Monday, February 29, 2016

"Liberal" Dutch don't like libertarians

Toine Mander is head of the Dutch libertarian organization. He is a lawyer specializing in helping the little guy to legally minimize his tax payments.  He was arrested in January 2014 and held in custody for 90 days, without either a trial or being charged with any offense.  Below is the most recent update from him about the Dutch police State:

"Several people have asked me to write an update about my situation, so they can publish it on the internet. The problem with this request is that my lawyer has strongly advised me to avoid any publicity until the case is closed, because the Dutch criminal justice system (criminal in more ways than one) works in such a way in practice that this can be used against me.

This is extremely frustrating for me, because I would like nothing more than to scream from the rooftops about this travesty of justice.

So far, I had remained quiet. Now, after so many requests, I have decided to write a very short update anyway. I intend to write the full story in a book once I have been acquitted.

I found out the hard way that in The Netherlands, the accused gets the benefit of the doubt only at the final stage of the criminal proceedings, when the court issues its verdict. Until that time, the accused can be held in pre-trial detention if certain conditions are met (e.g. risk of repetition or tampering with evidence or influencing witnesses). Proof that a crime was committed is not one of these conditions, suspicion is sufficient.

Therefore, pre-trial detention is usually not ended but suspended under certain conditions. My pre-trial detention was suspended from 13 May 2014 under certain conditions including the following:

I am not allowed to work in the trust or financial sector;

I am not allowed to have contact with (still to be heard) witnesses (even though that could include most of my friends and business contacts);

I am not allowed to leave The Netherlands (even though I lived in Cyprus).

Violation of one of these conditions would result in pre-trial detention until the end of the trial (probably in 2016). You could say I am not free, just less unfree.

No evidence of any crime, misdemeanor or violation of any rule has been presented. Therefore, I should be and expect to be acquitted.


People too scared to speak about issues, says former Australian Prime Minister

John Howard has sounded an alarm about the culture war in Australia — warning that people are being "cowed" against stating their views on issues and that a dangerous anti-religious push has emerged — and branded as "pernicious­" the Victorian government’s hostility to religious connections in schools.

Mr Howard said there was a "get Pell" mentality in "some sections of the media", referring to Cardinal George Pell, who is about to answer questions before the child sex abuse royal commission and has been the subject of allegations of sex abuse by material coming from Victoria Police.

In relation to gay marriage, Mr Howard said: "There is nothing homophobic about supporting traditional marriage. Everybody did in the parliament in 2004.

"May I remind you that in 2004, when I inserted the defin­ition in the Marriage Act, the Labor Party supported it. You ought to be able to have sensible discussion on these sorts of things. And you should be able to express a view on these things. But there is a sense in which people are so frightened of being accused of being discriminatory or intolerant that they don’t speak the common­sense view."

Mr Howard said the standards of civil society in Australia were being undermined by a growing intolerance towards people who did not subscribe to a range of progressive views.

"I think the problem is that too few people are prepared to call it for what it is," he said. "I think people are cowed because they think, ‘I can’t say that because I might lose votes or I might offend somebody’."

He said there was a new form of "minority fundamentalism" emerging, typified by the use of the anti-discrimination law in Tasmania to silence the Catholic Church from stating its position on marriage.

Having read the document issued by the Catholic bishops, Mr Howard said: "How anyone can read that as offensive to people who favour same-sex marriage or gay or lesbian people is beyond me."

He said the situation in Victoria under new guidelines for religious instruction was that "from now on you can sing Jingle Bells in schools but not Once in Royal David’s City or Silent Night".

"This is pernicious," he said. "I’m surprised there hasn’t been a greater outcry about it. Nobody is forced to believe in God. Nobody’s forced to follow Christianity. The observance of Christmas and all that goes with it is part of our culture. I must say I have never come across a person of the Jewish faith or of the Muslim faith who has complained that they have had Christianity forced upon them."

Warning that such cultural intolerance would provoke a backlash, Mr Howard said one of the reasons Donald Trump was succeeding in the Republican primaries was that people felt he was speaking directly to them and shunning any political correctness.

While saying he "would tremble at the idea of Trump being President of the US", Mr Howard said the Republican frontrunner was benefiting because other politicians refused to acknowledge public resentments. While he found some of Mr Trump’s comments "appalling", his success was "a measure of how people feel".

These comments recall his performance as prime minister when Mr Howard campaigned against political correctness, resisted the idea of a superior morality on the part of elites and had to manage the rise of Pauline Hanson, who exploited economic grievances.

Mr Howard expressed disappointment that the Abbott government had abandoned its proposed free speech changes to section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act after winning an election mandate on the issue. He said it was probably only with the Andrew Bolt case that people realised the application of this provision "was as spiteful as it turned out to be".

Branding the climate of repression as "pernicious", Mr Howard said there was "almost a fear" among people to articulate the views he was expressing because of concern they would "offend our multicultural ethos" or be "branded as intolerant".

He said the Catholic Church as an institution had to be held to account for its cover-ups on child sexual abuse, given the number of priests who had been involved. But Mr Howard said: "It seems as if Cardinal Pell is being singled out to take the rap for the misdeeds of a whole lot of people and the evidence is that he was more active in trying to do something about it."

He highlighted the fact one of Cardinal Pell’s critics, Father Frank Brennan, had recently warned of the need to ensure that Cardinal Pell, as a witness before the royal commission, was treated with integrity. Father Brennan said after the recent leaks of material originating from Victoria Police that the standing of the royal commission was an issue if one arm of a government involved in its commissioning was "engaged in unauthorised activity aimed at undermining the public standing of key witnesses".

On same-sex marriage, Mr Howard said he would not have chosen a plebiscite. He felt the issue should be decided in parliament by a free vote. But, given the Abbott government had decided on the plebiscite path, the Turnbull government "had to honour that commitment".

He said any authorisation of same-sex marriage had to contain religious freedom protections.

Reviewing the alienation of the public from the US political process, Mr Howard identified two fundamental differences between Australia and the US: Australia did not suffer the debilitating consequences of a constitutional bill of rights and the middle class had been supported by sustained real wage gains over recent decades, unlike the US. While warning that there were "sufficient similarities" between the two countries to make alienation from politics in this country a real risk, Mr Howard said Australia enjoyed distinct advantages.

"If I were an American, I would feel that it didn’t matter who you voted for because essentially the people you vote for can’t do anything, with gay marriage and Obamacare being decided by the courts," he said.

"I have never embraced the idea that judges have infinitely more wisdom in making decisions about the social and economic future of the country than the rest of the population. One of the reasons some of these social issues are so hotly contested in the United States is that people don’t think they have been allowed to have their say.

"I would be very concerned if we went down the American path and we gave to judges a power to determine these things."


Racist Hollywood?

The Associated Press breathlessly reported that in "one of the most exhaustive and damning reports on diversity in Hollywood," the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California put out a new report slashing at the "whitewashing" of our movies and TV shows. It's howling against an "epidemic of invisibility" for minorities (both racial and sexual) and declaring an "inclusion crisis."

One can only await the fun of the next Democratic debate, when a liberal journalist is sure to compel Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to explain which of them would impose a more rigid code of affirmative action on all television and movie studios, to ensure that all directors and actors hired — and characters scripted — match rigid racial and gender quotas to ensure maximum diversity.

Or, since Hollywood is one of the most reliable piggy banks for Democratic campaigns, could it be the industry that's most immune to a rigid inclusion bureaucracy?

Last year, goaded by pressure groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and studies like USC's, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission started an investigation of Hollywood.

The numbers from USC's new study come from examining 109 films released by major studios in 2014 (including their art house divisions), and also 305 scripted first-run TV series across 31 networks and digital streaming services that aired from September 2014 to August 2015.

They found the most nausea for liberals at the top. Directors overall were 87 percent white, and broadcast TV directors were 90.4 percent white. Just 15.2 percent of directors, 28.9 percent of writers and 22.6 percent of TV series creators were female. In movies, the gender gap is widest: Only 3.4 percent of the films studied were directed by women, and only two directors out of all 109 were black women.

In all the movies and TV shows, only one-third of speaking characters were female, and only 28.3 percent were from minority groups — about 10 percent less than the makeup of the U.S. population. Characters 40 years or older tilt heavily to the male side across film and TV: 74.3 percent male to 25.7 percent female. The lack of female authority figures in fictional entertainment surely offends the Clinton backers the most.

Some of the complaints didn't match the idea that they under-represented other minorities. They claimed just 2 percent of speaking characters were identified as gay, but that's pretty close to their actual fraction of the U.S. population. Even then, the population of gay characters was too white and too male!

They express shock that among the 11,306 speaking characters studied, only seven were transgender. But out of more than 300 million Americans, the Social Security Administration has notched about 135,000 actual sex-change applications, an even lower percentage.

Somehow, in this epic search for diversity, this liberal journalism school did not address how many conservatives wrote and directed these movies and TV shows, or how many conservative characters were featured. That kind of diversity is never desirable to liberals.


