Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Multiculturalist hides kittens in oven while raiding Birmingham home
A burglar who hid three kittens in an oven while he ransacked a pregnant friend's home has been jailed.
Omar Hussain, 20, smashed a window to break into Marian Ahmed's house while she was at a doctor's appointment.
He stashed her three cats in the unlit oven and then looted the property during the raid in Handsworth, Birmingham.
The warehouse worker even tried to cover his tracks by visiting later in the day on November 19 last year, when he pretended to show support for his distraught friend.
He was arrested when his fingerprints were discovered at the scene, but he lied to police and claimed they were left when he returned to the house to comfort Miss Ahmed.
But Hussain, of Alum Rock, Birmingham, was jailed for two-and-a-half years after being found guilty of burglary at Birmingham Crown Court.
Mr Recorder Kelly said: "This is a gross breach of trust and friendship. You became friends with Miss Ahmed and were a regular visitor to her home.
"This was a terrible thing to do to someone who showed you nothing but friendship and hospitality.
"It looks at the moment as if you are embarking on a life where you are in and out of courts and prison.
"I urge you to reflect on what you are going to do with your life while you are in prison."
Hussain hid the kittens - which were not hurt during the raid - in the oven after smashing a window at Miss Ahmed's home before returning later.
The court heard he deliberately played the role of the concerned friend in order to offer an explanation to why his fingerprints were in her house.
Prosecutor Kate Plummer said: "There was an untidy search and high value items were taken. Her three kittens were put in the oven. He knew the victim, it was pre-planned.
"He knew she would be out at the time and even went back afterwards to help and give himself a defence in court."
Trevor Meegan, defending, said: "He is Somalian and been here for 10 years and has had jobs as a warehouse worker.
"He lives with his parents and has taken a college course at Birmingham College. "He doesn't accept his guilt, but accepts the conviction against him."
Government to Ordained Ministers: Celebrate Same-Sex Wedding or Go to Jail
For years, those in favor of same-sex marriage have argued that all Americans should be free to live as they choose. And yet in countless cases, the government has coerced those who simply wish to be free to live in accordance with their belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
Ministers face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.
Just this weekend, a case has arisen in Idaho, where city officials have told ordained ministers they have to celebrate same-sex weddings or face fines and jail time.
The Idaho case involves Donald and Evelyn Knapp, both ordained ministers, who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel. Officials from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, told the couple that because the city has a non-discrimination statute that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Idaho’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the couple would have to officiate at same-sex weddings in their own chapel.
The non-discrimination statute applies to all “public accommodations,” and the city views the chapel as a public accommodation.
On Friday, a same-sex couple asked to be married by the Knapps, and the Knapps politely declined. The Knapps now face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.
A week of honoring their faith and declining to perform the ceremony could cost the couple three and a half years in jail and $7,000 in fines.
The Knapps have been married to each other for 47 years and are both ordained ministers of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. They are “evangelical Christians who hold to historic Christian beliefs” that “God created two distinct genders in His image” and “that God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman.”
But as a result of the courts redefining marriage and a city ordinance that creates special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the Knapps are facing government coercion.
Governmental recognition of same-sex relationships as marriages need not and should not require any third party to recognize a same-sex relationship as a marriage. Government should respect the rights of all citizens. Indeed, a form of government respectful of free association, free contracts, free speech and free exercise of religion should protect citizens’ rights to live according to their beliefs about marriage.
The Knapps have been celebrating weddings in their chapel since 1989. Government should not now force them to shut down or violate their beliefs.
After all, protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience does not infringe on anyone’s sexual freedoms. No one has a right to have the government force a particular minister to marry them. Some citizens may conclude that they cannot in good conscience participate in same-sex ceremonies, from priests and pastors to bakers and florists. They should not be forced to choose between strongly held religious beliefs and their livelihood.
What Can Be Done
At the federal level, Congress has an opportunity to protect religious liberty and the rights of conscience.
Government should not now force ordained ministers to shut down or violate their beliefs.
