Sunday, February 05, 2017
Sexual deviants have rights. Christians don't
My heading above is a blunt summary of the shriek below. Mr Trump's contemplated order is a balanced one -- preserving existing rights for sexally abnormal people while also extending some rights to Christians. But the Left want it all. Any idea of compromise or balance is alien to them. Mr Trump's order would allow homosexuals to go their way while Christians go theirs -- with no need for the two to interact. What is wrong with that?
LGBT rights activists are up-in-arms over an alleged draft copy of an executive order which was reportedly obtained by The Investigative Fund and The Nation. If it’s legit, it could have severe ramifications for the LGBT community.
It comes after the White House announced that Donald Trump would not sign an executive order that would have rescinded discrimination protections covering LGBT employees.
However, if the alleged leaked draft of another order is to be believed, LGBT rights are still very much in contention.
The order is titled “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom,” and it would effectively give wider control to religious organisations to express their beliefs while weakening anti- discrimination protections.
In a nutshell, extended ‘religious protections’ would apply “when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.”
So it would basically allow religious organisations to discriminate on the grounds of religious beliefs.
Lambda Legal, a legal organisation that protects LGBT rights say they’re “remaining vigilant and ready to file suit if this Executive Order is issued.”
“The leaked draft of Donald Trump‘s License to Discriminate order is sweeping and dangerous,” said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “It reads like a wishlist from some of the most radical anti-equality activists. If true, it seems this White House is poised to wildly expand anti-LGBTQ discrimination across all facets of the government — even if he does maintain the Obama EO. If Donald Trump goes through with even a fraction of this order, he’ll reveal himself as a true enemy to LGBTQ people.”
Scotland: the capital of nanny statism
The Scottish government’s record of nanny statism is notorious. Examples of heavy-handed measures include banning the sale of alcohol in supermarkets after 10pm, minimum-pricing laws, bans on smoking in cars with kids, and plans to make Scotland ‘tobacco free’ by 2034. The Scottish parliament’s Health and Sport Committee is well known for its desperate attempts to avoid cutting its own budget by demanding that the public cut its vices. But last week, in light of the news that two-thirds of Scots are obese or overweight, the committee has revealed its plans to call for more illiberal regulations.
Some of the propositions in the new policy demands include restricting discounts and offers on sugary and high-fat foods, as well as restricting car use and promoting alternative transport. In a letter to public-health minister, Aileen Campbell, the committee moaned that unhealthy food is ‘more available and more heavily promoted than in other countries’.The committee conceded that the new measures ‘may initially be unpopular’, but popularity plays second fiddle to the condescending attitude that has long infected Scottish government.
This patronising mentality is also reflected in a statement from Lorraine Tulloch of Obesity Action Scotland, a charity fond of the SNP’s intrusive measures. She said: ‘We are delighted that the Health and Sport Committee has recognised and supported the need for action to tackle price promotions of unhealthy foods. We know that price promotions lead us to buy more than we intended and consume more than we intended.’
Tulloch can’t be serious. Does she really believe that she knows more about our intentions concerning the food we purchase and eat than we ourselves do? Even by Scottish health-zealot standards, this is weird. Tulloch must learn to respect and understand that human beings are rational, autonomous agents. We don’t ‘eat more than we intend’ — we should be trusted to make our own lifestyle choices. A two-for-one deal on chocolate bars is not a health risk that moral agents are incapable of handling.
The convener of the Health and Sport Committee, Neil Findlay MSP, defended the proposed policies: ‘Scotland has not previously been afraid to take the initiative to tackle health-related issues when other interventions have failed. This is why this committee is asking for a bold approach to tackling obesity.’ This, in all its overtly protective language, is a call for further intrusion into the life and liberty of Scots.
We don’t need to be subject to gross social engineering. We don’t need to be treated like ignorant, gullible pawns, shuffling brainlessly towards Scotmid for another high-calorie fix. We drink alcohol because we like alcohol. We eat fatty foods because they’re tasty. We drive cars because they’re useful. We don’t need the obesity-obsessed overlords in Holyrood lecturing us on our lifestyle choices.
Our message to politicians like Findlay should be clear: get stuffed. Who knows, it might make their policies taste less sour.