Arrogant Boston doctors versus parental rights

Nearly two years after she returned home in the arms of her father, Justina Pelletier was back in the spotlight Thursday, speaking in a small, slightly shaky voice about the 16 months she spent in state custody, much of it in a locked psychiatric ward.

Justina, whose case drew national attention to the power of medical professionals to override parental rights, said she remains outraged that she was placed in state custody in 2013 after Boston Children’s Hospital accused her parents of interfering with her care.
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The 17-year-old Connecticut girl clutched a purple stress ball, fingernails painted turquoise, as she spoke from a wheelchair in front of the State House, where her parents had convened a press conference to discuss the lawsuit they recently filed against Children’s Hospital.

“I’m very angry, and I just don’t understand how this happened, and I just really don’t want this to happen again to another family,” said Justina, who was with her parents, two of their attorneys, and a family spokesman from the Christian Defense Coalition.

She was taken into state custody three years ago after Children’s determined that her many health problems were the result of psychiatric issues and that her parents were pushing for her to undergo unnecessary treatment. The Pelletiers vehemently disagreed, pointing to the opinion of doctors at Tufts Medical Center, who said Justina suffers from mitochondrial disease, a rare genetic disorder that affects how cells produce energy.

On Thursday, Justina criticized her treatment at Children’s Hospital. “They really treated me badly,” she said, looking older and more mature than when she was last publicly seen, being carried into her home by her father after being released from state custody. “They didn’t really care. It was awful.”

Boston Children’s Hospital said in a statement that it “welcomes the opportunity to vigorously defend the medical care it provided to Justina Pelletier.”

“We are committed to the best interests of our patients’ health and well-being, according to the high standards we follow for every patient placed in our care,” the hospital said. “Out of respect for the patient’s privacy and the ongoing legal process, Boston Children’s is unable to provide further comment about the specific issues of this case at this time.”

Justina’s parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier, sued Children’s Hospital in Suffolk Superior Court this month, accusing the renowned institution and four of its doctors — Jurriaan Peters, Simona Bujoreanu, Alice Newton, and Colleen Ryan — of gross negligence and civil rights violations. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages.

“There’s been enormous financial impact on them,” said Kathy Jo Cook, a Boston attorney who is representing the Pelletiers in their lawsuit. “You can imagine if you couldn’t work for 18 months because all you were doing was driving back and forth from Connecticut to Children’s and trying to figure out how to get your child home.”

Last year, the Pelletiers filed for bankruptcy, according to court records.

They also faced foreclosure on their home but were ultimately able to settle their mortgage payments using money from a fund called “A Miracle for Justina” that was controlled by another daughter, Jennifer, court records show.

Lou Pelletier said he is suing Children’s Hospital because he doesn’t want other parents of children with complex medical problems to fear losing custody if they have to seek emergency medical care at a hospital.

“This is not about revenge,” Lou Pelletier said. “This is about making people accountable and making the medical community think twice before they take actions that can do damage to a child and a family that can be irreversible.”

Justina Pelletier smiled as she listened to reporters’ questions in front of the State house Thursday with her parents, Linda and Lou.

Justina was being treated at Tufts Medical Center for mitochondrial disease when her parents brought her to Children’s Hospital with gastrointestinal problems in 2013.

Doctors at Children’s concluded that she was a victim of medical child abuse as a result of her parents interfering with her care.

A juvenile court judge, relying on the opinion of those doctors, removed Justina from her parents’ custody. She was placed in a locked psychiatric ward at the hospital, where, her parents say, she was denied an education and not allowed to attend Mass.

Children’s Hospital said that patients and their families have access to the hospital’s multifaith chaplains and tutors.

Justina’s case became a rallying point for Christian conservatives and parent activists, who accused the hospital and state officials of violating the Pelletiers’ rights to make medical decisions for their daughter.

Under mounting pressure, the same judge who had placed Justina in state custody returned her to her parents’ care in June 2014, saying there was “credible evidence that circumstances have changed” and that her parents “have been cooperative and engaged in services,” including individual therapy for the teen and family therapy.

Justina said that since returning home, she has undergone several surgeries and is “doing a lot better.” She said she rides horses to build strength and attends a school for children with learning disabilities.

“I just really, really want them to get what they deserve,” she said of the doctors at Children’s Hospital. “And I really, really want to walk again and skate.”



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


Sunday, February 28, 2016

UK: Multicultural gang which groomed, raped and abused teenage girls is jailed for total of 102 years including 35-year term for ringleader 'Mad Ash'

The Rotherham gang which groomed, raped and abused teenage girls has today been jailed for a total of 102 years.

Brothers Arshid, 40, Bannaras, 36, and Basharat, 39,  were also sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court today after a series of women - most now in their 30s - told a jury how they were sexually, physically and emotionally abused in the South Yorkshire town when they were in their early teens.

The Hussains were found guilty of a range of offences earlier this week along with their uncle, Qurban Ali, 53, and two women - Karen MacGregor, 59, and Shelley Davis, 40.

The group targeted 15 vulnerable girls, one aged only 11, and forced them to perform horrific sex acts over a sixteen year period.

Judge Sarah Wright told the gang: 'The harm you have caused is of unimaginable proportions.'

Arshid and Basharat Hussain were found guilty of dozens of attacks between them. Arshid, the ringleader, has been jailed for 35 years, while Basharat was given 25 years.

Bannaras Hussain admitted ten charges - including rape, indecent assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm - at the beginning of the trial. He was given a 19-year sentence.

The brothers' uncle, Qurban Ali, 53, appeared alongside them in court. He too was found guilty of conspiracy to rape and has been jailed for 10 years.

MacGregor and Davis were found guilty of conspiracy to procure prostitutes and false imprisonment.

MacGregor was jailed for 13 years, while Davis was handed an 18-month suspended sentence.

Shocking details emerged of an incident where police appeared to turn a blind eye to Bannaras Hussain receiving oral sex from a girl who was only around 12 or 13 at the time.

Bannaras abused the victim in a car park next to Rotherham Police Station. The prosecutor Michelle Colborne QC said: '(The girl) performed oral sex on Bannaras Hussain.

'When, shortly afterwards, a police car pulled up alongside them and asked what was going on, Bannaras Hussain shouted "she's just sucking my c***, mate".  'The police car drove off. He was indifferent to whether she consented or not.'

The girl was beaten up by her own family when they found out she had been abused by the Rotherham grooming gang since she was 12.

The prosecutor added: 'When her brothers found out, they were furious with her and would physically assault her because she was involved sexually with an Asian man.'

As Judge Wright passed sentence on Arshid, there was a shout of 'Yes' and gasps from the packed public gallery.

Some of the victims and their relatives who held hands on the balcony of the court hugged each other.

Karen MacGregor, described in court as a 'mother figure', took in girls from children's homes purporting to give them a safe haven and support - only to then have them abused

The judge said: 'Each in your own way perpetrated or facilitated the sexual abuse of these young girls.  'Your victims were targeted, sexualised and in some cases subjected to acts of a degrading and violent nature.

'Many of the victims were subjected to repeated abuse. There was a pattern of abuse which was repeated over and over again. Some victims were groomed, some coerced and intimidated.

'They were made to feel that they could not report what was happening to them.  'Even if they did, no action was taken and you were free to continue your exploitation of them.'

Addressing Arshid, she said: 'You and your brothers, Bannaras Hussain and Basharat Hussain, were well-known in the area - you drove distinctive cars and had a reputation for violence.  'There was a perception by some of your victims that you appeared, in their words, to "rule Rotherham". You exploited that to the full.'

Two other men, Majid Bostan, 37 and Sajid Bostan, 38, also brothers, were cleared of all charges.


How the Atlanta Fire Chief’s Christian Views Cost Him His Job

Heretics will be punished. That’s the clear message of the zealots who are defying more than 200 years of American constitutional tradition in their effort to establish a new state church, the church of sexual freedom. To the adherents of this church, no amount of virtue can compensate for apostasy. Even the best and brightest must be swept aside if they do not believe.

By now the stories of the victims or intended victims are familiar. Brendan Eich’s brilliance couldn’t save him at Mozilla. Thousands of hours of good works can’t save Christian student organizations from being pushed off campus. Even adoption agencies must conform to the new faith, pledging their willingness to place babies with homosexual couples, or close their doors.

Indeed, no less an authority than the solicitor general of the United States weighed in on whether Christian colleges should be able to keep their tax-exempt status as charitable organizations — it is “going to be an issue,” he predicted.

The stories are legion, and the facts of the individual injustice can get lost as one lists outrage after outrage, so it is worth taking a close look at one story — a story that shows precisely how the new intolerance works and demonstrates unequivocally that no amount of virtue can overcome heresy on questions of sexual morality.

It is the story of former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran. In any other circumstance, Cochran would be the subject of inspirational books and movies — a firefighter’s version of Ben Carson’s Gifted Hands. Cochran, an African American, was born in Confederate Memorial Hospital in Shreveport, La., on January 23, 1960, when segregation still ruled much of the South. He was the fourth of four boys, and his mother had six children in all. Born into deep poverty, he saw his family’s situation grow desperate when his alcoholic father left home, never to return. His mother raised the Cochran kids by herself.

