Friday, December 31, 2004


Los Angeles is notorious for gang violence, but even by LA standards 2002 was gruesome. With 658 murders in just that one year, it became America's murder capital. Of those murders, almost half were directly related to gang turf wars involving drugs and guns. And of those gangs, most are based in south-central or south-east LA.

With a spiralling murder rate and poor police-community relations following the Rodney King riots and the Rampart corruption scandal, the city appointed a new chief to clean up its act. Amid much fanfare and hype William Bratton - the man credited with cleaning up New York's once-soaring crime rate under the political stewardship of former mayor Rudy Giuliani - was brought in to get LA under control. Chief Bratton immediately appointed a second deputy charged with concentrating some officers in gang areas and targeting gangs. He also prioritised improving relations with minority communities.

And 2003 saw the overall murder rate fall in LA by 23%, but so far this year the murder rate is back on the increase across the city. The LAPD's figures show a 5% year-on-year rise in homicides from Jan to April 2004. And while the number of homicides fell in some neighbourhoods last year, it only ever continued to rise in the hardcore gang areas....

Aside from a rising homicide rate, Ms Rice warns that the gangs are crossing a line that has not been crossed before: They are now targeting police officers themselves. She says: "It's one thing for gangsters to exchange fire with the police in situations, but we are now starting to see sniping. We are now seeing the ambushing of cops by gangsters and we should be panicking. "We are on the way to a point of no return and we will end up in a Falluja situation. It is already a Falluja situation in some areas. LA is on the road to Falluja."

Ms Rice also claims potential witnesses are even being murdered by criminals inside jails because the prisons are "so overcrowded and thinly staffed". She says this has happened five times already this year alone. She also says the situation with gangs was so out of control that even older gang leaders were frightened of today's members because they do not operate within a moral framework at all. "Who's bringing them up?" one former Crips gang leader asked Ms Rice after telling her even he feared the younger gangsters....

She claims that while Chief Bratton has made "big changes at leadership level that doesn't mean the desk sergeant gets it." Ms Rice is not optimistic for the future.........

More here


"Record crowds gathered to hear cries of 'tally-ho' and the barking of hounds for what could be Britain's last traditional post-Christmas hunt before a ban comes into force next year. The pro-hunting Countryside Alliance said at least 300,000 people joined huntsmen and women for the meets over the Christmas break -- including Boxing Day, one of the biggest days on the hunt calendar, with more than 300 separate hunts throughout England and Wales. ... The ban on all forms of hunting with dogs will come into force in February. But supporters of hunting have vowed to ignore it, saying jobs will be put at risk. Simon Hart, of the Countryside Alliance, said unprecedented crowds at the Boxing Day meets reflected solidarity and resolve, not only from the hunting community, but also from the many thousands who supported freedom and tolerance."

More here.

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Historically, children were regarded as the father's pre-industrial assets and custody was out of question. Consequently, the `tender years' doctrine dictated that young children be kept with their mothers (Newsweek, [Online], 1995). But as perceptions about parenthood changed, fathers have become just as much involved as mothers in nurturing their children. For this reason, today, many fathers are seeking primary or joint custody of their children when a marriage breaks down. However, it is questioned whether the court system is biased against men in matters involving custody and access to children when family breakdown occurs. It can be argued that, when deciding custody and visitation, a court gives the best interests of the child the highest priority and not gender (Levin ; Mills, [Online], 2003). Apparently, it is clear that in most custody cases; approximately 90% of the time, primary residential custody of children is awarded to mothers (McNeely, [Online], 1998), thus indicating the presence of gender bias in the family courts.

One of the things propelling prejudice against men in family courts is the basing of decisions on stereotypical attitudes and beliefs. Most judges in the family courts center their decisions on their own understandings and beliefs (Coleman, [Online], 1999). McNeely also writes that, `Many judges raised in traditional homes consisting of fathers as breadwinners and mothers as caretakers have resisted letting go of the `tender years' doctrine, (Online, 1998). That simply shows that some judges still believe that children below the age of five need their mothers to grow hence the reason why such judges award custody to women. In support to that, Henry further contends that, a West Virginia Supreme court justice was quoted saying; `We do the standard drill. She gets the children.

Men don't care, basically, about anything other than money' (Online, 1998). Other myths in courts systems are that men are not usually capable of being custodial parents as are mothers etc. Such hackneyed beliefs of most judges in family courts have been discriminating against men and damaging towards child-parent relationships as most men are separated from their children via unfair court decisions.

