Sunday, July 07, 2013
On to the next target: Polygamy!
I recall being mocked for pointing out the obvious: as soon as the goal of same-sex marriage was achieved, "progressives" would move on to group marriage. The logic of this was obvious all along,
and yet I was told I was being absurd when I pointed this out. Well, a major web outlet like Slate is now running pieces arguing:
"While the Supreme Court and the rest of us are all focused on the human right of marriage equality, let’s not forget that the fight doesn’t end with same-sex marriage. We need to legalize polygamy, too. Legalized polygamy in the United States is the constitutional, feminist, and sex-positive choice. More importantly, it would actually help protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and families....
"The case for polygamy is, in fact, a feminist one and shows women the respect we deserve. Here’s the thing: As women, we really can make our own choices. We just might choose things people don’t like. If a woman wants to marry a man, that’s great. If she wants to marry another woman, that’s great too...
"And if she wants to marry a man with three other wives, that’s her damn choice... [Apparently the only invalid choice one can make today is to choose to believe that not all choices are equally good!]
"So let’s fight for marriage equality until it extends to every same-sex couple in the United States—and then let’s keep fighting. We’re not done yet."
Over course, the progressive project can never, ever be "done." Its goal is to create heaven on earth, and since the goal can't ever be achieved, or ever, really, even be approached, every "victory" will always be met with yet another "we're not done yet": human life is not yet perfect, so some other, existing social arrangement must be altered according to the current progressive ideology. (It is only recently that progressive ideology exalted "choice": one hundred years ago, the altering of society would have been done on the name of "the social good," and any absolute right of individual choice would have been ridiculed as a reason for a piece of legislation.)
Now, as I have said before, I don't pretend to know whether same-sex marriage is a good idea or not. There are certainly good arguments for it. But belief in the childish cult of progress does not provide one.
British Liberal leader should visit the streets of fatherless kids where I grew up to see the madness of rewarding single mums while refusing tax breaks to boost marriage
The comment was the sort that most people would have found deeply shocking, but it was all too typical of attitudes in the part of South London where I was brought up. Talking about her future, a young woman neighbour told me: ‘Everyone is going to be a single mother in the end — you just have to find the right donor.’
Her view was shared by many of those who lived in the various council estates where I grew up. Single parenthood was the normal method of rearing children.
While my own father left our home when I was young, my mother, who has lived in Britain since emigrating from Jamaica with my grandparents, has been devoted to her children.
Although my father was a good dad and maintained contact, lots of my friends were not so fortunate. Few had any involvement with their fathers.
In many of these homes, the State was almost invariably the main breadwinner, with the families in receipt of welfare cheques.
With the State providing unceasing financial support, there was little thought given to the costs and responsibilities of having children.
For example, a 15-year-old girl at my school happily told me that her ambition was to have a baby before she reached the age of 18 — a goal she easily achieved.
Another said that she was trying for a baby with her boyfriend who she didn’t expect to hang around after the birth. In both cases, they knew that social security would look after them.
Such attitudes were common among my school contemporaries and were compounded by the fact that the school itself had depressingly low expectations of pupils.
Indeed, at times it felt more like a youth centre, somewhere to hang out and pass the time, than a place of education.
Because I qualified for free school dinners, many teachers assumed I was devoid of potential. No one talked to me of university or even A-levels.
Many of the girls I knew were encouraged to do courses in childcare, hair or beauty.
While other girls, elsewhere in the country, considered university applications, many at my school merely talked about having babies — though there was never any discussion of the jobs or money required to provide for them.
One girl liked the idea of having twins. She realised the chances were slim, so she reasoned that the best thing to do was to have a baby and then try for a second child straight after, because two babies born nine months apart was the next best thing.
I am now 32, and those contemporaries have teenage children of their own.
For myself, I was lucky to find a job at a High Street bank after leaving school. Since then I have worked consistently and have now gone back to education — studying for my first degree.
I proved my teachers wrong, but many of the girls I went to school with have conformed to an education and benefits system that expects little of them.
