Thursday, February 15, 2018


Matt Ridley, below, is more puzzled by the things he notes below than he should be.  The "Puritanism" he notes is not a phenomenon of young people generally.  It is another pose of the Left.  As they have gained power and influence they have become snooty and have alienated their old power-base -- the workers. So they are going all out to get any minority they can onto their plantation. 

By exaggerated concern for any conceivable minority they hope to get votes from the minorities concerned.  They live off victims.  They need victims as a justification and outlet for the anger that is always boiling within them.  It is also a form of patronage that makes the patron feel good

I am sure I am not alone in finding the cultural revolution that we are going through difficult to understand. Like a free-living Regency rationalist who has survived to see Victorian prudery, like a moderate critic of Charles I trying to make sense of the Cromwellian dogma, like a once revolutionary Chinese democrat hoping not to be denounced and sent for re-education under Chairman Mao (or John McDonnell), I am an easygoing Seventies libertarian baffled by the aggressive puritanism and intolerance that seems to be everywhere on the march.

I turned 60 last week and expected by now to find myself in periodic, grumpy disapproval of the younger generation’s scorn for tradition, love of change and tolerance of “anything goes”. Instead I find something approaching the opposite. Many people of my generation have mentioned the same experience recently: the terrifying censoriousness of the young, even sometimes their own children, and the eggshell-treading dread of saying the wrong thing in front of them. The young are a bit like our parents were, in fact.

What happened to the liberation of the Sixties and Seventies, when you could start to forget hierarchy and say just about anything to and about anybody? Pictures of young women in make-up, short skirts and high heels walking down the street in Kabul or Tehran in the Seventies are in shocking contrast with the battle that modern Iranian women, dressed mostly in all-concealing black, are bravely fighting to gain the right to remove a headscarf without being arrested.

Is it so different here or are we slipping down the same slope? Pre-Raphaelite paintings that show the top halves of female nudes are temporarily removed from an art gallery’s walls; young girls are forced to wear headscarves in school; darts players and racing drivers may not be accompanied by women in short skirts; women are treated differently from men at universities, as if they were the weaker sex, and saved from seeing upsetting paragraphs in novels; sex is negotiated in advance with the help of chaperones. We have been here before.

In Orlando, Virginia Woolf’s novel of 1928, she portrayed the transition from the 18th century to the Victorian period thus: “Love, birth, and death were all swaddled in a variety of fine phrases. The sexes drew further and further apart. No open conversation was tolerated. Evasions and concealments were sedulously practised on both sides.”

How we laughed at such absurdity in my youth. But even for making the point that some of the new feminism seems “retrograde” in promoting the view that women are fragile, the American academic Katie Roiphe suffered a vicious campaign to have her article in Harper’s magazine banned before publication. “I find the Stalinist tenor of this conversation shocking,” she told The Sunday Times. “The basic assumption of freedom of speech is imperilled in our culture right now.”

The sin of blasphemy is back. There are things you simply cannot say about Islam and increasingly about Christianity, about climate change, about gender, to mention a few from a very long and growing list, without being accused of, and possibly prosecuted for, “hate speech”. Is it hate speech to say that Muhammad “delivers his country to iron and flame; that he cuts the throats of fathers and kidnaps daughters; that he gives to the defeated the choice of his religion or death: this is assuredly nothing any man can excuse”? That was Voltaire, one of my heroes. You may disagree with him but you should, in accordance with his principle, defend his right to say it. In demanding tolerance of minorities, many younger people seem to be remarkably intolerant.

There is an odd contradiction between the declared wish to live and let live — “diversity!”, “don’t judge!” — and the actual behaviour, which is ruthlessly and priggishly judgmental. They never stop drafting acts of uniformity, always in the name of the collective against the individual. The minority of one is the most oppressed minority of all.

Perhaps, being a meat-eating, heterosexual, titled, atheist, climate-sceptic male who thinks communism was evil, gender is partly biological, genetically modified crops are good for the environment, free markets make people nicer and that Britain should leave the European Union, it is just me who finds himself perpetually on the politically incorrect side of arguments, or at least the opposite side from the BBC. But it does feel as though almost everybody, whatever their views, is one step away from public denunciation.

