Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Does this broomstick go with my prison stripes?
In its wisdom - and yes, I am being ironic - the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued a ruling Tuesday that revives a California inmate lawsuit to force the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to hire a paid, full-time Wiccan chaplain. Oddly, the three-judge panel found that the complaint "did not contain sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory under the First Amendment." Nonetheless, the court overturned a federal judge's 2011 dismissal of the lawsuit.
It's enough to make you wonder if Samantha twitched her nose and cast a spell on the robed wonders. Or, mayhap, the jurists are wizards who found no solid legal case but still chose to conjure up a trial reset just for the fun of it. It's not as if the public has to pay for a new trial. Judicial rulings, they're like magic.
How many Bathilda Bagshots are there in California prisons? In their complaint, inmates Shawna Hartmann and Caren Hill claim that Wicca has more adherents in the Central California Women's Facility than Catholicism, Islam or Judaism.
A 2007 Corrections survey found 183 Wiccan inmates - compared with 42,666 Protestant, 28,884 Muslim, 23,160 Catholic, 8,296 Native American and 2,678 Jewish inmates. Those are the big five religions for which the department hires paid, full-time chaplains. A survey five years earlier found 598 Wiccans, which suggests witchcraft could be melting in the California prison community.
Wiccan Rev. Patrick McCollum, who has served as the prison's unpaid volunteer chaplain, told me the department skewed its survey because it "did not want to facilitate nor allow the Wiccans to practice at all."
Why? "Because they thought that they were evil." And: "They had a lot of misconceptions."
You can put me on the record as a Wicca skeptic. When I read the complaint that Wiccans aren't treated the same as adherents to mainstream religions, I figure that's what you get when you join what for some is a do-it-yourself theology. It's like atheists suing because they aren't welcome in church.
For his part, McCollum is quite serious about Wicca.
I wish the Ninth Circuit were as serious. Federal jurists complain about clogged courts. They should look at the mirror, mirror on the wall. They've created their own curse.
Inmate Hartmann first filed this suit in 2008. She since has been released from prison. The complaint is so flimsy that her attorneys actually argued that it was wrong for the judge to dismiss the case because their complaint was "unduly long or poorly written."
Hill is serving a 29-year sentence for possession of a controlled substance for sale. According to court documents, she is a repeat offender with felonies and misdemeanors dating back to 1976.
Criminal Justice Legal Foundation President Michael Rushford observed that he has seen this kind of "there are raisins in the tapioca pudding" inmate nuisance claims before. It's a game life-sentence criminals play "to amuse themselves. They play this game because stupid courts let them get away with it."
"Do you do spells?" I asked McCollum. "Yes," he answered, "a spell is a prayer." He offered up an example: "Great mother whose love encircles the earth, please let this reporter print the truth, and let her be blessed for doing so."
If I turn into a frog over the weekend, I take back this column. Until then, I'm just a chump who pays taxes so the Ninth Circuit can pull rabbits out of hats.
The gaystapo and persecution of Christians
I was recently subpoenaed as a witness in a case making its way through federal court involving a gay bar here in Chicago that’s been accused of harassing a Christian employee…which is a shocking display of hypocrisy, if you think about it, because the “Ministry of Truth” that is our national media constantly berates you with talking points that claim Christians are forever the ones victimizing gays…and no indication is given to the public that in reality it’s the gays who are the victimizers and not necessarily the victims in a lot of cases.
I’ve written about this before, while coining the term “Gaystapo” to refer to militant gays who serve as goon squads for the Left…and who are specifically charged with accusing Christians of all manner of hatred and bigotry (while simultaneously being the ones who actually rev up hatred and bigotry themselves against Christians at just about any gay-related public event held in cities like Chicago).
