Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Multicultural gang war in Britain takes a bystander life
A talented football coach has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering a man during a 'horrific scene of complete bedlam' at Westfield Stratford shopping centre just weeks before the 2012 Olympic Games.
A thrown yoghurt pot sparked the mass brawl between two gangs in June 2012, during which Liam Woodards, who had been out celebrating his 24th birthday, was stabbed, the Old Bailey heard.
Nii-Azu Kojo-Smith, 19, has been jailed for life with a minimum of 18 years after he stabbed Liam Woodards to death at Westfield Stratford Shopping Cenntre in London, just weeks before the 2012 Olympic games
As the victim lay dying, the fight moved on to Stratford Tube Station where one of Mr Woodards’s friends stabbed one the opposing gang members.
Following a three-month retrial, Kojo-Smith, 19, of Hackney, east London, was found guilty of Mr Woodards’s murder and was told he would spend at least 18 years in prison.
The Old Bailey heard that Kojo-Smith had a previous conviction for battery and threatening behaviour in 2010 after he was involved in a group attack on a passenger at Finsbury Park Tube station.
His lawyer Philippa McAtasney QC said: 'He was a talented footballer. He had obtained an FA1 coaching certificate and his future was set - all of that thrown away in a second of his behaviour.'
She said he knew what he did was 'very wrong' and saying sorry to the victim’s family was not enough.
Detaining Kojo-Smith for a minimum of 18 years, the judge Richard Marks QC said: 'The shopping centre at that time was full of men, women and children going about their business.
'It was a horrific scene of complete bedlam as many members of the public ran for safety into shops which swiftly closed their doors.
'It was readily apparent that those caught up in those appalling events must have been and were absolutely terrified.'
The court heard much of the fight was captured on CCTV which was shown during the trial.
The judge praised the victim’s parents for their dignified conduct throughout the trial.
He said: 'The parents of Liam Woodards have attended every day of the trial. They have earned the respect of the court by the fact they have conducted themselves with dignity throughout in what must have been a shocking ordeal.
'I express hope the conclusion of the trial will bring them some closure.'
A More Sinister Equality
by Theodore Dalrymple
Patriotic effusions, whosever they may be, seldom please citizens of other nations, because they are generally so self-congratulatory; and self-congratulation, which is no doubt an inescapable part of the human condition, is best kept to oneself even when justified. Occasional outbursts may be acceptable, as after a triumph in a just war—but just wars are themselves infrequent events in human history. Ignorance of and disdain for others are often the corollaries of noisy patriotism; it was with good reason that Doctor Johnson said that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Quite often it is the first refuge as well.
On the other hand, some kind of collective self-belief is necessary, for otherwise effort would be in vain and achievement impossible. A country completely without patriotism, even if this state remained implicit rather than explicit, would be an unhappy place. As in most things human, a balance must be struck.
I mention this because I recently came across a description of Americanism by Theodore Roosevelt. Among American virtues, he said, were respect for the rights of others; freedom of opinion; religious tolerance; equality under the law; and “at least a measurable quality of opportunity.” This last was important: Roosevelt wisely did not employ a shibboleth of our time, equality of opportunity.
“Those who believe in equality of opportunity must want, if they take the idea seriously, to make the world not only just but fair.”
Roosevelt was not a political philosopher, and no doubt his statement can be criticized for its inconsistencies (but so can the statements of most political philosophers). He says that “all privileges based on wealth are un-American,” by which he must have meant legally inscribed privileges, for in the imperfect, sublunary world wealth will always have, or buy, its privileges. For example, an accused wealthy man will generally have a better legal team to defend him than an impoverished accused man. And Roosevelt added that “all enmity to honest men merely because they are wealthy” is equally un-American; in which case one can only surmise that either America is fast becoming un-American, or no wealthy man in America is honest.
But to return to the question of opportunity versus equality of opportunity: Roosevelt can hardly have failed to notice that, as the scion of a rich family, his opportunities were greater than those of the majority of his fellow citizens. On the other hand, he made the most of them by fierce efforts in many different fields of endeavor; indeed, he was famously in favor of the strenuous rather than the easeful life. He did not content himself with frittering away his inherited fortune as many a young sprig has done (and as I think I might well have done, had I had a fortune to fritter). Nor was Roosevelt the kind of man to deny anyone his chance merely because he was not well-born. Opportunity, yes, then; equality of opportunity, no.
But to oppose the notion of equality of opportunity these days is to be thought some kind of monstrous ultramontane reactionary, a Metternich or Nicholas I, who wants by means of repression to preserve the status quo in amber. Members of young audiences to which I have spoken have almost fainted with shock when I have said that I not only did not believe in equality of opportunity, but to the contrary found the very idea sinister in the extreme, and much worse than mere egalitarianism of outcome. To say to a young audience today that equality of opportunity is a thoroughly vicious idea is like shouting “God does not exist and Mohammed was not his prophet” at the top of one’s voice in Mecca.