We need a morality, of course, and one that does more to challenge bad behaviour whether in Hollywood or Oxfam, but that does not require being more puritan about speech and thought. I have often wondered how it was that in the past societies suddenly became more censorious, conservative and intolerant, as they did at the start of the Victorian era, but I thought that I was living in a time when none of that could happen, when culture was on a one-way escalator towards liberality.

In the Sixties Francis Crick held a contest for what to do with the college chapels in Cambridge, because in the future nobody would be religious. Imagine that. Of course, we knew what was going on in China — the Cultural Revolution was a political purge dressed up as moral rearmament — but we shuddered at the alien nature of such a thing. Now it seems closer.

The thugs who recently tried to prevent Jacob Rees-Mogg speaking at a university are now a familiar routine on campus. But, as the American journalist Andrew Sullivan warns, the campus is a harbinger for the whole of society: “Workplace codes today read like campus speech codes of a few years ago . . . the goal of our culture now is not the emancipation of the individual from the group, but the permanent definition of the individual by the group. We used to call this bigotry. Now we call it being woke. You see: we are all on campus now.”

Nevertheless, I remain a rational optimist. Like the psychologist Steven Pinker in his new book, I think “the Enlightenment is working”, still. Reason can prevail over dogma, science over superstition, freedom over tyranny, individualism over apartheid. Progress is not dead. Yet. But we have certainly taken a few steps backward towards a darker way of running society. Why? I still don’t have an answer.


Trigger warning: Either you’re for free speech or you’re not

A broadly reasonable article from the Left below

THE HUMOR POLICE are cracking down, from the right and left.

During a lecture on “The rule of law in a time of polarization,” Northeastern University Professor Barry Bluestone said, “This president that we have is really out of control. . . . Sometimes I want to just see him impeached. Other times, quite honestly — I hope there are no FBI agents here — I wouldn’t mind seeing him dead.”

“ . . . Of natural causes,” quickly added liberal journalist Robert Kuttner, who also participated in the event.

“Of natural causes. Thank you. Thank you,” said Bluestone, according to an account by Campus Reform, which identifies as a campus watchdog “exposing bias and abuse.”

Reasonable people could interpret Bluestone’s initial comment as a weak joke, not incitement to violence against President Trump. And the follow-up banter definitely comes off like academia’s idea of jocularity. But the right was not amused. Fending off backlash from angry conservatives, Northeastern quickly distanced itself from the professor’s remark. Bluestone apologized, said the comment was “stupid,” and explained he didn’t mean it literally. A video of the public lecture was taken down from YouTube.

So much for lefty humor.

But seriously, folks, have you heard about the latest uproar over at WEEI concerning the stereotypical Asian accent used by cohost Christian Fauria to mock sports agent Dan Yee?

Fauria apologized and was suspended for five days. My colleague Shirley Leung argues that’s not enough. She believes the cohosts who laughed along with Fauria’s sorry joke should also be punished. While I absolutely respect Leung’s perspective and agree that the pretend Asian accent was offensive, I just wonder where we draw the censorship line. What if the agent had an Italian-sounding name, and a radio host did a Marlon Brando-Godfather-like impersonation? Or aped an Irish brogue or upper-crust British accent? If the radio station is going to ban pretend-Asian accents, shouldn’t it also ban all fake accents? Otherwise, where’s the consistency? And how will WEEI hosts know the rules of engagement?

Leung is also much braver than I. She actually reads what WEEI listeners tweet at her. I generally leave that to others, although I do read and respond to as much e-mail as possible. I understand her disgust with the tone of the daily conversation and the middle-school meanness it elicits from the audience. But you’re either for free speech or you’re not. That’s why I reluctantly backed WEEI cohost Alex Reimer’s use of an unpleasant word to describe Tom Brady’s five-year-old daughter and suggested Brady had no grounds for complaint, since he put his daughter in his “Tom vs. Time” video. Trust me, that was an unpopular position, on both the left and right.

