Friday, September 15, 2017

Durham cop blames ‘political correctness’ in prosecution alleging homophobic comment

Some frank advice was targeted by an outsider

A veteran Durham police officer has come out swinging as he fights charges of discreditable conduct relating to allegations he made homophobic comments during an exchange with potential recruits.

The pursuit of Police Services Act charges against Sgt. Tom Andrews is a waste of resources, the officer’s lawyer, Bernie O’Brien, said as a disciplinary tribunal began on Tuesday morning in Whitby.

“This is a Durham police management issue that’s gone amok,” O’Brien said. “We think this is a grotesque waste of taxpayers’ dollars.”

O’Brien said Tuesday he’ll file an application to have the prosecution of Andrews declared an abuse of process. He’s also seeking removal of the prosecutor assigned to the case.

The allegations against Andrews relate to April of this year when he was acting as staff sergeant in Oshawa. A notice of hearing from the service says Andrews, asked to speak to two recruits, used vulgar and discriminatory language when he warned them about maintaining stellar reputations as officers.

According to the notice, Andrews told the recruits, “You can sleep with a thousand women and you’re a king. But you fellate one man and you are a c---s----- for life.”

The comment, made in front of an officer who’s openly gay, was “unprofessional, inappropriate and harmful to those who did and would have heard them,” the notice states.

The complaint that led to the charges, however, was not made by the recruits or other officers in the office at the time Andrews made them. A third party filed the complaint after hearing about the exchange, O’Brien confirmed.


Even Jews are not allowed to be critical of Islam

THE launch event of a new group called the Australian Jewish Association (AJA) will go ahead, despite being booted out of Melbourne’s Beth Weizmann Community Centre.

Beth Weizmann was booked to host the event several months ago, but when it was revealed last week that the event would be titled, The Threat of Islam to Jews, it was cancelled by Zionism Victoria, which runs the centre.

The AJA was established by Jewish community members from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to be “a new voice for the community”.

According to its mission statement and policy principles it will be “based on genuine authentic Jewish and conservative Australian democratic values” and will “be guided by Torah (in its broad sense) in policy development and advocacy”.

“You can expect it to be more direct and outspoken on matters of principle rather than cowed by political correctness,” its website says.

Regarding Israel, AJA president David Adler said that the AJA’s policy is that the West Bank should be part of the Jewish State. “Should a Palestinian state be created in Judea and Samaria and would that lead to peace? Our view is no,” Adler said.

The launch event, featuring Adler and Australian pastor Mark Durie, was due to be held at Beth Weizmann on September 10.

However, the centre’s chair Sam Tatarka stated last week, “Having just become aware of the details of the event, which had been booked as a ‘public speaker’, and after due consideration we have decided that we are not prepared to have the Jewish Community Centre of Melbourne used for or associated with an event that on its face, seeks to foment fear and hatred.”

Adler said he was disappointed with the decision. “It would have been expected that instead of reacting to erroneous information, that the management of Beth Weizmann would have made contact with us, the organisers, to find out the truth,” Adler told The AJN.

“As soon as possible we gave them additional information for consideration because they had made false assumptions and we informed them that the talk, or similar ones, had been presented in NSW Parliament in March this year and at Limmud New Zealand last month.”

One of those talks was due to be held last night (Wednesday) at North Shore Synagogue where Adler was due to speak on the topic of Islam and the Jews – Lessons for Australia.

The relocated launch event has not been endoresed by Mirzachi Synagogue, but it will be held in Mizrachi Synagogue’s Goldberger Hall in Melbourne with the same revised title.

Stating that Beth Weizmann was wrong to withdraw as hosts, Adler said, “Part of our Jewish tradition is to debate and discuss contentious topics, providing you do it in a reasonable way without incitement.”

He said “more than one communal organisation” offered to host the talk at a new location.

Adler hadn’t wanted to name the new venue earlier as he was reluctant to “attract the aggressive and irrational group who, without information and based on false assumptions, went off the rail”.

AJA originally listed outspoken gym owner Avi Yemini as a leader of the organisation on its website, but was subsequently removed.

“He has never been an office bearer, or a spokesman, nor will he fulfil any of those roles,” Adler said. “He did volunteer to assist with social media. His profile appeared for a short while on the website. The office bearers discussed it and said it should be removed.”


How political correctness kills language freedoms

The push for politically correct language may be well intentioned enough, but its consequences are often appalling. It can rob us of one of the most important of all human freedoms: the right to use words to mean what we want them to mean.