Regardless of constitutional pledges of equality, some people are less equal than others. This is the message passed on to men when custody is awarded to women after a custody evaluation. At many times, courts request forensic evaluators to do custody recommendations after doing an evaluation of both parents. Nevertheless, A. Cowling writes that, `in most cases, the `experts' who handle these assessments are not anymore competent in making noble custody decisions than a knowledgeable family court judge'. He further adds that even reputable evaluators find themselves favouring a particular parent in a custody dispute for reasons that have little to do with the quality of parenting offered (Online, 2003). Therefore, it can be noted that even in these evaluations to determine `the best interests of the child', there is the possibility of favouring the mothers by evaluators hence making the court decision biased. Hughson also argues that there is doubt on whether the evaluation process can be fair or lucid because it is constructed without a standardized testing or benchmarks. In addition, he says that `usually, "best interest of the child" is the shorthand for "kids go with mom and dad gets to see the kid over the weekend ." (Online, 2003). Bringing it to a close, it can be said albeit the use of custody evaluators in a custody case, there is still some existence of bias against men as some evaluators tend to favour mothers.



"Where does all this stuff that you've heard about this morning - the victim feminism, the gay rights movement, the invented statistics, the rewritten history, the lies, the demands, all the rest of it - where does it come from? For the first time in our history, Americans have to be fearful of what they say, of what they write, and of what they think. They have to be afraid of using the wrong word, a word denounced as offensive or insensitive, or racist, sexist, or homophobic.

We have seen other countries, particularly in this century, where this has been the case. And we have always regarded them with a mixture of pity, and to be truthful, some amusement, because it has struck us as so strange that people would allow a situation to develop where they would be afraid of what words they used. But we now have this situation in this country. We have it primarily on college campuses, but it is spreading throughout the whole society. Were does it come from? What is it?

We call it "Political Correctness." The name originated as something of a joke, literally in a comic strip, and we tend still to think of it as only half-serious. In fact, it's deadly serious. It is the great disease of our century, the disease that has left tens of millions of people dead in Europe, in Russia, in China, indeed around the world. It is the disease of ideology. PC is not funny. PC is deadly serious.

If we look at it analytically, if we look at it historically, we quickly find out exactly what it is. Political Correctness is cultural Marxism. It is Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. It is an effort that goes back not to the 1960s and the hippies and the peace movement, but back to World War I. If we compare the basic tenets of Political Correctness with classical Marxism the parallels are very obvious.

First of all, both are totalitarian ideologies. The totalitarian nature of Political Correctness is revealed nowhere more clearly than on college campuses, many of which at this point are small ivy covered North Koreas, where the student or faculty member who dares to cross any of the lines set up by the gender feminist or the homosexual-rights activists, or the local black or Hispanic group, or any of the other sainted "victims" groups that PC revolves around, quickly find themselves in judicial trouble. Within the small legal system of the college, they face formal charges - some star-chamber proceeding - and punishment. That is a little look into the future that Political Correctness intends for the nation as a whole.

Indeed, all ideologies are totalitarian because the essence of an ideology (I would note that conservatism correctly understood is not an ideology) is to take some philosophy and say on the basis of this philosophy certain things must be true - such as the whole of the history of our culture is the history of the oppression of women. Since reality contradicts that, reality must be forbidden. It must become forbidden to acknowledge the reality of our history. People must be forced to live a lie, and since people are naturally reluctant to live a lie, they naturally use their ears and eyes to look out and say, "Wait a minute. This isn't true. I can see it isn't true," the power of the state must be put behind the demand to live a lie. That is why ideology invariably creates a totalitarian state.

Second, the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness, like economic Marxism, has a single factor explanation of history. Economic Marxism says that all of history is determined by ownership of means of production. Cultural Marxism, or Political Correctness, says that all history is determined by power, by which groups defined in terms of race, sex, etc., have power over which other groups. Nothing else matters. All literature, indeed, is about that. Everything in the past is about that one thing.

Third, just as in classical economic Marxism certain groups, i.e. workers and peasants, are a priori good, and other groups, i.e., the bourgeoisie and capital owners, are evil. In the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness certain groups are good - feminist women, (only feminist women, non-feminist women are deemed not to exist) blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals. These groups are determined to be "victims," and therefore automatically good regardless of what any of them do. Similarly, white males are determined automatically to be evil, thereby becoming the equivalent of the bourgeoisie in economic Marxism.

Fourth, both economic and cultural Marxism rely on expropriation. When the classical Marxists, the communists, took over a country like Russia, they expropriated the bourgeoisie, they took away their property. Similarly, when the cultural Marxists take over a university campus, they expropriate through things like quotas for admissions. When a white student with superior qualifications is denied admittance to a college in favor of a black or Hispanic who isn't as well qualified, the white student is expropriated. And indeed, affirmative action, in our whole society today, is a system of expropriation. White owned companies don't get a contract because the contract is reserved for a company owned by, say, Hispanics or women. So expropriation is a principle tool for both forms of Marxism.

