Thursday, February 07, 2013
Vote on homosexual marriage passes first stage in UK
With the help of Labor and Liberal votes. A majority of Conservatives voted against
The British parliament has voted to legalise gay marriage, after an afternoon of passionate argument.
More than 70 MPs had their say in a lively, but mainly polite and very British debate, as hidebound tradition and Anglican values clashed with the principles of “live and let live” and equality.
Both sides emphasised respect for other points of view, despite deep divisions.
One MP cited Shakespeare, another Orwell, another Elton John, and one talked about the importance of allowing everyone, regardless of sexual preference, the opportunity of a long-lasting marriage - even if it descends into “bickering over the biscuits”.
The bill passed its second reading vote at 6.15am Wednesday, Australian time, with 400 in favour and 175 against.
It will now go to a committee for detailed examination starting next week
After that, it is predicted that it will pass the House of Commons with strong support from Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs. The Conservative party, however, is torn down the middle on the issue.
Britain already has civil partnerships between gay and lesbian couples. The new law would allow marriage in civil ceremonies and in religious ceremonies if a church allows it.
Prime Minister David Cameron – who was absent from the house when the debate began - allowed his colleagues a conscience vote on the issue.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller introduced the second reading of the bill with a matter-of-fact speech aimed at countering the concerns of many of her own colleagues, who frequently interrupted her asking about the impact on schools and religious freedoms.
“Every marriage is different,” she said. “The depth of feeling, love and commitment is no different between same-sex couples.
“Marriage should be defended and promoted.”
In a heartfelt speech, Labour MP and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said “we all love a good wedding”, with its “cloud of confetti” and rubber chickens – and also loved the idea of a long, stable marriage where partners still care for each other “even while bickering over the biscuits”.
“For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health - that is marriage,” she said. “Marriage has changed many times before and society hasn't collapsed.
“It has to remain in tune with the values of every generation … (I) hope opponents will look back in 10 years and won't be able to remember what the fuss was all about.”
However many Conservative voices, and several Labour ones, were raised in opposition to the proposed law.
Some said they were angry that opponents of the bill were being branded homophobic or “barking (mad)”.
MP Tony Baldry said the bill would end marriage as it had been understood “for all recorded time”. Robert Flello said the bill would create inequality because there would be two forms of marriage, traditional and same-sex.
Jim Dobbin said marriage was designed to support the bearing and raising of children, and the bill would dilute its meaning. Craig Whittaker said the move would make marriage a “partnership model”, eroding its full purpose.
And Roger Gale agreed that it was “Alice in Wonderland territory, Orwellian almost, for any government to come along and try to rewrite the lexicon” – before suggesting an alternative law that recognised a “civil union” that could include siblings.
More expressed fear that religious people and organisations would be pushed into a legal minefield if the law went through.
However Labour MP Toby Perkins said there was a fundamental principle that each party shared: “we basically live and let live, we let people get on with their lives.”
Liberal Democrat Stephen Gilbert said as a gay man who grew up in working class Cornwall, he knew the importance that parliament “send a clear signal that we value everybody equally”.
Conservative Nick Herbert mocked others who feared marriage would be undermined. “What are heterosexual couples going to say? 'Darling our marriage is over, Sir Elton John has just gotten married to David Furnish'?”
And Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, the son of an Anglican vicar and himself in a civil partnership, said objection to the bill was “residual prejudice against same-sex relationships”.
Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said “Edgar in King Lear said 'stand up for bastards'. I believe we should stand up for gay people and gay rights.”
The bill is predicted to get a less wholehearted welcome in the House of Lords, which is dominated by life peers. However it can only reject the law once: if the House of Commons passes it again in the next session, it cannot reject it again.
Giving free speech in Britain a hammering
It’s time to lift the wig on all the libertarian posturing: judge-sanctioned free speech is not free at all
It’s often said that the UK judiciary is out of touch. But just how out of touch with reality some judges actually are still beggars belief. Take for example Lord Justice Leveson, who responded to criticism from education minister Michael Gove that he was chilling free speech by claiming, ‘I don’t really need any lessons in freedom of speech, Mr Gove, really I don’t’. Leveson then swiftly produced proposals which, if implemented, would do more to restrict the freedom of the press than any legislation has done in a long while.
Yet Leveson’s delusions aren’t a patch on those of Keir Starmer QC, the director of public prosecutions (DPP). Starmer is currently consulting on guidelines for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which will supposedly help it to work out when it is appropriate to prosecute people for tweets, postings on Facebook and messages on other social media sites. Incredibly, despite this current role formulating online speech regulations, Starmer seems to see himself as a defender of free speech. So, reacting to the fact that prosecutions for ‘offences’ on social-media sites have increased by 780 per cent over the past four years, Starmer declared in a Sky News interview: ‘I think that if there are too many investigations and too many cases coming to court, then that can have a chilling effect on free speech.’