The first problem in prohibiting certain word usage is that there is an assumption that the intention of the speaker or writer is known. In literary criticism this is called the intentional fallacy; the invalid notion that the author’s intention can readily be derived from the words.

To give an example, this writer was a weekly satirical columnist for BRW, a business magazine. I wrote a joke about Asian drivers, which was deemed to be politically incorrect, even racist. I tried to explain that the joke was actually directed at people who held such views, not at Asian drivers—something I thought was obvious enough and well enough flagged—but it was deemed inadmissible. It was assumed that there could be only one possible intention, no matter how much it was explained that this was not my intention.

A similar dynamic could be seen in a reader response to a headline on this web site. The headline, 'Do we ban the nun's veil next?' was sarcastic. But one reader interpreted it as potentially nun-bashing (and presumably politically incorrect). This kind of confusion is actually quite common; readers can interpret intent in very different ways.

And here lies the problem. Analysis of politcial correctness necessarily relies on making assumptions about intent. The language is targeted in a very legalistic way, and more complex aspects such as intention, context, or potential multiple layers of meaning, are ruiled out.

There is no doubt that a great deal of Shakespeare’s language, especially the swearing, does not meet the PC strictures, for example. It is a good thing that many of the Bard’s words are unfamiliar to modern ears, otherwise we might lose our greatest writer. Although at least it is widely acknowledged that his intentions were always subtle and complex.

Just how absurd political correctness can become was reinforced for me during a teaching exercise I was involved with in primary school. The teacher told the class that they would be learning about how to deal with dogs.

‘A lady will be showing you a big black dog,’ the teacher said. ‘You can’t say that, Miss—it's racist,’ an eight year old protested, horrified. To him, just using the word ‘black’ was unacceptable in itself. Out of the mouth of babes.

The second problem with political correctness is that assumptions have to be made about meaning. Again, this is because the PC approach is legalistic. In law, words tend to have strictly defined semantics; in the English common law system underpinned by precedent. There tends to be, deliberately, a very limited range of reference and, as much as possible, a one-to-one correspondence between the word and the thing being denoted.

To say the least, there is more to words than this. Read any decent work of literature and you will observe language that produces a range of meanings, including enacting meanings from the way the writer uses the words themselves.

One does not have to agree with the absurd exaggerations of French deconstructionist literary critics such as Jacques Derrida—that the ‘author is dead’ and there are as many possible meanings as there are readers: a principle they did not apply to their own writings of course—to see that language can mean many things to those who receive it. Read William Empson’s Seven Types of Ambiguity and the point becomes clear enough.

Yet in the PC approach, it is assumed that those who derive one meaning, who have been offended, have the sole right to define what the words signify.

Viewed this way, political correctness represents an extraordinary attack on basic human freedoms that are almost as fundamental as the freedom to think what we want. It is even reaching the point in the public environment where what is not said is being deemed ‘incorrect’. Witness the furore over Donald Trump’s comments on the Charlottesville violence. What Trump said was broadly factually correct; that both sides were violent. He was pilloried because of what he did not say, or at least didn’t say at the right time: that neo-Nazis are unacceptable.

Political correctness is increasingly being applied to absence, as well as presence, which means not just making assumptions about what the words denote, but also what silences connote. As any philosopher will tell you, deducing from absence is a dangerous course. And once again it involves making assumptions about intention; purporting to be inside the speaker's mind.

Language that is intended to be hurtful should be deplored. But there is a high cost associated with outlawing any language use, because such initiatives can only be applied, crudely, to the words themselves. They cannot apply to the person’s intentions—that would require further evidence—and they rule out the possibility of multiple meanings.

The PC approach easily descends into authoritarianism and aggression. When such aggression is associated with those purportedly being protected, it ultimately does them no favours.

The way to a more tolerant society is to take a mature approach to language, to see it in all its complexity and polyvalence. And perhaps develop a little looseness: remember what used to be said in the schoolyard, that "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

Sadly, many are going in the opposite direction.


FEMA bigotry: Banned Aid Ripped by Trump
When Hurricane Harvey ripped through Texas, most people never dreamed it was the beginning of a bigger storm over religious freedom. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened when three Houston churches applied for FEMA funding — only to be denied for being “too religious.” Thanks to a 20-year-old policy guidance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, any institution that spends more than half of its space on “religious programming” isn’t eligible for aid. That’s ridiculous, argues the churches’ attorneys at the Becket Fund, especially since two of these congregations sheltered victims and distributed more than 8,000 meals to the community. “The churches are not seeking special treatment; they are seeking equal treatment. And they need to know now whether they have any hope of counting on FEMA or whether they will continue to be excluded entirely from these FEMA programs.”

