Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Who has the greatest freedom of speech in the world today?
It is of course blacks. They can say almost anything without reproof, the n-word most notably.
But homosexuals come a close second. I have noted many instances of indulgence extended to them over recent years -- with the most obvious example being that they can use "queer" to describe themselves. Others use that word at their peril.
I haven't got the time or energy to do much more than note the phenomenon but I would like to mention two examples from Britain that stand out in my mind. Two homosexual men, David Starkey and the recently deceased Brian Sewell. See also here on Sewell. As far as I can find, neither man has ever suffered any sanction over their "offensive" utterances, though complaints have of course been made.
Starkey has been called the "rudest man in Britain" and his rejection of homosexual marriage would probably have the British police after him were he not himself openly in a long-term homosexual relationship. And he compared the Queen to Dr. Goebbels!
Other gems were when he insisted that a 16-year-old pupil could “groom” a 44-year-old teacher; stating that violence, not consent, should be the measure of rape; and saying that Princess Anne looked like a horse
And on black immigration to Britain he said: "I’ve just been rereading Enoch Powell – the rivers of blood speech. His prophecy was absolutely right in one sense.” The speech is probably the most reviled in British history but you don't have to go far in Britain to find people who say (in private) "Enoch was right"
"Starkey's comments in August 2011 on the BBC's Newsnight programme, made during a discussion about the 2011 England riots, precipitated support and condemnation from several notable commentators. Starkey claimed that "the whites have become black", and that "a particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture has become the fashion". The leader of the Labour party, Ed Miliband, spoke about Starkey's remarks, saying "they are racist comments, frankly"....
After stating in a debate in June 2012 that a Rochdale sex trafficking gang had values "entrenched in the foothills of the Punjab or wherever it is", he was accused by his fellow panelist, the writer Laurie Penny, of "playing xenophobia and national prejudice for laughs".
But he can also be offensive when he gets it right. For instance, he compared the Scottish National Party to the Nazis and likened the Saltire (Scottish flag) to a swastika. He also likened the SNP's view of the English to Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitism. I have argued similarly.
Sewell was primarily an art critic but went on to become an outraged commentator on politics. He was very outspoken about what he regarded as bad art. In 1994, 35 prominent figures in the art world, including Bridget Riley and Maureen Paley signed a letter to the Evening Standard, attacking him for 'homophobia', 'misogyny', 'demagogy', 'hypocrisy', 'artistic prejudice', 'formulaic insults' and 'predictable scurrility'. They spoke of Sewell’s “dire mix of sexual and class hypocrisy, intellectual posturing and artistic prejudice”.
And he described his homosexuality as “an affliction”. Fighting words for anybody else these days
He also sheltered Anthony Blunt after Blunt’s exposure as the fourth man in the infamous Cambridge spy ring
An example of his art criticism: “Any fool who can put paint on canvas or turn a cardboard box into a sculpture is lauded. Banksy should have been put down at birth. It’s no good as art, drawing or painting. His work has no virtue. It’s merely the sheer scale of his impudence that has given him so much publicity.”
Of the Turner Prize for contemporary art, he said: "Ignoring it is the kindest thing one can do."
And on women artists: "There has never been a first-rank woman artist. Only men are capable of aesthetic greatness. Women make up 50 per cent or more of classes at art school. Yet they fade away in their late 20s or 30s. Maybe it's something to do with bearing children." Can you hear the feminist shrieks?
And an odd one for the feminists: "I have a theory that only men steal books, although when I proposed that to a woman a month or two ago she was absolutely outraged"
I haven't tracked when both men "came out" but that would be a formality in the British intellectual world that they both inhabited. It would have been known informally from early on. Even in the early 20th century, many of the Bloomsberries were known as homosexuals, for instance.
Confederate flag flap isn’t an invitation to rewrite history
Who would have thought? A demented 21-year-old troll named Dylann Roof, accused of killing nine parishioners at a historic black church, has turned history upside down. Roof’s attachment to the Confederate battle flag has set off a dramatic reconsideration of how we remember the Civil War.
* Yale University may rename its venerable Calhoun College. Senator John C. Calhoun was the famous white supremacist whom historian Richard Hofstadter memorably called “the Marx of the Master Class.”
* The finger-in-the-wind leaders of the Democratic Party are abandoning their tradition of Jefferson-Jackson dinners, rubber chicken meetups named for Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, great presidents who happened to own slaves.