WEEI’s suspension of Reimer had rare appeal across the ideological spectrum. Usually, outrage breaks along predictable political lines. Indeed, an entire book has been written about that. In “Free Speech for Me, But Not For Thee,” Nat Hentoff explains “how the American left and right relentlessly censor each other.”

That applies to humor, too. Comedian Kathy Griffin sparked outrage for posing with a replica of President Trump’s bloody, decapitated head last May. For that, she was fired from CNN’s New Year’s Eve broadcast. She’s just starting to venture back in public and made her first red carpet appearance since the controversy, at the 2018 Writers Guild Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills.

Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Entertainment just issued an apology over a scene in its new film “Peter Rabbit,” during which a character with an allergy to blackberries is attacked by them. “Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s archnemesis . . . being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way,” Sony said in a statement after an advocacy group, “The Kids with Food Allergies Foundation,” complained about the movie.

Someone also told The New York Times the movie should come with a “trigger warning.” Maybe this column should, too.

I know. There’s no absolute right to free speech. Employers can set limits and the marketplace applies its own standards. So do individuals. I’d prefer a less sexist and less racist radio station. But I also support Bluestone’s right to muse out loud about a Trump-free world. So I find it hard to call for censoring one without censoring the other. And that’s no joke.


California Yoga Studio Offers ‘Rap Yoga’, Black Lives Matter Immediately Makes Absurd Move

It’s really unfortunate watching the left turn everything into a race issue. It’s starting to become really clear that race is the most important thing in the liberal mind. Your typical liberal will look at a person and see a white man or a black woman. That’s wrong in a variety of ways. Primarily because it’s racist.

In California, one of the most liberal places in the world, a yoga studio thought it would be fun to offer ‘rap yoga’. Harmless right? A bunch of people getting together to exercise while listening to one of the most popular music genres on the planet. Maybe drop a few bars (rap thing) during the session? What’s wrong with that?

According to Black Lives Matter, it was offensive enough of a move to cause a protest.  From The Daily Caller:

The Sacramento chapter of Black Lives Matter staged a protest outside a yoga studio Saturday because the studio had planned to host a yoga and rap session.

An instructor at Solfire Yoga came up with the idea to hold a blended rap and yoga session, only to draw the ire of the local Black Lives Matter chapter, reports Fox 40.

Though the studio quickly canceled it because the group did not like the idea of a white woman hosting it, Black Lives Matter still decided to host a demonstration outside the studio to protest cultural appropriation.

“Historically rap music has been a way of expression for black folks to talk about the pain that they go through in their neighborhoods and their lives,” Tanya Faison, the founder of the Sacramento BLM, explained. “We’re just trying to make change and we’re trying to get them to acknowledge what they’re doing and be accountable.”

Music is art. No one owns any certain kind of music. The idea that a yoga studio can’t play rap music or do whatever they want with rap music without being called racist is absurd.

The message here from Black Lives Matter is that only black people can listen to rap music. That’s an argument a small child would find strange. These are adults. Also, the argument is apparently that only white people do yoga. That’s also not true.

It’s unfortunate that the studio canceled the event but that’s pretty much how BLM operates. They intimidate small business owners until they do what they want. It’s similar to Antifa and we see it all over with today’s left. No tolerance. Just bullying. It’s so important to stand up to people like this. Rap music is an art that was created for everyone to enjoy.

Simply put. This is racism and it’s racism that is propped up by Democrats constantly.


The EU is the enemy of the working classes

Leftists who support the EU should look at Greece, and be ashamed.

There are two European Unions, it seems. There is the EU that stands up for the citizen, for his or her rights; the EU that can face down the behemoths of global capitalism and rein in their avarice and callousness; the EU that has legally enshrined workers’ freedoms, and which exists as a bulwark against untrammelled neoliberalism. And then there is the real EU.

That heroic EU is a castle in the anti-Brexit sky, built by those who identify themselves as left-wing. It is maintained by those Labour MPs and peers who, as they did on the eve of Labour’s autumn conference, ceaselessly urge Labour leader Jeremy Corybn ‘to commit to staying in the Single Market and Customs Union… and to work with sister parties and others across Europe to improve workers’ rights’.