The welfare state was meant to be a symbol of civilised society, giving support to the genuinely poor and vulnerable. Today, though, it too often acts as a gigantic engine of social breakdown. Costing more than £220 billion a year, it simply incentivises personal irresponsibility and family collapse.
Far from rescuing people from disadvantage, it traps many claimants and their children in the destructive cycle of welfare dependency, where values such as ambition and commitment are lost. It should come as no surprise that in the parts of the country where welfare dependency and joblessness are most prevalent, fatherhood is the exception rather than the rule.
A report published last month by the independent think-tank, the Centre for Social Justice, showed that the number of lone-parent families is increasing by 20,000 every year, with the total expected to reach two million by 2015. Incredibly, in some areas of the country, such as Riverside in Liverpool or Ladywood in Birmingham, more than 70 per cent of households with dependent children are headed by lone parents.
Children who grow up in these places rarely come across a male role model.
Today, around half of British births take place outside wedlock, while just over a quarter of all families are headed by lone parents.
Despite a wealth of evidence that absent fathers put children at a disadvantage, I find it deeply depressing that the political class is terrified of taking any action to shore up family life.
Even the tentative proposal from the Tories this week to introduce a modest tax-break for married couples has provoked anger from the Lib Dems.
Nick Clegg moaned that the incentive to married couples would be ‘unfair’. Trying to explain his point, he said: ‘I have never understood the virtue of a policy that says to people who are not married, “you will pay more tax than people who are married”.’
The Deputy Prime Minister is either deluded or wilfully obtuse.
I just wish he would travel the few miles from his home in Putney, South-west London, to my neighbourhood in Bermondsey and spend a day there. He would witness the devastating effect on people of a society that does not value marriage.
I’m sure he would learn that the idea of a tax-break for married couples is something that benefits all of us by sending a message that society values the family and the commitment, stability and self-sacrifice that goes with it.
Why doesn’t Clegg recognise this? After all, he is an admirably devoted family man and a good father to his children. So why would he not want to encourage that happy model across wider British society?
Moreover, he is utterly wrong to claim that an injustice would be created by such tax breaks worth up to £200 a year. In truth, this would be a small compensation for the way that our tax system penalises married couples and would be a long-overdue recognition of those parents who bring commitment to bringing up children together.
Clegg blathers about not wanting to discriminate against certain taxpayers, but in practice, a tax system that recognises the social value of marriage would actually save the country a fortune through re-establishing the role of fatherhood in family life.
The truth is that family breakdown costs the State billions of pounds by having to spend money on the resulting social problems such as crime, drug abuse, educational failure, and teenage pregnancy.
For years, governments of all parties have poured money into welfare, yet nothing radical has been done to reward mothers and fathers who make a commitment to each other. Indeed, just the opposite is true.
Due to the perversities of the tax and benefit system, couples who remain together are often worse off than single parents in the same income bracket.
This is common knowledge among the more streetwise mothers in the neighbourhoods where I grew up. ‘Don’t put the father’s name on the birth certificate,’ was one of their golden rules.
If the father were known, then the State might expect him to provide financial assistance. Far better to just put ‘unknown’ on the birth certificate and let the taxpayer pick up the tab.
As one of my friends ruefully put it to me: ‘I can have sex with a different man every night, even have children with some of them, and the Government will see that I’m OK. But as soon as I want to build a real family with one of these men, then I’m penalised.’ She knew that she would receive more financial support as a single mother than as one half of a couple and would be more likely to receive a council house.
Men cynically play the system just as cannily. Deadbeat dads know that any children they spawn will be supported by the social security system.
That truth was vividly brought home to me by the behaviour of one father I know, who has children in both Britain and an African country.
Because there is no welfare state in that country, he sends money to the mother of his children there. Yet he refuses to give any money to the mother of his children here in Britain.
Whatever Mr Clegg may say, the truth is that the absence of fathers has had disastrous consequences for our society.
Single-parent households are more likely to be without work, to be on welfare and to be living in relative poverty. The annual cost of family breakdown has been estimated to be £46 billion.
And, of course, family breakdown exacts a heavy toll on children.