* There are moves afoot in Maryland to take down statues of native son Roger Taney, the chief justice of the Supreme Court who authored the 1857 Dred Scott decision that denied citizenship to black Americans.
The banner is an emblem of the most poisonous ideologies in our national history.
On the one hand, I celebrate all historical revision. Every body of knowledge — physics, mathematics, medicine – has to be reexamined as often as necessary to stay honest and relevant. History enjoys no special privilege.
Yet I agree with Civil War historian Ernest Furgurson, writing in The American Scholar, who compares willy-nilly de-Confederatization in the South to de-Stalinization in the former Soviet Union, or the “destruction of ancient monuments by ISIS and Taliban fanatics. . . . Totalitarian states may decree that the painful past never happened, but any such official effort in our country . . . would be tragic.”
The problem with simplifying history to accommodate a set agenda — North good, South bad — is that the facts just won’t cooperate. OK Democrats, you want to toss Jefferson and Jackson into the ashcan of history. What about Abraham Lincoln? “I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races,” Lincoln famously declared in an 1858 debate with Stephen Douglas. In that debate, Lincoln added that he didn’t want blacks voting, sitting on juries, or marrying white people.
So, Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton – you support tearing down the Lincoln Memorial, I assume? His words make him sound like a racist on a par with Jefferson and Jackson.
What about Roger Taney? Unlike Jackson and Jefferson, he freed his slaves. Inconveniently for the iconoclasts (literally: “those who destroy statues”), Taney declared that “slavery is a blot on our national character, and every real lover of freedom confidently hopes that it will be effectually . . . wiped away.”
At this fraught moment in time, it is received wisdom that the men who fought under the Confederate battle flag were racists battling to preserve slavery. I’ve recently become reacquainted with Edmund Wilson’s 1962 book “Patriotic Gore,” which took a jaundiced view of the jumped-up claims of moral purity on either side of the Mason-Dixon line.
“The institution of slavery,” Wilson wrote, “supplied the militant union North with the rabble-rousing moral issue which is necessary in every modern war to make the conflict appear as a melodrama.”
Wilson, channeling economic historian Charles Beard, thought the industrial North simply wanted to annex the agrarian South: “The myth that it was fighting to free the slaves is everywhere except in the South firmly fixed in the American popular mind,” Wilson wrote. “These pseudo-moral issues which aroused such furious hatred were never fundamental for the North,” he added.
I think Wilson would be pilloried for writing those words today. But history is a moving stream, not a stagnant pond of water. Today’s certainties are tomorrow’s doubts. By all means, rethink the past. But let’s not hide from whom we were.
Popular British broadcaster wades into row over 'sexist' professor: BBC presenter says he was 'appalled' at way Sir Tim Hunt was treated and says university bowed to 'intimidation'
Jonathan Dimbleby has launched an attack on the university that ousted scientist Sir Tim Hunt over his ‘feeble’ joke about women in laboratories.
The BBC presenter said he was ‘appalled’ by the way University College London treated the Nobel Prize winner, and accused the institution of bowing down to ‘intimidation’ by closed-minded students.
‘Too often university authorities are supine in the face of student intimidation. And it is intimidation,’ he said.
‘The scientist Tim Hunt was silenced by his university after he joked somewhat feebly that girls shouldn’t work with men in the laboratory because they fall in love and cry when criticised... Like a good number of the university’s alumni, I was appalled.’
Mr Dimbleby – who is himself a former UCL student – said he was so shocked by UCL’s decision to oust him that he had ‘taken the painful step of disowning’ his own honorary fellowship at the university.
Sir Tim, who is married to the eminent scientist Mary Collins, sparked controversy in June when he said that women distracted men in laboratories.
In an ill-advised joke to the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea, he said: ‘Let me tell you about my trouble with girls.
‘Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry.’
But although the remarks appear to have been a joke, the 72-year old was roundly criticised by his female colleagues, and sparked an online backlash from female scientists.
Many of them uploaded pictures of themselves kitted out in lab coats, filter masks or bulky boiler suits, accompanied by the hashtag #DistractinglySexy.
Sir Tim, who won the Nobel Prize in 2001 for his work on cell division, tried to mitigate the damage by apologising for the ‘light-hearted’ and ‘ironic’ remarks.
But his attempt to make amends backfired when he added that he was ‘only trying to be honest’.
UCL contacted Sir Tim’s wife, who is a UCL professor, insisting that he had to resign or face be sacked. The father of two obliged and emailed his resignation.