And finally, both have a method of analysis that automatically gives the answers they want. For the classical Marxist, it's Marxist economics. For the cultural Marxist, it's deconstruction. Deconstruction essentially takes any text, removes all meaning from it and re-inserts any meaning desired. So we find, for example, that all of Shakespeare is about the suppression of women, or the Bible is really about race and gender. All of these texts simply become grist for the mill, which proves that "all history is about which groups have power over which other groups." So the parallels are very evident between the classical Marxism that we're familiar with in the old Soviet Union and the cultural Marxism that we see today as Political Correctness.

But the parallels are not accidents. The parallels did not come from nothing. The fact of the matter is that Political Correctness has a history, a history that is much longer than many people are aware of outside a small group of academics who have studied this. And the history goes back, as I said, to World War I, as do so many of the pathologies that are today bringing our society, and indeed our culture, down.......

In conclusion, America today is in the throes of the greatest and direst transformation in its history. We are becoming an ideological state, a country with an official state ideology enforced by the power of the state. In "hate crimes" we now have people serving jail sentences for political thoughts. And the Congress is now moving to expand that category ever further. Affirmative action is part of it. The terror against anyone who dissents from Political Correctness on campus is part of it. It's exactly what we have seen happen in Russia, in Germany, in Italy, in China, and now it's coming here. And we don't recognize it because we call it Political Correctness and laugh it off. My message today is that it's not funny, it's here, it's growing and it will eventually destroy, as it seeks to destroy, everything that we have ever defined as our freedom and our culture.

More here

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Written before Christmas

"Here is what happened today when I visited the provincial liquor store in Ottawa, Canada: When I had finished my shopping I decided to rearrange my purchases and take a minute to button up my winter coat etc. before venturing out onto the street, I spied a chair way over by the exit so I headed for it. Beside it was an attractively dressed thirty-something blonde, who appeared to be cowering by the chair. I figured her husband had volunteered to plunge into the seething mass and left her to wait. I then noticed one of the plastic "cauldrons " the Salvation Army sets up at Christmas, but could see no attendant. I flung in a coin and -- behold -- the lady thanked me! So I asked "where is your bell"? She replied that so many people hated it that they had decided not to use one this year! I walked on to my next destination -- a large department store with a pedestrian mall running through it There were carol singers, shoppers etc and a large older lady in red vigorously swinging her bell beside the "cauldron". I find this puzzling. I know that alcohol is forbidden to Muslims so that cannot be why the Sallies restrained in a liquor store. But Muslims do patronize the department store -- I see women in headscarves there from time to time -- so what part of the population is offended by the bell?"

"I heard a funny remark by a local council worker the other day about a maintenance manager of Arab origin and his grasp of the English language (i.e. none that could be deciphered). The workers address him as "Tail light". When I asked why, the reply was: "Because he is not bright enough to be a headlight". Ha! There seems to be an epidemic of illiterate or incompetent behaviour among appointments to government bureaucracies and it is also starting to show in large corporations. If council workers can identify the idiots, why can't the management? Or are they tail lights too? Funny if the consequences were not so terrifying."


The Supreme Court of Canada is being asked to hear arguments on whether the word "kemosabe" is racist to native people. The request comes from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, which is dealing with a grievance dating back to 1999. Dorothy Kateri Moore, a Mi'kmaq woman working at a sports store in Sydney, N.S., had complained that her boss, Trevor Miller, referred to her and other workers as "kemosabe" - the term used by the 1950s TV character Tonto, the Lone Ranger's sidekick, to describe the masked cowboy. Moore said Miller told her the word meant "friend." But she claimed it was a racial slur and that its repeated use led to a poisoned work environment.

Last February, a human rights board of inquiry ruled Moore was not discriminated against because she hadn't shown she was offended by the word, nor did she ask her boss to stop using it. The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal upheld that ruling in October, saying Moore had not shown the term was "notoriously offensive." For the first time in its 37-year history, the commission has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to appeal a decision of the province's Court of Appeal. Commission lawyers say they will argue employees were afraid to speak up to their employer and they want the Supreme Court to draw the line on what language is acceptable in the workplace. "The idea that there are some words that are notoriously offensive and some that aren't, and the burden on the employee shifts depending on that, really creates a lot of confusion in the workplace," said commission lawyer Michael Wood. "We think it's time to clarify that and have some ground rules so people know what's permissible and what isn't." During the inquiry hearings, several members of the Mi'kmaq community testified that "kemosabe" was a racial slur, although others said they were not offended by it.

