Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Multicultural lover in Britain
A father who dragged his ex-girlfriend from her bed by her hair before cutting it off in a jealous rage was today jailed for a year.
Ian Hassen, 28, took Rebecca Watton, 29, from her bed and chopped off her long hair with scissors, leaving her bruised and almost bald.
Mother-of-three Miss Watton, of Hamilton, Lanarkshire, had been in a relationship with the father of her children for eight years before the pair split in December 2012.
But Hassen, originally from Zimbabwe, refused to accept the relationship was over and launched a prolonged attack on his former partner in April last year.
He had stayed at Miss Watton’s home uninvited for three days after looking after their children when she went on a rare night out.
Hassen launched the attack as their three children sat watching cartoons on TV downstairs after finding messages on Miss Watton’s phone from another man.
Miss Watton only escaped his clutches after convincing him to take her shopping - and she secretly begged staff to call the police.
Hassen was arrested outside the shop after Miss Watton took off a hat she was wearing to show officers the shocking injuries he had inflicted.
Describing her ordeal, Miss Watton said: ‘Suddenly he just grabbed me and pulled something tight around my neck. Everything was a blur, but I knew that this was only the very beginning.
‘He tied me up and questioned me endlessly about what I’d been up to the night before and who I had been with.
'Tears streamed down my face and I thought he was going to kill me. Then he started pulling at my hair and I heard the clicking sound of the blades'
She added: ‘Without saying a word, he grabbed me by the ponytail that my long hair was tied in and dragged me out of bed. My hair felt like it was being ripped out by the roots and the pain was excruciating.
‘Tears streamed down my face and I thought he was going to kill me. Then he started pulling at my hair and I heard the clicking sound of the blades.
‘I knew then he was cutting my hair off. I could feel the blades opening and snapping shut against my scalp. He wanted to make me unattractive, like less of a woman.
‘He wanted to embarrass me and to make me look ill. I watched through tears as my hair landed in tuffs all over the carpet of my little girl’s room.
‘Then he told me to go and shower and clean myself up. He hoovered up the hair himself, it was just so surreal.’
David Fisken, defending, said: ‘He was extremely angry that she had been seeing someone else and the relationship was at an end.
'He does regret his conduct, he let himself down and his family down. Quite clearly a period of custody will be on your mind but there are alternatives for a community based disposal.
‘I know I am asking you to place an element of trust in him given the serous nature of the offence.’
Fiscal Depute Imran Bashir told the court that at the time of the attack Miss Watton was on her knees, with her head down and her hands covering her face.
Miss Watton, originally from Surrey, met Hassen through friends before they moved to Scotland together in 2004.
Since the attack, Miss Watton has been rebuilding her life and is hoping to study law at the Open University.
Jailing Hassen, Sheriff Douglas Brown said: ‘There is considerable public concern about domestic violence and the courts have to apply a sentence to let it be known that it is not acceptable. This is a serious case.
'You threatened your partner and humiliated her by cutting off her hair, presumably to make her less attractive to other men. There is no alternative to custody and the period for that will be 12 months’ imprisonment.’
Youth today – boring, polite and very fearful
Another week, another depressing report about the state of British youth. Drink, drugs and sex – you name the vice, and almost without fail, it seems the nation’s young people have a massive problem with it.
That’s right, according to figures released by the UK Department of Health, under-18s are drinking far less than they were 10 years ago (16 per cent compared to 30 per cent), smoking far less (three per cent compared to nine per cent), and, if plummeting pregnancies and abortion rates are any indication, they’re either armed to their Daz-white teeth with prophylactics or they’re having considerably less sex than they used to. It’s almost enough to make one yearn for prime minister David Cameron’s dream of Broken Britain.