Those who believe in equality of opportunity must want, if they take the idea seriously, to make the world not only just but fair. Genetic and family influences on the fate of people have to be eliminated, because they undoubtedly affect opportunities and make them unequal. Ugly people cannot be models; the deformed cannot be professional footballers; the retarded cannot be astrophysicists; the small of stature cannot be heavyweight boxers; I don’t think I have to prolong this list, as everyone can think of a thousand examples for himself.
Of course, it might be possible to level the field a little by legislating for equality of outcome: by, for example, insisting that ugly people are employed as models in proportion to their prevalence in the population. English novelist L.P. Hartley, author of The Go-Between, satirized such envious suppression of beauty (and, by implication, all egalitarianism other than that of equality under the law) in a novel called Facial Justice. It’s not a very good novel, as it happens, but the idea is very good; Hartley envisages a state in which everyone aspires to an “average” face, brought about by plastic surgery both for the abnormally ugly and the abnormally good-looking. Only in this way can the supposed injustice (actually it’s unfairness) of the genetic lottery be righted.
Hartley’s novel is a reductio ad absurdum of a pernicious idea. By contrast, Roosevelt’s “measurable quality of opportunity” is roughly achievable by human design: only roughly, of course, because some (though few) will still be excluded biologically, and there are (again few) upbringings so terrible that they preclude opportunity for the person to become anything much. But the aspiration to deny no one a “measurable quality of opportunity” is not intrinsically nasty, as is the insistence on equality of opportunity. On the contrary; our problem is, however, that the political arrangements needed to bring this about already exist in most Western countries, and still we are unhappy or discontented. Thus we—many of us, that is—attribute our unhappiness to inequality of opportunity for fear of looking elsewhere, including inward.
Politicians love equality of opportunity as an ideal precisely because it is impossible—barring arrangements that would make North Korea seem like a libertarian paradise—to bring about. And because it is impossible, it is a permanent promise of employment for them, as they try to square the circle or construct a perpetual motion machine. It guarantees their importance, and the attainment of importance is probably the most powerful motive of all politicians.
There is only one country in the developed world, as far as I know, in which politicians are accorded no importance whatever: Switzerland. All the same, I am not sure I would like to live there. Perfection is not of this world, and if it existed it would be horrible.
Black gangs in Australia too
ONE COUPLE’S dreams of a perfect wedding were crushed when a gang of youths attacked wedding guests in Perth’s southern suburbs last night.
A WA Police spokeswoman said guests at a reception party in Bicton were assaulted by 50 youths who turned violent when refused a cigarette.
Police allege a small number of youths had requested a cigarette from guests outside the Point Walter Cafe early last night, but were rejected.
The spokeswoman said about 50 dark-skinned youths aged between 16-22 returned to the venue about 9pm and started to brawl with guests.
The group then tried to force their way into the cafe and hurled bricks, injuring seven guests.
Police say the youths left before officers arrived.
Four men and three women were taken to Fremantle Hospital for treatment.
The spokeswoman said police will review CCTV footage which captured the incident.
Australia: Equal under the law - and no exceptions
Claims that cultural identity mitigates legal responsibility for criminal acts pose a threat to Australia's legal norms.
'Identity [emphasises] the idea of certain reservations which one is entitled to insist on and which others have to recognise as constraints,' warns NYU's Jeremy Waldron.
Far from increasing social cohesion, identity politics makes living with difference harder.
Recent efforts by Australian courts to reconcile the cultural practices of minority groups with the rule of law have produced contrasting results.
In February, a Victorian magistrate accepted 'cultural differences' as a mitigating factor in a case of the attempted kidnap of a child in Geelong by a 35 year old Afghan man.
The magistrate's decision was roundly criticised by Daily Telegraph columnist, Miranda Devine. 'How can "cultural differences" be an excuse for child sexual offences?' Devine asked.
But in NSW, Parramatta local court took no account of differences in culture, practice or belief in sentencing a Muslim cleric charged with solemnising an underage marriage.
The cleric pleaded guilty, was fined, and now faces deportation after performing a 'marriage' between a 12 year old girl and a 26 year old man. The 'husband' faces criminal charges too.
The Marriage Act 1961 stipulates that you have to be 18 years of age to get married. In exceptional circumstances, the age can be lowered to 16. The Act makes no provision for lowering it to 12.
Nor has any Australian parliament made allowance for cultural differences in dealing with another practice that evokes great concern - female genital mutilation (FGM), which is banned outright in Australia.
'Whatever the cultural practice, whatever the religious practice, there is no law above Australian law,' declared NSW Minister for Community Services, Pru Goward.
Advocates of identity politics argue that such laws are racist because they have an unequal impact. But this is to mistake the cart for the horse.
Law is one of the ways a society orders itself and maintains a commitment to justice and dignity for all its citizens. The role of law is to protect without distinction or favour.
By arguing that they identify with their cultural or religious practices, members of minority groups attempt to claim more protection for their interests and practices than they are entitled to.
The demands of minority groups to exemption from laws that apply to everyone else do nothing to strengthen the liberal state.
An authentically liberal approach to living with diversity must resist the claims of group-specific identity and insist on the equal standing of all citizens under the rule of law.
Yet the pressure on Australian local courts to recognise cultural differences when dealing with minority groups is unlikely to ease.
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.