The board of inquiry spent one day looking at old Lone Ranger shows, eventually concluding that the term was never used in a derogatory way and that Tonto and the Lone Ranger treated each other with respect.


Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Men are more likely to want to marry women who are their assistants at work rather than their colleagues or bosses, a University of Michigan study finds. The study, published in the current issue of Evolution and Human Behavior, highlights the importance of relational dominance in mate selection and discusses the evolutionary utility of male concerns about mating with dominant females. "These findings provide empirical support for the widespread belief that powerful women are at a disadvantage in the marriage market because men may prefer to marry less accomplished women," said Stephanie Brown, lead author of the study and a social psychologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR).

More here


The American Civil Liberties Union wins and the cross on top of Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial cemetery will have to be moved to a new location. After a 15 year old legal battle to keep the cross, which honors the fallen soldiers of WWI, WWII and the Korean War, the cross must now be removed. The ACLU claims it worked to remove the cross in order to preserve the separation of Church and State. The fact of the matter is that they took up the cause of one fanatical atheist named Phillip Paulsen.

The city of San Diego attempted to separate itself from the cross by selling the property to a private party. Mr. Paulsen objected arguing the sale had the effect of preserving the cross. Was that not the point? If the lawsuit was really about separation of church and state, it would be sufficient to sell the property to a private party. The real purpose of this lawsuit was to supress the religious beliefs of 76.5% of Americans and set an example for the millions of others who practice a religion. The lesson to be learned is that the Left, the secularists, act like they are fighting for your freedom when in fact they are fighting to take away from you that which you hold dear.


Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth

Boosting people's sense of self-worth has become a national preoccupation. Yet surprisingly, research shows that such efforts are of little value in fostering academic progress or preventing undesirable behavior

"Regrettably, those who have been pursuing self-esteem-boosting programs, including the leaders of NASE, have not shown a desire to examine the new work, which is why the four of us recently came together under the aegis of the American Psychological Society to review the scientific literature.....

For example, psychologists once thought that people with low self-esteem were especially prejudiced. Early studies, in which subjects simply rated groups to which they did not belong, seemingly confirmed that notion, but thoughtful scholars, such as Jennifer Crocker of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, questioned this conclusion. After all, if people rate themselves negatively, it is hardly proper to label them as prejudiced for rating people not like themselves similarly. When one uses the difference between the subjects' assessments of their own group and their ratings of other groups as the yardstick for bias, the findings are reversed: people with high self-esteem appear to be more prejudiced.....

Modern efforts have, however, cast doubt on the idea that higher self-esteem actually induces students to do better. Such inferences about causality are possible when the subjects are examined at two different times, as was the case in 1986 when Sheila M. Pottebaum, Timothy Z. Keith and Stewart W. Ehly, all then at the University of Iowa, tested more than 23,000 high school students, first in the 10th and again in the 12th grade. They found that self-esteem in 10th grade is only weakly predictive of academic achievement in 12th grade. Academic achievement in 10th grade correlates with self-esteem in 12th grade only trivially better. Such results, which are now available from multiple studies, certainly do not indicate that raising self-esteem offers students much benefit. Some findings even suggest that artificially boosting self-esteem may lower subsequent performance.

Even if raising self-esteem does not foster academic progress, might it serve some purpose later, say, on the job? Apparently not. Studies of possible links between workers' self-regard and job performance echo what has been found with schoolwork: the simple search for correlations yields some suggestive results, but these do not show whether a good self-image leads to occupational success, or vice versa. In any case, the link is not particularly strong.

The failure to contribute significantly at school or at the office would be easily offset if a heightened sense of self-worth helped someone to get along better with others. Having a good self-image might make someone more likable insofar as people prefer to associate with confident, positive individuals and generally avoid those who suffer from self-doubts and insecurities. People who regard themselves highly generally state that they are popular and rate their friendships as being of superior quality to those described by people with low self-esteem, who report more negative interactions and less social support. But as Julia Bishop and Heidi M. Inderbitzen-Nolan of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln showed in 1995, these assertions do not reflect reality. The investigators asked 542 ninth-grade students to nominate their most-liked and least-liked peers, and the resulting rankings displayed no correlation whatsoever with self-esteem scores.

