Monday, March 16, 2015

Those wicked male/female stereotypes

This is an anecdote of no real importance but stories tend to be more impressive than statistics so I thought I might share it.

I was in Target recently buying some inessentials and, when I went to pay, found myself in line behind a mother and her pretty little blondie daughter, aged about four.  The girl was carrying a box of Star Wars Lego, which mildly surprised me.  Star Wars is more a boy thing as far as I can see.  So when she turned around and looked in my direction, I asked her, "Do you like Star Wars?".  She smiled and said, "No. It's for my brother". 

So my stereotyped view about the different things that boys and girls like was perfectly correct!  As Gordon Allport said decades ago, stereotypes have "a kernel of truth". Feminists eat your heart out!

Lego is amazing stuff.  Most families with children or grandchildren seem to have buckets of it.  It must be a major boost to Denmark's terms of trade.  I greatly liked my Meccano set (Erector set) when I was a kid but Lego is a lot easier to use.

A related story:  I think most people would expect trains to be a boy thing but I happen to know two pretty little girls who are great enthusiasts for trains and train sets.  They can "play trains" with one another for hours.  So does the stereotype fall down there?

No.  As one of their insightful mothers explained to me, it is all about "Thomas the Tank Engine".  The Thomas stories humanize  trains and give them very recognizable faces and emotional lives.  So the girls concerned see and like that side of Thomas and tend to generalize that to all trains.  The Rev. Awdry wrote well.  His imagination became one of Britain's great cultural exports. Below is a picture of one of the little girls enjoying a real train  -- while holding a toy train.  That is pretty trainy!.

Paying to Pray?

A funny thing happened in the South Florida city of Lake Worth. It appears the local government has given churches the idea they must pay a fee to exercise their constitutionally protected right to worship as they please. In fact, in a move that smacks of totalitarianism, one particular church was singled out for “observation” by a hoodie-wearing code enforcement officer who compiled an official Case Narrative that reads like a bad detective novel.

In the city’s crosshairs is a Southern Baptist institution known as the Common Ground Church. The church owns and operates a coffee house in the downtown area, and for the last three months it has used it to hold weekly worship services. Previously the congregation rented space at other facilities in the area.

Common Ground Pastor Mike Olive spoke with Fox News' Todd Starnes and told him problems began arising last month following an encounter with City Commissioner Andy Amoroso. “After we opened up the coffee bar and started doing services, I heard that he told people we were anti-gay,” Olive told Starnes. “So I went to his shop to ask him about that.” Despite Olive’s insistence that his church is all about loving God and loving people, and that his message to the gay community “is the same as it is to the straight community,” Amoroso remained unconvinced, warning the pastor that he’d “better not have a church down there.”

Amoroso may have a personal axe to grind. According to the Keep the Faith News website, Amoroso runs a newsstand and a gay-pornography business in Lake Worth. Shortly after Olive and Amoroso’s meeting, an “anonymous complaint” was lodged, precipitating the compliance officer’s visit last month.

That city-code enforcement officer is Gerard A. Coscia, who spent two Sundays in a row watching Common Ground Church hold services at the Common Ground Coffee House. The coffee house has a business license and rents space to the church. On Feb. 8, Coscia secretly filmed the service. The following Sunday he came back, handed Olive’s associate pastor his business card – and told him the church has one week to vacate the building.

As his report indicates, Coscia brought his inner author and CIA wannabe tendencies to the task, first noting that he “peered into 12. S J St., a store front with the name ‘Coffee Bar’ written on it and noticed nothing out of the ordinary for a coffee shop.” But the stakeout got interesting when 30-45 people arrived by cars, on bicycles and on foot and Coscia “started to hear music coming from inside the Coffee Bar.”

Soon after that, Coscia hit pay dirt. “I walked back to the Coffee Bar and was able to visualize, in my opinion what appeared to be a ministry in progress,” the report states. “There was the following going on inside the Coffee Bar: Someone speaking from a podium. A [sic] overhead TV or projection with scripture verse on it. Rows of people sitting in chairs on both sides like a gathering setting. People holding what appeared to be bibles or religious books as one had a cross on it.”

