Monday, December 28, 2015
Woman who falsely claimed she had been raped twice at the same park is jailed for two years
Such claims are common in Britain. At least British judges do usually lock the bitches up for a few years
A young woman who falsely claimed she had been hauled into bushes and raped twice by the same man in the same park five months apart has been jailed for two years.
A court heard former Edinburgh Academy pupil Naima Shereen Mirza, 21, 'spun a web of lies and deceit', causing police to waste hundreds of hours investigating her malicious allegations.
Officers became suspicious when Mirza named her attacker as a man from Perth, who was actually in jail at the time the alleged offences took place when she was a pupil at Edinburgh Academy, a court heard.
After searching her property, they found a journal where she documented her increasingly alarming thoughts and fantasies, including the names and offences of rapists and sexual offenders from around Scotland.
She later told detectives she concocted the attacks to explain her poor exam results after failing to get in to Strathclyde University, in Glasgow.
Mirza denied that on various occasions between May 15, 2012, and April 2, 2013, she falsely represented to police officers and civilian operators at the 999 service that she had been sexually assaulted and raped in Edinburgh's King George V park.
But a jury of 12 women and three men found her guilty after a nine-day trial earlier this month at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.
The first police officer to interview Mirza was DC Lesley Robertson of the Public Protection Unit on May 15.
She described how Mirza sat with her hair over her face as she talked to her and ran out of the room several times.
She said she found her behaviour quite strange. 'I had concerns about her hiding her face and running out of the room' she said. 'I had the impression it was very well planned. I didn't see any real distress or anything like that'.
DC Barry Murphy said Mirza told him she had been distressed and unhappy about her exams and had decided to 'make up' her alleged attack to explain her poor results.
She wrote a letter to one of the officer's in the case which said: 'Nothing happened. I went to the park and made it up. I wanted another year at school to get to Strathclyde University'.
Mirza told the jury she had wanted to do forensic biology at Strathclyde University and had had a conditional offer from them, but failed to get the 'A' in chemistry she needed
She said she wanted to do an extra year at school as she thought she had not done well in the exams. The court heard she did well in one exam however, getting 80 per cent for Drama.
Sentencing Mirza, Sheriff Michael O'Grady QC told her: 'In many years in these courts in one capacity or another, I have come across the whole range of hateful, hideous and downright bizarre things that people do to each other and the world at large.
'But I doubt, however, in all that time that I have encountered a course of conduct so strange, so needless and so hard to fathom as yours.' He added: 'It is also a course of conduct that is selfish, devious and persistent to a truly remarkable degree'.
He said resources were diverted from 'genuine crimes where genuine victims were anxiously and fearfully waiting for their assailants to be brought to book', adding: 'That is not only appalling, it is positively cruel.'
'For almost a year you spun a web of lies and deceit of quite remarkable scope, intricacy and forethought.
'Throughout that time, you caused huge amounts of public money and effort, not to mention the dedication and commitment of the police officers from whom we heard, to be needlessly expended for no other purpose than the gratification of watching them dance to your tune'.
State Silences Bakers Who Refused to Make Cake for Lesbian Couple, Fines Them $135K
Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian finalized a preliminary ruling today ordering Aaron and Melissa Klein, the bakers who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, to pay $135,000 in emotional damages to the couple they denied service.
“This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage,” Avakian wrote. “It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.”
In the ruling, Avakian placed an effective gag order on the Kleins, ordering them to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs.
“This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights,” the Kleins, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which has since closed, wrote on their Facebook page. “According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech.”
The cease and desist came about after Aaron and Melissa Klein participated in an interview with Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. During the interview, Aaron said among other things, “This fight is not over. We will continue to stand strong.”
Lawyers for plaintiffs, Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, argued that in making this statement, the Kleins violated an Oregon law banning people from acting on behalf of a place of public accommodation (in this case, the place would be the Kleins’ former bakery) to communicate anything to the effect that the place of public accommodation would discriminate.
Administrative Law Judge Alan McCullough, who is employed by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries and was appointed by Avakian, threw out the argument in the “proposed order” he issued back in April.