A few other methodologically sound studies have found that the same is true for adults. In one of these investigations, conducted in the late 1980s, Duane P. Buhrmester, now at the University of Texas at Dallas, and three colleagues reported that college students with high levels of self-regard claimed to be substantially better at initiating relationships, better at disclosing things about themselves, better at asserting themselves in response to objectionable behaviors by others, better at providing emotional support and better even at managing interpersonal conflicts. Their roommates' ratings, however, told a different story. For four of the five interpersonal skills surveyed, the correlation with self-esteem dropped to near zero. The only one that remained statistically significant was with the subjects' ability to initiate new social contacts and friendships. This does seem to be one sphere in which confidence indeed matters: people who think that they are desirable and attractive should be adept at striking up conversations with strangers, whereas those with low self-esteem presumably shy away from initiating such contacts, fearing rejection.

One can imagine that such differences might influence a person's love life, too. In 2002 Sandra L. Murray of the University at Buffalo and four colleagues found that people low in self-esteem tend to distrust their partners' expressions of love and support, acting as though they are constantly expecting rejection. Thus far, however, investigators have not produced evidence that such relationships are especially prone to dissolve. In fact, high self-esteem may be the bigger threat: as Caryl E. Rusbult, Gregory D. Morrow and Dennis J. Johnson, all then at the University of Kentucky, showed back in 1987, those who think highly of themselves are more likely than others to respond to problems by severing relations and seeking other partners.

How about teenagers? How does self-esteem, or the lack thereof, influence their love life, in particular their sexual activity? Investigators have examined this subject extensively. All in all, the results do not support the idea that low self-esteem predisposes young people to more or earlier sexual activity. If anything, those with high self-esteem are less inhibited, more willing to disregard risks and more prone to engage in sex. At the same time, bad sexual experiences and unwanted pregnancies appear to lower self-esteem.

If not sex, then how about alcohol or illicit drugs? Abuse of these substances is one of the most worrisome behaviors among young people, and many psychologists once believed that boosting self-esteem would prevent such problems. The thought was that people with low self-esteem turn to drinking or drugs for solace. The data, however, do not consistently show that low adolescent self-esteem causes or even correlates with the abuse of alcohol or other drugs. In particular, in a large-scale study in 2000, Rob McGee and Sheila M. Williams of the University of Otago Medical School in New Zealand found no correlation between self-esteem measured between ages nine and 13 and drinking or drug use at age 15. Even when findings do show links between alcohol use and self-esteem, they are mixed and inconclusive. A few studies have shown that high self-esteem is associated with frequent alcohol consumption, but another suggests the opposite. We did find, however, some evidence that low self-esteem contributes to illicit drug use. In particular, Judy A. Andrews and Susan C. Duncan of the Oregon Research Institute found in 1997 that declining levels of academic motivation (the main focus of their study) caused self-esteem to drop, which in turn led to marijuana use, although the connection was rather weak.....

For decades, psychologists believed that low self-esteem was an important cause of aggression. One of us (Baumeister) challenged that notion in 1996, when he reviewed assorted studies and concluded that perpetrators of aggression generally hold favorable and perhaps even inflated views of themselves. Take the bullying that goes on among children, a common form of aggression. Dan Olweus of the University of Bergen was one of the first to dispute the notion that under their tough exteriors, bullies suffer from insecurities and self-doubts. Although Olweus did not measure self-esteem directly, he showed that bullies reported less anxiety and were more sure of themselves than other children. Apparently the same applies to violent adults, as Baumeister discussed in these pages a few years ago....

More here

Monday, December 27, 2004

British Teachers told to promote Gay Pride

Leftists will do anything to create disturbances to the normal life of society. And if it provokes a backlash, so much the better from their viewpoint

Schools are being urged to advertise gay lifestyles to children in a Government drive to 'challenge homophobia'. In an attempt to clamp down on supposedly homophobic language, the guidelines say teachers should be reported if they refer to boys as 'sissies', accuse them of standing around 'like a mothers' meeting' or call them a 'bunch of girls'. Staff are asked to put up flyers for Gay Pride marches and Mardi Gras festivals. They are told that promoting a 'positive stance' on homosexuals and lesbians can help tackle homophobic bullying. The guidance, which applies to all ages from nurseries upwards, drew a furious response from Church leaders and family campaigners who said it went too far. The booklets, which were sent to every local education authority this month, also urge schools to:

* invite in gay visitors and speakers to act as 'sexual minority role models' where there are no homosexual members of staff;
* keep written records of every homophobic phrase used, either by staff or pupils;
* form a 'homophobia working party' to increase awareness of homophobic bullying;
* teach pupils about homosexual public figures such as MPs and entertainers;
* avoid generic language that assumes parents and staff always have partners of the opposite sex.