Their poverty was so deep that they often ran out of food and were reduced to eating mayonnaise sandwiches. When they wanted something sweet, they made “sugar water,” spooning sugar into tap water. Speaking of this time, Cochran says, “I learned how awful poverty really was.” He says he also learned that it was “awful” not to have a father at home.

In spite of his poverty, his single-parent family, and the continuing reality of segregation, Cochran was raised in a community that was both faithful and patriotic. He grew up going to church, and the adults in his congregation gave him a clear message: His “dreams could come true” if he had faith in God, got a good education, respected his elders, and treated others the way they liked to be treated.

At an early age, Cochran knew he wanted to be a firefighter, from the moment he saw a “big red Shreveport fire truck” pull up outside his shotgun house to put out a neighbor’s fire. He was in awe of the truck and the firefighters and was filled with a sense of possibility and purpose. Interestingly, although the Shreveport Fire Department was all white, not a single adult told him that he couldn’t fulfill his dream. Instead, they repeated their mantra: faith, education, respect, and the Golden Rule.

Cochran took their lessons to heart. He graduated from Shreveport’s Woodlawn High School in 1978, and, after a short stint at Louisiana Tech, he applied to the fire department. In 1981, he was hired — only the “eighth or ninth” black firefighter in Shreveport.

The Shreveport Fire Department was beginning to integrate, but it had not yet embraced tolerance and equality. In discussing those early years, Cochran looks pained. He makes it clear that he “wasn’t a victim,” but he faced what he simply calls “challenges.” He says that even then, however, his greatest fear wasn’t discrimination or an “overwhelming fire” but rather that he wouldn’t be able to do his job, to do all that his captain asked him to do.

So he studied, and he studied. Then he studied even more. Because he knew the job so well, he became a training officer early. He was a captain in the training academy after only four years (it usually takes twelve). In ten years, he was an assistant chief (it usually takes more than 20 years). After only 18 years, he became the first black fire chief of the Shreveport Fire Department.

Cochran led the department with what he called a “staunch determination to make sure that no member under his watch” would face the discrimination he had faced. He says that he wanted to create an administration of “justice and equity and compassion.”

As chief at Shreveport, Cochran saw his career take off in earnest. He was elected second vice president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, then first vice president. He became president of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association. Eight years after he became chief in Shreveport, Mayor Shirley Franklin recruited him to become Atlanta’s fire chief. In 2009, Barack Obama appointed him U.S. fire administrator, to run the Fire Administration — a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Atlanta Fire Department suffered, however, with budget cuts leading to a shrunken, demoralized force. Mayor Kasim Reed, Shirley Franklin’s successor in Atlanta, recruited Cochran to return, and Cochran moved back — eager, he says, to take on the challenge. The challenge, as he described it, was represented by “-isms” — racism, sexism, nepotism, territorialism — all the factors that made the workplace contentious. He responded by creating what he called a “participatory management structure.” When he made key decisions, he solicited input from “every rank, race, shift, and gender.” He consciously included LGBT firefighters. “I gave every group a voice,” he says.

Cochran developed the Atlanta fire-rescue doctrine and worked with Mayor Reed to hire more firefighters and reopen closed stations. He got results. Atlanta — for the first time — became a “Class 1” city, the highest fire-protection rating, given to only 60 cities in the United States out of 49,010 reviewed.

Firefighter and civilian deaths and injuries decreased on his watch. He accomplished these results all while focusing on “justice, equity, and compassion.” No employee ever accused him of discrimination.

To this point, Kelvin Cochran’s story is one that would make a university diversity officer rejoice. Born poor and black, he rose above poverty and discrimination to become not only a professional leader but also one who dedicated himself to combating the discrimination that had wounded him early in life. He was professional. He was inclusive. He was compassionate.

Unfortunately for Cochran, however, he was also Christian — and that brings us to the rest of the story. Everyone knew about his faith, which meant that people sometimes shared their own faith with him. But he’d never “go there” with colleagues, he says, unless they spoke first. On occasion, Cochran led Bible studies in his spare time, and in 2012 he led a discussion and study group called “Quest for Authentic Manhood.” As part of that effort, he prayed about God’s purpose for men.

As he studied, God’s query to Adam after the Fall — “Who told you that you were naked?” — kept “repeating in [his] head.” “Naked” was a metaphor for “condemned and deprived,” he concluded. To be clothed means to be “redeemed and restored.” By accepting Christ, men are “clothed” in the righteousness of God. Cochran soon began working on a book that explored these themes, writing it early in the morning and in his spare weekend time.

When he started writing, he asked Nina Hickson, the City of Atlanta’s ethics officer, whether there were any ethical or regulatory problems with a city employee’s writing a “non-work-related, faith-based book.” He claims that Hickson told him that so long as the subject matter of the book did not deal with the “city government or fire department,” he was cleared to write it.

Cochran self-published his work in late 2013. Directed at Christian men, it’s 162 pages, only six of which deal with sex and sexuality — taking the completely conventional, orthodox Christian position that sex outside of male–female marriage is contrary to God’s will. This is the position of the Catholic Church and every orthodox Protestant denomination in the United States.

For almost a year, Cochran handed out the book to a few individuals with whom he worked, mainly people who had already discussed their Christian faith with him. He also shared it with the mayor and three members of the Atlanta city council. At no point did any fire-department employee complain to him about the book.

One employee, however, showed a few pages — the pages dealing with sex and sexuality — to an openly gay Atlanta City Council member, Alex Wan. Wan allegedly then showed those pages to Atlanta’s human-resources commissioner, Yvonne Yancey. The idea that an Atlanta fire chief could possibly hold to — and express — orthodox Christian beliefs kicked up a firestorm.

After a flurry of meetings, Atlanta police chief George Turner called Cochran and informed him of the controversy. Four days later, Cochran was suspended without pay. His suspension letter failed to outline the charges against him and also failed to detail a single act in violation of the 21 provisions of the city’s Code of Ordinances that constitute a “cause of action” for termination.

While the city’s formal communications to Cochran were vague, Mayor Reed’s comments were precise. He was furious at the content of Cochran’s book. He said, “I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community.” The mayor expressed his disgust at length, stating, “I want to be clear that the material in Chief Cochran’s book is not representative of my personal beliefs, and is inconsistent with the administration’s work to make Atlanta a more welcoming city for all of her citizens — regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, race, and religious beliefs.”

On Facebook, Reed kept up his denunciation, writing, “The contents of the book do not reflect the views of Mayor Reed or the Administration.” He also said he would require Cochran to complete “sensitivity training.” Making it clear that Atlanta respects only one point of view (“the city’s”),

Councilmember Wan declared, “I respect each individual’s right to have their own thoughts, beliefs, and opinions, but when you’re a city employee, and those thoughts, beliefs, and opinions are different from the city’s, you have to check them at the door.”

On January 6, 2015, the City of Atlanta fired Cochran — without providing him the proper process prescribed by city codes and, he claims, without providing him an opportunity to respond to either his suspension or his termination. At no point did any employee of the fire department complain of mistreatment or discrimination.

Atlanta is now claiming that Cochran’s termination had nothing to do with the contents of his book — the mayor’s statements notwithstanding. No, the man who led the fire department to its first-ever Class 1 rating, and who had in the process saved lives of firefighters and civilians, had to be immediately terminated because he didn’t receive “prior written approval” from the board of ethics before self-publishing his book.

The city cited a provision of the Atlanta Code of Ordinances regulating outside “private employment” or “services for private interests.”

But this provision does not apply to publishing a book on religious themes. And if it were applied to Cochran’s book, it would constitute an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech: The city may not require its employees to obtain written consent before expressing their religious beliefs.

The New York Times has applauded Atlanta’s actions, writing that he should be held to “a different standard.” But which standard is that? One that holds that a man who has fought discrimination his entire life may be fired merely for expressing orthodox Christian beliefs? The Times claims that LGBT employees should “fear” discrimination. But should they fear the man who included them in his “participatory management structure,” consulting LGBT colleagues before making significant departmental decisions?

The “fear” that now exists is felt by Christians in the department — men and women who believe, Cochran says, that they might be next in line for termination. The City of Atlanta has apparently made its own determination on sexual morality, and city employees now must either express the city’s viewpoint or remain silent. The state church has been established, and the state church has spoken. Endorse sexual liberty, or shut your mouth. The only other option is the unemployment line.

There is hope for Cochran, however. So far, even an Obama-appointed federal judge has been unimpressed with Atlanta’s legal arguments and has turned back the city’s attempt to dismiss Cochran’s lawsuit challenging his termination. His attorneys, my old colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom, are beginning the discovery process, and more details will doubtless emerge.

For now, however, Cochran’s story is a warning to those Christians who mistakenly believe that virtue and good works can insulate them from the wrath of the sexual revolutionaries. The double standards are clear — cities prohibited by law from discriminating against Christians now feel free to demand silence from Christian employees while openly advocating the sexual liberation of the LGBT community.

In Atlanta, pluralism means conformity, and only one side of the religious and cultural debate truly enjoys the protection of the First Amendment. The lesson here is clear. If you believe you are safe from the new thought police, you are wrong. Cochran fought discrimination his entire life. Cochran was an Obama appointee in the Department of Homeland Security. Cochran made a concerted effort to include his LGBT employees. Cochran was fired.

And that brings us to the final, sad irony. Cochran began his career fighting discrimination on the basis of his race. His faith gave him the fortitude to withstand the racist onslaught. And now that same faith has cost him the career that he loved.

The Left that boasts about fighting Jim Crow is now attempting to replicate its systemic exclusion and repression. White supremacy is fading away, but a state-endorsed sexual revolution creates new categories of second-class citizens.

Chief Cochran’s life is a story of enduring first one form of discrimination, then another. The faith that sustained him is now the faith that has condemned him, at least in the eyes of the world. The faith that empowered Cochran’s career has also ended it. He is a heretic, after all, and heretics deserve their punishment.


Rick Perry Cleared of Governing While Republican

After costing him time, money, effort and possibly tarnishing his presidential bid, former Texas Governor Rick Perry on Wednesday was finally cleared of charges that he abused his office when he threatened a veto and then issued it in 2013. His real crime? "Governing While Republican."

Perry said he would veto a bill funding the state's Public Integrity Unit if its head, then-Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, didn't step down. Why? Lehmberg had been arrested for driving with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit, and she was so belligerent with police officers that they strapped her into a restraint chair and slipped a spit mask over her. When she refused to resign, Perry vetoed the bill.

To a Democrat-influenced grand jury, Perry's actions of, well, governing, meant he coerced a public servant and abused his office, and they issued an indictment.

But Judge P.J. Keller, who wrote the court's majority opinion dismissing the case, disagreed. "No law passed by the Legislature can constitutionally make the mere act of vetoing legislation a crime," Keller wrote, and the court system cannot "examine the motives behind the veto or second-guess the validity of a veto."

Nevertheless, the frivolous prosecution did serve the Left's goal: to stall a strong conservative's political career. How much more support could the cowboy-boot wearing governor have generated if donors and voters weren't wary that the indictment would stick?


Medical marijuana is now legal in Australia

The Australian parliament passed new national laws today paving the way for the use of medicinal cannabis by people with painful and chronic illness.

Amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act permit both legally-grown cannabis for the manufacture of medicinal cannabis products in Australia. The changes, proposed earlier this month by the Turnbull government, had bi-partisan support.

Recreational cannabis cultivation and use remains illegal with state-based criminal laws still in place.

Health minister Sussan Ley said it was an historic day for the nation and the people who "fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals".

"This is the missing piece in a patient’s treatment journey and will now see seamless access to locally-produced medicinal cannabis products from farm to pharmacy," she said

Under the new federal scheme, patients with a valid prescription can possess and use medicinal cannabis products manufactured from cannabis legally cultivated in Australia, provided the supply has been authorised under the Therapeutic Goods Act and relevant state and territory legislation. The changes put medical cannabis in the same category as restricted medicinal drugs such as morphine.

The Victorian government announcement last year that it will legalise the drug for medical use in 2017. NSW is also currently conducting trials into a cannabis-based drug, Epidolex, with a focus on children with epilepsy, and leading the state-based focus on medical marijuana.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is due to hand down its interim decision on scheduling cannabis for medicinal purposes next month. The minister said an independent Advisory Committee will be set up to oversee the next stage of the rollout of a national regulator for medicinal cannabis.

"A national regulator will allow the government to closely track the development of cannabis products for medicinal use from cultivation to supply and curtail any attempts by criminals to get involved," Ms Ley said.

The national scheme is good news for a range of companies currently vying for a slice of the lucrative market. Medicinal cannabis business MGC Pharmaceuticals, listed on the ASX via a reverse takeover of Perth-based resources business yesterday, saw its share price jump on opening, and rise another 27% today to $0.33.

The business is working with the University of Sydney’s business school to develop a federal government white paper on creating a medical cannabis industry. MGC Pharmaceuticals is currently building a cultivation and extraction plant in Slovenia.

Meanwhile, ASX-listed Medlab Clinical is currently conducting research in Sydney for the NSW Government.



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


Friday, February 26, 2016

Multiculturalism has proven divisive, not coalescent, so let’s ditch it

Like bad 1970s fashion, multiculturalism needs to be binned,  Janet Albrechtsen writes from Australia

Sometimes the obvious questions don’t get asked. Maybe it’s the stubborn power of orthodoxy that puts a spanner in the spokes of our otherwise critical and curious senses. Whatever the reason, it’s time to ask this: why do we still have a minister, let alone an assistant minister for multicultural ­affairs?

Hasn’t this cultural fad overstayed it usefulness? Just as questions are asked about whether taxpayers should keep funding multicultural broadcaster SBS, given its raison d’etre has waned, isn’t it time we asked why we still need government ministers ministering the multicultural word to the people?

There is a sense of urgency around this question after last week’s inauspicious start by Craig Laundy, the new Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs.

Laundy sounded like the very model of the modern multiculturalist — modern in the sense of 1970s modern.

Last week the Liberal MP from western Sydney adopted the condescending voice of those 70s multiculturalists, speaking down to us, telling us that he knows better than us. And just like 70s multiculturalism, he caused division rather than cohesion.

Laundy’s sentiments might please the large voting bloc of Muslims in his electorate but the rest of us were riled by his haughtiness when he said that when people “dive into this debate” (about Islam) and “say controversial things, I would argue the vast ­majority are speaking from a position that is not well-informed”.

That’s multi-culti speak for saying shut up, you’re too stupid to understand Islam or question Islam’s ability to find an accommodation with fundamental Western values such as the separation of church and state, free speech, gender equality and so on.

Alas, people aren’t stupid. We see that countries ruled by the ­Islamic faith have cultures diametrically opposed to Enlightenment values. We can see enclaves of Muslim migrants in Western countries have kept practices at odds with those values. We are entitled to ask questions about the level of gender inequality among Muslims. We are entitled to ask why some young Muslim men chose Islamic State over Australia; why genital mutilation and child marriages happen in countries such as Britain and Australia.

If Laundy finds our questions “controversial” then, sadly, he has caught that debilitating multicultural virus. Like a virus that takes hold of host cells in the human body, multiculturalism’s self-loathing virus started invading Western societies more than 40 years ago. Like a form of cultural cancer, it has weakened our ability to defend our most fundamental values and, worse, it has meant the only culture open to critique and question is our own.

To be fair, Laundy is not alone among Liberal MPs who inadvertently expose why multiculturalism must be discarded.

Last week on the ABC’s Q&A when Liberal MP Steve Ciobo was asked whether he believed in free speech, he said: “I’m attracted to the principle.” Really? That’s it? I might be ­attracted to a dress in a shop but I’m not committed to it. Surely a Liberal MP, a minister, can do better at defending a core Western freedom. You’re not going to convince anyone about the virtues of free speech by saying you kind of like it, with the same commitment as you might say you like cornflakes in the morning

The multicultural virus has impaired even self-professed cultural warriors. As prime minister, Tony Abbott decided that defending free speech by reforming section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was too hard once a few ­migrant groups kicked up a fuss.

Sure, the Senate was unhelpful, but rather than make a humiliating retreat, a warrior of Western culture should fight on to defend the marketplace of ideas, rather than kowtow to the marketplace of outrage that has been fuelled by multiculturalism.

And why wouldn’t Laundy champion all the usual multi-culti guff given the tone set by the more senior Minister for Multicultural Affairs. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, another so-called Liberal Party cultural warrior, didn’t raise an eyebrow, let alone utter a word, when Abbott dropped his promise on free speech. We expect this cultural cowardice from Labor and the broader Left, but when voters can’t look to the Liberal Party to defend our basic values the cultural landscape is indeed bleak.

Remember that multiculturalism was never a policy with broad support. Research by sociologist Katharine Betts reveals multiculturalism wasn’t even a story of ethnic agitators: it was largely trumpeted by a group of Anglo-Australian activists so small that “most of them could and did meet in one room”. Twenty years after Malcolm Fraser included multiculturalism in the Coalition platform, a poll by the Council of Multicultural Affairs found the rank-and-file supporter of multiculturalism was not the ­migrant but the well-educated Anglo-Australian living far way from migrant enclaves.

In the 70s, multiculturalism was sold to the people as the tolerant, moral alternative to earlier evil policies of assimilation and integration. But assimilation and integration were not intolerant ideas. On the contrary, these policies invited migrants to Australia with the promise they, too, could become Australians and enjoy the values that made Australia the country of first choice for millions.

When migrants arrived in postwar Australia, there was a sense of obligation to the new country. The transformation of thousands of poor, displaced migrants into comfortable middle-class Australians in a matter of a few generations is one of the great success stories of integration. The traditional three-way contract was simple: majority tolerance, minority loyalty and government vigilance in both ­directions.

Becoming a citizen meant ­accepting responsibilities in return for clearly understood rights and privileges. A migrant renounced “all other allegiances” to swear loyalty to Australia.

More than 40 years later, asking for minority loyalty is regarded as a sign of intolerance. Against a backdrop of entrenched multiculturalism and a human rights frenzy pushing the right to be “separate but equal”, it’s now a case of the host nation owing the migrant.

The great multicultural con is that its proponents deliberately refused to define the term. They opted for feel-good ambiguity. So it meandered along meaning different things to different people. To some, it meant no more than promoting a culturally diverse ­society loyal to core institutions and core values. Meanwhile, a more virulent form took root, emphasising ethnic rights to be separate but equal, promoting cultural and moral relativism and identity politics where immigrants were no longer Australians, or even “new” Australians.

Multiculturalism endorsed what Theodore Roosevelt called a hyphenated loyalty to country. SBS uses the phrase Muslim-Australians, not the other way around. That hyphenated loyalty has under­mined an obligation on ­migrants to embrace a common set of values.

Worse, multiculturalism demanded that we tolerate the intolerant. To be sure, tolerance is a worthy goal. But it’s meaningful only when tempered with moral judgments about what is right and what is wrong. That is a debate we must all be able to be part of.


American Opinion and the Case for Israel

A recent Brookings Institution survey presented at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. indicated a growing American partisanship toward Israel and the Middle East. But an analysis of an online survey taken in November suggests strategies for Israel's friends to counter growing Democratic Party estrangement with Israel amidst an enduringly pro-Israel and Philo-Semitic American population.

Survey director Shibley Telhami said that Israel is dramatically becoming what fellow panelist and Brookings expert Tamara Cofman Wittes called a wedge issue. As Telhamiwrote in "Politico," the Republicans' pro-Israel base is an indicator that "GOP candidates are principally catering to an evangelical base that has become Israel's biggest support base in American politics." A survey press release noted that while Evangelical Republicans make up only 10 percent of the American population, 23 percent of all Republicans and 77 percent of Evangelical Republicans want the United States to favor Israel. In all, 40 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of self-identified evangelicals "say a candidate's position on Israel matters a lot," compared to 22 percent for Independents and 14 percent for Democrats."

Telhami pointed out that, by contrast, the biggest story of all was the 49 percent of Democrats who said that Israel has too much influence on American politics; 14 percent said too little, and 36 percent said about the right amount. The striking partisan divide of this key finding impressed him, as the corresponding survey results among Republicans for too much, too little, and appropriate Israeli influence were respectively 25 percent, 22 percent and 52 percent. The overall American breakdown is 37, 18 and 44 percent, while 39 percent of evangelicals said that Israel has too little influence (23 percent too much and 38 percent the right amount), and views of too little Israeli influence increase with age.

Other survey findings revealed growing partisan divides between a pro-Israel Republican Party and a Democratic Party that is becoming increasingly more critical of Israel. The survey questionnaire results showed that 45 percent of Republicans wanted the United States to side with Israel in its conflict with Palestinians, while 51 percent wanted America to lean toward neither side. By contrast, only 13 percent of independents and 19 percent of Democrats desired pro-Israel American partiality, while 80 percent of independents and 75 percent of Democrats wanted impartiality.

Similarly, 49 percent of Democrats were willing to impose economic or more serious sanctions upon Israel for continued settlement of territories won in the 1967 war, while 46 percent would do nothing, or limit the U.S. response to a verbal protest. By contrast, in the survey questionnaire results, 68 percent of Republicans at most would support verbal protests, a position taken by 57 percent of Americans overall. Democratic attitudes reflected the party demographic changes noted by Telhami and the anti-Israel audience questioner Serge Duss, who referenced 2012 Democratic convention controversy regarding the declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The survey press release said that "American views of Muslims are strikingly partisan," although any personal knowledge of Muslims improved their favorability ratings across the political spectrum. Among Republicans, 41 percent expressed somewhat or very favorable views toward Muslims, as opposed to 67 percent of Democrats (the general population was in the middle of these results, at 53 percent). The "Muslim religion" distinct from its adherents scored even worse, with 73 percent of Republicans responding unfavorably to Islam in the questionnaire, along with 68 percent of independents. Even 47 percent of Democrats responded unfavorably to Islam.

Telhami contrasted strong bipartisan favorability for Jews and Judaism from survey responders, yet said that conservative support for Israel in a highly partisan America can alienate Democrats from Israel. Jews received a total favorability rating of 88 percent, but Telhami's discussion of possible explanations for evangelical attachment to Israel visibly disturbed some audience members. As the press release pointed out, 66 percent of "Evangelical Republicans say that for the rapture or second coming to occur, it is essential for current-day Israel to include all the land they believe was promised to Biblical Israel in the Old Testament."

While such theology may guarantee Israel a specific American support bloc, the survey data indicated that Israel's friends should seek broader alliances in America with those concerned about Islamic threats to the free world. The survey revealed a public relations disaster for Islamic doctrine, irrespective of whatever good relations Americans have with Muslim individuals; Islam's future image is unlikely to improve, "religion of peace" refrains notwithstanding. While some may worry about Islamic immigration to the United States, Israel faces far greater threats among its Muslim-majority neighbors.

While Hamas jihadists rule the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority - with its Sharia-compliant Basic Law - indoctrinates Palestinian children in Islamic antisemitism and Iran's Islamic Republic manifests wider regional threats to Israel. Contrary to the preferences of many Democrats (but not most Americans), such threats call into question further pressure for "land for peace" Israeli withdrawals from the historic Jewish heartland ofJudea and Samaria. The survey itself indicated that Israeli-Palestinian two-state solutions make decreasing sense to many Americans, contrary to panelist Susan Glasser of "Politico," who described this as a "mainstream consensus" policy position.

On the other hand, supporters of the Jewish national homeland should associate the Jews and Judaism admired in America with Israeli pioneer accomplishments in building a developed democracy unique to its region. Among other things, Judaism's ethical valueshave created the Middle East's one society, where minorities such as Arab Muslims and Christians can live freely without fear. Strategic analysis also shows that this democracy is a strong American ally, particularly against militant Islam, contrary to the views revealed in the survey that Israel draws unmerited advantage from America.

Israel faces increasing challenges from the political left in America and elsewhere, but facts, and not just sectarian faith, favor Israel. Israel can indeed win a battle for the hearts and minds of American voters, and political leaders who take anti-Israel positions may well come to appreciate Genesis 12:3's prophetic warnings.


There's no shame in Zionism: we must reclaim the word from anti-Semites
Throughout the country, and particularly on our university campuses, it is being suggested that, in moral terms, nothing separates the appalling white supremacist apartheid regime of South Africa with the Israeli state. It was reported yesterday that the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had ordered his officials to complain that posters comparing the two regimes had been illegally placed in the London Underground.

It’s an old trick frequently used by the hard of thinking: think of a country or person you don’t like; think of another, entirely separate, country or person that everyone dislikes, then say that country or person A is the same as country or person B.

Perhaps the protesters and poster-putters-up are too young to remember when apartheid was actually a thing – a bit like those youngsters who celebrated the death of Baroness Thatcher, even though they were babes in arms when she was forced out of Downing Street. But being young is no excuse for ignorance of the facts, which are that Israel isn’t just a democracy – it’s a social democracy, where women enjoy equal rights, where there exists a flourishing LGBT community, where trade unions are well organised and strong and where the press is unfettered and critical of the government.

But there’s no need to take my word for it – why don’t you ask Arab citizens of Israel which Middle Eastern country they would rather live in? The answer given by 77 per cent in one recent survey was (drum roll, please) Israel.

Michael Dugher, the former Shadow Culture Secretary who was recently sacked by Jeremy Corbyn, made a speech to a Labour Friends of Israel meeting last year in which he declared: “I am proud to call myself a friend of Israel. I am proud to call myself a Zionist.”

Even I, a long-term member of Labour Friends of Israel, did a double-take when I read that last line; not because I felt Michael shouldn’t have said what he said, but because it was an act of political courage rarely seen on the national stage in this modern era of safety-first soundbite politics. A Zionist, you say? Well, I mean, I support Israel and everything, but isn’t that going just a bit too far…?

No, it’s not.

The Left (and some on the Right, but mostly the Left) have succeeded in persuading us that the term refers to West Bank settlers, Israeli imperialists and Palestinian-haters. If you’re a Zionist you’re a hair’s breadth away from a National Front thug, the far Left would have us believe. And here, as in so many areas of life, they are entirely wrong.

Zionism is no more than the movement to re-establish and then protect the state of Israel. A Zionist is someone who defends Israel’s right to exist. The Labour Party has a long and proud tradition of supporting Zionism, through luminaries such as Richard Crossman and Ian Mikardo up to the present generation.

But attempts to redefine Zionism and corrupt its true meaning were always dangerous and threatening to the progressive cause, simply because – inevitably – such moves would be exploited by genuine anti-Semites.

Yet that hasn’t stopped many in the leadership of both the Labour Party and its student movement from associating with such individuals.

When Alex Chalmers, former co-chairman of Oxford university Labour Club, resigned his post, he said: “A large proportion of both OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews.” This includes, he alleged, members of the club’s executive using the word “Zio” to describe Jewish members of the student faculty. We may assume that the term is used in its new, distorted, derogatory meaning, rather than its true one.

Are we really that surprised? Isn’t such behaviour already being passively approved by the national leadership of the Labour Party? Not only do we have a leader who can’t even bring himself to utter the word “Israel” when he’s attending a reception organised by Labour Friends of You Know Where. But we also have a leader who calls the terrorist, anti-semitic fanatics of Hamas his “friends”.

And just last week, on 17 February, Ken Livingstone declared on LBC Radio that in his decades in the Labour Party, he had never come across any anti-Jewish sentiment on the Left. It was radio so we don’t know if he was wearing a straight face. This is a man who, as Mayor of London, literally embraced Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a scholar who believes that “every Jew in the world is the enemy” and that Muslims should not be friends with Jews in general, and Israelis in particular, lest such relationships diminish their appetite for fighting.

So is it really that surprising that in the days following the revelation of obscene bigotry and what appears to be anti-semitism among Labour members at Oxford, not a single Labour front bencher uttered a word about it?

I hope the term “Zionist” can be retrieved from the lexicon of the hate-spreaders, the ignorant and the anti-semitic.
And I hope, one day, someone unashamed to describe themselves as such will take his or her place at the head of my party.


Lena Dunham, women don’t want your safe space

Writer and actress Lena Dunham declared, during a recent panel discussion for More Magazine, that she would stay off Twitter until it was a ‘safe space’. She said the only way to protect women’s right to free speech is to clampdown on the misogynistic trolls.

The announcement displayed a startling lack of understanding of what free speech means. The defining characteristic of a ‘safe space’ is that people are forbidden from expressing certain thoughts and opinions within it. If you believe in free speech, even Dunham’s most vile and misogynist trolls must be allowed to have a voice.

But, without realising it, Dunham showed exactly how easily offended people like her should treat Twitter. If you don’t like people saying mean things to you online, if it hurts your feelings, there’s something very simple you can do: stay off it. Millions of people do this every day, without fanfare. Maybe they can’t deal with criticism. Maybe they can’t deal with the occasional idiot calling them fat or stupid. Maybe they simply do not enjoy the experience. These people could be accused of being a bit oversensitive, but compared to Dunham they are heroic freedom fighters – at least they don’t want to censor others.

Twitter is already a hostile place for free speech, where voicing certain opinions can get you twitch-hunted – or even cost you your job. Dunham’s call to regulate Twitter further is not about protecting free speech, it’s about increasing the power of the twitch-hunters. But, worse still, it patronises women. In order to learn to think for ourselves, and engage in robust debate, we must be exposed to a variety of ideas. We must understand conflicting viewpoints in order to hone our own arguments and grow intellectually. This is what Dunham’s young feminist followers need, not safe spaces.



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


Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Pope Gets Medieval On Capitalism

Frank is just a typical Latin American whiner.  They blame  their poverty on everyone but themselves

Pope Francis chose the U.S.-Mexican border for his angriest attack yet on the free market, comparing private employers to slave owners. Pope St. John Paul II, who lived under statism, knew better.

Speaking to Mexican businessmen and union officials on his final day after nearly a week in Mexico, in the heavily industrialized Ciudad Juarez across the Texas border from El Paso, the Catholic Church’s Supreme Pontiff declared, “God will hold the slave drivers of our days accountable.” He added that “the flow of capital cannot decide the flow of people,” and blasted a “prevailing mentality” in favor of “the greatest possible profits, immediately and at any cost.” He later celebrated Mass practically on the border.

The message couldn’t be clearer: The people of God are south of that line, and their oppressors are north of it.

This most casual of Popes has a now-infamous penchant for ill-considered, off-the-cuff remarks that the Vatican’s damage control operation routinely has to walk back or explain away. But in this case the sentiments were too well-planned and orchestrated for excuses to work. Francis is an enemy of economic freedom and many of the policies that have made America and the rest of the Western industrialized world great.

One might be tempted to charge that he is bringing the Catholic Church’s moral teaching back to the “dark ages” of many hundreds of years ago, before man liberated himself economically and conquered so much poverty via technological progress.

In fact, even in the Middle Ages the Catholic Church strongly defended the principle of private property.

St. Thomas Aquinas, a doctor of the Church still held as its greatest theologian, wrote in his Summa Theologica: “Because the division of possessions is not according to the natural law, but rather arose from human agreement … the ownership of possessions is not contrary to the natural law, but an addition thereto devised by human reason.”

The Church’s traditional concerns with capitalism have focused on abuses that are alien to modern-day America, such as lack of a just wage, rest time and days off, an unhealthy workplace, the absence of unemployment benefits, pensions and health insurance, and no right to form a union.

Pope Leo XIII in his 1891 encyclical “Rerum Novarum” stated that “the poor and badly off have a claim to especial consideration … and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State. And it is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong in the mass of the needy, should be specially cared for and protected by the government.”

In 1991, Pope St. John Paul II wrote an encyclical commemorating the 100th anniversary of Leo’s, titled “Centennimus Annus.”  And in that teaching, he asked if it could be held that “after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?”

According to John Paul, “The answer is obviously complex. If by ‘capitalism’ is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a ‘business economy,’ ‘market economy’ or simply ‘free economy.'”

That Pope, unlike the current one, was a Pole who lived under both the Nazis and a collectivist state ruled by Moscow. The current Pope ought to consider the reflections of his saintly predecessor.


In praise of cultural appropriation

Frank Furedi

The mixing and meshing of different cultures is something to celebrate.

No sooner did Beyoncé appear as a Bollywood actress in Coldplay’s new video ‘Hymn for the Weekend’ than the Twitterati piled in to accuse her of committing a crime against Indian culture. It seemed that everyone with a Twitter account felt entitled to make pronouncements on what Beyoncé should or shouldn’t wear. ‘The Coldplay video is beautiful. It’s artistic and stunning. But Beyoncé wearing “Indian style” jewellery and clothes in NOT Okay’, tweeted one white, opinionated woman. Others, too, got stuck in to condemn Beyoncé for her crime of cultural appropriation.

But in this mini-culture war about who can and can’t wear Indian fashion accessories, even Beyoncé’s critics risked provoking outrage. White denigrators of Beyoncé were attacked by Omise’eke Tinsley and Natassja Gunasena for failing to understand that the video provided a ‘rare opportunity to see how much and how beautifully blackness is part of South Asian culture’. As far as they were concerned, it was okay for Beyoncé to appropriate Asian culture, but not okay for white folk to criticise her. ‘Is it because Beyoncé is black?’, they asked, hinting that the charge of cultural appropriation was too sacred to be left in the hands of mendacious white folk.

Today, the charge of cultural appropriation has become a means to police people’s taste, their choice of clothes, the food they consume, even the way they dance or sing. Not since the pre-modern era has there been so much energy devoted to the micro-regulation of people’s appearance and behaviour. Charging movie stars, singers and celebrities with cultural appropriation has become a regular feature of the 21st-century entertainment landscape.

Indeed, in the world of entertainment, the crusade against cultural appropriation often acquires a nasty personal edge. White models and actresses who wear their hair in cornrows, for instance, are slammed for exploiting black culture. Iggy Azalea, the white Australian rapper, was attacked for her ‘blaccent’. Selena Gomez was slammed for wearing a bindi. The list goes on.

Fashion brands are also a favourite target of cultural crusaders. Recently, Mango was slammed because it failed to use an African model to promote its Africa-inspired clothes range. A similar accusation was levelled at Valentino for using white models in its own Africa-inspired fashion show.

The proliferation of cultural-appropriation claims is intimately linked to the expanding influence of identity and cultural politics. The merest hint of an act of cultural insensitivity courts moral condemnation. What’s worse, companies and institutions always roll over and apologise for their supposedly insensitive behaviour. Hence it took only 65 signatures on an online petition to get the organisers of Glastonbury to ban the sale of Native American headdresses. How Glastonbury will react to a petition complaining about its provision of Mongolian yurt accommodation for wealthy visitors is the next big question facing the festival.

That institutions, organisations and companies are so eager to please the cultural crusaders isn’t a surprise. For years now, companies and institutions have been flaunting their virtue by using hooray words like ‘empowerment’, ‘awareness’, ‘diversity’, ‘respect’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘sensitivity’. So when the Twitterati or petitioners suggest a company or an institution has been, say, insensitive or disrespectful, that company or institution feels obliged to give in. Take, for example, the case of a yoga class at the University of Ottawa in Canada. Following concerns that it was an act of cultural appropriation, the class was promptly suspended, and the teacher admitted the class was insensitive, ‘because yoga originally comes from India’. She even offered to change the title of the class to ‘mindful stretching’.

Universities, which already provide a hospitable environment for banning stuff, are allowing cultural crusaders to flourish. At the University of East Anglia in the UK, the students’ union banned a Mexican restaurant from giving out sombreros to students on the grounds that this act of cultural appropriation was racist.

