Thursday, August 07, 2014

Regret that most British cops are white

Police forces throughout the UK must do more to recruit ethnic minority officers if they are to keep the trust of the public, a watchdog has warned.

The Inspectorate of the Constabulary fears an overwhelmingly white police force will struggle to engage with communities as the number of minorities in the UK rises.

A report called 'Policing in Austerity: Meeting the Challenge' blames budget cuts for the problem, as financially-stretched forces struggle to take on more non-white officers.

The report states: 'Many forces have had limited opportunities to recruit new staff.  'Some have made a concerted effort to increase the number of black and minority ethnic police officers, but this is hampered by the recruitment freeze in many places.

'With the current tools chief officers have to recruit and release people, police forces will not be able to become representative of the communities they serve or to keep pace with a changing society for years, possibly decades.  'Many forces told us of the concerns they have about a static and ageing workforce.'

Zoë Billingham, a member of the police watchdog, added: 'The gap between the BME population and the BME representation in police is likely to widen.  'The issue of how police forces make themselves more representative is one that needs to be addressed.'

A total of 6,966 of the 131,258 police officers in England and Wales, or 5.2 per cent, are from ethnic minority backgrounds, compared to an estimated 13 per cent of the British population as a whole.

Assistant Chief Constable Richard Bennett from the College of Policing says progress has been made but more must be done. He said: 'There has been a steady rate of improvement in terms of representation but the service is not changing as fast as the community.

London's first black policeman Norwell Roberts (left) on parade at Hendon Police College in 1967. Right, an armed Sikh Metropolitan Police officer patrols the streets of Westminster in 2004

'The whole model of British policing is based on policing by consent and it is based on legitimacy.

'There is a real danger as our population moves towards 20 to 25 per cent black and minority ethnic (BME) membership - in some of our police areas 40 per cent – while the police service has only 10 per cent black and minority ethnic representation, that we will start to lose a degree of legitimacy.  'The police service needs to be as representative as it can be so it can respond to the needs of all communities.'

Mt Bennett agreed that budget cuts are a key part of the problem.   'There is an issue about the attractiveness of the police service to people from BME backgrounds,' he said.  'If you are a potential BME recruit and you look at the police service you see a relatively low number of BME people.  'If you have not come from a police background you may be suspicious about what the service can offer.

'One of the problems for policing is that there are many well-qualified people who don't look at the police service as a career and they look more favourably on professions such as law, dentistry, medicine.  'I don't think we are competing effectively in the BME graduate market.'

Steve Evans, Vice Chair, Police Federation of England and Wales said: 'Public trust and confidence is paramount to effective policing and therefore it is essential that the police service is fully representative of the public it serves.

'One of the many consequences of the cuts to policing budgets has been the impact on the recruitment and promotion process.

'The commitment exists within the police service to ensure that we properly understand, empathise with and reflect the communities that we serve.  This means working proactively to ensure effective representation.   We are working with other policing bodies and stakeholders to keep this commitment.'


Open source, sexist? Spare me

I think few statements have struck me, lately, as more annoyingly ignorant, than the comment that open-source software is "sexist." Women, it seems, are underrepresented in the open-source developer community. Women are "excluded" from the community, because it's "unappealing." It's another bastion of male "privilege."

How anyone can be excluded from open source is a mystery to me. It has the lowest barriers to entry of any intellectual pursuit I've ever seen, except perhaps blogging. Anyone with a computer, and Internet connection, and some time can contribute. Contributions can occur on many levels -- you don't need to be a Linux kernel wizard in order to contribute a new application feature, or a bug fix, or write a "howto", or adopt an orphaned project. Since participation is online, you can contribute under a pseudonym if you wish. All the "study materials" are available on-line, for the asking.

Oh, but the psychological barriers, you say!

Well, let me tell you what I had to go through in order to become a computer programmer.

I grew up in a rural town in the middle of nowhere, years before the idea of a "personal computer" had even reached science fiction. Yet I was always a science fiend -- possibly because of the Tom Swift Jr. books a well-meaning and never-sufficiently-thanked aunt and uncle gave me for Christmas. And when a children's encyclopedia introduced me to electricity, and I discovered that I could take batteries and switches and lights, and they followed understandable rules, and I could hook them up and make them do things, I was hooked.