Well, I’m openly gay and can tell you that I’ve seen, firsthand, Christian men harassed and persecuted in the very prominent Chicago bar currently a Defendant in a major discrimination suit. I witnessed atheist or agnostic gays deliberately targeting gay Christians for harassment as “traitors” because of their faith…and I am looking forward to the day in the near future where I can take the witness stand in federal court and put on record everything I’ve seen self-styled “leaders of the gay community” do to men in Chicago who are both gay and Christian (but who refuse to denounce Christ or turn their backs on their families because the “gay community leaders” tell them that’s what they need to do).
Honestly, this case is one of the most explosive I’ve ever encountered and has the potential to completely obliterate the Left’s ability to ever use gays as a weapon against Christians in the future…because it exposes the reality that whenever the Left accuses other people of doing something evil, it’s because subgroups of the Left are actually doing those exact same things to someone else.
This case will expose the Gaystapo for the evil it does to Christians…and it will also show the self-styled “gay community leaders” to be the real hatemongers at work in our society today.
There’s a lot more to come on this in the months ahead as the case moves through discovery and approaches trial…so be sure to stay tuned because I intend to tell you everything I am allowed to publicly reveal about the most shameless act of hypocrisy the “gay community” of Chicago has ever committed in its effort to destroy “the enemies of the gay community”.
Furious anti-Christian bigotry at CBS Sports
By Steve Deace
This column by Gregg Doyel, a national columnist at CBS Sports.com, is just the latest example of the brave new world that is coming for Christians in an American culture that is devolving right before our very eyes. Religious liberty, which is what led those first (Christian) pilgrims to settle here and found what later became these United States of America in the first place, is under open assault. Just recently we’ve seen:
* A Christian baker in Oregon facing potential criminal prosecution for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
* Hobby Lobby facing seven-figure fines from the federal government because it refuses to provide abortifacients to its employees.
* Chick-fil-a under attack for believing the Bible.
* Talented Mormon writer Orson Scott Card facing a boycott because he believes in marriage.
* The media’s failure to cover the first domestic terrorism conviction in the history of Washington, D.C.. His name is Floyd Corkin – he’s a gay rights activist – and he attempted a mass shooting at the national headquarters of the Family Research Council.
And there’s plenty more where that came from, and unless we reverse the current course we’re on plenty more – and worse – are on the way, too.
But that’s not what has Doyel’s dander up. Oh, no. Its Tim Tebow agreeing to speak at the 10,000-member church of Robert Jeffress, whom Doyel says “does the work of the Lord sort of like Westboro Baptist does the work of the Lord.”
Right away you can see this is a smear campaign by Doyel, who leads off with the bullying tactic of linking Jeffress with the notorious Westboro Baptist. So what are Jeffress’ sins according to Doyle?
Doyel writes that Jeffress has said, “It’s a fact that [AIDS is] a gay disease so there’s a reasonable reason to exclude gays from the military.”
There are really two separate questions here, one involving whether AIDS primarily infects homosexuals, and whether homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly in the military. For example, plenty of people who aren’t opposed to mainstreaming homosexuality, like Senator John McCain, have opposed allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military for reasons that have nothing to do with AIDS such as unit cohesion.
Regarding AIDS, in May of 2012 the Centers for Disease Control – hardly a right-wing organization – reported that “gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) represent approximately 2% of the US population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV.” The organization says men having sex with men account for 61% of all new HIV infections in the U.S. and 79% of all new infections among men. Translation: if you’re a guy and you only have sex with your wife, and she only has sex with you, there’s a better chance you’ll be struck by lightning then get HIV according to the CDC’s own data. Furthermore, over half of the 784,701 living with HIV in the U.S. are homosexual men, and white homosexual men contract HIV at roughly 10 times the rate as white heterosexual women, again according to the CDC.
This is all data that Doyel could’ve looked up for himself if he was truly interested in understanding Jeffress’ remarks and being a professional. But ready, fire, aim draws hits to your website I suppose.
