Tuesday, May 05, 2015
Thuggish censors in the marketplace of ideas
by Jeff Jacoby
BALTIMORE BURNS, shops are looted, rioters attack firefighters with bottles and bricks. And amid all the violence and ruin, what drives the chattering class into a froth of indignation? That anyone would use the word "thugs" to describe the vandals and criminals reducing Baltimore to rubble.
As berserkers ran amok Monday, the city's mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, deplored the destruction: "Too many people have invested in building up this city to allow thugs to tear it down."
That set the hounds baying. Rawlings-Blake was accused of using a racial slur. Baltimore City Councilor Carl Stokes angrily told CNN that calling rioters "thugs" is just like calling them the N-word. The Rev. Jamal Bryant, who delivered the eulogy at Freddie Gray's funeral, repeated the accusation: " 'Thugs' is the 21st-century word for the N-word," he said Wednesday, "and it is repulsive and it is offensive." Wale, the popular Washington, D.C.-based rapper, told Baltimore teens that Rawlings-Blake owed them a direct apology for saying something so "stupid." Others piled on.
It didn't take long for the mayor to surrender. "We don't have thugs in Baltimore.... We have a lot of kids that are acting out," she told a group of church leaders. For good measure, she blamed her "little anger interpreter," pointing to her head in self-abasement. There was more apologizing online. "I wanted to clarify my comments on 'thugs,'" she tweeted. "When you speak out of frustration and anger, one can say things in a way that you don't mean."
So now in Baltimore, which has the nation's seventh-highest violent crime rate, the nonracial word "thugs" is banished as racist — even when spoken by a black mayor. Thus the degradation of the public discourse proceeds.
Meanwhile, Rawling-Blake's forced walk-back was nothing compared to the self-mortification of Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, two gay hoteliers in New York who hosted a small reception for Senator Ted Cruz on April 20. The business partners, longtime backers of gay-rights causes, strongly disagree with Cruz on same-sex marriage, but share his views on foreign policy. They invited a dozen guests to meet the Republican presidential hopeful over dinner for a discussion of politics. Apparently they were under the impression that in America it is permissible, even admirable, for voters to talk to politicians, exchanging thoughts on a range of issues.
They know better now.
Reisner and Weiderpass were savaged for having hosted the dinner for Cruz. Activists organized a boycott of their hotels, threatening to "shut the place down" as punishment for talking to the enemy. Within days, the businessmen were begging for mercy, berating themselves as if they were inmates in a North Korean slave-labor camp, forced to confess their crimethink in public.
"I am shaken to my bones by the e-mails, texts, postings and phone calls of the past few days," groveled Reisner on Facebook. "I made a terrible mistake. I was ignorant [and] naïve.... I sincerely apologize for hurting the gay community and so many of our friends, family, allies, customers, and employees. I will try my best to make up for my poor judgment." Weiderpass followed suit, flagellating himself for a blunder that may have "nullified" his 20 years of supporting gay rights.
More and more, this is what the marketplace of ideas is turning into. The ruthless determination not just to silence opposing points of view, but to humiliate and crush even allies willing to hear an opposing point of view, violates every liberal principle of tolerance, reason, and dialogue in the public sphere.
The language police in Baltimore and the auto-da-fé of Cruz's dinner hosts are but two fresh examples of a phenomenon rising all around us. Commencement speakers are disinvited from college campuses. Mozilla's CEO is forced to resign over a donation made years earlier to a ballot campaign supporting the traditional definition of marriage. Hillary Clinton declares that abortion rights must be defended with the "political will" needed to change "deep-seated ... religious beliefs." Speech codes and "trigger warnings" are deployed to enforce a spurious — but expanding — right not to be offended or disturbed.
Increasingly, the censors and silencers are at work, stifling ideas, demonizing speakers, ostracizing open-mindedness — decreeing even certain words beyond the pale. It is a dangerous, illiberal, antidemocratic trend. If we don't rouse ourselves to reverse it now, we may never get the chance.
