Wednesday, March 05, 2014
An Upside-Down World
In December of 1865, the several American states ratified the 13th amendment, constitutionally ending involuntary servitude in the United States. In the 21st century, Americans are coming full circle. In a number of states, a black man can again be forced by the government to work involuntarily for a white man.
Not since the nation eliminated Jim Crow laws during the civil rights era have we seen such a bizarre conundrum. But if the black man is a Christian and the white man is gay, a court can forcibly order the black man to serve the white man or drive the black man from business. A number of states have been working to pass laws to prevent this weird conundrum, but in an irony that knows no bounds, gay-rights activists are comparing these religious freedom laws to Jim Crow.
The issue boils down to one question -- should a Christian who believes a wedding can only be between a man and a woman be forced to provide goods and services to a gay wedding? Despite the histrionics of some, no one suggests that anyone be allowed to simply deny service to any class of people, be they black or white or gay or straight. The issue only arises in the context of gay weddings.
Gay rights activists have lately claimed that Jesus would bake the cake for the gay wedding, so Christian bakers should. Jesus, of course, affirmed in the Gospel of Matthew that marriage is between one man and one woman. He also told the various sinners he encountered to "sin no more." So it becomes highly dubious that Christ would bake a cake for a gay wedding, and he most certainly would not preside over the service.
Therein lies the problem. One side is arguing that Christ would not do this so they should not have to do this. The other side is arguing that not only would Christ do this, but the government should be able to force Christians to do it. Gone are the days of turning the other cheek and going to another baker.
In one real world case, a florist had a long-time relationship with a gay couple. She had sold them flowers on multiple occasions. She knew they were gay. She gladly served them. When they asked her to provide flowers for their gay wedding, she declined because of her faith. She assumed they were friends. They sued her business for discrimination.
She did not take the position that she should be allowed to deny gays any good or service. She only objected to participating in a gay wedding. Committed Christians believe in a doctrine of vocation. They believe that their work is a form of ministry. Through their work, they can share the gospel and glorify God. Because committed Christians believe marriage is a relationship created and ordained by God Himself to be between a man and woman, they believe they cannot provide goods and services to a marital union that would run counter to that which God ordains. Christian merchants do not see themselves as passive participants in a transaction, but active in a ministry. Their work cannot be separated from their faith.
The government saw it otherwise and forced the florist to perform the work or be punished.
Similar situations have come up in Colorado, Oregon, New Mexico and other states with florists, photographers, bakers and others. None of them denied all goods and services to gays. They just declined to provide them with goods and services for a gay wedding because of their faith.
A number of states have sought to ensure Christians cannot be compelled by the state to violate their consciences. The laws are being badly mischaracterized as anti-gay. Christians are being compared to Bull Connor for trying to honor their God. The state is picking sides in matters of conscience. Instead of living and letting others live, tolerance has become a one-way street. Those who seek to dissent or opt out are made to care whether they want to or not.
Taking a child away from loving parents for ideological reasons is simply totalitarian.
Are responsible and loving parents safe from having their children taken away from them by government agents? The Joneses had always thought so, until recent events taught them otherwise.
During his junior year in a public high school in Massachusetts, Tom Jones (pseudonym), suffering from effects of a childhood trauma inflicted by a bully in school, for which he had been receiving counseling for many years, confided to his school guidance counselor that he believed he was gay. Although she knew that Tom was already seeing a therapist, the counselor, without informing his parents, referred him to a gay youth organization, where Tom was told not to trust conventional therapy but to seek counseling from them, and was encouraged to reject his faith and his family. The result was an exacerbation of Tom’s distress and the development of self-destructive behaviors.
One Friday morning, emotionally confused and angry after a romantic breakup, Tom called his guidance counselor, who illegally picked him up at his home — again without his parents’ knowledge — and drove him to school. Mrs. Jones eventually found Tom in the school’s guidance office, where the counselor refused to allow her to take her son home, threatening to place him in the custody of the Department for Children and Families (DCF) unless she allowed him to spend the weekend at a friend’s home and agreed to seek family counseling from DCF — all this despite the fact that school officials had previously acknowledged that the Joneses were exceptionally loving and responsible parents, and that they already had a team of therapists working with Tom.