Next, Doyel dips into theology, saying that Jeffress’ church preaches that “Jews and homosexuals are going to Hell.” Again, this is a bullying tactic. Doyel cherry-picks two sympathetic people groups here, but that’s not an accurate representation of Jeffress’ church. On its own website it says, “Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who, by His own blood, obtained eternal redemption for the believer. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.”
That faith statement on salvation is shared by at least 95% of Christendom throughout the religion’s 2,000-year history, as well as clear teaching in the Bible (John 14:6 is one example)—which you’ll notice Doyel never quotes in his column.
For Doyel’s characterizations of the beliefs of Jeffress’ church to be true would require several fantastical, dare I say intolerant, things to be true. First, Doyel is essentially saying is the Gospel itself, which was born of a Jew (Jesus) and initially spread by his disciples (all Jews) hates Jews.
Billy Graham, who has been one of America’s most respected persons every year for six decades, built a lifelong ministry on the faith statement on the website of Jeffress’ church that Doyel is condemning. So apparently Billy Graham is loony tunes, too. Heck, Doyel even managed to offend Jesus Christ himself, who claims many times in the New Testament there is no salvation apart from him. While claiming to stand for tolerance, Doyel elevates himself above God. What humility!
Doyel is mad that Jeffress’ says Islam “promotes pedophilia.” Except he leaves out the part that in some parts of Iran a girl can get married as young as nine with parental permission, because that’s supposedly the age of Mohammed’s child bride Aisha when he consummated the marriage.
Doyel also says that Jeffress is a bad guy because he has disparaging remarks about Catholicism (which I don’t share) and Mormonism. Again, these issues appear to be too complicated for Doyel, so he would’ve been better off not touching them. You simply cannot briefly touch on theological debates that are hundreds of years old and have centuries of context behind them without coming across as ignorant, unprofessional, or both.
Doyel also never mentions that on the church’s calendar there are outreach events for those in mourning, the unemployed, single moms, and for those that “speak very little to no English.” Yet this is the church pastored by a man that Doyel describes as “monstrous.”
Doyel concludes his screed by saying he “despises Jeffress” so he “despises Tebow now.” Did he ever attempt to talk to Jeffress or Tebow? Is it “tolerant” to “despise” people you’ve never met? Is that what the diversity policy at CBS Sports teaches?
The article doesn’t say, but given the homework it’s obvious Doyel didn’t do before writing his column he comes across as rather intolerant, which Dictionary.com defines as “not tolerating or respecting others beliefs as in political or religious matters.”
I’d say that pretty much sums up Doyle’s piece, wouldn’t you?
Australian Labor Party has lost the plot, and the narrative
Waleed Aly says the ALP stands for nothing, which is pretty right. A party that stood up for the worker would reject all the Greenie restrictions that keep the workers poor -- but we see no sign of that. The trouble is that the ALP is now more the teachers' party than the workers' party
If you're inclined to take a long-term view of politics, the hand-wringing on whether Julia Gillard should stay or go is really just so much white noise.
Labor is in crisis, but not principally for the reasons that occupy the commentariat.
It's not about a bitterly divided caucus, or political miscalculations such as the ham-fisted Nova Peris saga. It's not even simply about policy missteps such as the creation of an impotent mining tax.
Labor's problems are not nearly so managerial and technocratic. They are much, much bigger than that.
Labor's problem is ideological. It doesn't really mean anything any more, and probably hasn't since Paul Keating lost power in 1996. Sure, Labor has had its moments - most notably in its campaign against WorkChoices, which jolted its ideological memory and gave it a momentary reason to exist.
But this was no ideological revival. It was reactive: a political opportunity well taken rather than a world view reborn.
Only John Howard's pro-business, anti-union zeal, unencumbered by any resistance in the Senate, made this possible. After WorkChoices, much as before it, what then?
This isn't an optional, esoteric extra. Governments ultimately thrive on narrative. Voters are not merely electing a suite of set policies. They are electing a party that will respond to future, unforeseen policy questions. They therefore need to know what you're about. That's what a clear consistent story tells them.