The DoH’s report merely adds another brush stroke to the increasingly depressing portrait of young people now emerging. For example, an NHS study last year revealed that only nine per cent of school pupils believe it’s acceptable to smoke cannabis, compared to 32 per cent of the population at large. Twenty years ago, three out of five under-18s admitted to having tried smoking. This has fallen to one in five. If a recent government survey is to be believed, it seems British youths have even started minding their Ps and Qs, and become less rude and raucous in public places. ‘People are still being young, but they’re recognising there are boundaries’, said one youth worker in Hackney.
As a Durham University professor observed: ‘The generation before Generation Y were bar-hopping, binge-drinking and taking cocaine. Now there isn’t that frenzied drunkenness. There’s a new sense of sobriety among young people.’ Across the Atlantic, historian Neil Howe noted something similar of American youth: ‘They have this risk aversion that we’ve seen with millennials since they were teenagers. It’s declining alcohol use, declining drug use. I mean, declining sex.’
So if they’re not causing trouble at bus stops, necking Archers in twilit playgrounds, or desperately trying to get off with one another, what exactly are young people doing? They’re worrying about their careers-to-be, that’s what. And when they’re not eagerly adding another slice of work experience to their CV, they’re on social media, frantically deleting any images that might put off prospective employers. This angsty abstemiousness doesn’t stop when they leave school. Late teens and early twentysomethings are similarly afflicted by what Jack Rivlin calls ‘corporate youth culture’, splitting their time between working or studying and augmenting their already War and Peace-length CVs. In a recent Telegraph column, one 24-year-old, determinedly trying to get on in the world, even boasted about how little she drinks, her fondness for twee, be it baking or knitting, and her pant-swinging love of Fleetwood Mac. Twenty is the new 40, she says proudly.
Of course, there are plenty of people, from politicians and public-health wonks to right-minded commentators, who think all this is just wonderful. Young people are finally recognising that youth is no time for doing anything one might regret; they know what they need to do to get on in life, to get that dream job, to get that financial security, to get that A1 health check. ‘Young people who adopt healthy lifestyles early on can use them as a building block for success’, said public-health minister Jane Ellison. Elsewhere, a Guardian columnist was pleased that ‘the meaning of adolescence has been reconstructed. Gone is the rose-hued image of it as a period of ennui where mistakes were possible, even encouraged.’ Or as the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson put it, ‘What you earn is dictated by what you learn, and the young know it’. Being young is no longer deemed a time for youthful folly.
But that is a problem. Because if there is a time in people’s lives to experiment, to try things out, and yes, to fuck up, then it’s when you’re young. That, after all, is the period during which you dream of making your mark on the world, and maybe even changing and challenging it. And it’s also the period you come up against its recalcitrance, the bit of your life during which you challenge life and it challenges you back. That’s why it’s called growing up, that’s why it can be documented as a rite of passage.
At the end of Honoré de Balzac’s Old Goriot, Rastignac, the 21-year-old protagonist, surveys Paris from a hillside cemetery, contemplates ‘the splendid world he had wished to gain’, and declares ‘it’s war between us now’. Being young, you see, has long been the occasion for romantic rebellion – or even robust revolutions. ‘Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive’, wrote Wordsworth of the French Revolution, ‘But to be young was very heaven!’.
To be young now seems to be very far from heaven. The world is not to be challenged; it is to be embraced and conformed to. After all, youthful mistakes could well mess up the best-laid career plans, seems to be the thinking. Little wonder, then, that young people today seem to be so restricted and bien pensant in their views. ‘Generation Right’, BBC Radio 4 called them following an Ipsos Mori poll that revealed young people’s overwhelming support for gay marriage and euthanasia, and a depth of small ‘c’ conservative sentiment. If you’re looking to discover the social and political platitudes of our time, it seems you’re best off consulting these students of the status quo.