Many single parents do a heroic job, but too many children are growing up in fatherless households without effective discipline, guidance, and support. Some of these children, lacking a father figure to keep them in line, join street gangs as an act of teenage rebellion.
Researchers have found that many such boys admit that they have suffered from an absent father.
One boy told a study carried out by the charity Rota (Race On The Agenda): ‘Dads would do a better job than mums ... as a boy you’d look up to your dad and listen to him more than a mum.’
Another said: ‘Fathers are more abrupt ..... when my dad says something I just do it. When my mum does, I just try and argue out of it.’
I can honestly say that in all my years living in South London, I have never once met a gang member who had a father living at home.
Girls join gangs for similar reasons. I saw girls, lacking a father to guard them, turn to neighbourhood gangs for protection.
The same applies to sex.
A girl from a stable, two-parent home is less likely to engage in under-age sex or become pregnant — not least because her father will be keeping an eye on her. One youth worker recently told me of the case of an 11-year- old girl who’d had an abortion. She said many young girls now have sex before they are physically ready and are inflicting real damage on their bodies.
Not that sex education in schools is the answer. At my school it was assumed that pupils would have sex at a young age, and so the emphasis was on ‘safe sex’.
In an attempt to reduce the high teenage-pregnancy rate in the borough, we were taught how to put fruit-flavoured condoms on cucumbers. It was excruciatingly embarrassing and, looking back, it did nothing to curb pregnancies among the schoolgirls.
A host of studies have also shown that children in lone-parent families tend to have lower levels of educational achievement and more behavioural problems at school.
The other day I spoke to a local single mother who told me that her son is failing at school because ‘he is a bit thick’. But it turned out that he was not stupid at all. What he lacked, to be frank, was any support at home.
There was no father around to help, and his mother, who worked from eight in the morning to six at night, was too exhausted to give him any help over his school work. With two parents, he might have had stood more of a chance.
We cannot go on like this.
Politicians must show some courage and introduce measures for them to promote family life. A welfare system that incentivises single-motherhood must be reformed.
This should not stigmatise lone mothers but, instead, offer them more support by insisting that the men who father their children take their share of responsibility.
Welfare-dependency has already wreaked so much damage. As I see daily on the streets where I grew up — streets that are alien to Nick Clegg — the welfare state can never be a substitute for real, caring fatherhood.
The BBC’s left-wing bias is alive and well and living in Radio 4 comedy
Marcus Brigstocke's Radio 4 series isn’t satire, it’s a text-book example of the kind of noxious lefty bias the BBC has only just found itself culpable of.
The tone of sardonic, smug, self-righteous preachiness – usually kept in check on his happily contained sometimes pithily amusing turns on The Now Show – is there in earnest from the outset. “We’re all in this together,” posh-boy Brigstock sneers – “so said George Osborne to the rest of the people in his Jacuzzi full of champagne.”
Within three minutes, he has taken a pop at the Daily Mail for being, one infers, racist – before revealing “they’ve put me in charge of a hospital”. It’s going to be OK, he reveals, even though he’s got rid of those pointless manager folk. “As long as no one else in the UK gets ill for the next four years we should be ready to be either shut down or sold to a private firm, because if there’s one thing ill people like it’s competition on the open market. You ask any ill person and they’ll usually say. ‘I would love to get better, sure, but mostly I want to see privatised health providers benefiting from my illness.’ ”
Yup, that’s the level it works at – little short of a licence-fee funded attack on Coalition policy and an ill-disguised rant against anyone so rash as to want to reform the NHS, damning reports into and criticisms of which he studiously avoids. By laughable way of balance, he offers: “Perhaps private enterprise will prove hugely beneficial for the NHS... take some of the fat off it, nibbling away at the excess... slimming it down from within – like a tapeworm does.”
By the time Brigstocke had started conjecturing about a hospital run along the lines of a no-frills airline, I’d almost lost the will to live but on and on he droned, with all the subtlety of a first-time student union debater. “Anyone sensible enough to listen to UKIP, Migration Watch and a bloke called Terry down the pub already knows for certain that on a Wednesday afternoon in late 2013 at around 4.30 the entire populations of Bulgaria and Romania will arrive at a hospital near where you live” etc. “These are facts people and if you don’t believe me look in the Spectator.” Right-on there, Marcus.