Hate crime doesn’t deserve a special status
When the definition of an offence is so broad as to be ludicrous it’s time to unpick the law
Have you followed the twisty tale of our home secretary turned official hate-monger? Last year Amber Rudd launched a “hate crime action plan”, declaring that “hatred has no place whatsoever in a 21st-century Great Britain that works for everyone”. A bold ambition — and the Oxford professor Joshua Silver took up the baton. After Rudd had made a speech suggesting new rules on foreign workers he reported it to the police, complaining that she had used “hate speech to turn Britons against foreigners”. West Midlands police duly recorded a “non-crime hate incident”.
Now for the latest twist in this tale. I feel compelled to report Professor Silver’s reporting of the hate incident as itself a hate incident — motivated by a hatred of Conservatives. By his own admission he had not watched the speech. Was his perception coloured by the fact that it fell from the lips of a Conservative politician? Was this the old anti-Tory prejudice of the leather-elbowed brigade at work?
Yes, hate crime normally refers to race, religion or sexual orientation — but why not political orientation? Some people convert to, say, Islam in their twenties; I converted to Conservatism. In the 12 years since I came out to my lefty family as a Tory, I have been spat at outside party conference; called “Tory scum” on my way to Lady Thatcher’s funeral; abused on doorsteps while out canvassing. Once I had to call the police on a former neighbour who — knowing nothing else but that I worked for David Cameron — used to stand under my window screaming anti-Tory abuse (who knew Jeremy Hunt was rhyming slang?). For just £11 you can go online and buy an organic, low-carbon T-shirt that states that I and fellow Conservatives are “lower than vermin”.
All this strikes at part of my identity. I am victimised because of my beliefs; beliefs that form who I am. So these should be considered hate incidents, potential hate crimes, no?
No. There is hatred, and there is crime, and it is time we stopped muddying them in a way that makes thought an offence and creates a two-tier justice system. “Thought crime” might sound Orwellian but it is being punished today in our justice system. Since the Criminal Justice Act 2003, judges can pass down tougher sentences for certain crimes if the perpetrator was motivated by hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Effectively, the prejudice — the thought — is punished in addition to the action itself. This can lead to some startling sentences, such as the two men given eight months in prison last November for throwing a rasher of bacon into a mosque when drunk. The judge explained: “It seems to me that the religious aggravation in the offence is the offence itself.”
Isn’t this rather sinister: that people are punished not only for what they do, but what they think, or what others think they think? How have we slipped into the realm of thought crime with barely a raised eyebrow? And how exactly does all this square with the principle that all are equal under the law?
Quite simply, it doesn’t. Hate crime has created a two-tier justice system, because when it comes to victims, some have special status. Consider this extraordinary passage from the website of the Crown Prosecution Service: “All police forces would want you to report crimes . . . But, if it could be a hate crime, the police will take it even more seriously.” The College of Policing’s guidance goes further, asserting that because “hate crimes can have a greater emotional impact on the victims than comparable non-hate crimes . . . all victims should not be treated the same”. Got that, you white and straight and faithless, you “cisgendered” and able-bodied? If you get beaten up, your bruises and your bleeding are less important in the eyes of the law, less worthy of strong punishment.
‘Thought crime’ might sound Orwellian but it is being punished today
There’s another argument for giving hate crimes special status: because they undermine social cohesion, each crime sowing a seed of division between ethnicities, communities, religions. But I would suggest that the increasing confusion about what hate crime means, who it refers to and what it covers is having its own divisive effect. Put simply, inflated hate crime figures are reinforcing division by painting a picture of a Britain more bigoted and hate-filled than it actually is.
Since hate laws were introduced, their scope has crept, with various police forces extending the groups that could be considered hate victims. Manchester police included punks, goths, emos and metallers. Nottinghamshire bunged misogyny in the hate crime bracket, making wolf whistles potential hate incidents. Sussex started recording offences against the elderly as hate crimes. Police Scotland has a category for “football-related hate crime”. From an insult hurled at a goth to a fraud scam on a granny, all are included in the official figures.
The bar for recording hate incidents is also absurdly low. The College of Policing states: “For recording purposes, the perception of the victim, or any other person, is the defining factor in determining whether an incident is a hate incident . . . Evidence of the hostility is not required. ” It is not facts that matter but perceptions. This might explain the curious statistic that in 2015, 1 per cent of recorded hate crime was bicycle theft.