Crazy priorities of the Left-indoctrinated British police
They focus on so-called 'crimes' that most people do not consider illegal
By RICHARD LITTLEJOHN
Some of Monty Python’s most memorable sketches involved lampooning the police. Before their most recent reunion tour, the team named ‘The Wallet’ as one of their five all-time favourites.
This featured John Cleese as a copper and Michael Palin as a member of the public who approaches him to report a theft.
‘Inspector, I was sitting on a park bench and I put my coat down and when I picked it up again I found my wallet had gone and £15 had been stolen.’
‘Did you see any ... anyone?’
‘No, no one at all.’
Cleese takes a deep breath, exhales and says: ‘There’s very little we can do about that, sir.’
What follows is an awkward, furtive silence until Palin asks: ‘Do you want to come back to my place?’
Fast forward 40 years and there would be nothing unusual about the police refusing to investigate the theft of a wallet. Nor would the portrayal of a homosexual police inspector be considered remotely funny.
These days if Cleese and Palin poked fun at a gay copper, they’d probably find themselves up at the Old Bailey charged with hate crime.
A couple of other Plod-related sketches come to mind, too. One involved Terry Jones attempting to report a burglary at a police station, where the officers only spoke in silly voices. That joke wouldn’t work today, either. For a start, the odds of finding a police station open to report a burglary are right up there with Ukip forming the next government in coalition with Plaid Cymru.
And the only silly voices on offer would be the computer-generated platitudes at a remote call-centre. ‘All our operators are busy playing Grand Theft Auto on their iPhones. To hear this menu in Swahili, press three...’
The other was set in a courtroom, where a PC played by Palin reads out the charge against the defendant. ‘You are hereby charged ... that you conspired to do things not normally considered illegal...’
I precis, but you get the gist.
Conspiring to do things ‘not normally considered illegal’ was the basis of the recent malicious prosecution of innocent journalists under an obscure 13th-century statute against ‘misconduct in public office’.
The 21st-century police ‘service’ seem to model themselves on Monty Python, concentrating on so-called ‘crimes’ that most people wouldn’t consider against the law, while conspicuously refusing to do the job they’re paid for.
Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary reported that the police were telling the public to investigate crimes themselves. For instance, burglary and vandalism victims were expected to check CCTV evidence and interview neighbours before troubling the Old Bill.
Many officers had ‘given up’ investigating what he called ‘high volume’ crimes and concluded: ‘Effectively, what’s happened is that a number of crimes are on the verge of being decriminalised.’
This week, Kent Police told people who find lost items that they are now responsible for tracing the owners, either by going door to door or advertising on Facebook and Twitter.
As if that isn’t bad enough, they are also warning people that if they keep lost property without making an effort to trace the owners they could be charged with ‘theft by finding’, which is a crime under the 1968 Theft Act and carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.
‘Theft by finding’ sounds like something from Monty Python.
I don’t know whether to file it under Mind How You Go or You Couldn’t Make It Up.
Meanwhile, the election has given the Old Bill another excuse to make a nuisance of themselves. A Tory candidate in Herefordshire found himself being investigated for allegedly bribing people to vote for him, after he was spotted on the campaign trail carrying a box of chocolate muffins and some cherry Bakewell tarts.
In Southampton, a Ukip candidate was interviewed by the Old Bill over allegations he had laid on sausage rolls and Jaffa Cakes at an election event.
Far more sinister has been the intervention of police in Northern Ireland, where the socially-conservative DUP candidate voiced his disapproval of children being brought up by homosexuals.
They said they would question Jim Wells after complaints that he was guilty of ‘hate speech’. They also intend to gather evidence and speak to ‘concerned citizens’.
You don’t have to approve of what Mr Wells said to be deeply disturbed by this development, especially in the middle of what is supposed to a democratic election.
Here is yet another example of the police acting as the paramilitary wing of the dominant, Left-wing political class. Investigating candidates for expressing ‘inappropriate’ opinions is a fundamental characteristic of a police state.
(Compare and contrast this outrageous case with the appalling failure of the police to investigate serial sex crimes in Rotherham and political corruption in Tower Hamlets because they didn’t want to upset the local Muslim ‘community’.)