Laying aside his bizarre attempt to wave away concerns about health tourism as only 0.15 per cent of the total NHS budget – “not such a big deal” – the moment when I began shrieking at the radio begging to be put out of my misery came with the sermon-like wrap-up. “You need to put back the administrators – and stop pissing about with the system… We have strong opinions on healthcare because it affects almost all of us,” he advised piously.
Oh, please, pass the sick-bag, nurse. This isn’t satire, it’s drivelling propaganda and the Beeb should have been ashamed to broadcast it.
Australia's first Muslim frontbencher takes his oath on Koran
This is putting a religion of hate on the same plane as Christianity
The Prime Minister's new parliamentary secretary, Ed Husic, has been subjected to a torrent of abuse online for being sworn in to his position with a Koran.
Mr Husic became Australia's first Muslim frontbencher on Monday when he was appointed to Kevin Rudd's new-look ministry as parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister and parliamentary secretary for broadband.
"This is a wonderful day for multiculturalism, and everything it stands for in our country," Governor-General Quentin Bryce told Mr Husic during the swearing-in ceremony in Canberra on Monday.
However, after receiving dozens of messages of congratulations on his Facebook page, the comments quickly turned to disgust and outrage that he had chosen to be sworn in on the Muslim holy book.
One user, Anna Dean, claimed his decision to be sworn in on the Koran undermined "our culture and country and constitution in this way".
Another user, Carrie Forrest, accused him of disregarding Australia's constitution and pushing for sharia.
Mr Husic played down the abuse on Tuesday afternoon by saying that people were entitled in a democracy to question his choice to be sworn in using a Koran and the public should not necessarily jump "because of harsh words out of dark corners".
"[People] may have questions and they may have concerns and people are right to raise that," he said. "But I also think you’ll have, from time to time, people of the extremes. There are people that are definitely extreme ... and they will always try to seek ways in which to divide people. The important thing is [that] mainstream Australia wants everyone to work together."
He said he had been "heartened" by the huge number of congratulatory messages.
Mr Husic has previously said that he is a moderate Muslim who does not involve himself heavily with most of the religious customs and behaviours of the faith.
Asked about his religion in 2010, he told the ABC: "If someone asks me, 'Are you Muslim?' I say yes. And then if someone says, 'Well do you pray and go to a mosque and do all the other things that are associated with the faith?' I say no.
"I often get told that I describe myself as non-practising when in actual fact I don't go round saying that. Like I just say 'I'm Muslim.' "
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said people should respect Mr Husic’s choice. "I respect his choice," he told reporters in Melbourne. "I think the Australian people should as well."
President of the Anti-Discrimination Board and chairman of the NSW Community Relations Commission Stepan Kerkyasharian said it was "a sad day for any society" when someone is abused because of their religion.
He said Mr Husic could act as a valuable bridge between the Muslim community and would put Australia at an advantage in the international community.
"It should be an interesting and positive milestone that someone of migrant heritage has come to Australia and has now, through our democratic process, reached a position of leadership," he said.
Mr Husic, 43, the son of Bosnian Muslim migrants, became the first Muslim to be elected to Parliament when he won his western Sydney seat of Chifley in the 2010 election with 51.58 per cent of votes, almost double that of his next competitor.
In 2010, he was sworn into Federal Parliament alongside members from several religions. Kooyong member Josh Frydenberg and Melbourne Ports member Michael Danby were sworn in on the Jewish bible.
Lawyer and community rights advocate Mariam Veiszadeh said there was too often an assumption that being a good Australian citizen and a good Muslim were "mutually exclusive concepts".
"You can be a devout Jew and a good Australian parliamentarian who serves your country just as equally as you can be a practising Muslim and a good Australian citizen and politician," she said.
"It is ignorant for people to conflate irrelevant issues and it stems from the Muslim bashing that has been going on in this country for a decade."
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.