Policy should prohibit the government from discriminating against any individual or group, whether nonprofit or for-profit, based on their beliefs that marriage is the union of a man and woman or that sexual relations are reserved for marriage. The government should be prohibited from discriminating against such groups or individuals in tax policy, employment, licensing, accreditation or contracting.
The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act—sponsored by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, in the House (H.R. 3133) with more than 100 co-sponsors of both parties, and sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, in the Senate (S. 1808) with 17 co-sponsors—would prevent the federal government from taking such adverse actions.
States need similar policy protections, including broad protections provided by state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs) and specific protections for beliefs and actions about marriage.
Indeed, Idaho has a RFRA, called the Free Exercise of Religion Protected Act (FERPA). State RFRAs prevent the imposition of substantial burdens on sincere religious beliefs unless the government proves that such a burden advances a compelling government interest that has been pursued through the least restrictive means possible.
Protecting Religious Liberty
It is unclear how the city could claim that forcing the Knapps to perform a same-sex wedding is a compelling government interest being pursued in the least restrictive way. There are numerous other venues where a same-sex couple could get married. Indeed, there is a county clerks office directly across the street from the chapel.
States must protect the rights of Americans and the associations they form—both nonprofit and for-profit—to speak and act in the public square in accordance with their beliefs. It is particularly egregious that the city would coerce ordained ministers to celebrate a religious ceremony in their chapel. The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a motion arguing that this action “violates [the Knapps’s] First and 14th Amendment rights to freedom of speech, the free exercise of religion, substantive due process, and equal protection.”
Citizens must work to prevent or repeal laws that create special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We must also insist on laws that protect religious freedom and the rights of conscience.
Protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience is the embodiment of a principled pluralism that fosters a more diverse civil sphere. Indeed, tolerance is essential to promoting peaceful coexistence even amid disagreement.
Paris Opera cast refuse to perform for veiled woman
A woman wearing an full-face Islamic veil was told to leave a Paris opera house after members of the cast refused to perform if she remained in the audience, officials said.
The woman, described as “a tourist from a Gulf state”, was sitting on the front row during a performance of La Traviata at the Opéra Bastille, the deputy director, Jean-Philippe Thiellay, said.
France banned the wearing of the full-face veil, or niqab, in public in 2011. The ban was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights earlier this year.
Mr Thiellay said performers told him during the second act that they would only continue if the woman left. During the interval, an attendant told her that she could stay if she removed her veil.
"He told her that in France there is a ban of this nature, asked her to either uncover her face or leave the room,” Mr Thiellay said. “The man asked the woman to get up, they left."
He added: "It's never nice to ask someone to leave. But there was a misunderstanding of the law and the lady either had to respect it or leave."
After news of the incident, which happened earlier this month, emerged on Monday, the government said it would review its guidelines to help theatres, museums and other public institutions enforce the ban.
Women wearing a face veil in public may be fined up to €150 (£120) and compelled to attend citizenship classes. Anyone forcing others to cover their faces may be fined up to €30,000 (£23,750), or double that amount if the woman is under 18.
Most women who have breached the ban have simply been warned and few have been prosecuted.
Last year, a veiled woman stopped by police for an identity check was arrested after her husband allegedly attacked an officer. The incident sparked clashes between youths and police in two Paris suburbs.
Australia: Private views create no public harm
THE Barry Spurr affair is terrifying in the shoddy treatment of Spurr; in what it says about our universities; and in the lack of outrage that either has evoked.
What is certain is that there was a gross invasion of Spurr’s privacy. To that must be added the likelihood that his emails were obtained illegally and used when it was known, or should have been known, that that is how they had been obtained.
Moreover, that use was by a publication, New Matilda, that had only recently committed the same offence; and whose journalists hypocritically denounced the wrongdoing at the News of the World and, since then, have attacked the government’s metadata proposals, with all their checks and balances, as an assault on privacy.
Of course, one expects nothing better from Wendy Bacon, who demands a moral right to invade the private emails of others without providing public access to her own. But it is disappointing that Bill Shorten, who repeatedly invoked the presumption of innocence to shield Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper, failed to show the same concern for Spurr.