And like a good detective, Coscia compiled his “critical” evidence. “I was able to capture on my city phone a video which will be attached to this case file for future court presentation.”

Coscia further revealed he conducted a Google search, discovering that the church actually existed at the address he investigated, that Olive was a preacher, and that there was a calendar of service times. Coscia’s ultimate analysis? “I inspected the property and found the following violations: Business rental property found without a current City of Lake Worth Business license, specifically to operate as a church, or a house of Worship.” As for the aforementioned evidence, it will be “placed into the master case file for future Court presentation.”

Lake Worth community sustainability director William Waters insisted the city had nothing against the church and was merely responding to the aforementioned complaint.

“We had a complaint that a gathering of people was taking place there in the form of a church,” he said. “We investigated that and determined that, yes, there were people gathered there.” Waters further insisted the city “couldn’t give preferential treatment to churches versus other businesses.”

A church thus becomes a business, and Waters explained that every business in the community received letters regarding permits and fees. Joan Abell, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, confirmed that reality, producing a letter from the city warning, “[I]t shall be unlawful for any person or business, directly or indirectly, to engage in or conduct any business profession or occupation in the city, without first making an application for, and having obtained a city of Lake Worth business license.”

Abell was upset. “We’ve been there 99 years and we’ve never had to have a license,” she told the Lake Worth Tribune. “Where do you all of a sudden say the church has to have a license to gather and pray?”

First Baptist Church is another local church that has paid nearly $500 in inspection and use of occupancy fees. Local CBS affiliate Channel 12 asked Council member Christopher McVoy if that payment amounted to a tax. “I can’t tell you the exact answer on that. It’s not a business tax, but there will be a fee involved,” he replied. Other towns in the area charge churches fees, but those fees are for fire inspections.

After this story became national news, the city backtracked, denying claims it had threatened anyone. “This is entirely a big misunderstanding,” said Mayor Pam Triolo. “The city’s intention is not to penalize churches in any way, shape or form. No, there’s no fee to pray.”

The report by Coscia and the letter sent to Abell say otherwise.

Adding to the city’s woes is attorney Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a law firm specializing in religious liberty. He sent a letter to City Manager Michael Bornstein, explaining that churches are not businesses and don’t need licenses to operate, that the city’s own laws exempt churches regardless, and that even the occupational licenses and taxes they are now attempting to collect “are an exclusive prerogative of the Florida legislature.” He asks the city to stop collecting business fees, refund those they have collected, and provide written assurance of both.

“Government employees are public servants and prohibited by the Constitution from inhibiting religious freedom,” he explains.

Nevertheless, the city insists the congregation still needs a use and occupancy certificate for “safety purposes” separate from the one for the coffee bar. And according to Liberty Counsel lawyer Richard Mast, the city warned Common Ground Church against “possible overcrowding” even though they haven’t provided the 2,500 sq. ft. coffee shop with a maximum occupancy number. They have also cautioned them about potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, despite the reality the coffee bar is already in compliance – and that the regulation doesn’t apply to churches.

The Patriot Post spoke with Olive, who remains optimistic about his future in the city despite local blogger Wes Blackman taking him to task for a “ridiculous non-story,” one “giving our little City a black eye on the national stage.”

“We’re not mad at the city,” Olive explained. “I live here. I work here. We love the city and when people ask me why we’re giving the city a black eye, I tell them were not. The city has a black eye and we want be the ‘ice’ that brings healing to Lake Worth.”

Such healing may be temporary. Oliver also revealed that “police have told us we can’t hand out Gospel tracts because it violates Lake Worth’s panhandling law, which is one of the most aggressive in Palm Beach County.” Handing out what Christians believe is the word of God constitutes panhandling? You’ve got another “misunderstanding” to address, Mayor Triolo.


UK Official Pilloried for Asking Imams to Reject Extremism

"Doublespeak" involves manipulating language to deliberately disguise or distort words and their meaning. It is a subterfuge a speaker utilizes to leave a listener confused. In the U.K., Muslim advocates have perfected it to an art form.