With so much moral authority invested in detecting and exposing cultural appropriation, it is not surprising that examples of it now seem to be found everywhere. The global crusade against cultural appropriation has become a parody of itself. Late last year, irate students at Oberlin College in Ohio organised a campaign against their cafeteria’s cultural appropriation of ethnic food. Once upon a time, students moaned about the poor quality of cafeteria food. Now they condemn their cafeterias for the cultural appropriation of ethnic food. Apparently fried chicken, Vietnamese sandwiches, sushi and General Tso’s chicken are cooked in a culturally inappropriate manner. Commenting on the poorly cooked rice and the absence of fresh fish in the sushi rolls, Tomoyo Joshi, an Oberlin undergraduate from Japan, declared that it was ‘disrespectful’ to her culture.

Cultural crusaders strike moral poses about the consumption of samosas, kebabs or curries. Numerous commentaries and guidelines have been produced on the now thorny subject of the cultural appropriation of the food of ‘marginalised people’. Those interested in the self-righteous mindset of the food-police might enjoy ‘The Feminist Guide to being a Foodie without being Culturally Appropriative’.

It is tempting to interpret the demands of ‘back-off my culture’ as a self-interested means of establishing ownership. For example, the criticism of holding yoga classes in universities is linked to the ‘Take Back Yoga’ campaign launched by the Hindu American Foundation in 2008. This campaign is all about who gets to decide what is and isn’t yoga in a commercialised Western setting.

But the policing of culture is not simply fuelled by economic or sectional interests. Culture has been politicised to the point that almost any custom or practice can be exploited to make a statement about the scandalous behaviour of those causing offence. Declarations about cultural appropriation constitute a claim to moral authority. They are about who gets to decide what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour.

Today, the rhetoric of cultural appropriation provides people with a script for the public performance of sanctimony. When someone tweets that the appearance of a pop star is culturally insensitive, it draws attention to his or her awareness and thoughtfulness. The cultural crusaders’ tone is that of unrestrained indignation. It doesn’t even require a particularly grave act of insensitivity to produce a reaction of self-righteous outrage. For what’s really important in this performance of piety is not the nailing of the offender, but the demonstration of virtue.

Who owns culture?

Cultural appropriation used to be an esoteric term deployed by a tiny circle of academics committed to exposing ‘cultural colonialism’. In those days, appropriation referred to the plundering and exploitation of colonised cultures. The idea of cultural colonialism was always a confused one that encompassed both Western domination of colonial cultures as well as the tendency to appropriate some of the exotic features of African, Asian and Latin American societies.

Concern about cultural borrowing and appropriation emerged with the rise of identity politics during the 1980s. One of the consequences of the declining influence of Enlightenment and universalist values was the growing salience of particularist cultural sentiment. Identity politics celebrated the distinct, stand-alone essence of particular cultures. This emphasis on the unique and irreducible essence of cultures called into question the commensurability and universalism of human experience and promoted a heightened sense of the differences between cultures. It also encouraged a divisive particularism, and, its basis, a particularist epistemology.

A particularist epistemology is based on the premise that only people who are members of a particular culture can understand that culture. Cultural knowledge becomes dependent on cultural experience. Hence it was asserted that there was a ‘woman’s way of knowing’, an ‘African way of knowing’, a ‘Western male way of knowing’. This anti-universalist approach towards the appropriation of knowledge drew on the 19th-century conservative reaction to rationalism, which argued that particular identities had to be understood in their own terms and not as part of some abstractly conceived universal human pattern. The mystique of the particular elevated difference and encouraged the deepening of divisions between cultures.

In the 19th century, as today, the valuation of a particularist epistemology is coupled with the claim to possess the authority to speak on a particular culture’s behalf. In practice that means that only members of a particular culture can speak on its behalf. As a result, it was claimed that only feminist theoreticians had the epistemological authority to write about women. Similarly, it was suggested that only black people had the right to write about black history and that only Native Americans could tell the stories of their people. This insistence that there is unbridgeable difference in experience and understanding between different groups of people served to legitimise and entrench divisions. Culture itself, which enlightened thinkers perceived as a fluid and constantly interacting and changing phenomenon, was now rendered rigid and fossilised

It was in the context of the fossilisation of cultural identity that the issue of cultural appropriation became politicised. The main beneficiaries of the 1970s and 1980s fossilisation of culture were the cultural entrepreneurs who now possessed a monopoly to speak on a specific culture’s behalf. In the past, the policing of cultural boundaries was associated with reactionary cultural warriors determined to uphold the purity of their culture. Its most extreme manifestation occurred in Germany during the interwar years, when ‘alien’ Jewish artists and writers were attacked for falsely representing the culture of Germany.

Once upon a time, individuals who wrote novels were called novelists. In our time, the novelist is fast being displaced by the ‘Irish author’, the ‘gay novelist’, the ‘woman writer’, the ‘Nigerian storyteller’ or the ‘Native American essayist’. When book prizes are dished out, what matters is not the quality of the writing, but the cultural origins of the writer.

In the 1990s, the question of who could write about which culture raged. For example, in 1992 a debate erupted in Canada about the cultural appropriation of voice in fiction and non-fiction. The Canada Council entered the fray and defined cultural appropriation to mean ‘the depiction of minorities or cultures other than one’s own, either in fiction or non-fiction’. The focus of the discussion was on who had the right to tell and voice the stories of First Nations cultures. The Writer’s Union of Canada defined cultural appropriation as ‘the taking – from a culture that is not one’s own – of intellectual property, cultural expressions or artefacts, history and ways of knowledge’. Advocates of identity politics explicitly questioned whether a non-Native could write stories about First Nations people.

Today the issue of cultural appropriation is no longer just about who has the right to speak or write about a culture, but about trivial matters to do with who gets to wear Indian earrings or eat satay chicken. This expansion of moralising about culture is the inexorable consequence of identity politics. Differences in taste and habits are no longer seen as a personal matter: they are interpreted as political statements.

The reverential and self-righteous tone of cultural crusaders echoes that of traditional religious moralists. Writing on the Everyday Feminism website, Maisha Johnson graciously informs her readers that ‘I am not saying you automatically can’t enjoy Mexican food if you’re not Mexican, or do a yoga-inspired practice if you’re not Indian’. What she wants her readers to perform is the culturally sensitive equivalent of a little prayer. As she states, ‘I am encouraging you to be thoughtful about using things from other cultures, to consider the context, and learn about the best practices to show respect’. That’s another way of saying that before you bite into your burrito, say thanks to Mexico.

The principal achievement of the crusade against cultural appropriation is to turn every form of cultural interaction into a site for conflict. This idea of appropriation has as its foundation the conviction that culture is the sacred property of its moral guardians. It is based on the premise that unless cultural artefacts, practices, rituals and even food are used in a reverent and respectful manner, then something akin to religious sacrilege has been committed. Such a pious attitude towards culture does not merely apply to religious rituals and symbols; it also applies to the most banal features of everyday existence, such as the label on your shirt or the snack you are eating.

The constant demand for respect and culturally correct behaviour actually serves to desensitise people to the distinction between rituals and practices that are genuinely worthy of respect and those that can be taken in one’s stride. If the demand for respect for everything becomes automatic, then making distinctions between truly important practices, such as a religious ritual, and trivial ones, such as eating a curry, becomes complicated and even meaningless.

It is perfectly legitimate to attempt to defend or rescue a beleaguered culture. But the attempt to police people’s behaviour through the drawing of culturally correct boundaries has little to with a genuine attempt to activate a cultural renaissance.

History has shown that cultural appropriation has brought tremendous benefits to humanity. The Romans, who appropriated large chunks of Greek culture, understood that their civilisation was the beneficiary of their defeated rivals. Christianity appropriated the Jewish Old Testament and Islam assimilated many of the ideals of the religions that preceded it. Later, in the Middle Ages, Christian Europe revitalised itself through embracing the science and learning of Muslim scholars. This story of cultural appropriation continues to the present day.

The development of religion, philosophy, science, the arts and technology is the cumulative outcome of communities borrowing, copying and appropriating aspects of the cultures they encounter. All cultures appropriate, and, in return, are appropriated. People and their cultures are the products of a diverse range of human experiences. Human progress is a story of cultural appropriation. Contrary to the outlook of 21st-century reactionary cultural crusaders, the appropriation of culture is not a zero-sum game. Unlike physical wealth and various forms of material possession, a culture and its practices are not reducible to things that are taken away when someone else uses them. The adoption and embrace of particular cultural practices does not deprive anyone else of the ability to use them. The way a culture is interpreted by others might irritate those born into it, but that’s another issue.

Throughout history the most successful societies have been the ones that were open to cultural exchange and borrowing. The most genuine way of respecting another culture is by borrowing and assimilating its achievements.


