Thursday, December 18, 2014
A multicultural 'octopus' in Britain
An anaesthetist who was branded 'the octopus' for his wandering hands and lewd comments could be jailed for groping nurses at the hospital where he worked.
Dr Niaz Ahmed passed off his behaviour as innocent banter and was referred to as a 'sex pest' by prosecutors at Newcastle Crown Court.
The skilled doctor, who had received numerous warnings from hospital bosses to tone down his behaviour, was convicted of sexually assaulting two of his colleagues more than a decade ago and must now sign the sex offenders register.
Ahmed, who was suspended from medical practice at a tribunal earlier this year for groping a nurse who was treating him after an accident in 2010, was cleared of three similar charges.
Michael Hodson, prosecuting, said: 'Imagine what it was like going to work with a sex pest, always the octopus, hands all over the place, underlined by innuendo.'
Mr Hodson said one nurse victim was targeted in the scrub room at the hospital, where Ahmed squeezed her bottom and asked her 'do you fancy it'.
Another had her breasts prodded by the medic while she was at work and said he had told her 'put them away'.
The 55-year-old doctor had previously told bosses at South Tyneside Hospital that his behaviour was in keeping with 'the culture' at the hospital.
The court heard during a meeting with hospital bosses in 2000 Ahmed accepted it was inappropriate to touch nurses and said any offence caused by him was entirely innocent and accidental. During a later meeting with management he said his behaviour continued to be innocent.
Ahmed, of Cleadon, had claimed he was the victim of a 'witch hunt' in 2012 after he was cleared of sexually assaulting two teenage girls at a fireworks display in South Shields in 2011.
The youngsters claimed Ahmed had groped them after boasting about the size of his manhood and complaining about his sex life with his wife. He had reportedly said he was 'looking for women the day after he got married.'
He will be sentenced next month and Judge Simon Hickey warned him that 'all options remained open', including a jail sentence.
#Gamergate: we must fight for the right to fantasise
The war on violent videogames is a war on the freedom of thought itself
Not content with curbing our speech and monitoring our thoughts, the self-elected morality police now want to colonise our fantasy lives. That deepest part of an individual’s mind – the bit where he lets his thoughts run riot, fantasising about saying and doing things he would never say or do in real life – is being encroached upon. Having cleansed the public realm of offensive ideas, the speech-watchers and image-policers now want to cleanse men’s very souls, removing from them any twisted or warped or simply daft fantasy that doesn’t pass muster with those of a PC bent. Just look at the #Gamergate controversy.
#Gamergate is the name given to a furious online battle that has been raging since August 2014 and which, like most internet spats, is too complicated and too depressing to describe in great detail. In a nutshell, some people, including a new breed of socially aware female gamer-cum-commentator, feel that videogames are misogynistic and hateful, while others, including slightly nerdish male gamers whose joysticks are like a fifth limb, think videogames are fine and dandy and shouldn’t be socially-critiqued out of existence by feminists, broadsheet handwringers, or anyone else.
This latter group has surprised everyone by refusing to cave in to the Culture War being waged against them and their favourite pastime – as everyone from Dapper Laughs to the Barbican has recently done in response to loud but unrepresentative cries of ‘You can’t say that!’ – and instead standing up for their right to shoot and beat up anyone they damn well please in the recesses of their own minds and the privacy of their own bedrooms. The gamers are, in essence, fighting for the right to fantasise, to think about doing things that they would never actually do.
To see how much the censorious anti-gamer side is attempting to conquer and remake fantasy life itself, consider last week’s successful campaign to have Grand Theft Auto V withdrawn from sale in certain shops in Australia. Alarmed that players of GTA can, if they wish, attack and kill prostitutes – as well as rob banks, steal cars, kill police officers, take drugs, and do lots of other fun stuff – the new videogame moralists have slammed it as ‘violently misogynistic’.
They petitioned Aussie branches of Target, the department store, to take GTA off their shelves on the basis that it’s a ‘sickening game’ that ‘encourages players to commit sexual violence and kill women’. Outrageously, Target kowtowed, and now Oz patrons of that store won’t have the option to put what is by all accounts a brilliant game into a loved one’s Christmas stocking. But what is most striking about this outburst of moralistic censorship is the way the shrill opponents of GTA have described the game’s entirely fantasy world – as an unacceptable place that must be policed by outsiders.
So one of the organisers of the petition, which got nearly 50,000 signatures, says she used to work in the sex trade, and therefore ‘in Grand Theft Auto…I would have been the character who gets left by the sidewalk, bleeding and unconscious’. She talks about the characters in GTA as if they were real people suffering real violence, claiming that she suffered abuse while working in prostitution though it was ‘not as extreme as [that suffered by] those in the game’.