Author Soeren Kern monitors Islamic-related news stories in the U.K. on a monthly basis. His report for January includes mention of an action taken by the U.K. government that caused quite a stir among Muslim activists.

Some background is needed to put what happened into context.

Following the January 7 th Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris, a poll disturbingly revealed 27% of British Muslims believed the attack justified as victims had insulted Islam.

Domestic imams, such as hate-monger Anjem Choudary, quickly promoted this justification saying that same day:  "In an increasingly unstable and insecure world, the potential consequences of insulting the Messenger Muhammad are known to Muslims and non-Muslims alike...So why in this case did the French government allow the magazine Charlie Hebdo to continue to provoke Muslims, thereby placing the sanctity of its citizens at risk?"

In a later interview, Choudary praised the attackers, adding: "May Allah accept (the attackers) in Paradise."

Clearly, such outrageous public Muslim support in Britain for the Paris attack concerned the U.K. government. Seeking to address this, U.K. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles distributed a letter to over 1,000 imams across the country. He sought their assistance in fighting extremism, requesting they discuss with their followers the compatibility of being both Muslim and British.

The letter was written in terms that should not have offended a rational mind, especially in view of a very vocal Muslim community supporting violence. Pickles' letter stated in part:

        "We must show our young people, who may be targeted, that extremists have nothing to offer them. We must show them that there are other ways to express disagreement: that their right to do so is dependent on the very freedoms that extremists seek to destroy. We must show them the multitude of statements of condemnation from British Muslims; show them these men of hate have no place in our mosques or any place of worship, and that they do not speak for Muslims in Britain or anywhere in the world...

        "You, as faith leaders, are in a unique position in our society. You have a precious opportunity, and an important responsibility: in explaining and demonstrating how faith in Islam can be part of British identity..."

As responses from the Muslim community came in, the Secretary found himself in a real pickle-accused of being Islamophobic.

One Muslim leader said he could not understand-despite a clear Koranic mandate for violence-if Pickles was "really suggesting...that Muslims are detached from mainstream society."

Demands were made Pickles apologize.

The Secretary's carefully worded letter was simply a call for imams to downplay extremism. Their response was predictable-at least to those of us who understand how Muslim advocates play the game. It was predictable because what Pickles was asking involved changing the unchangeable.

Many of Islam's basic tenets conflict with British culture and law. But most disturbing is that, when such conflict results in human rights abuses under U.K. law, they go unchallenged by authorities, fearing they be called Islamophobic.

Such is seen in regards to the crime of child sexual exploitation.

Kern cited findings in the August 2014 Alexis Jay report that noted, in the town of Rotherham, hundreds of new cases had emerged of child sexual exploitation. Muslim gangs orchestrated most of the crimes, but political correctness concerns swayed authorities from taking action, lest the Islamophobia flag be raised.

Additionally, Female Genital Mutilation, despite being a crime in the U.K., is known to be prevalent as numerous victims have sought medical care afterwards. Hundreds of new cases have emerged this year.

Despite Muslim prayers being inherently bigoted towards non-Muslims against whom Allah sanctions death for offending him, those challenging Islam's violent tenets are Islamophobic.

For non-Muslims, the lesson to be taken away from radical Islamists' message is simple: Accept Islam's violence and die anyway.


The gender pay gap is a myth – so why do so many buy it?

There’s an ironic paternalism to the anti-pay gap campaign

The gender pay gap is having a moment. Crusading politicians, emoting celebrities and campaigners in search of a cause have turned the entirely spurious differences in the pay-packets of men and women into an ongoing public discussion.

UK deputy prime minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is banking on the gender pay gap preventing his post-election slide into obscurity; he is pushing for new legislation to make it mandatory for large companies to report wage differentials. Clegg’s posturing, which was timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, comes on the back of UN research suggesting that, globally, the gender pay gap will take 70 years to close. Meanwhile, Hollywood luvvie Patricia Arquette used the Oscars to highlight the suffering of poorly paid actresses. These news stories come against an ever-present glossy backdrop of awareness raising - in Britain, Grazia magazine and The Sunday Times both launched campaigns for equal pay.