But today, Avakian, who was in charge of making the final ruling in the case—and is also an elected politician—reversed that decision.
“The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries hereby orders [Aaron and Melissa Klein] to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published … any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations … will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation,” Avakian wrote.
The Kleins’ lawyer, Anna Harmon, was shocked by the provision.
“Brad Avakian has been outspoken throughout this case about his intent to ‘rehabilitate’ those whose beliefs do not conform to the state’s ideas,” she told The Daily Signal. “Now he has ruled that the Kleins’ simple statement of personal resolve to be true to their faith is unlawful. This is a brazen attack on every American’s right to freely speak and imposes government orthodoxy on those who do not agree with government sanctioned ideas.”
Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, called the order “outrageous” and said citizens of Oregon should be “ashamed.”
“This order is an outrageous abuse of the rights of the Kleins to freely practice their religion under the First Amendment,” he said.
It is exactly this kind of oppressive persecution by government officials that led the pilgrims to America. And Commissioner Avakian’s order that the Kleins stop speaking about this case is even more outrageous—and also a fundamental violation of their right to free speech under the First Amendment.
Avakian would have fit right in as a bureaucrat in the Soviet Union or Red China. Oregon should be ashamed that such an unprincipled, scurrilous individual is a government official in the state.
The case began in February 2013 when Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer filed a complaint against the Kleins for refusing to bake them a wedding cake.
At the time of the refusal, same-sex marriage had not yet been legalized in Oregon.
The Bowman-Cryers’ complaint went to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which is in charge of defending the law that prohibits businesses from refusing service to customers based on their sexual orientation, among other characteristics, called the Equality Act of 2007.
In January 2014, the agency found the Kleins unlawfully discriminated against the couple because of their sexual orientation. In April, McCullough recommended they pay $75,000 to Rachel and $60,000 to Laurel.
In order to reach the total amount, $135,000, Rachel and Laurel submitted a long list of alleged physical, emotional and mental damages they claim to have experienced as a result of the Kleins’ unlawful conduct.
Examples of symptoms included “acute loss of confidence,” “doubt,” “excessive sleep,” “felt mentally raped, dirty and shameful,” “high blood pressure,” “impaired digestion,” “loss of appetite,” “migraine headaches,” “pale and sick at home after work,” “resumption of smoking habit,” “shock,” “stunned,” “surprise,” “uncertainty,” “weight gain” and “worry.”
In their Facebook post, the Kleins signaled their intention to appeal Avakian’s ruling, writing, “We will not give up this fight and we will not be silenced,” already perhaps putting themselves at risk of violating the cease and desist.
The year race made a comeback
In 2015, we saw the rise of a toxic new racialism.
I’ve always loathed the phrase ‘people of colour’. It’s awkward and dehumanising – one of those PC phrases that somehow manages to be more ‘Othering’ than the alternative. But I’ve been hearing a lot of it over the past year. The phrase, popularised by Eighties anti-racist activists, has crept into the mainstream – into newspaper columns, campus debates and Twitter slanging matches. That along with the inexorable tweeism ‘black folks’.
There’s something in this. Among young politicos in particular, a new politics of race arose in 2015. Some of it is familiar and old-school, growing up around issues of police brutality and social inequality, but much of it is quintessentially modern, draped in therapeutic concerns about ‘racial consciousness’, ‘microaggressions’ and ‘cultural appropriation’. But what unifies it all is a troubling desire to erect racial boundaries – a call for black people to adopt the role of the victim and for white people to self-flagellate in a corner.
The discussion about race has been more live in the West than it has been in years. From protests against police brutality to Oxford students demanding ‘Rhodes Must Fall’, there is a sense that racism is not only alive and well but more insidious than ever. Everything from ‘offensive’ statues to racist coppers is seen as part of the same existential threat. This stoked-up sense of racial peril has not only conflated genuine concerns about persisting inequalities with mere thin-skinned offence-taking — it has also worked to rehabilitate race, to give it a PC make-over.