What is she talking about? There are no people in this game, and no one is being abused. No human beings are being harmed in the world of Grand Theft Auto because that world does not exist. She says that if she was in GTA’s fantasy world, she would be abused – well, if I was in Middle Earth I might be attacked by Orcs; if any of us human beings had the misfortune to live on the Planet of the Apes, we’d be screwed; if we lived in Oceania, we wouldn’t be able to think and say and fantasise as we saw fit in our own homes because of the Telescreen on the wall watching our every word… oh wait, that’s a bad example – that world does increasingly exist.
But we really don’t have to worry about Middle Earth or the Planet of the Apes or the world of GTA because we can never go to these places on account of the fact that they exist only in words and images and people’s minds. To talk about the risks one would face in such worlds is a kind of madness, a failure to make that most basic of distinctions between reality and fantasy, between that which exists and that which does not.
It is bad enough when Victim Feminist campaigners depict the streets of London or New York City as terribly scary places for women – but to bemoan the abuse of women on the streets of GTA is just surreal, given that those streets are mere pixels, the women are just graphics, and the abuse is entirely imagined. This complaint that the fantasyland of GTA is insufficiently safe for, and too disrespectful of, prostitutes and other female characters shows how far the policing of fantasy has gone. That a game has been withdrawn from sale in an Australian department store on the grounds that its fantasy world does not adhere to the rules and laws of the real world shows that even our imaginings, our psychic lives, are no longer safe from the morality cops of the concrete worlds of intolerance, censorship and law.
The withdrawal of GTA from Australian Target stores, and the broader, thankfully struggling Culture War against misogynistic and violent videogames, is revealing for many reasons. First, it shows how seamlessly the prejudices of the right-wing, reactionary, often Christian-leaning lobbies of the 1970s and 80s have now passed on to the apparently radical feminist campaigners of today. All the same prejudices the blue-rinse brigade once came out with – that video nasties and violent videogames would transform people into hateful, marauding sociopaths – have been given a lick of feministic paint and a new lease of life.
One of the first public speeches I ever gave, in 1998, was in defence of a videogame called Carmageddon, in which you were encouraged to win races through reckless, violent driving. The people complaining about that game were conservatives and right-wingers. Today, the censorious, media-effects baton has been passed from the right to those who consider themselves left, from middle-aged Home Counties women to young media feminists, but the argument has remained strikingly similar: videogames can warp minds and cause actual real-world crime.
And the second striking thing about the war on GTA and the bigger #Gamergate scandal is its intolerance of fantasy, the naked desire to stamp out, not simply words and ideas, which is terrible enough, but also, in essence, dreams. The world of fantasy is being invaded, tut-tutted over and in some cases cordoned off by the new moralists who don’t only say ‘You can’t say that!’ but also ‘You can’t imagine that!’.
It isn’t only in videogames. The moral policing of culture, especially pop culture, has become weirdly and wildly fashionable in recent years. Where once it was only the most tyrannical of regimes – think the GDR’s Stasi – that monitored culture for political wrongness and rightness, now a whole new generation of activist and journalist devotes its moral energy to assessing whether culture is ‘problematic’ (their favourite word) or okay. In the blunt but apt words of the American journalist Drew Magary, there is now ‘a whole black hole of the internet that spends all day up its own ass, endlessly worried about approving of pop culture rather than actually fucking enjoying it’.
And they’re having an impact, these policers of culture and ultimately of fantasy. They’ve got GTA de-shelved in Australian shops; they’ve chilled the videogame world, no doubt encouraging games-makers to water down their fantasies; they’ve contributed to the banning of ‘problematic’ pop songs on British university campuses; they got Dapper Laughs pulled from ITV, and got comedian Daniel O’Reilly to kill off that character forever; they’ve encouraged Sweden to start rating films by whether they are gender-balanced; and they’ve kickstarted a serious debate in Europe about introducing what Nick Gillespie calls ‘an insane plan to rate video games for sexism’.
Both formally and informally, using both law and threats, both demands for new legislation and mob-style uprisings, they have depicted fantasylands as places that must conform to the morals and outlook of the real world. This is a disaster. Taken seriously, it represents the death not just of gaming but of culture itself, and of freedom of thought.
This is the bottom line: we must be free to fantasise, about anything we like. It is rightly forbidden for anyone to hit a woman – but it should never be forbidden to fantasise about hitting a woman, or to write about it, or to enact it through pixels pretending to be people. Why? Because in free and democratic societies, in civilisations, we punish people for certain actions but we never punish them for their thoughts or dreams or mind experiments. This is a key Enlightenment ideal.