I know, I know. I keep promising to go easy on the police. But what got me started on this riff was the news that a former Monty Python cameraman had been arrested and interviewed for two hours over a series of posters poking fun at local politicians. John Wellard, 71, said six officers turned up at his house and started searching through his belongings, which seems to be standard police procedure these days.
Mr Wellard refused to comment on the allegations, but did say: ‘Lampoonery and satire have been part of the British way of life for centuries. I do not believe any offence has been committed.’
Which brings us back to Monty Python’s trumped up charge of ‘conspiring to do things not normally illegal’. At least Mr Wellard could joke about it: ‘I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.’
And where did this latest abuse of police power take place? Faversham, in Kent. Yes, Kent — where the police say they are so stretched because of the ‘cuts’ they are no longer willing to take in lost property.
Yet they can rustle up six — six — coppers to arrest a pensioner for the ‘not normally illegal’ offence of poking fun at a bunch of po-faced local politicians.
And now for something completely different...
Why Is Pakistan More Legitimate than Israel?
by Dennis Prager
Whenever I have received a call from a listener to my radio show challenging Israel’s legitimacy, I have asked these people if they ever called a radio show to challenge any other country’s legitimacy. In particular, I ask, have they ever questioned the legitimacy of Pakistan?
The answer, of course, is always “no.” In fact, no caller ever understood why I even mentioned Pakistan.
There are two reasons for this.
First, of all the 200-plus countries in the world, only Israel’s legitimacy is challenged. So mentioning any other country seems strange to a caller. Second, almost no one outside of India and Pakistan knows anything about the founding of Pakistan.
Only months before the U.N. adopted a proposal to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state in 1947, India was partitioned into a Muslim and a Hindu state. The Hindu state was, of course, India. And the Muslim state became known as Pakistan. It comprises 310,000 square miles, about 40,000 square miles larger than Texas.
In both cases, the declaration of an independent state resulted in violence. As soon as the newly established state of Israel was declared in May 1948, it was invaded by six Arab armies. And the partition of India led to a terrible violence between Muslims and Hindus.
According to the final report of the United Nations Conciliation Commission from Dec. 28, 1949, the 1948 war of Israel’s independence created 726,000 Arabs refugees. Many sources put the figure at about 200,000 less. A roughly equal number of Jewish refugees — approximately 700,000 — were created when they were forcibly expelled from the Arab countries where they had lived for countless generations. In addition, approximately 10,000 Arabs were killed in the fighting that ensued after the Arab invasion of Israel.
Now let’s turn to the creation of Pakistan. According to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, the creation of Pakistan resulted in 14 million refugees — Hindus fleeing Pakistan and Muslims fleeing India. Assuming a 50-50 split, the creation of Pakistan produced about seven million Hindu refugees — at least 10 times the number of Arab refugees that resulted from the war surrounding Israel’s creation. And the Mideast war, it should be recalled, was started by the Arab nations surrounding Israel.
Were it not for the Arab rejection of Israel’s creation (and existence within any borders) and the subsequent Arab invasion, there would have been no Arab refugees.
And regarding deaths, the highest estimate of Arab deaths during the 1948 war following the partition of Palestine is 10,000. The number of deaths that resulted from the creation of Pakistan is around one million.
In addition, according to the Indian government, at least 86,000 women were raped. Most historians believe the number to be far higher. The number of women raped when Israel was established is close to zero. From all evidence I could find, the highest estimate was 12.
Given the spectacularly larger number of refugees and deaths caused by the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan, why does no one ever question the legitimacy of Pakistan’s existence?
This question is particularly valid given another fact: Never before in history was there a Pakistan. It was a completely new nation. Moreover, its creation was made possible solely because of Muslim invasion. It was Muslims who invaded India, and killed about 60 million Hindus during the thousand-year Muslim rule of India. The area now known as Pakistan was Hindu until the Muslims invaded it in A.D. 711.
On the other and, modern Israel is the third Jewish state in the geographic area known as Palestine. The first was destroyed in 586 B.C., the second in A.D. 70. And there was never a non-Jewish sovereign state in Palestine.