Starmer’s comments were largely welcomed on Twitter, with people tweeting that they were ‘helpful’, that Starmer ‘underlines [the] ludicrous use of law’, and that his comments ‘add weight to the free-speech argument’. A legal correspondent for the New Statesman claimed it was ‘a step forward’. ‘Starmer finally gets it?’, tweeted a lecturer in media law from the London School of Economics.
But what does Starmer actually get? From his comments, he claims to understand the spontaneous nature of certain tweets: ‘Stuff does go up on a Friday and Saturday night and comes down the next morning.’ In such instances, when someone has quickly recognised the error of their tweets and deletes them, Starmer believes leniency should be shown, stating that ‘those sort of remarks don’t necessarily need to be prosecuted’. He continues: ‘This is about trying to get the balance right, making sure time and resources are spent on cases that really do need to go to court, and not spent on cases which people might think really would be better dealt with by a swift apology and removal of the offending tweet.’
Throughout the interview, it is evident that Starmer’s main concern is not with preserving free speech, but rather with how to use the threat of prosecution to encourage people to think before they tweet. And, if people are too hot-headed (or drunk) to tweet responsibly, he wants to incentivise rapid retractions and hasty apologies. To be more lenient, Starmer warns, is in no way a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’.
What kind of person views the freedom to say what’s on your mind without fear of repercussions as a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’? Such comments put paid to any idea that Starmer is an advocate of free speech. He clearly does not believe people should be able to speak freely. He makes this very clear: Twitter, he says, is not a place where people can ‘go and say what they like’.
Bizarrely, Starmer’s consultation is being viewed in some quarters as a return of ‘common sense’. The acceptance of, and indeed support for, the CPS’s consultation indicates the shift towards accepting that the state has the right to regulate speech and communication. The fact that fewer people may be prosecuted as a result does not mean that something is not fundamentally awry. Why, after all, should judges have any right to determine which tweets or Facebook posts should land us in the slammer? Why should the duration our tweets survive online be any business of the law? That the upshot of the consultation may be a little more freedom to vent drunkenly online should not detract from the fact that it shouldn’t be a judge’s place to grant us such freedom in the first place.
A consultation aiming to clarify the boundaries of what we can safely say should be given no legitimacy. Judge-sanctioned free speech is no free speech at all.
How a British Liberal thought he was above the 'little people' who abide by the rules
By Stephen Glover
Twenty months ago, I had lunch with my old university chum Chris Huhne. Without qualification or hesitation, he told me he had not asked his former wife, Vicky Pryce, to take speeding points for him in March 2003.
It was hard to believe this because the evidence seemingly stacked up against him. Nonetheless, when an old friend looks you in the eye and assures you that he is innocent, you want to believe him. I certainly did.
Now Mr Huhne has announced that he was guilty after all. In the great scheme of things, his lie to me was of microscopic importance, though that does not prevent it from being a little painful. It is the enormity of the lie to everyone else that is so amazing.
In falsely maintaining his innocence, he has lied to the Prime Minister, his Liberal Democrat colleagues and his constituents. He has also lied to the judge at Southwark Crown Court, to whom he made a 'not guilty' plea as recently as last week.
Most serious of all, he has lied to the country as a Minister of the Crown. When he resigned from the Cabinet almost exactly a year ago, he stood in front of television cameras and informed the nation that he was innocent of 'deeply regrettable' charges and intended to 'fight them in the courts'.
Consider the waste of money - much of it public money -and time and energy that followed from his decision to try to turn truth on its head. Months have been spent in legal wrangles as his expensive lawyers tried in vain to get the case struck off for this or that reason.
Mr Huhne knew he was guilty but was prepared to move heaven and earth in order to convince the rest of us that he wasn't. He could have - and obviously should have - admitted his guilt, taken his punishment, and opened the way to the possibility of redemption and ultimate political rehabilitation.
Instead, he chose to pursue this great time-consuming and exhausting lie until, for reasons that are not yet wholly clear, he finally realised that he could not, or would not, maintain the fiction in a court of law. He has succeeded in turning a relatively minor crime - asking his wife to accept his speeding points - into a major one.
This was a display of hubris and ego that is utterly bewildering to most people. It is bewildering to me, too, though I thought I knew Chris Huhne moderately well. Of course, his strong ambition was always plain to see, but ambition is not a sin.
He used to be a journalist, and would have been as remorselessly critical of a mendacious Cabinet minister as the world will now be of him. He certainly once believed that it was the duty of the Press to hold the mighty to account.
Yet as a politician a darker side emerged. During his short career between becoming an MP in 2005 and a Cabinet Minister in 2010, Mr Huhne won a reputation for ruthlessness among Lib Dem colleagues. During the party's leadership campaign in 2007, someone on his team, and very possibly he himself, gave his rival Nick Clegg the nickname that has stuck of 'Calamity Clegg'.