And it is a scandal that the University of Sydney has suspended Spurr despite there being no claim, much less evidence, that his teaching, supervision and research have been anything but exemplary.
To make matters worse, the university has set aside Spurr’s explanation that the emails were parodies without according Spurr the prior opportunity to have that explanation tested. Whatever one may think of his emails, that explanation is scarcely implausible: parodies, satires and burlesques, often in poor taste, have peppered the correspondence of literary figures since time immemorial.
Indeed, some of the English language’s earliest comedies were private communications making fun of religious services in terms then considered blasphemous. And one does not need to dig deep in our language’s treasure chest to savour such politically incorrect gems as Paul Dehm’s parody of Robert Herrick (‘‘Whereas in jeans my Julia crams/her vasty hips and … diaphragms’’); Cyril Connolly dispatching James Bond in drag to seduce General Apraxin (‘‘one of those’’, warns M, listing the general’s hobbies as nerve gas, germ warfare and sodomy); or Alan Bennett’s brilliant spoof of James Buchan (in which Hannay decries the possibility of ‘‘a divorced woman on the throne of the house of Windsor’’ as a ‘‘feather in the cap of that bunch of rootless intellectuals, Jews and pederasts who call themselves the Labour Party’’).
It scarcely takes much imagination to think a professor of poetics might similarly revel in using off-colour, if not frankly offensive, language in intimate communication. But assume Spurr’s claim is a sham; that far from being banter between old friends, the emails reflected his innermost views. So long as those views do not intrude on the way he exercises his academic responsibilities, they are no more relevant to his role than the fact that TS Elliot (on whom Spurr is a world authority) was an anti-Semite.
To believe otherwise is to discard the distinction between vice and crime that is at the heart of a free society. Aquinas, although no liberal, put it well when he argued that rather than forcing men to be virtuous, laws exist to enforce the rules of justice; they should therefore not condemn mere vice but conduct ‘‘without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained’’.
Locke then made that distinction central to the philosophy of liberty, when he noted that ‘‘many things are sins which no man ever said were to be punished’’, for while objectionable, they were neither ‘‘prejudicial to other men’s rights, nor break the public peace’’. And Adam Smith, in terms familiar to JS Mill, emphasised that it was therefore crucial to ‘‘carefully distinguish what is only blamable from what force may be employed to punish or prevent’’.
In other words, Spurr is entitled to his private vices, even if reprehensible, so long as they do not inflict public harms. Instead, the real question is how Australia’s oldest university could believe otherwise.
At the most immediate level, the answer lies in what Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a great scholar and long-time Democratic senator for New York, diagnosed as the ‘‘authoritarian Left’’ spreading throughout academe. Ignorant, intolerant and incapable of contesting ideas, its only weapon is the ad hominem attack.
Sydney’s conduct, coming after the ANU’s witch-hunt against fossil fuels, is a disturbing sign of how far the spread Moynihan feared has gone. The university’s support of Jake Lynch’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, whose anti-Zionism verges on anti-Semitism, only leavens with hypocrisy its disregard for justice.
But there are also deeper forces at work. Historically, intellectual elites had every interest in freedom of expression: no matter how strongly they favoured regulating other markets, they gained from freedom in their own. Now, reduced to mere wards of the state, they clamour for restrictions on competition that enforce conformity, protect mediocrity and entrench their claim on the public purse. And they find in the similarly placed ABC, as well as in publications such as New Matilda, plenty of fellow travellers to speak on their behalf.
Set against that milieu, Spurr stood no chance. By collaborating in the Abbott government’s review of the national curriculum he signed his own death warrant. From that moment on, it was only a matter of time before he paid the price.
None of that is to give Spurr the seal of approval. He may, for all I know, hold beliefs I find abhorrent. But universities need scholars, not saints; and if integrity, in Rawls’s words, means ‘‘defending the principles of morality even when to one’s disadvantage’’, his treatment is not merely a shame: it is a disgrace.
Reversing it should be an obligation, as well as a priority.
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.