The following Monday, a social worker from DCF visited the Joneses, and, although they had explained the background issues and emphasized how much they loved their son, the social worker branded them “unaccepting parents” in their son’s presence. She told them that Tom could not go home with them and instead took him back to stay with the friend with whom he had spent the weekend, despite well-founded protests from his parents that the environment was unhealthy.
The social worker also manipulated Mrs. Jones into signing a form requesting counseling from DCF by insinuating that failure to sign would delay the return of her son. On the basis of this form, which was signed under duress and which indicates that counseling was the only service to which his parents agreed, DCF now claims that its intervention was a response to the family’s voluntary request.
When another social worker evaluated the case, she returned Tom to his home, stating that there was absolutely no evidence of abuse or neglect (of which the Joneses had never been formally accused) and that she considered the Joneses to be exceptionally loving parents.
Even worse than what actually happened are the deceitful and evasive responses of school and DCF officials to the Joneses’ complaints, and evidence that the school’s and DCF’s violations of parental rights are not unusual.
After several unanswered e-mails to the school principal asking for information about the school’s practice of referring students to outside organizations, and about the connections between Tom’s guidance counselor and the Massachusetts Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), Mrs. Jones received a response indicating that she should contact the school’s lawyer.
The lawyer denied that the school has a practice of referring students to outside organizations, contradicting an earlier letter in which the principal had indicated to Mrs. Jones that the school had no intention of ending this practice. The lawyer also claimed that Tom’s counselor was not the school’s liaison with GSA, despite the fact that GSA’s website lists her as such. DCF officials also denied that DCF had taken Tom away from his parents without due process, claiming that they had been following the Joneses’ fully voluntary request for services.
There is also reason to believe that what happened to the Joneses was not an isolated incident. At their booth at last year’s Massachusetts Gay Youth Pride Parade, DCF officials told Mrs. Jones that DCF routinely manipulates standard processes to remove children with sexual-identity issues from the homes of conservative and Christian parents.
When the Joneses met with DCF leaders to present their concerns, the officials appeared to be troubled and promised to take steps to remedy the situation. Shortly thereafter, however, DCF moved on from this promise. The new commissioner refuses to respond to the Joneses’ letter or phone calls.
Regardless of one’s beliefs about homosexuality, anyone who cares about parental rights, children’s well-being, and the limitation of state power should be horrified by the Joneses’ story. Exploiting the emotional fragility of adolescents to turn them against their parents and enlist them in a political movement; removing troubled children from the care of loving parents and taking them to live with unvetted families, with a complete absence of due process or evidence of abuse or neglect; denying after the fact that there is any basis for grievances and failing to follow proper grievance procedures: These are the actions of a totalitarian regime, not a liberal democracy.
To stop such abuses before they wreak more havoc on vulnerable children and their families, legislators throughout the country should pass laws — such as House Bill 427 in Massachusetts — forbidding school officials to refer children to outside organizations without their parents’ knowledge. The Massachusetts DCF’s practice of removing children with sexual-identity issues from the homes of loving parents for ideological reasons should be thoroughly investigated, as should the practices of social-service agencies throughout the country, in order to prevent further unconstitutional government intrusions into the family sphere.
UKIP leader says immigration has left Britain 'unrecognisable'
Nigel Farage today claimed he felt 'awkward' about foreign passengers not speaking English on trains, as he claimed immigration had left Britain 'unrecognisable'.
The Ukip leader's extraordinary remarks came as the party unveiled a new slogan, 'Love Britain', which has previously been used by the far right British National Party.
Claiming immigration will be the defining issue of the European elections, Mr Farage told voters ‘don’t get mad, get even’ as he boasted his party would win in May.
Ukip unveiled its new 'Love Britain' slogan at the conference in Torquay but it was used in 2010 by the BNP. Mr Farage claimed Ukip had made discussing immigration 'respectable' and said he was reclaiming 'Love Britain' from extremists.
Speaking during a Q&A session at the party's spring conference in Torquay, Mr Farage voiced concern about no-one speaking English on public transport.
He said: 'I got the train the other night, it was rush hour, from Charing Cross, it was the stopper going out. We stopped at London Bridge, New Cross, Hither Green.
'It wasn't until after we got past Grove Park that I could actually hear English being audibly spoken in the carriage. Does that make me feel slightly awkward? Yes.
'I wonder what's really going on. And I'm sure that's a view that will be reflected by three quarters of the population, perhaps even more.