Once in office, he immediately embraced a rise in student tuition fees, which he had strenuously opposed during the election, and as Energy Secretary quickly backed nuclear power, which he had previously vetoed.
He picked ugly fights with Tory Cabinet ministers, and leaked a story calculated to embarrass the Home Secretary Theresa May, later denying that he had done so.
There were suspicions, too, on the expenses front - not so much in the Parliamentary scandal, where his worst offence seemed to be claiming a trouser press, as in his constituency. Lib Dem aides were taped apparently admitting that they had misled the authorities over his 2010 general election expenses.
Huhne always maintained that he had no reason to believe there were any irregularities.
Power changed him. Or, rather, flaws of character which in another walk of life might not have been lethal were transformed, so that he came to believe he was unlike the 'little people'. In search of ever greater power, he ignored the tiresome little conventions such as honesty which govern their lives.
We have seen many politicians declare their innocence, often while inveighing against the Press....
Chris Huhne is looking at a probable prison sentence for perverting the course of justice. The lessons I draw are that our political class contains more than its fair share of miscreants, and that without the vigilance of newspapers we would never know what they get up to.
Over the past 24 hours, the now defunct News of the World has barely been mentioned. But it was this much abused Sunday red-top which exposed Chris Huhne's extra-marital affair with Carina Trimingham (he had campaigned during the 2010 election as a family man). Without it, we would never have known about Mr Huhne's perverting the course of justice, and he would still be bossing us about and telling us what to do.
For all its sins, the News of the World did expose the financial and moral shenanigans of politicians. After the Leveson Inquiry, some members of the political class are lining up to do their utmost to make it more difficult for other newspapers to do the same.
If we can be sure that without the News of the World, Chris Huhne would still be lording it over us in the Department of Energy, we also have good reasons for wondering whether in a post-Leveson world it would be possible for newspapers to expose the mass fiddling of expenses by MPs.
As a citizen, I rejoice that we still have newspapers, as well as a judiciary, that have held him to account. As his old friend, I regret the personal tragedy he has caused, and which he must endure without the support of the wife and family who once loved him.
Despising The Old Rugged Cross
In one classic science fiction plot, antagonists attempt to gain control of the future by attempting to alter the past. Though it might not be as exciting as a Dalorian speeding at 88 miles per hour, maniacal forces in our own reality are attempting to accomplish nearly the same thing by drastically reconceptualizing our understanding of history.
Part of the way history is publicly remembered and allowed to exert an influence over the cultural milieu is through the erection of assorted monuments and memorials. This is itself a practice that, in part, traces its origin back through the pages of sacred scripture.
In Joshua 4:5-7, the representatives of the tribes of Israel are instructed as to the following: “Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant…These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
This is not the only incident in Scripture where the believer is admonished to respect assorted physical historical commemorations. In Proverbs 22:28, the child of God is admonished to remove not the ancient landmark.
No doubt one of the reasons thorough going secularists and even their sissified allies among certain branches of the clergy leaning to the left fanatically lobby for the removal of religious symbols and emblems commemorating solemn events in the life of the nation is to no doubt alter our perception of history in the attempt to shift the country’s underlying values and focus. By so doing, it is hoped that Americans will go from the most part being an independently inclined group of individuals who will protect their precious heritage to the point of laying down one’s life should circumstances require it to one where the state is looked to as the first as the source of goodness and truth which it is free to redefine as changing circumstances warrant.
One such perspective lent a voice calling for the removal of Peace Cross (also just as correctly referred to as Victory Cross) in Bladensburg, Maryland. The American Humanist Association is orchestrating the campaign because the monument is erected on public land. In the mind of this agitprop front group, this violates the non-establishment clause of the First Amendment.
However, one area minister in the 9/27/2012 Gazette newspaper of suburban Maryland provided what he considered a number of Christian reasons as to why the memorial cross should be taken down. Rev. Brian Adams of the Mount Rainier Christian Church is aligning himself with the outcome advocated by the American Humanist Association because he does not want the Cross associated with militarism and patriotism as a “general symbol of sacrifice.”
In making his argument, Rev. Adams enunciated a number of questionable assumptions. He insists that the memorial is blaspheming the Cross by honoring violent people with weapons defending a country while they try to kill people from other countries.
No one in their right mind said war was a picnic. But how else will at least a small sliver of goodness otherwise survive in a fallen world? Does Rev. Adams honestly believe that once things have degenerated to the point of physical hostilities that appeals to reason, compassion, and the brotherhood of man alone will be enough to dissuade those bent on utter desolation?
If the way Rev. Adams categorizes the Crucifixion and a number of Biblical imperatives is a true summation of his doctrinal perspective, as a denomination the Disciples of Christ is in serious trouble.