A party without a narrative is reduced to seeking your support as a lesser evil. Hence Labor's focus on Tony Abbott.
Every successful government can be summarised in a phrase or two. Bob Hawke: a new, deregulated, globalised economy. Keating inherited that story, then added Asia, a growing economic power in our backyard we should embrace by shedding our British skin. Howard was about nationalism, security and capital's triumph over labour. Everything - asylum seeker policy, counterterrorism, foreign affairs, even unsolicited social commentary about minority groups - was tailored to fit the story.
Exactly what story has Labor told us since 2007? It began with something about "Australian working families", but that too was a relic of the WorkChoices campaign. After that, it has been mostly a blancmange of conflicting messages. Perhaps it started when Kevin Rudd wanted to be "tough but humane" on asylum seekers. It took Gillard only a matter of days as Prime Minister to continue the incoherence, declaring both that the number of boat people arriving in Australia was much smaller than many imagined, before swiftly going on to reassure those worried about invading hordes that their concerns were legitimate, and that they're "certainly [not] racist". We learn nothing from this about how Labor sees asylum seekers. We learn only that it's trying to please everyone.
The problem persists even in Labor-friendly policy areas. Take education, where the Rudd government announced a bold new focus on literacy and numeracy, much as Howard might have. More recently, it commissioned the Gonski review, but tied its hands on the question of private school funding so the panel couldn't even consider cutting it. Then it pledged a response it is yet to detail or fund.
Indeed, its only real response to date has been a bill it hailed as the most important of last year, but which had nothing in it at all. Explicitly. It has a section specifically saying the bill creates no rights or obligations on anyone - especially the government. To paraphrase, "section 10: this legislation does not exist".
Even Labor's most significant reform, the carbon tax, merely symbolises the party's ideological malaise. The government's heftiest achievement isn't even its own policy. Indeed, it was so infamously promised not to be its policy.
Remember the citizens' assembly? That was Gillard's pledge before the last election: a random gathering of ordinary people who would somehow reach a consensus on pricing carbon. That's a process, not a policy. It's the kind of thing you do when you want to announce something but you're not prepared to commit to a compelling vision of your own.
As the opposition hammers it on Labor's broken pledge to deliver a surplus this financial year, the government seems to have found some coherence. Confronted with falling corporate profit (and therefore falling tax revenue), it had a choice: either keep finding cuts that would make lots of people unemployed and deflate the economy, or prioritise jobs and growth. It's a nice line. It sounds like a Labor line. But it follows years of saying the opposite; of elevating the surplus to some inviolable standard of good economic management; of saying the main game was giving the Reserve Bank "room to cut interest rates". And this in the face of the ever-lengthening queue of economists advising to the contrary.
In short, Labor had bought wholly into the Coalition's narrative for no discernible reason. It conceded the philosophical debate, then lost the political fight. So now, when it has finally found a Labor story to tell, it sounds convenient and insincere. Labor has become a liberal party, so it isn't even convincing when it sounds like itself.
That's not about incompetent leadership; it is the flipside of the Hawke/Keating legacy. Once Labor embraced a deregulated, liberal economy, the political landscape was forever changed, leaving a diabolical question for subsequent Labor leaders: what exactly is the point of Labor politics? The compromise has been to talk about Labor's "reforming tradition", but reform is an act, not an ideology. WorkChoices was a reform, too.
Labor has been chasing its base ever since. Often it watched helplessly as workers became small business owners and turned into Howard's socially conservative battlers. Labor cannot offer them industrial protection, and desperately doesn't want to offend their cultural sensibilities, which is why it says things like "tough but humane".
The result is that Labor cannot even compete on social and cultural politics. Hence the flight to the Greens, the party Gillard so venomously dismissed this week as a "party of protest". To which the most devastating reply is surely: "Fine. But what are you?"
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.