It’s not a surprise that young people’s political outlooks are as conformist and risk-averse as their leisure-time pursuits. Both rest on young people’s attitude towards the future. That is, the future is not seen as it has been in the past, as a horizon of opportunity, a chance to make history, as it were. No, the future, both economically and environmentally, is seen as something to be feared, as a set path that one must adhere here to – or else. Hence, this generation of abstemious, censorious young people spend most of their time shoring up their CVs against future ruin, while desperately, anxiously trying to avoid making mistakes. That is the ne plus ultra of youthful existence today: not to risk anything that might jeopardise one’s future, a future which is seen almost entirely in terms of one’s career. The idea of reckless youth, once the bane of the conservative, seems fanciful today.
But this crabbed attitude to the future, which might as well have been drawn up by a careers adviser, also explains a paradox. Never have the young been so serious, so frightened of fun, and wary of making mistakes, and never have they seemed so incapable of growing up. They’re worrying about their careers at 13, but still living at home at 30. This isn’t just because of that most tedious of moans, rising house prices in the South East – although there are clearly material factors involved.
No, this long-documented inability to grow up, this neverending period of adolescence into which so many seem locked, actually goes hand-in-hand with the increasingly fatalistic, life-by-numbers outlook of the young. That’s because what looks like a new-found sensibleness, a teenage embrace of being fortysomething, of worrying about one’s career and keeping at all times to the straight and narrow, also militates against growing up. Because to grow up properly, you need to make mistakes, you need to have been foolish, to have challenged life and to have lost. You need, in short, to have taken your life into your own hands.
But too many seem too frightened to do that, preferring instead to place their lives in the hands of a mapped-out career path, complete with a stint at university, a domino-rally of internships and work-experience placements, and that not-so-dream job at the end of it. With so little risked, so little struck out for, and so few days seized, is it any wonder that this generation of captain sensibles finds it so hard to grow up?
Swiss girls just wanna have guns
Rob Lyons reports from Zurich's annual shooting competition – for schoolchildren
There was uproar in August after a nine-year-old girl accidentally shot her shooting instructor with a machine gun at a venue called Bullets and Burgers in Arizona, USA. This was just the latest inevitable outcome, we were told, of a culture obsessed with guns. But as I saw in Zurich, Switzerland on Monday, the US is not alone in being so comfortable with such weapons, and there is no simplistic connection between teaching young people to use guns and high rates of homicide.
The occasion was the final shootout in the annual Knabenschiessen (‘Boys’ Shooting’) competition. Children from 13 upwards can sign up and have a go with automatic weapons (though in this case, one shot at a time), firing at targets that looked to me to be about 200 metres away. Standing behind the shooters, I could barely see the centre of the target. It was a mystery how anyone could hit it with a gun. Yet the delighted winner, 17-year-old Milena Brennwald, managed an impressive set of hits around the bullseye, becoming just the fifth girl to win the competition (they never bothered changing the name when they allowed girls to take part a few years back) and despite never having been a member of a shooting club.
If some American and British commentators are to be believed, Brennwald and her 16-year-old opponent were being lured into a veritable culture of death. Yet according to figures in 2007 from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the gun homicide rate in Switzerland (0.77 per 100,000 people) was only about a quarter of that in the US (2.97 per 100,000 people), despite legally owned weapons being ubiquitous. According to the latest figures, overall homicide rates in Switzerland (down to 0.6 per 100,000 people) are lower than in the UK (one murder per 100,000 people), despite guns being almost completely banned in the UK.
Gun homicide is far more common in poor, relatively unstable societies in Latin America and the Caribbean than in rich countries like the US and Switzerland. Access to weapons is merely one factor and far from being the most important one. Intentional homicide with firearms is about 20 times more likely in Honduras than in the US.
Guns, however, are a normal part of society in Switzerland, used in farming, civil defence and sport. My friend from Zurich pointed out to me that it is not uncommon to see people travelling on the trams with an automatic weapon slung over their shoulders, on the way to the local shooting range, and barely an eyelid is batted.