The gender pay gap is dead

Joanna Williams

The truth about men and women's pay

The gender pay gap hit the headlines yet again last week. Government ministers announced plans for national league tables to show the difference in wages earned by male and female employees in any company with over 250 workers. Coverage of this latest attempt to crack down on the apparently blatant gender discrimination that blights the nation’s labour market has been sympathetic. Articles have been accompanied by helpful infographics showing a blue figure atop a substantially larger pile of money than an equivalent pink figure. The intention is to illustrate the frequently referenced statistic that men earn roughly 20 per cent more than women.

Despite the simplicity of this stark inequality, such figures are misleading. The much-heralded 20 per cent pay gap is an ‘on average’ figure that is reached through combining part-time and full-time earnings, and takes no account of age or employment sector. As I have argued before on spiked, when we compare how much women and men are paid for doing the same job for the same number of hours each week, there is no pay gap. Not only is it illegal to pay men more, such a pay gap makes no economic sense. If bosses could really get away with paying women so much less, why would anyone ever employ a man?

In reality, the pay gap is far more complex than campaigners like to acknowledge. It is affected by age, occupation and hours worked. Today, women in their twenties earn more than men of the same age. Significantly, they earn more than men not just like-for-like, but also on average. This means that irrespective of job type or hours worked, young women are likely to take home higher wages. For women under the age of 40 and working full-time, the pay gap is negligible. As government equalities minister Nicky Morgan acknowledged when announcing the government’s latest proposals: ‘We’ve virtually eliminated the gap for full-time workers under 40 and the gap for the over-40s is shrinking too.’

For full-time workers of all ages, the gender pay gap now stands at 9.4 per cent. Given that men and women have traditionally made different career choices, that men and women over the age of 50 entered a labour market bearing very little resemblance to today’s, and that older women may have taken time out to raise children, it’s remarkable how small the remaining pay gap is. Furthermore, as high earners retire (men traditionally at an older age – and therefore earning more), this small pay gap is reducing year on year. The more campaigners cling to the 20 per cent figure, holding it up as a sign of women’s continued disadvantage in the workplace, and commentators report it without question, the less able we are to have an honest discussion about the fundamental changes that have occurred in the workplace over the past quarter of a century.

Throughout much of history, if women were able to work at all, they were relegated to the worst jobs with the lowest wages. The introduction of the Equal Pay Act in 1970 did little to improve the lot of female employees: seven years later, women’s average pay in the public sector had actually declined in relation to men’s. A lack of nursery provision made it difficult for women with young children to work. Those who did were confronted with a labour market that was rigidly segregated according to gender. This wasn’t just about sexist assumptions – legislation ensured there was a real distinction between ‘men’s jobs’ and ‘women’s work’.

Today, things could not be more different. But changes have neither come about as a result of legislation nor men and women uniting in industrial disputes to demand equal pay. Rather, it is the economy, and the nature of employment, that has changed. As has been well documented, for at least the past three decades, industry in the UK, including manufacturing, has been in decline, falling from 40 per cent of GDP in 1979 to under 22 per cent in 2013.

New jobs that have been created in the public or service sector are more open to women – indeed, such jobs are often considered better suited to women. However, these new jobs are not directly comparable to the old industrial jobs in terms of the number of people employed, the rates of pay and the opportunities for promotion. Between 1979 and 2013, unemployment grew from 5.3 per cent to 7.8 per cent, and the number of people ‘permanently sick’ rose from 772,000 to 1.7million. In addition, a record 15 per cent of the UK workforce is now registered as self-employed. Very few sectors of the economy are dominated solely by men nowadays. Those that are, such as construction or transport, are the target of campaigns to make them more attractive to women.

At the same time as previously male-dominated work in industry and manufacturing has been in decline, more women than ever before have entered the labour market, the well-paid professions in particular. In 2014, women made up 60 per cent of practising vets and next year there will be more women doctors than men. There has been a sharp increase in the number of female academics and 60 per cent of newly qualified solicitors are now women. As Nicky Morgan points out, one million more women have entered paid employment since 2010, and women’s salaries are rising. These changes in the labour market are evident in the way the gender pay gap has fallen: men’s pay has failed to keep pace with the increase in women’s pay. Since 1997, women’s wages have grown by 74.5 per cent, while, over the same period, men’s pay has increased by a much lower 57.4 per cent.

Although many middle-class women are doing really well and are better off than ever before, this is not the case for everyone. Ironically, today’s pay-gap campaigners, with their myopic focus on gender, miss the far greater wage differentials between people in different sections of society. The focus on bonus payments and the representation of women on executive boards reveals the elite nature of the pay-gap campaigners’ concerns.

The latest proposals for the publication of pay-gap league tables are unlikely to tell us anything we do not already know. However, they may well make life worse for many men and women. In a bid to reduce an already shrinking average gender pay gap, the wages of men could be held down further. Meanwhile, young women may be denied the lower-paid, entry-level positions that might allow them to work their way up in a company, or, when they have children, they may find requests for part-time employment are turned down.

The gender pay gap is dead – though, like some zombie horror movie, the corpse refuses to remain buried. The pay-gap campaigners who continue to stake a spurious claim to female victimhood are disingenuous at best. Of course, there are some who will always have a vested interest in resuscitating the gender pay-gap issue. Government ministers exploit it for political capital, and the middle-class women fronting organisations such as the Fawcett Society are kept in a job.


The mothers fighting the breast-is-best brigade

Ella Whelan

A campaign in France has struck a blow for women’s freedom

Forget Page 3 or Tube adverts for diet pills ‘body-shaming’ young women, a woman’s body is most scrutinised when she’s pregnant. Our obsession with health and diet during pregnancy has put pressure on women to give up their normal habits and fixate on the wellbeing of their unborn children.

But the policing of mothers doesn’t stop once the child is born. Charitable campaigns and government initiatives encourage mothers to breastfeed for up to two years. UK medical journal the Lancet recently stated: ‘The deaths of 823,000 children and 20,000 mothers each year could be averted through universal breastfeeding.’

In response to this bizarre claim, a group of women in France have taken up arms against the demonisation of mothers who choose not to breastfeed. Commentator Lauren Bastide and feminist writer Titiou Lecoq recently penned an article for Libération, arguing that ‘Breastfeeding or bottlefeeding must remain a personal choice. This is not for public or private actors to decide for us.’ Over 5,000 women have now signed the accompanying petition.

In the Libération piece, Bastide and Lecoq describe the guilt-tripping of women who choose to bottlefeed their children: ‘We who choose the bottle are bad mothers, focusing on our comfort at the expense of our children, refusing to assume our biological functions.’

French author Elisabeth Badinter made the same point following the publication of her book, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women, back in 2012. ‘The good mother doesn’t exist. She’s a myth. It’s utopian’, she told an interviewer from the Globe. ‘And, honestly, we may be mothers, but we’re human beings – we have our limits, our own neuroses, our own subconscious, our own particular history. Whoever we are, we want to do our best.’

Badinter notoriously called the international charity for the promotion of breastfeeding, La Leche League, the ‘Ayatollahs of breastfeeding’. It seems Bastide and Lecoq share the sentiment.

As we’ve noted previously on spiked, babies who are bottlefed are at no disadvantage to those who are breastfed. Scaremongering statistics and flimsy research is used to pressure women into breastfeeding unnecessarily. Bastide has recalled her own experience in an interview with Women in the World: ‘At the hospital, the midwife said “but aren’t you going to nurse?”. When I said “no”, she looked at me as if I wasn’t going to feed my baby!’

Following Claridge’s decision in 2014 to ask new mother Louise Burns to cover up while breastfeeding, political lactivists slammed the move as an affront to women’s freedom. But by waving around placards proclaiming ‘That’s what boobs are for, stupid’ and ‘Breastfeeding is normal and natural’, these protesters have actually added to the pressure on women to breastfeed. What ‘natural’ really means here is ‘the right way to do it’. But while any idiot knows breastfeeding is a natural bodily function, that doesn’t mean women have to do it.

Those who stigmatise bottlefeeding use this same tactic. The World Health Organisation’s helpful posters on how co-workers can help with breastfeeding instructs people to ‘encourage new mothers with an accepting, positive attitude’ and ‘recognise that the months after having a baby are special’. Does using a bottle somehow devalue the bond a mother forms with her child? Bastide certainly doesn’t think so: ‘We ask that question, “do you nurse?”, but it is problematic. Because, yes, I nurse, but not with my milk!’

It’s refreshing to see mothers standing up for their right to make their own parenting choices and demanding freedom over their own bodies. Never is a woman’s body policed more than when she is pregnant. In France, a woman can get an abortion on demand, but only up to 12 weeks into the pregnancy. After this point, she has to seek the permission of two doctors, which is what women in the UK have to do from the beginning of a pregnancy. If a woman then decides to have a child, her body is subject to the scrutiny of government campaigns, hectoring lifestyle advice and bullying guidance. When the baby comes, regulations on the sale of baby formula and pressure in the hospital from lactation consultants are used to coerce her into breastfeeding.

Bastide and Lecoq have had enough. ‘Every woman deserves equal respect in their personal choices’, they write. ‘We simply ask to keep our right to decide without having to face permanent guilt.’ Here’s hoping more women join the fightback.



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