It is fortified by the self-appointed keepers of the left-wing flame, those among the commentariat who never tire of telling us that ‘workers’ rights… would be imperilled’ by a so-called ‘Hard Brexit’. And it is peopled by all those who cling to this image of the EU as an essentially social-democratic institution, sticking it gently to the man, defying the Daily Mail, and protecting working men and women against the inhuman workings of capital.

Then there’s the other EU, the one that actually exists. This is the EU that uses the pooled-without-consent sovereignty of its member states to pursue its own institutional self-preservation, impoverishing struggling Eurozone members, from Spain to Italy, in the name of economic stability; imposing leaders-cum-administrators on recalcitrant electorates in the interests of austerity; and brazenly betraying workers’ rights at every self-interested turn. This EU – the actual EU, the one stubbornly committed to its own, not citizens’, interests – is not on the side of the worker. And it never was. Because this EU, when the economic imperative demands, is always against the worker.

But those attached to their fantasy left-wing ideal of the EU refuse to see the reality. To face up to this reality would simply be too much. It would mock their left-wing pretensions, humiliate and expose them for what they are: a craven defence of the status quo – a status quo in which they have long prospered.

This is presumably why so little attention has been given to what happened in Greece last month, when the real EU was there for all to see. The EU forced the Syriza-led government of Alex Tsipras to implement new anti-union legislation, rendering strike action illegal unless over 50 per cent of union members have formally approved it. The effect of such a measure, as the British trade-union movement discovered in the 1980s, will be to strangle workers’ freedoms in bureaucracy, and emasculate organised labour.

Not that the legislation was a surprise – it was a condition of the bailout package agreed with the EU (alongside the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank) back in 2015. But that doesn’t make it any less of an assault on the Greek working class. ‘These were rights won with sweat and blood more than three decades ago’, said Odysseus Trivalas, president of the union of public sector workers. ‘Banks, industrialists and foreign investors want to deny us them. We won’t make it easy. We will take to the streets.’

And take to the street they did, when workers and union activists stormed the Greek labour ministry last month, prising open metal shutters before confronting the minister, Effie Achtsioglou, and hanging a banner from the ministry’s windows that declared: ‘Hands off strikes, it’s a labour right.’ But it has all been to no avail. The bill, of which the anti-union laws were part, was passed by the Greek parliament, as well it would given Greece’s political class has pinned its own survival to that of the EU and the Eurozone, taking the cash in return for giving up even the semblance of political autonomy.

Not that you would be especially aware of any of this from the UK’s media coverage of the EU’s continued assault on Greece, and Greek workers’ rights in particular. Instead, the focus among the rump of the UK’s pro-EU media has been on Greece’s journey back from a double brink — the brink of economic collapse in 2010, and the brink of Grexit in 2015—with the bailout programme due to end in August this year. ‘2018 should be the year Greece ends eight years of economic tutelage’, as the resolutely Remainer Financial Times put it, ‘closing a chapter on an extraordinary period in the EU’s financial crisis fighting’.

Yet peer beneath the narrative peddled by the EU’s UK-based PR machine, be it the FT or The Economist or the Guardian, and the reality of life under the EU in Greece tells us something different. It speaks of EU-driven impoverishment, of a nation in which nearly one in four adults is unemployed (an unemployment rate that rises to one in two among under-25s); a nation in which net household income has fallen by over 40 per cent since 2009; and a nation, above all, in which people’s freedom to resist, to try to determine their own future, has been curtailed and, at points, eviscerated. As Fotis, a 70-year-old former welder from Athens, put it, ‘It is a moment of humiliation I never expected to live. It is what our lives have been reduced to for the sake of getting the national numbers right.’

This EU, in which Greece is impoverished and politically neutered, is what Remainers support. This is their utopia of workers’ rights and compassionate capitalism. This is their oh-so-left-wing cause. They should be ashamed.



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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