As the great seventeenth-century English jurist Edward Coke said, in the aftermath of the soul-policing, thought-punishing Inquisition, ‘No man shall be examined upon the secret thoughts of his heart, or his secret opinion’. Well, today he is. Today, a new Inquisition is emerging, and it is examining men upon their secret thoughts, their secret opinions, their fantasies, their gaming, their very psychic existences. Don’t laugh at the so-called ‘nerds’ fighting for the right to play what you might consider to be silly or outrageous videogames, for they are instinctively defending the freedom to fantasise, which is a central part of the freedom of the mind, which is the very backbone of freedom itself.
Anarchist attacks in Bristol: crusty misanthropy
In recent months, police in Bristol have dealt with over 100 related acts of vandalism to police stations, military bases, banks, multinational companies, railways and churches. The police are in little doubt as to who is responsible – anarchists and animal-liberation activists – and have put up a £10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of even one suspected offender. But, despite the attention, the activists have vowed to continue their campaign of vandalism. So what is fuelling this spate of property attacks in the West Country?
One anarchist, allegedly behind several of the attacks, says that the vandalism is the product of a general rage against mainstream society, its failure to live up to green ideals and its ‘unimaginative dreams’. Broadsheet sympathisers tend to agree, portraying the attacks as part of Bristol’s political subculture, in which anti-modern environmentalism and an attachment to alternative lifestyles have flourished.
Yet although Bristol’s anarchists dismiss officialdom’s environmentalism as ‘green washing’, green thinking is in fact central to policymaking today. In fact, the only people who are not interested in consuming less in order to save the planet are the working masses. For all their anti-establishment rage, many anarchists’ concerns about the environment and animal rights are actually shared by the political class.
Bristol’s anarchists also have something else in common with the political class: a refusal to engage politically with ordinary citizens. Rather than convincing people to oppose British militarism abroad, for example, Bristol’s anarchists torch a few cars and damage army property. Their actions might appear impressively militant, but at no point do the activists seek to win the support of other people.
It shows that Bristol’s green and crusty brigade prefer acts of vandalism and direct action to having to discuss political ideas with the great unwashed, especially those who disagree with them. And, as the protests against the opening of a Tesco store a few years ago demonstrated, Bristol’s alternative types are sometimes hostile to ordinary people’s need for jobs and cheap food stores. There is no political uprising in the West Country seeking to change society for the better; it is just a mirror image of the political class’s own misanthropy and anti-masses instincts, albeit with a few nose studs and an appalling dress sense
Australia: Whining kid wins anti-discrimination case
Yet more evidence that such laws are too sweeping
In a David and Goliath-esque battle in Queensland's Civil and Administrative Tribunal, a jobseeker has taken on supermarket giant Woolworths alleging discrimination – and won.
In December 2013, then-unemployed Steven Willmott, of the Sunshine Coast hinterland town of Beerwah, applied for an advertised job as a console operator at a Woolworths-operated service station in the town.
He commenced his application through the company's online application portal but did not complete it, unable to continue unless he submitted mandatory fields demanding his date-of-birth, his gender and proof of his right to work in Australia.
The required information was, QCAT senior member Richard Oliver ruled, both offensive and humiliating to Mr Wilmott, who described himself as "sickened beyond belief" at Woolworths disregard for Australian anti-discrimination laws.
"I infer from this statement that he was embarrassed and humiliated in being compelled to provide the offending information before his application could progress," Mr Oliver ruled.
"Because of this he did not proceed with the application and therefore was not considered for the position.
"He is a local resident of the community in which the position of console operator was advertised and he believes he would have had prospects of being successful."
The ruling, made in Brisbane last month after a hearing in September, ordered Woolworths pay $5000 in compensation to Mr Willmott by December 19.
In its defence, Woolworths said it asked for the details partly to comply with Commonwealth legislation, in regards to the right to work in Australia requirement.
It also argued differing rates of pay for employees under and over the age of 21, the potential to work in its BWS liquor outlets and differentiating between its 190,000 employees Australia-wide justified the date of birth requirement.
The company argued the mandatory gender information was a simple way for it to comply with the Federal Government's Workplace Gender Equality Instrument.
However, Mr Oliver noted that since Mr Wilmott had taken discrimination action, all three requirements had been removed from the Wooloworths online application process, prior to the September hearing.
He rejected their defence of all three elements.
"Despite the sophisticated argument mounted by Woolworths counsel, I have found in the pertaining circumstances, the information sought by Woolworths was not reasonably necessary," he said.
However, in determining the amount to award Mr Wilmott, Mr Oliver said he had not produced any evidence of other positions for which he had applied to which any claim for loss of income could be determined.
"At best, and putting the claim for loss of income at its highest, his claim for compensation is limited to the loss of a chance that he may have been successful in his application, if Woolworths had not engaged in the conduct he complained of," he ruled.
He said the $5000 figure he determined took into account embarrassment, humiliation and some notional amount for loss of a chance.
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.