The problem was, our town had nothing more advanced than a dinky hardware store. Our town library had exactly two books on the subject: a 1914 book, "Boy Electrician," which told me all I needed to know about making obsolete spark-gap transmitters and coherer detectors, and a 1948 edition of the Radio Amateur's Handbook. (Our school library had bupkis.) Luckily, in those days the Handbook included advertising, and I discovered the existence of mail-order electronics retailers.

I was fortunate in that I could afford to send away for books, and later for small parts...a few dollars here, a few dollars there. I learned patience, waiting for the deliveries. I also learned to go to the local TV repair shop, and ask for any parts they were discarding. One milestone I vividly recall was in fourth-grade show-and-tell, where I showed a photorelay project I had constructed with a photocell and a transistor.

Then I developed a desire to get my amateur radio license...which was a problem, because the nearest examining center was hundreds of miles away. Luckily for me, I had grandparents in that city, whom we visited once a year. I managed to wheedle a trip to the examining center during that visit...for three successive years, because I failed the Morse Code part of the exam twice.

I might have become a communications engineer but for a chance opportunity. I was fortunate that my parents agreed to send me to a one-week "computer camp" for high-school students, at a not-very-distant university. This is not what is called a "computer camp" today. We were learning how to write Fortran, to use a keypunch, and to submit batch jobs to an IBM System/360. I was sufficiently intimidated by the prospect, that I bought a Fortran book and began reading it weeks in advance, to keep up with the other students.

Because even then, I had a vague realization that other students were more fortunate than I. They lived in The City, and had bigger high schools with bigger libraries. Some of the schools taught electronics, and some had computers. They had electronics stores they could visit. Some of them had universities, and university libraries, that were a mere bus ride away. I felt occasionally envious, but I never thought that their good fortune was an obstacle to my learning.

The "camp" left me thoroughly bitten by the computer bug, and eager to use computers in my next high-school science project. I was fortunate that my parents were able to persuade the computer science department at the nearest college (30 miles away) to let me use their facilities. And by "facilities" I don't mean a computer; I mean a card reader, line printer, and a leased line to a computer in a distant city. I didn't have a car, but I was able to cadge a ride once a week with a local teacher who was going there for some continuing education.

Finally I got accepted into a university, and I was fortunate that my folks could afford to send me there. (Because, as you might have noticed by now, we didn't have any higher education close by.) There I continued my batch programming on a System/370. I also took a job at the computer center as a "go-fer", which eventually led to a job as computer operator. And in my junior year I was finally allowed to use the PDP-8 minicomputer in the Electrical Engineering department. In my senior year I was fortunate that personal computer kits were starting to be sold, and I was able to buy one, and managed to borrow some space in a Physics lab to build it. (A 2.5 MHz Z80 with 18K of RAM. 144 RAM chips. Soldered by hand.)

The rest, as they say, is history.

I marvel at the opportunities available today to aspiring programmers and engineers. I couldn't have even imagined a time when people would throw away computers that are literally a thousand times more powerful than my old university's mainframe.* When gigabytes of software, including source code, are available for free, to study, modify, and use. When electronic messages can be sent in the blink of an eye to experts and enthusiasts around the world, with replies often coming the same day. When hundreds of projects are begging for volunteers to write software..."on the job training", with mentors; experience that confers the kind of credentials that earn respect.

And it's available to anyone. Yes, knowledge of English is a plus -- and I'm fortunate to have English as my first language. But anyone in the world can participate; no one cares about your race, your age, your gender, your religion, or your family. And I am nothing short of ecstatically delighted that others can share the joy I have found in computer science!

With all I went through, and seeing all that's available to students today, perhaps you will understand why cries of "privilege" fall on my unsympathetic ears. I was fortunate (not privileged) in several respects, as I have noted, and unfortunate in others. And yet, I prevailed, because I wanted to learn the damn subject!

You want to learn computers? Do it. Don't tell me how "unappealing" you find the computer science lab. And save your whines about "exclusion" for realms in which people are actually, you know, being excluded.


Ruling: Gay ‘Bear Bar’ Discriminated against Effeminate Man in Drag

A Denver gay bar discriminated against a man in drag last year by refusing him entry because of his feminine appearance, according to a new ruling by a Colorado civil-rights division. The ruling found that the the bar had a history of turning down men who “exhibit effeminacy” while allowing women “with a masculine gender presentation.”

The ruling comes after a separate civil-rights commission in the state ordered Christian baker Jack Phillips to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples despite his religious objections.