So, given all these facts, why is Israel’s legitimacy challenged, while the legitimacy of Pakistan, a state that had never before existed and whose creation resulted in the largest mass migration in recorded history, is never challenged?
The answer is so obvious that only those who graduated from college, and especially from graduate school, need to be told: Israel is the one Jewish state in the world. So, while there are 49 Muslim-majority countries and 22 Arab states, much of the world questions or outright only rejects the right of the one Jewish state, the size of New Jersey, to exist.
If you are a member of the Presbyterian Church, send these facts to the leaders of the Presbyterian Church USA who voted to boycott Israel. If you are a student in Middle Eastern Studies — or for that matter, almost any other humanities department — and your professor is anti-Israel, ask your professor why Pakistan is legitimate and Israel isn’t.
They won’t have a good answer. Their opposition to Israel isn’t based on moral considerations.
Catholic Archbishop: SCOTUS Has ‘No Business Redefining Marriage'
Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, said that people should hope and pray “that the Supreme Court will recognize that they have no business redefining marriage” in the upcoming same sex “marriage” case, adding that if marriage is redefined “it raises enormous religious freedom issues.”
He also explained that the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage as being between one man and one woman will never change because it is defined by God Himself in the Bible and that the Scripture “begins with marriage and ends with marriage,” in reference to not only man and woman but also the relationship between Christ and His Church.
At the March for Marriage on Saturday in Washington, D.C., CNSNews.com asked Archbp. Lori, “The Supreme Court is having oral arguments coming up and a decision will be coming down in June on this -- what is it going to look like for you and the Church if that decision favors same-sex marriage?”
Archbp. Lori said, “Let's hope and pray that they will, that the Supreme Court will recognize that they have no business redefining marriage, that really when you take, when you redefine marriage as many people want to do today it becomes more a relationship of affection, an emotional relationship.”
“Government should have no interest in that,” he said. “Friendships between people should not be of any particular interest to the government -- bringing children into the world and having good homes for them and new citizens, that's something they should be interested in.”
“If it's redefined, it will be a sea change because the word marriage appears thousands of times in federal, state court, and local laws -- it raises enormous religious freedom issues, and we will have to find our way very, very carefully through what's going to be a thicket,” he said.
“My bigger worry, however, is what kind of a society we're going to be seeing as a result of this and I hope the Supreme Court will think twice,” said the archbishop.
CNSNews.com then asked, “There's some call within the Catholic Church for a change on this teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman -- is it possible for Church teaching on that issue to change?”
“No,” he said, explaining, “this is something that is so deeply embedded in the faith. Really, if you read Scripture, it begins with marriage and ends with marriage. The relationship of Israel to their God is described as a marriage. The relationship of Christ to the Church is described as a marriage.”
“We really believe deeply that this is how God created us, this is the way things are, and this is the way things are meant to be: that there would be one man, one woman, and that there would be openness to life,” said the archbishop. “And it's not that we do not recognize how people might feel about this, that we also, we would not ever countenance discrimination against people who are of a same-sex attraction.”
“But marriage is marriage and it has a lot to do with the love of one man and one woman and openness to life,” he said.
The March for Marriage is an annual rally organized by the National Organization for Marriage, which supports traditional marriage between a man and a woman.
Along with Archbishop Lori, speakers included Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB); Brian Brown, president of National Organization for Marriage; Rev. Bill Owens, founder and president of the Coalition of African American Pastors; and Cathy Ruse, senior fellow of Legal Studies at the Family Research Council.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in its many documents and teachings on marriage explains that “God Himself is the author of marriage,” and that “marriage is the lifelong partnership of mutual and exclusive fidelity between a man and a woman ordered by its very nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children.”
It is impossible to have marriage between two people of the same sex because marriage reflects “the reality of the unique, fruitful, lifelong union that is only possible between a man and a woman,” says the Catholic Church. “Just as oxygen and hydrogen are essential to water, sexual difference is essential to marriage.
“The attempt to ‘redefine’ marriage to include two persons of the same sex denies the reality of what marriage is,” says the USCCB. “It is as impossible as trying to ‘redefine’ water to include oxygen and nitrogen.”
As for homosexuality itself, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained.
“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
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.