That hope came Friday in the form of a tweet from President Donald Trump. “Churches in Texas should be entitled to reimbursement from FEMA Relief Funds for helping victims of Hurricane Harvey (just like others),” he insisted. It was the latest sign that this White House is committed to cleaning up the mess — not just from the hurricane, but from Obama’s two terms of religious hostility. Trump’s position ought to go a long way to righting this 1998 wrong, especially now that Congress is piling on. In a letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) calls out the injustice.

This policy discriminates against people of faith. It sends the message that communities of worship aren’t welcome to participate fully in public life… It reduces the facilities and volunteers time, talent, and effort available to support the broader community. And it is inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s recent 7-2 ruling in Trinity Lutheran… In other words, it is unconstitutional. It is unreasonable. And it is impeding ongoing recovery efforts.

“When disasters strike,” he pointed out, “it’s our churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious organizations that spring into action, offering crucial facilities, manpower, and numerous other forms of support to affected communities.” And, as USA Today explains, that isn’t one conservative’s opinion. It’s a fact. “Faith groups provide the bulk of disaster recovery, in coordination with FEMA,” reads the headline. Crediting the churches’ “unique expertise” in disaster relief, it explains what “integral partners” these institutions have been in helping the hurting, applauding the sophistication of these groups — especially Samaritan’s Purse — in getting volunteers, food, clothes, and money quickly to the victims who need it. By USA Today’s count, at least 75 percent of the volunteer army is faith-based — making FEMA’s policy all the more outrageous. I can personally attest to how churches are increasingly on the front lines of relief in these natural disasters.

Why would the government turn away humanitarian assistance from one of the biggest pools of support? Could it be that Big Government doesn’t like competition? In Louisiana, we saw something very similar with Hurricane Katrina. Instead of partnering with local churches, FEMA kept faith-based groups at arm’s length, leaving a less effective and more expensive government to fill the void. Yet churches kept on, reacting spontaneously to the needs they saw around them.

That’s because, to Christians, this isn’t about what they’re “getting” from government. As Houston’s Pastor Charles Storker said, “The Hi-Way Tabernacle is here to help people. If our own government can help us do that, that’d be great. And if not, we’re going to keep doing it. But I think that it’s wrong that our government treats us unfairly just because we’re Christians.” Now, with the American Red Cross under fire for mismanaging money (“They are the most inept unorganized organization I’ve ever experienced,” said one Houston councilmen), it seems even more urgent that the government fund proven outreach partners.

Not surprisingly, the militant secularists at the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State don’t see it that way. “We know a lot of people in Texas are suffering,” Barry Lynn’s office told reporters, “and we are sympathetic. But the fact that something bad has happened does not justify a second wrong. Taxpayers should not be forced to protect religious institutions that they don’t subscribe to.” In the year of rebuilding from Baton Rouge’s flood, I haven’t seen anyone under the banner of atheism offering to help. Instead, atheists like to snipe at the groups that are actually on the ground with chainsaws and food pantries like Franklin Graham and others.

It all proves author Arthur Brooks’s point: “Religious people are far more charitable than nonreligious people. In years of research, I have never found a measurable way in which secularists are more charitable than religious people.” (A point Baylor researchers emphasized in their study about faith-based organizations and the homeless.) In his book, Who Really Cares? he details how religious people are more charitable “in every measurable nonreligious way — including secular donations, informal giving, and even acts of kindness and honesty — than secularists.” And that charity isn’t just good for the victims — it’s good for America.

“Money giving and prosperity exist in positive feedback to each other,” Brooks explains, “a virtuous cycle, you might say. For example, in 2000, controlling education, age, race, and all the other outside explanations for giving and income increases, a dollar donated to charity was associated with $4.35 in extra income. Of this extra income, $3.75 was due to the dollar given to charity. At the same time, each extra dollar in income stimulated 14 cents in new giving. All told, this is evidence that charity has an excellent return on investment, far better than the return from the vast majority of stocks and bonds.”

That generosity has a multiplying effect. So, before liberals or atheists complain about helping faith-based groups do their job, let’s remember that there’s plenty of incentive to help them — and absolutely no constitutional grounds not to.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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