It is social conditions and individual moral choices that determine whether gun-related crime is a serious issue or not. Banning guns may make metropolitan liberals feel good, but as Brennwald, a veritable Alpine Annie Oakley, shows, guns can be an entertaining form of sport that allows men and women to compete on equal terms. More importantly, banning guns won’t rid society of the problem of homicide - but it does deprive us of the pleasure of shooting.
Can the ERA be revived?
Two strategies before Congress seek to ratify a constitutional amendment that was introduced in 1923. The core of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) lies in its statement, "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." The ERA has stumbled for decades. One reason: depending on how "equal rights" are defined, the amendment becomes controversial. It has come to include demands for class entitlements or legal privileges rather than a focus upon protecting traditional and individual rights. For example, the ERA is increasingly construed as mandating greater "pay equity."
The strategies before Congress have little chance of advancing through the Republican-dominated House, as activists know. Nevertheless, the ERA has new life largely because the GOP's alleged "war on women" is an election issue in which Democrats see advantage. Feminist organizations nationwide are rallying their "troops," and the media is noticing. For example, a Sept. 12 headline in USA Today read "Fight to ratify Equal Rights Amendment draws new interest." The rallies and headlines are effective megaphones.
What are the two strategies?
The first is called "three state." It is embodied by S.J. Res. 15, which was introduced in the Senate on May 9, 2013; its House parallel is H.J. Res. 113. Both are in committee.
Passing a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority in Congress and ratification by 38 state legislatures. The last major ERA push, in 1982, failed because only 35 states ratified by the deadline. The National Council of Women's Organizations explained the new strategy. "[I]t is likely that Congress has the power to adjust or repeal the previous time limit on the ERA, determine whether state ratifications ... are valid, and accept the ERA as part of the Constitution after three more states ratify." The argument for this congressional power draws upon the 1992 passage of the 27th amendment; the "Madison Amendment" on Congressional pay raises was ratified over 202 years after Congress submitted it to state legislatures.
Since the Illinois State Senate has already ratified and the House may do so as soon as November, only two more state ratifications would be necessary.
The second strategy is "fresh start." It is embodied by H.J. Res. 56, which was introduced into the House on August 1, 2013; its Senate parallel is S.J. Res. 10. Both are in committee. These bills would restart the ERA process with a need to secure 38 ratifications but without a deadline. Fresh start faces stiff odds.
But, again, the greatest obstacle is the Republican House. The USA Today article explained two of the reasons:One is more a conflict on issues, the other is also a conflict of definition.
USA Today quoted an advocate who was heading to a rally the next day. "My reproductive rights should be protected and no one should have control over that but me." This refers to the Supreme Court's June ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that specific types of business did not have to provide free insurance for birth control under ObamaCare if they had religious objections. Republicans widely view the Hobby Lobby decision as a victory because reproductive rights exemplifies an issue in deep conflict.
USA Today continued. "Pay equity is another factor driving renewed enthusiasm. ... Women on average are paid 77 cents for every dollar men are paid, according to the ERA Coalition." Republicans back economic fairness for women but they tend to view pay equity as a massive intrusion into the marketplace in order to impose distributive justice. They view it as egalitarianism, rather than equality of rights.
Irony is at work here. Historically, the Republican Party's 1940 platform supported the ERA, upon which the party was basically united. The Democratic platform did not include the ERA until 1944, and the party was deeply divided for decades. Historian David Frum explained a key reason in his 2000 book How We Got Here: The '70s. Many Democrats and labor unions believed the amendment would obsolete protective labor legislation for women.
At the 1980 GOP convention, a bitter conflict erupted between feminists and social conservatives; the ERA was dropped from the platform. Some of the conflict arose from deep disagreements on specific issues. But, by 1980, another factor loomed. A new definition of "equal rights" had emerged from the feminist movement and was dominating debate. It was a liberal definition that called for more, and not less, government involvement in the workplace and home.
In short, the Republican-Democratic ERA divide rests as much on differing definitions of equality as it does on specific issues.
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.