Local education authorities are expected to make the guidance known to all schools in their area. Heads and teachers can also download the resources titled Stand Up For Us: Challenging Homophobia in Schools from Government websites. Schools are urged to 'normalise sexual minorities' by putting up information on gay and lesbian issues in corridors and waiting areas. Staff are told never to leave unchallenged any homophobic language, including the use of 'gay' as a generic insult. The booklet gives the example of a pupil who describes a classmate's trainers as 'so gay'. It makes clear that the guidance is targeted at pupils of all ages - even those at nurseries. "The issues and practical approaches outlined in this resource apply equally to early years settings, primary, secondary and special schools, off-site units and pupil referral units."

The guidance prompted renewed concerns over the influence of the gay lobby following the repeal last year of Section 28 - the law which banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools. Norman Wells, director of the pressure group Family and Youth Concern, said: "This is part of a radical social agenda which will only cause more confusion among vulnerable young people and expose them to increased risk to their physical and emotional health. "The overwhelming majority of parents opposed the repeal of section 28 precisely because they feared this kind of aggressive promotion of homosexuality."

The Reverend Rod Thomas, of the conservative Church of England Reform movement, said: "Church schools would have a huge amount of difficulty with this and I don't think any would feel at ease promoting a Gay Pride event. "This takes anti-discrimination measures too far into the realm of positive discrimination. A spokesman for the Tories said: "This campaign does appear heavy-handed."

The guidance was produced jointly by the Department for Education and Department of Health. A spokesman for the Education Department said: "It is up to teachers to use their professional judgment in deciding what resources and strategies to adopt."



"This new book by English academic Frank Ellis, Political Correctness and the theoretical struggle, from Lenin and Mao to Marcuse and Foucault, shows that political correctness has a history much longer than generally recognised. In this pioneering study, Frank Ellis shows convincingly that PC is a Russian COmmunist invention, going back to the times and plans of Lenin, and an intrinsic part of the unprecedented system of total censorship introduced by the Bolshevik leadership in the late autumn of 1917. It was used to ensure total ideological orthodoxy in the communist part. By the end of the 1920s, the notion of political correctness was dominant in almost every aspect of Soviet society, including education, law, psychiatry and entertainment. It was used to justify terror, torture, and man-made famine, first by Lenin and his successors in what became the USSR and later by Mao Tse Tung in China. Through one of the ironies of history, just when the "Soviet experiment" was beginning to run out of steam after the partial dethroning of Stalin, political correctness took on a new life in the West.

One of the underlying themes of political correctness is that if you change the language, you change the way people behave and thereby culture and society. Ellis demonstrates how, by promoting its ideas of what is and is not politically correct, the New Left throughout the English-speaking world is corrupting our cultural institutions, especially the news media and universities, while its devotees are using the state to re-order our thoughts and lives.

The ideas are being promoted through such instruments as human rights legislation, hate speech laws and government promotion of "diversity" and "tolerance". Ellis says that one of the extraordinary things that makes political correctness different from the older Marxism is that instead of talking about public ownership of the means of production, it is talking about public ownership of the means of expression. The political correctness brigade now control the commanding heights in every area of society, including the media and universities. To combat this, Ellis suggests that we need to recapture language, challenge the PC concepts and be prepared to speak out in defence of reality.

More here


"A teenager is suing her school district for barring her from the prom last spring because she was wearing a dress styled as a large Confederate battle flag. The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court claims the Greenup County district and administrators violated Jacqueline Duty's First Amendment right to free speech and her right to celebrate her heritage at predominantly white Russell High School's prom May 1. She also is suing for defamation, false imprisonment and assault. 'Her only dance for her senior prom was on the sidewalk to a song playing on the radio,' said her lawyer, Earl-Ray Neal. Duty, 19, is seeking actual and punitive damages in excess of $50,000. She said she worked on the design for the dress for four years, though she acknowledged that some might find the Confederate flag offensive."

More here

New Jersey: Carolers protest religious music ban: "Susan Rosenbluth and fellow Orthodox Jews yesterday came to Maplewood, NJ, to join a crowd of more than 100 carolers in singing Christmas and Hanukkah songs in front of Columbia High School. ... The carolers showed up outside the school, which held its annual holiday music program last night, to protest a South Orange/Maplewood School District ban on religious songs at schools in this community across the Hudson River from New York. 'The greatest works of art in Western civilization are inspired by religious -- predominantly Christian -- convictions,' said Mrs. Rosenbluth, editor of Jewish Voice and Opinion, an Englewood-based monthly. 'We are religious Jews who believe Western civilization is the heritage of all of our children in the United States,' she said, explaining why she and other Orthodox Jews joined the protest."

Sunday, December 26, 2004


A cathedral dean in Wales has ruled out the singing of "Merry Gentlemen" on Christmas Day, ordering the choir and congregation to use the words "God Rest Ye Merry People" instead. The alternative version, found in some hymn books, was chosen by the Very Reverend John Lewis, Dean of Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff, for the parish choir and worshippers to sing.