Though it along with the Resurrection is one of the building blocks of the Christian religion and an offence or stumbling block to those hoping to make it to Heaven under the power of their own good works which are as filthy rags, the death of Christ upon that accursed tree was anything but, to use Rev. Adams’ words, “the symbol of the son of God dying peacefully.” History and medical science concur that it was in fact one of the most tortuous forms of execution ever devised.
Because the believer so appreciates the price paid by Jesus at the hill of Golgotha, over the centuries artists and craftsmen inspired by the moving beauty of Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of all sinners have transformed this implement of abject fear and terror visually into a beacon of hope and adoration. However, in the context of what happened that original Good Friday afternoon, the bejeweled sculptures and golden masterpieces are about as accurate as depicting a ride in Old Sparky the electric chair as if it was an overstuffed Lazy Boy recliner wrapped in a plush snuggy.
By referencing a work as readily available as “The Case For Christ” by Lee Stroebel (so much so that many ministries give away free paperback editions), both disciple and skeptic alike approximately 2000 years after this hinge point of history get a better idea of just how peaceful the passing of this Nazarene carpenter and rabbi was from this world. Stroebel in a chapter on the medical evidence lays out these horrors....
So fundamentally wrong about this fundamental of the true Christian faith, it is no wonder Rev. Adams is so profoundly mistaken in regards to other interpretative matters as well. Rev. Adams writes that the cross is the symbol of Jesus “telling his followers to put down their weapons, and dying for the sake of hope, for the forgiveness and salvation of even those who put him to death.” What Rev. Adams has done here has been to take a course of action applied in a particular incident and elevated it to the status of a categorical universal imperative.
Rev. Adams is correct in the sense that in John 10:18 Jesus instructs that no man takes His life but that He gives it willingly. This was demonstrated in Luke 4 when a mob angered at words Christ delivered in the synagogue conspired to hurl Jesus over a cliff. Amidst such homicidal frenzy, Jesus miraculously perambulated on through unnoticed and unscathed.
Yet, later on, the Savior was not as eager to elude His captors. When Peter attempted to rescue Jesus resulting in the severing of the ear of the high priest’s servant, Jesus declares in Matthew 26:53-54, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way (NIV)?” Christ chastised a foremost disciple because His unjust arrest was to unfold so that the greater purpose of His being slain from the foundation of the world might be fulfilled so that all calling upon the name of the Lord might be saved.
Though each of us are valued having been made in the image of God, the way we proceed into Glory will not cause the very cosmos to unhinge if it does not transpire in a precise manner as foretold as a part the public record of religious history. Therefore, though honor is to be bestowed upon those that lose their lives for the sake of the Gospel, one won’t likely be given additional brownie points or a crown in Heaven should one not do everything moral within one’s own power to preserve one’s own life.
In Matthew 5:39, Christ instructs his disciples to turn the other cheek. Often, the application of this passage has encouraged an undue pacifism on the part of certain quietist sects and overly pious theologians. However, what is being addressed here is more akin to individual insults and certainly not the basis around which to build a foreign or defense policy.
The Gospels should not be construed as denying the individual the right of self defense should the individual feel the necessity to protect their life and that of their family. In Luke 22:36, Christ instructs, “…and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”
In his concluding paragraph, Rev. Adams declares that using the cross to symbolize the military or to praise the military amounts to a blasphemy equivalent to taking the Lord’s name in vain. It seems that clergy within the Disciples of Christ would only be interested in adhering to the strictures of the divine scriptures when they think these teachings can be used to tear down the pillars upon which this great country rests.
For example, a number within the Disciples of Christ are also pushing for the acceptance of homosexuality and ultimately gay marriage. So where is this denomination’s outrage over violation of the commandments prohibiting carnal relations between anyone other than a married man and woman?
This tendency to view the Bible and the traditional teachings that are extrapolated from it as optional flow from the Disciples of Christ positioning itself as a creedless church. Such a formalized belief is, of course, a creed itself.
According to Wikipedia, there are those within the Disciples of Christ that deny the Incarnation, the Trinity, and even the Atonement. So what’s the point of even bothering with any of the religious racket if Christ as the only Begotten of the Father did not come to die for our sins?
The cross in Bladensburg is not a representation of what the military accomplished through force of arms. Instead, the cross commemorates those from Prince George’s County Maryland that died in the First World War.
John 15:13 reads, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (KJV).” Given the disdain he has expressed for both those that take up arms in defense of the American republic and traditional formulation of Christian doctrine, perhaps Rev. Adams does not view the last full measure of devotion worthy of remembrance and appreciation on the part of the COMMUNITY. It seems those like Rev. Adams only extol this particular concept of social organization when it can be invoked as justification to further curtail those areas of existence remaining under personal purview or to confiscate additional percentages of your property.
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.