In 2015 there was a constant insistence not on unity or solidarity, but on difference. There is a new racialism festering, which springs not from white supremacist gunmen, policemen with itchy trigger fingers or the bluster of Donald Trump, but from those who deign to call themselves anti-racist. And in almost every corner of modern life this year, its divisive presence was felt.
On college campuses, the rise of microaggressions has made socialising a fraught activity. The brain-child of Seventies academics, microaggressions is the idea that white people’s clumsy comments can destroy black people’s self-esteem and contribute to their macro-oppression. Colleges across the US, including Oberlin, Carleton and Willamette, maintain lengthy lists of verboten phrases, and it’s starting to catch on in the UK, too.
More often than not, microaggressions amount to little more than impertinent questions: asking where someone is ‘really from’ or if you can touch their hair. But as well as implying that black people are incapable of challenging someone’s clumsy comments without running to the authorities, they encourage a kind of paranoid racial etiquette, where we are told to treat people differently depending on their skin colour. When it was discovered this year that UCLA included the statement ‘I don’t believe in race’ on its list of microaggressions, the divisive trajectory of it all was laid bare.
Then there’s the cultural realm. Under the new racialism, you see, it’s not only people who must be separated into our own convenient boxes — so must culture be. That most risible of 2015 trends – the rise of ‘cultural appropriation’ – has seen white people lambasted for rapping, wearing corn rows or just doing a yoga class. The fact that all artistic and cultural movements are built on borrowing – and that from rock’n’roll to rap this exchange has played a big role in bringing people of different backgrounds together – seems to have done nothing to dent this toxic idiocy.
But most tragically of all is the influence the new racialism has had on politics. Time and again this year, political campaigns on racial issues have focused not on collective strength and solidarity, but on vulnerability and division. Black Lives Matter (BLM), the hashtag-turned-direction-action-group, responds to each police killing of black people by hosting ‘die-ins’ or marches where so-called white allies are encouraged to hang to the back or hold up signs repenting for their ‘white privilege’. Meanwhile, protests at the University of Missouri and elsewhere over allegations of discrimination have focused on demands for ‘racial-awareness training’.
At every turn, race is reified. Revelations that leaders in black-activist organisations, including the NAACP’s Rachel Dolezal and (allegedly) BLM’s Shaun King, are in fact white, should come as no surprise. In this toxic, racialised climate, political authority is calculated not on the basis of your arguments, or your support from a section of society, but from the position you claim for yourself in a hierarchy of oppression. That some white people are blacking up, and bolstering their credibility by cooking up fake hate crimes against themselves, is only a bizarre expression of the new politics of segregation.
March 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the civil-rights marches from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama. Defiant in their Sunday best, those protesters were the antithesis of the victim-obsessed quasi-radical radicals we see today. Marching in spite of police beatings, targeted assassinations and constant threats from government for them to cease their activities or else, they refused to be cowed – and made it out the other end with undented optimism. On the steps of the Montgomery state capitol, Martin Luther King hailed the coming of ‘a day not of the white man, not of the black man’ but ‘the day of man as man’. In 2015, that day felt as far away as it’s ever been.
James Deen: the injustice of Twitter trials
The rape-culture crusade has ushered in a new era of mob justice
The world of adult entertainment has been rocked by allegations of rape and sexual violence against one of its biggest stars. James Deen, variously called the Tom Cruise and Ryan Gosling of porn, was accused by his ex-girlfriend and fellow porn actor, Stoya, earlier this month. Deen had developed a reputation as a ‘feminist porn star’, often including disclaimers in his films that everything depicted was completely consensual, and advocating for greater awareness of consent and sexual violence. Stoya took to Twitter and denounced Deen, accusing him of holding her down and raping her ‘while I said no, stop, used my safe word’. The tweet has been retweeted over 11,000 times. And there are now a total of 10 porn actresses who have come out and accused him of similar crimes. One woman, Tori Lux, posted an online essay accusing Deen of pinning her to the floor during a film shoot and hitting her on the head.