But Don Jessett, deputy chairman of the cathedral Choral Society, said the change to God Rest Ye Merry People "takes all the bounce out of the line". He added: "If the cathedral choir had been singing it we would have chosen the other version. "So far as I am concerned as a singer I am not worried about this politically correct business. But God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen goes jogging along nicely."

The Dean said he had not chosen the newer version to avoid offending women in the congregation. He added: "To be quite honest, this was done back in November and I came across this version and I thought we haven't sung this carol for some time and it expresses all the feelings of Christmas.

More here


A parent of a Hampton Academy Junior High School student says the principal of the school told his son to leave the school’s holiday dance on Friday night because the boy was dressed in a Santa Claus costume, which was politically incorrect. Michael Lafond said his son, Bryan, went to the dance dressed as Santa because it was a holiday party. "He asked if he could dress like Santa and we said yes," said Lafond. "We went to Brooks and purchased the outfit and everything."

Lafond said his wife dropped off Bryan at the school. "I went to the dance with my friend," said Bryan Lafond, who is in seventh grade. "He had an elf hat on and we thought it was pretty cool. Everyone loved the suit, but when I went by the principal, he asked why I was dressed like that." Principal Fred Muscara said he told the boy he couldn’t get into the dance because he was wearing the costume. "It was a holiday party," said Muscara. "It was not a Christmas party. There is a separation of church and state. We have a lot of students that go to Hampton Academy Junior High that have different religions. We have to be sensitive to that."

Bryan said while Muscara didn’t say he had to leave, he told Bryan if he wanted to go the dance he would have to change out of the suit and put on proper attire for the dance. Having nothing to change into, Bryan left the dance to try and find his mother. "My wife was leaving the parking lot when she saw Bryan running out of the building," said Lafond. "He told her that the principal said it was politically incorrect to wear the Santa outfit."

"I saw him running out of the building crying," said Leslie Lafond, Bryan’s mother. Lafond said while he disagrees with their reasoning he could almost understand it. What he couldn’t understand was why his son was able to leave the dance. "One of reasons why we are so angry is that the school has a policy that says once you go to the dance you can’t leave until it’s over," said Lafond. "You can’t leave school grounds unless they call a parent. If my wife wasn’t there, my son would have been out roaming the streets." Bryan’s mother picked up her son and drove him home to change.

Lafond said his wife had to persuade Bryan to go back to the dance. "He was so embarrassed," said Lafond. "It wasn’t like he was trying to pull a prank. He is just a good-natured kid getting into the holiday spirit who just happened to walk right by Scrooge." .... Lafond said political correctness is getting out of control. "I don’t get it," said Lafond, citing a PTA breakfast with Santa at the school a couple of weeks ago. "What’s next? Are they going to get rid of Halloween because of paganism?" he asked. "The last time I checked, Christmas was the celebration of the birth of Christ and not Santa Claus," Leslie said. "I want them to make an apology to my son. My son was humiliated."

More here

Saturday, December 25, 2004


To all those who come by here on this great day

And may all those who recognize Jesus as Lord always walk in his wisdom


Germany: "Santa-Free Zones" created: "A group of Germans are wanting to get rid of Santa saying he has become a symbol of the commercialisation of Christmas. Thousands of stickers have been printed declaring whole areas in Germany and Austria 'Santa Free Zones' and pamphlets have been handed out on street corners reminding people that the traditional bringer of presents is St Nicholas and not the red-suited, white-bearded immigrant from the English-speaking world."


Julie West is tired of being wished "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." She's annoyed with department stores that use "Season's Greetings" banners, and with public schools that teach about Hanukkah and Kwanzaa but won't touch the Nativity story. So last week, she sent a baked protest to a holiday party at her first-grade son's school: a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and red icing that spelled out "Happy Birthday Jesus." "Christmas keeps getting downgraded, to the point that you're almost made to feel weird if you even mention it," says West, a resident of Edmonds, Wash., who describes herself as a non-denominational Christian. "What's the matter with recognizing the reason behind the whole holiday?"

This Christmas season, West has plenty of company. Christians and traditionalists across the nation, fed up with what they view as the de-emphasizing of Christmas as a religious holiday, are filing lawsuits, promoting boycotts and launching campaigns aimed at restoring references to Christ in seasonal celebrations. From New Jersey to California, Christians are moving to counter years of lawsuits that have made governments wary about putting Nativity scenes on public property, and that occasionally have led schools to drop Christmas carols from holiday programs:

* In Bay Harbor Islands, Fla., a Christian sued in federal court after town officials refused to let her erect a Nativity scene next to a menorah, or Hanukkah candelabra, on a causeway. Last week, a judge ordered the town to comply.