Handwringing over the gender pay gap seems to guarantee media coverage for the dullest public figures and this news-as-campaign generates hashtags and page clicks. Interest in this one issue has become obsessive, and it’s not difficult to see why. When it comes to demonstrating your feminist credentials, railing against the gender pay gap is a pretty safe bet. It is the one issue today that provides feminists with a semblance of legitimacy for their grievances.

Unlike f-bomb-dropping children and t-shirt-wearing politicians, the inherent inequity of paying men more than women is something everyone can get behind. When Clegg claims, ‘It simply cannot be acceptable that women on average still receive a smaller pay packet than men’, he simultaneously manages to assume the moral high ground and tap into the consensus. Clegg’s on to a winner because no one with any shred of credibility argues that men should be paid more simply for being men.

Unfortunately for the campaigners, this means there’s little evidence to support the existence of a gender pay gap. As I’ve written before on spiked, for British women under the age of 45, when employment type and hours worked are taken into account, the pay gap is non-existent. In fact, young women today earn more than men for part-time work. The current obsession with the gender pay gap bears only a passing relationship to reality. The same papers that report without comment the latest outburst of celebrity angst, or start up their own campaigns, also happily publish stories showing that the gender pay gap has shrunk to a record low. In the past few months, stories have focused on how the gender pay gap has narrowed as young women out-earn men, and mothers’ pay has risen faster than fathers’.

It is only meaningful to talk about a gender pay gap today if the weasel words ‘on average’ are included to temper any conclusions drawn. When the total earned by all men is compared with the total earned by all women, there are indeed disparities. In part, this simply reflects history; people nearing retirement age today entered the labour market in an era when fewer women went to university and when it was neither so acceptable nor so practically easy for women to work full-time once they had started a family. But it also points to the fact that men traditionally opted for higher-paid jobs and were more likely to work full-time than women.

Even today, when women have children, many decide to return to work part-time, not to apply for promotion with all the extra work it might entail, or not to clock up the extra hours needed to qualify for a bonus. For the ever-increasing number of women who do pursue full-time work, things have never looked so good. For decades now, girls have outperformed boys at school and gone to university in greater numbers. As a result, they’re securing a bigger share of better-paid jobs. However eye-wateringly expensive they might be, nurseries and out-of-school clubs have also proliferated in recent years, making it easier for parents to contemplate combining work with children.

The more discussion about the gender pay gap becomes divorced from this not-so-new reality, the more it is women’s autonomy that is called into question. Campaigners assume girls lack information about the link between qualifications, careers and earnings. The argument goes that when girls are told that studying science leads to better-paid jobs in areas such as engineering, they’ll ditch the soft subjects and stop becoming teachers and secretaries. If girls continue to make the ‘wrong’ choices, it is because their ability to choose is illusory and they’ve been conditioned by a childhood of pink dresses, princess costumes and toy tea-sets into thinking caring is feminine and earning is not. The assumption is that women are not making a considered and rational choice to enter a lower-paid career, or to work part-time when they have children; rather, this is what they’ve been pressured into accepting.

It is of course true that people don’t always make decisions in circumstances of their own choosing. Women – and, more importantly, families – make complex personal decisions that usually involve an element of compromise between what people want to do and what’s practically possible. But to argue that women are either making the wrong choices, or are not really free to choose at all, is degrading. It is frankly patronising to suggest that women are irrational beings who have been duped by fashion and films, and need feminists to show them the error of their ways.

Decrying the fact that women earn less than men may be morally beyond reproach and a good way for people to demonstrate their feminist credentials. But when a like-for-like pay gap no longer exists, and an ‘on average’ pay gap is largely down to the choices women make, then it is the ability of women to make these choices and the assumption of female autonomy that is being challenged by the pay-gap campaigners. In the interests of women, we urgently need to ditch this irrational obsession with the gender pay gap.



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


No comments: