europe—against what the Pope said. There is a virtual war declared against the 85-year old Pontiff’s words.

Even those who claim to be Catholic have taken the occasion to denounce Pope Benedict’s thoughts.

What are those thoughts that provoke such a violent reaction? He asked pertinent questions:

Does man become himself by living for himself alone and only entering into relationships with others when he can break them off again at any time? Is lifelong commitment antithetical to human freedom?

The Pope went further, stating:

“People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being,” he said. “They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.”

“The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned,”

Is there anything here to provoke such vitriolic attacks? Is there anything here not expressed in mild words of sweet reason?

The Pope is saying that our natures are given us by a gracious God. That God loves us. These natures are not socially constructed nor subject to our own will. Male and female, God creates us. Is that what the shouters think is hateful?

Then, what must they think of these words: “…they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Do those words from the American Declaration of Independence conflict with the Pope’s Christmas message on humanity? We do not think so. Every word in the Declaration depends on and is justified by the “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Surely, that nature which gives us our sexual identity is part of the understanding of what it means to be human.

In the tsunami of ink that rushed forward to denounce the Pope’s statement, it’s interesting to note—and we express profound gratitude for it—that the Deseret Newsgave the Pope’s statement a respectful hearing. This news outlet, often seen as being close to the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), seems instinctively to understand what it is like to be a persecuted minority.

It was amazing to see how Pope Benedict made use of the powerful statements of France’s Grand Rabbi. Rabbi Gilles Bernheim has issued a statement that shows how creating a right of two persons of the same sex to marry constitutes a radical threat to the idea of marriage and sexuality itself.

In citing the work of this Jewish philosopher and theologian, the Pope was showing the world there is room for leaders of different religions to align in a worldwide effort to defend marriage and family.

You may disagree with everything the Pope said at Christmas. You may think he is wrong and even argue that his ideas are outmoded. After all, President Obama agreed with the Pope’s definition of marriage and family—as recently as last May.

But you cannot reasonably argue that they are motivated by hatred, by bigotry. In embracing Protestants, Orthodox Christians and Jews, and others in a bid to shore up the crumbling foundations of human society, in speaking mildly and with charity for all, we believe that Pope Benedict XVI is speaking sweet reason.


Semper Pink: Gay Marines Protest Possibility Of Female Infantry

Beyond comment

The premier advocacy organization for gay infantry Marines released a statement today condemning the Marine Corps' plan to open up the Infantry Officers Course to female volunteers.

The San Francisco-based group Semper Pink called the plan "an affront to the traditional Spartan values which we cherish as Marines." The group also said that female grunts "will damage the closeness, intimacy, and brotherhood that comes with infantry life."

In mid-April the Marine Corps announced plans to open up an indeterminate number of slots at its Infantry Officers Course in Quantico to female volunteers. In addition, the Marine Corps is developing physical fitness tests to establish gender-neutral standards for grunts.

Previously, women were only allowed to serve in non-combat roles.

Semper Pink spokesman Sergeant James Wagner, wearing a shirt that said "I keep my unit out of women, so keep women out of my unit," said that allowing women into the infantry would force gay Marines to deal with lifestyle choices which they disagreed with.

"Plus, we didn't join up to look at some nasty poon-tang!" he emphasized.

Sergeant Wagner also said that female infantry would be disruptive to unit cohesion.

"Suppose I happen to be out in town, and I see a male and a female Marine from my fireteam kissing," he says. "Now any time we're in combat I'll have to wonder if he's thinking of cradling me in his arms as I tell him that I love him with my last dying breath, or her skank ass."

Reactions among other gay active-duty Marines were equally negative.

"There is no way to describe how offended I am," said Staff Sergeant Tim Miller, a Drill Instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego who previously served as a TOW Gunner with 3rd Battalion 5th Marines.

"After almost twenty years of protesting and marching, we finally get access to the greatest sausage fest on the planet, and within six months the Marine Corps totally screws it up."Lance Corporal Evan Smith, a Rifleman with 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, believed that female grunts would detract from the Marine infantry experience.

"We had a car wash last week, and I was super pumped to show all the guys the new 'Balls of the Corps' tattoo I got on my chest. But they spent all their time staring at this female Staff Sergeant who's training with us."

"If you ask me, females just can't do the same work as males," he added. "It's basically a question of PT."

1st Lieutenant Nate Wallis, the first openly-gay platoon commander in the 1st Marine Division, was more circumspect.

"The Marine Corps is all about tradition," said Wallis, "so change doesn't come naturally to a lot of people. However, while the infantry has been gay ever since the Spartans, I think it's time we step out smartly and into the Twenty-First Century."

"Still, someday I'll tell my kids how good we had it in the Old Corps," he mused.



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.


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