Criticising Sir Tim’s treatment by the university, Mr Dimbleby said he found something ‘peculiarly ugly about young minds so closed to alternative views that they block their ears and intimidate others into silence’.
However, the host of Radio 4’s Any Questions? programme did not reserve his condemnation exclusively for Sir Tim’s antagonists.
In a speech on freedom of expression published yesterday (Mon) and due to be delivered at the Prix Italia broadcasting awards in Turin tonight (Tue), the presenter also raises fears about online trolls and cyber-bullying.
He warned that criticism on social media quickly spirals into ‘witch hunts’ which are designed to ‘destroy’ people, and leave users ‘imprisoned’.
‘The revolution in global communications offers freedoms unimaginable until very recently. Online you can discover and learn, entertain and inspire. It is in almost every way a liberation for us all. Almost,’ he said.
‘You can also babble with impunity. Under the cloak of anonymity, you can express the ugliest of sentiments: you can join a witch-hunt to destroy a reputation of to assassinate a character. We are thus liberated and simultaneously imprisoned by social media.’
UK: Privately run NHS hospital near top of satisfaction league: But that couldn't save it from Left-wing 'stitch up'
The country's first NHS hospital to have been privately run is near the top of a satisfaction league despite being condemned by inspectors.
Hinchingbrooke was ranked fourth out of 160 NHS hospitals, receiving just 1.3 complaints per 100,000 times patients were dealt with.
The worst trust had 13 times as many grievances and the average was 6.2 per 100,000. Yet for the past nine months the Cambridgeshire hospital has been in special measures after the Care Quality Commission branded it inadequate.
A report by the watchdog identified 102 serious failings at Hinchingbrooke and shortly afterward Circle, the private firm that ran it, ended its contract.
There were widespread suspicions however that the firm had been stitched up by trade unionists and Labour activists opposed to privatisation within the NHS.
One of the inspectors was a member of the pressure group Keep Our NHS Public; another was in a doctors' trade union that had warned against private firms.
A leading teaching hospital has been placed in special measures after the official watchdog found high levels of laughing gas in the maternity wing.
Inspectors at the Care Quality Commission raised a number of serious concerns about Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust, including a shortage of midwives and staff being out of their depth.
They also found that much of the equipment in the maternity unit was old and that vital machines to monitor babies' heart rates during labour were not always used.
But of particular concern were the high levels of nitrous oxide –gas and air – also nicknamed laughing gas or 'hippy crack'. It is given as pain relief but can also cause dizziness, unconsciousness and even death. The problem was caused by poor ventilation.
The chief executive and chief finance officer of the trust, which runs Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, both quit last month in anticipation of the report.
These suspicions gained credence in April when the CQC retracted dozens of concerns and upgraded the hospital to 'requires improvement'.
Even though Hinchingbrooke's grading is now on a par with the majority of NHS trusts it is still in special measures.
And the complaint figures show that only three trusts were better: Birmingham Children's Hospital, the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath and the Christie cancer centre in Manchester. None received any complaints.
At the other end of the scale the North West London NHS trust had 17 complaints per 100,000 times patients were dealt with.
The report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman looked at the complaints received by patients or relatives that were deemed serious enough to be investigated.
This was compared with the number of 'clinical episodes', to take into account the size of the hospital, which include outpatient appointments, admissions, operations and scans.
Around a third of complaints were about poor communication, another 30 per cent due to the wrong diagnosis and a fifth concerned staff attitude.
The Ombudsman, Julie Mellor, received 21,371 inquiries from patients and families about NHS trusts last year – including complaints – and 1,835 were deemed serious enough to be investigated.
She said: 'We know that there are many factors that influence the number of complaints hospitals receive, such as organisational size, demographics and whether they actively encourage feedback from patients.
'I strongly believe that NHS leaders should welcome feedback from patients and recognise the opportunities good complaint handling offers to improve the services they provide.
'We are publishing this data to help hospital trusts identify problems and take action to ensure trust in the healthcare system remains high.'
The report covers 2014/15, which spans the time when Circle was in charge at Hinchingbrooke. It pulled out of the contract in April. But the future of the hospital is uncertain and it may be taken over by a failing trust nearby, leading to the loss of its A&E and maternity units.
The hospital, which serves 160,000 patients, is being run by the NHS Trust Development Authority, a regulator which oversees smaller or less well performing trusts.
It is due to be inspected by the CQC next month.
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.