These accusations led to an online rush to express support for the women making them. An article in Time claimed the case represented a ‘shift in rape culture’ in which a ‘tidal wave of women’s truth’ was ‘washing away the detritus of lies about sex and violence’. The article appeared to have the case against Deen all sewn up, arguing that because between 0.2 and 8 per cent of rape allegations are false, Deen was probably guilty. Another writer said, ‘I don’t need Stoya or any woman to “prove” that she has been raped for me to believe her… I BELIEVE WOMEN. Period.’ The hashtag #IStandWithStoya began trending, with one tweeter claiming that if you questioned the truth of the allegations then you were ‘part of rape culture’. The fallout from the tweets has been swift: Deen has had his sex-advice column with a women’s magazine pulled and he has resigned from the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee.
Make no mistake: what’s happening to James Deen and others who find themselves on the harsh end of the Twitterati is terrifying. Deen’s is just the latest case of an allegation of serious sexual violence playing out in the kangaroo court of social media, in which the presumption of innocence and due process are routinely ignored. Sadly, these informal Twitter courts are becoming more popular. Deen’s case mirrors that of Jian Ghomeshi, the Canadian talk-radio host, who was subject to an allegation of sexual assault in a newspaper at the end of 2014. Shortly after the story was published, the hashtag #BeenRapedNeverReported began trending, with women posting allegations of sexual violence that they had not taken to the police. Ghomeshi has now been charged with sexual assault. Last year, 23-year-old YouTuber Sam Pepper was accused by a young woman in a lengthy YouTube video of raping her. The video received over two million views. But when the Los Angeles police contacted the woman, she refused to proceed with a complaint.
These Twitter tribunals pose a significant threat to justice. By plastering allegations all over the internet, by throwing opinions and judgements on to any available social-media platform, those making allegations and their supporters risk seriously prejudicing any future trials that may come as a result. When these allegations are made, the internet becomes awash with all kinds of potentially inadmissible evidence, which any defence lawyer worth their salt would point to as potentially prejudicial. Worse, the online scrutiny these allegations receive may work to undermine the credibility of these women. What if they say things at this stage that are inconsistent with what they may say later on? We may be very keen to ‘believe’ Deen’s accusers, but if he is ever to receive a fair trial they will have to convince a jury of his guilt. This will be a lot harder if they have shown themselves to be unreliable on Twitter or in the celebrity gossip pages.
The use of statistics in the discussion of Deen’s case, and other cases in which people rush to ‘believe at any cost’, has also been revealing. It is often said that a low number of rape allegations are false, and so most allegations of sexual violence are likely to be true. But the important caveat to the statistic that the Time piece and others missed was the word ‘provably’. It is true that only 0.2 to eight per cent of rape allegations are provably false. But, for obvious reasons, proving an allegation is false or misconceived is extremely difficult, perhaps even more difficult than proving an allegation to be true. Rape is a crime for which there is likely to be little objective evidence. It often comes down to one person’s word against another. The whole concept of ‘truth’ and falsity is very difficult when considering rape: two people’s perceptions of a particular interaction could be very different, with one person feeling as though what occurred was consensual and the other genuinely believing otherwise.
This is especially true in Deen’s case. Working on a porn set, in which extreme forms of sexual behaviour are far more common than in your average bedroom, means that the scope for misunderstanding, confusion and ambiguity is bound to be far higher. Once the word ‘provably’ is included the logic of the argument so often used to convict men like Deen completely collapses. Just because a low percentage of allegations are provably false does not mean that the rest of them are true.
But what makes these twitch-hunts even more dangerous is that we may never know if an injustice has been done. The move away from due process to online kangaroo courts means that those accused are simply punished at the behest of an online mob, without any scrutiny whatsoever, and then left to live with their sentence. If James Deen loses his career without ever going before a courtroom, we will never know whether this was a just outcome. We will just have to accept blindly the verdict of the Twitter court.
What the James Deen fiasco shows is that rape culture is a catastrophically dangerous idea. It is being used to usher in a new era of ‘no smoke without fire’ justice. In this world, the rush to ‘believe’ at all costs is elevated above the need for objectivity, impartiality and due process. We need to end the Twitter trials and give allegations of rape and sexual violence the serious and careful attention that they deserve.
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.