In August 2013, Vito Marzano tried to get into The Denver Wrangler, a popular gay bar, wearing a dress, makeup, and a wig, according to the Associated Press. When he gave his ID to the bouncer, Marzano was told he could not enter because his appearance did not match his driver’s license.

The bar’s owner argued that the bouncer was following protocol, in line with state liquor laws to prevent underage drinking, for which the Wrangler had been fined in the past. Additionally, Marzano was reportedly aggressive and drunk at the time, which played into the bouncer’s decision.

But the civil-rights division for Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies ruled that the bar’s dress code raises questions about its inclusiveness. For example, its policy against wigs, strong perfume, and “appearance-altering makeup” has a disparate impact on male clientele.

“In other words, a female with a masculine gender presentation would be permitted to enter, whereas, a male presenting as a female would be denied entry,” the division’s director wrote. The Denver Post reports that the division report stated that the Wrangler’s reputation as a “bear bar” leads it to show favor towards more traditionally masculine-looking men.

The director admitted that the bar’s dress code “at face value . . . appear[s] legitimate and nondiscriminatory” but said Marzano’s case raises concern about establishments’ freedom to appeal to and attract certain audiences without discriminating against others.

Marzano, who led a boycott against the Wrangler, said he feels “vindication” in the ruling and said LGBT individuals “face enough hatred and discrimination from the outside world . . .  We do not need it from our own.”

As part of the ruling, the Wrangler will go through mediation with Marzano.

Colorado’s civil-rights bodies have been busy with LGBT issues in recent months. In June, the state’s Civil Rights Commission ruled against Phillips, a Christian owner and baker of Masterpiece Cakeshop, after he turned down a request to prepare a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding celebration. As a result, Phillips was required to change his shop’s policies, attend training, and submit quarterly reports to the division; Phillips has since appealed the ruling.


The Spreading Scourge of Anti-Christian Persecution

Dr. Ben Carson

Intolerance that fosters pogroms abroad is taking root in U.S. communities. Sobering and unforgettable images are projected across our television and computer screens. They should elicit the most basic instincts of both fear and compassion.

I'm referring to images of showing the persecution of hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of our fellow brothers and sisters by incomprehensible religious zealots. Their intolerance of Christianity is beyond horrible. People are beheaded for their faith. Women and young girls are sexually violated, and whole families are wantonly slaughtered in cold blood. Perhaps just as abhorrent is the profound silence of the current administration. Even though President Obama has declared that we are not a Judeo-Christian nation, we are still compassionate people who should not ignore humanitarian atrocities, much less ones where the victims are only guilty of maintaining a belief in the principles espoused by Jesus Christ.

We have an obligation as Americans to denounce these acts of persecution. Even those who do not worship a higher deity should be concerned. For when we stand up to such intolerance, we are defending the root of freedom. We are defending choice -- the ability to worship and call on the name of a heavenly being without fear of torture and abandonment.

The president, who very early in his tenure won the Nobel Peace Prize, now has an opportunity to truly be the broker of peace in a very troubled part of the world. He can be a champion of freedom of religion, a founding principle of our nation. As long as religious practices do not infringe upon the rights of others, he can make it clear that it is wrong to interfere with those practices.

In our own country, we must become more reasonable in disputes about religious symbols. For instance, if a Christmas tree or manger scene has been a long-standing community tradition, and a few offended people come along and claim that it must be removed, should those few individuals have the power to interfere with the seasonal joy of thousands who rejoice in the viewing of those symbols? If someone is offended by a menorah in a Jewish community, would it not make more sense to give them sensitivity training rather than disturb the entire community by removing the symbol? I could go on, but I think the point is clear. When we reward unwarranted hypersensitivity surrounding religious ceremonies or beliefs, we add fuel to the hatred and intolerance that subsequently produces religious persecution.

Some will say religious persecution in other parts of the world does not concern us and we cannot be the police for the planet. Certainly, there is some validity to the latter part of that statement, but if we continue to ignore or tolerate religious persecution elsewhere, it is just a matter of time before we will experience it here at home.

As far as the Middle East is concerned, we are not helpless and can dispatch the State Department to do all it can to help. Some conservatives and cynics might argue that such a move requires government dollars. Who's to say? We don't fully comprehend how besieged these people are, much less know what it would take to grant them relief.

Governments need to decry such persecution, and root it out wherever and whenever they can. The United States should lead in that effort -- just as it has with combating sex trafficking and other problems the world has decried in the past. It is hard to find an issue that demands a sharper clarion call for leadership now.



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


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