'That does not mean one is anti-immigration, we're not anti-immigration, we want immigration, but we do absolutely believe we should be able to judge it both on quantity and quality.'
'In scores of our cities and market towns, this country in a short space of time has frankly become unrecognisable'
In his earlier keynote speech, Mr Farage said the scale of immigration was creating a society in which people did not want their children to grow up: 'In scores of our cities and market towns, this country in a short space of time has frankly become unrecognisable.
'Whether it is the impact on local schools and hospitals, whether it is the fact in many parts of England you don't hear English spoken any more. 'This is not the kind of community we want to leave to our children and grandchildren.'
Mr Farage claimed his party poses the biggest threat to the political establishment in modern times.
He predicted Ukip would win the European Parliament elections in May and secure hundreds of new councillors before taking seats in the Commons next year.
But his launch was overshadowed by his new slogan, forcing him to again distance Ukip from far right parties.
A BNP spokesman said: 'They’ve stolen our policies and now they’ve stolen our slogan.'
In an attempt to avoid embarrassment, a Ukip spokeswoman said the party was 'reclaiming' the line by using it.
Mr Farage told the BBC: 'I’m sorry, the National Front used the Union Jack – we haven’t burnt them all, have we?
'We are the party that has made debating Europe respectable; we are the party that’s made debating immigration respectable, and we are now going to make the fact that we can be patriotic and proud of our country not something to bury under the carpet, not something to be sneered at but something we can say openly.
'We are claiming that territory, and d’you know what? To hell with the BNP or anybody else. It’s our slogan now.'
In his speech, Mr Farage said told party members they were on the cusp of a major electoral breakthrough.
He said: ‘We have got 84 days until these European elections. I want us to be the patriotic fightback. I want us to be the people who say we are proud of our country.’
Attacking the political establishment which he says dominates the other parties, he added: ‘Don’t get mad, get even. Vote Ukip on May 22.
‘We carry the hopes now of countless millions on our shoulders. We are in politics because we believe in our country and we believe in our people. Together we can get our country back.’
He said that immigration has now become the ‘number one issue in British politics’ and Britain cannot have its own immigration policy while it is a member of the European Union.
’80 per cent of the British people did not want borders to come down with Romania and Bulgaria, but they did, we have lost control and we want to take it back,’ he said.
He went on: ‘In fact, we've sunk so low as a nation that we now cannot even deport foreign criminals without the say-so of a foreign court.
‘Our ruling classes have lost confidence in this country and its people. ‘That lack of confidence is reflected in the way our own country is governed too, and no better example of that can be the recent crisis that we've had over the floods.’
Ukip are expected to beat the Tories in May's European Parliament elections, and could push Labour into second.
But the party has been left embarassed by the views of some of its members, including a councillor who suggested flooding had been caused by gay marriage.
Today Mr Farage insisted his candidates could 'say what they like' because they represent a broad base of public opinion.
He said: 'These elections, in many ways, will be an opportunity for us to tell the political class where to go.'
The Ukip leader said that since the 2010 elections, candidates were now of a 'quality and calibre' the party could be proud of.
He said: 'Despite repeated attempts to ridicule us, our people come from the real world, they've got real-life experiences, unlike the political classes. 'And they're people who have already had jobs - how about that.'
He has faced criticism for claiming that women who take time off to have children are 'worth less' to employers.
To counter claims that the party is sexist, Mr Farage highlighted increased numbers of women in the party and the prominent place on candidate lists of many women. And he predicted that the next party leader to be a woman would be in Ukip.
The Tories were dealt a huge blow yesterday by new figures showing net migration to Britain had rocketed by 60,000 to 212,000 in the year to September 2013.
It was driven entirely by a 40 per cent leap in the number of people taking advantage of EU edicts on free movement.
Mr Farage said Britain has become unrecognisable in recent years and is no longer a community fit for passing to our children and grandchildren.
'We have seen since 2004 a doubling of youth unemployment, we have seen since that time wage compression - people doing jobs now taking home less money than they were 10 years ago.
'All of this has happened because we now have a totally distorted labour market in Britain, because of the massive oversupply that has come to us from eastern Europe.