The vast majority of us want to live in a country that is kind and gentle, where no one fears abuse because of who they are, where we all get along better. But when you punish thought, when you give certain victims special status, when you widen the concept and recording of hate crime beyond sense — that does no good for the cause of cohesion at all.
Hate Crime Legislation Is a Good Idea That Went Bad
Victor Davis Hanson
Last week in Chicago, a white special-needs teenager was held captive by four black youths. The victim was bound, gagged, tortured, forced to drink toilet water, partially scalped, and subject to racially and politically motivated verbal abuse. The perpetrators streamed portions of their violent savagery on Facebook.
After the victim escaped from his assailants and was found on the streets by a police officer, a Chicago police commander initially said he was unsure whether the attack constituted a hate crime — as if that distinction might calibrate the crime’s viciousness.
President Obama was likewise initially hesitant to label this cruelty as a racially motivated hate crime — which was odd given the president’s prior readiness to jump into and editorialize about racially charged cases such as those of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and Trayvon Martin.
Yet it is hard to imagine what additional outrages the Chicago youths might have had to commit to warrant hate-crime status. After public outcry, Chicago prosecutors — along with Obama — confirmed that the attack did indeed, in their opinion, qualify as a “hate crime.”
Many in the media still sought to downplay that classification.
“I don’t think it’s evil,” editorialized CNN anchor Don Lemon, who instead attributed the violence to the offenders' problematic upbringing.
What are the lessons from all the verbal gymnastics concerning “hate crimes”?
Sadly, we are learning that the labeling of hate crimes has become so politicized and ill-defined that the entire concept is unworkable.
The idea of identifying hate crimes gained currency in the 1980s, when reformers wanted lighter penalties for most criminal offenses but also wished to increase punishment for criminal acts that were deemed racist, sexist or homophobic. So hate crimes emerged as new enhancements to criminal punishment, as a way to tack on stiffer penalties for affronts to liberal society at large.
The rationale for designating hate crimes relied on force multipliers in criminal sentencing — such as premeditation that can make murder a first-degree offense. But after years of confusion, how do we consistently and fairly define perceptions of bias or hate as a catalyst for criminal violence?
After all, crimes such as murder and rape are already savage and brutal by nature. Is the killer who shouts bigoted epithets more dangerous to society than the quiet sadist who first tortures his murder victim without comment?
It can be dangerous to redefine a single criminal act as a hate crime against society, given the incentives for manipulation and political distortion.
Recently there arose a spate of reported fake hate crimes in which supposed victims complained that their race or religion earned them violent responses from bigots, suggesting a post-election epidemic of intolerance. Authorities often found that the victims had concocted their stories, either to enhance their political agendas and their own sense of victimization, or simply to win attention and perhaps compensation.
Again, who or what defines a hate crime?
When fanatical Army Maj. Nidal Hasan in 2009 slaughtered non-Muslim soldiers at Fort Hood — shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (“God is great”) as he mowed down his victims — was that a religiously driven hate crime? The politically correct Pentagon thought not. Instead, it labeled Hasan’s murderous rampage as “workplace violence.”
Progressives originally envisioned hate-crime legislation as focusing mostly on a white majority that presumably had a monopoly on prejudice. But FBI hate-crime statistics show that African-Americans commit a disproportionately large share of hate crimes.
The media usually associate religious hate crimes with offenses against Muslims, and warn against endemic “Islamophobia.” Yet statistically, Jews, not Muslims, are the far more frequent victims of religious hate crimes.
Americans can now reasonably wonder whether a reported hate crime might have been staged. In November, for example, a black church in Mississippi was spray-painted with “Vote Trump” graffiti and set afire. Nearly two months later, authorities charged a disgruntled African-American parishioner, not a supposed white supremacist, with the arson.
Sometimes hate-crime status is added to a crime not on the basis of clearly evident prejudice but based on the race of the offender and victim, as the political spin that follows the crime seeks to make larger indictments against society.
In our hypersensitive and litigious society, too many agendas have warped the once-noble idea of hate-crime legislation. It has become a fossilized relic of the 1980s that was well-intended, became incoherent and politicized — and now should be scrapped.
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.