The children taught at home about murder and bombings
It must have been dreadful for the family of Drummer Lee Rigby to listen to the ravings of his killers as they were finally hauled away to the cells and, one hopes, to a lifetime of incarceration. If those relatives have one consolation, it is that they were just about the last words those men will ever pronounce in public; the last time we will have to hear them pervert the religion of Islam – and the most important question now is how we prevent other young men, and women, from succumbing to that awful virus: the contagion of radical Islamic extremism.
Every day in London and other big cities, there are thousands of counter-terrorism officers doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe. They have to work out who are the most vulnerable young people, who are the most susceptible – and they have to stop the infection of radicalisation before it is too late. That will sometimes mean taking a view about what is happening to them in their homes and families – and I worry that their work is being hampered by what I am obliged to call political correctness.
There is built in to the British system a reluctance to be judgmental about someone else’s culture, even if that reluctance places children at risk. Look at the case of Harriet Harman. You may ask yourself how on earth this relatively astute politician could have allowed her organisation to be affiliated to a body that brazenly called itself the “Paedophile Information Exchange”. The answer – which Harman would do well to admit – is that back in the Seventies she got into a complete intellectual fog.
The National Council for Civil Liberties was avowedly in search of minorities to protect, and they came to suppose that paedophiles must be victims of their own urges and that it was therefore not their fault that they were so widely abhorred. They mushily decided that the paedophiles must have some sort of “protected group” status – like other minorities; and the victims, of course, were the children who were groomed and abused by these emboldened perverts.
Or look at the appalling failure of this country to tackle the evil of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This practice is utter savagery. It involves the excision of the female exterior genital organs, including the clitoris, so as to minimise the possibility of sexual pleasure. The mutilation can cause infection, death, or constant pain.
Both Britain and France banned this barbarism in the mid-Eighties; and yet the French have been much more effective in tackling it than we have. They have jailed about 100 people, and started proceedings against a dozen doctors. We have thousands of victims in Britain, thousands of girls being cut every year, and yet we have managed not a single prosecution – let alone a conviction.
Again, there is that fatal squeamishness about intervening in the behaviour of a “protected group” – in this case ethnic minorities, often but by no means always from the Horn of Africa. There are still Left-wing academics protesting that the war on FGM is a form of imperialism, and that we are wrong to impose our Western norms.
I say that is utter rubbish, and a monstrous inversion of what I mean by liberalism. On the contrary: we need to be stronger and clearer in asserting our understanding of British values. That is nowhere more apparent in the daily job of those who protect us all from terror – and who are engaged in tackling the spread of extremist and radical Islam.
We are familiar by now with the threat posed by the preachers of hate, the extremist clerics who can sow the seeds of madness in the minds of impressionable young people. We are watching like hawks to see who comes back from Syria, and the ideas they may have picked up.
We know that the problem of radicalisation is not getting conspicuously worse – but nor is it going away. There are a few thousand people in London – the “low thousands”, they say – who are of interest to the security services; and a huge amount of work goes into monitoring those people, and into making sure that their ranks are not swelled by new victims of radicalisation.
What has been less widely understood is that some young people are now being radicalised at home, by their parents or by their step-parents. It is estimated that there could be hundreds of children – especially those who come within the orbit of the banned extremist group Al-Muhajiroun – who are being taught crazy stuff: the kind of mad yearning for murder and death that we heard from Lee Rigby’s killers.
At present, there is a reluctance by the social services to intervene, even when they and the police have clear evidence of what is going on, because it is not clear that the “safeguarding law” would support such action. A child may be taken into care if he or she is being exposed to pornography, or is being abused – but not if the child is being habituated to this utterly bleak and nihilistic view of the world that could lead them to become murderers. I have been told of at least one case where the younger siblings of a convicted terrorist are well on the road to radicalisation – and it is simply not clear that the law would support intervention.
This is absurd. The law should obviously treat radicalisation as a form of child abuse. It is the strong view of many of those involved in counter-terrorism that there should be a clearer legal position, so that those children who are being turned into potential killers or suicide bombers can be removed into care – for their own safety and for the safety of the public.
That must surely be right. We need to be less phobic of intrusion into the ways of minority groups and less nervous of passing judgment on other cultures. We can have a great, glorious, polychromatic society, but we must be firm to the point of ruthlessness in opposing behaviour that undermines our values. Paedophilia, FGM, Islamic radicalisation – to some extent, at some stage, we have tiptoed round them all for fear of offending this or that minority. It is children who have suffered.
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 and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.