* In Maplewood, N.J., parents and students recently petitioned the local school board after school officials dropped even instrumental versions of Christmas music from class programs.

* In Denver, a Protestant church responded to the city's decision to drop "Merry Christmas" from public signs by trying to enter a Christmas-themed float in the holiday parade. Supporters picketed the parade and sang Christmas carols after the float was rejected.

* In California, a group called the Committee to Save Merry Christmas is boycotting Federated Department Stores. The group claims that Federated's affiliates, including Macy's, prohibit clerks from saying "Merry Christmas" and ban the word "Christmas" from ads and store displays. The retail giant says it has no such policy.

Even Kwanzaa, the African-American harvest celebration, has taken a hit. In Los Angeles, the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a conservative black activist, has urged black Christians to spurn Kwanzaa, which he calls a "pagan holiday."

The new battles over religion's role in holiday celebrations come more than two decades after the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups began going to court to try to require municipalities to remove Nativity scenes and other religious displays from public property. The ACLU argued that such religious symbols violated the First Amendment's ban on government-endorsed religion. In two rulings in the 1980s, the U.S. Supreme Court said that Nativity scenes are acceptable when they are combined with other symbols - such as a Santa Claus house - that indicate Christmas is a secular holiday in American culture as well as a religious one.

Nevertheless, the threat of lawsuits and a desire to be more sensitive to the nation's growing number of non-Christians - who made up about 18% of the U.S. population in a 2002 survey by Pew Charitable Trusts - has led many governments, schools and businesses to de-emphasize Christ in Christmastime celebrations. Phrases such as "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings" have replaced "Merry Christmas" at many public venues.....

John Whitehead, director of the Rutherford Institute, a group in Charlottesville, Va., that defends against challenges to speech and religion rights, says the recent trend has been for schools and municipalities to excise "all mention of Christmas, out of some misshapen idea that this respects diversity." He is particularly critical of decisions such as that made by the school board in Maplewood, N.J., which decided to drop traditional carols and other Christmas music from public school programs during the mid-1990s after receiving several complaints. This year, the ban was extended even to instrumental versions of Christmas songs....

Whitehead says that overly cautious approaches to mentioning Christ in Christmas celebrations has meant that "in the name of offending no one, you now have high school kids who can't play music that's part of the culture, and store clerks who are afraid to say, 'Merry Christmas.' It takes a joyous and merry day and just makes it blah."

Sandra Snowden agrees. According to papers she filed in a federal lawsuit, the resident of Bay Harbor Islands, Fla., was "offended" that the town allowed a menorah, but not a Nativity scene, to be placed along a public causeway. When she protested, court papers say, town leaders countered that the menorah, which commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after a Jewish military victory in 165 B.C., was a secular symbol of freedom. Before a federal judge ruled in her favor, Snowden rejected the town's offer to install a Christmas tree rather than a Nativity scene, which the town officials had called "divisive."

Those seeking to put more Christ into Christmas have had other successes. In Mustang, Okla. on Dec. 14, parents incensed that a Nativity sequence had been dropped from a school holiday program organized to help defeat an $11 million school bond referendum. And in Washington state, cake maker Julie West is claiming a small victory. Although her son's teacher expressed some misgivings, West served slices of her "Happy Birthday Jesus" cake to 20 first-graders and about five other parents. No one complained, she says. "I had gotten a legal opinion from the Rutherford Institute saying I was within my rights before I brought the cake to school," West says. "That's Christmas this year, I guess: candy cane frosting and a legal opinion."

More here


Why am I not surprised? Could it be because the Left inflicted such vast horrors on the 20th century?

The other night my father arrived at a Chinese restaurant on the Upper West Side and said, indignantly: "I want to start a movement called Jews for Christmas." I laughed, then realized he was serious. We'd been discussing the recent news stories about the ACLU's siege on Christmas symbolism. Christians are protesting all over the country, as well they might. In Oklahoma, mangers are being removed by janitors; in Denver, baby Jesus was banned from their wintertime "Parade of Lights" pageant. The religious whitewashers have done their work in the name of Church/State ideals, but was this not the very thing political correctness was designed to protect against?

I can't follow it anymore. "We came to this country," my father said, "and the Christians defended our right to worship as we please. George Washington wrote a letter to the Touro Synagogue in Rhode Island reassuring them that Jews were welcome here and would be safe. Now that the Christian religion is under attack, I think we non-Christians should rise up and say to our Christian brothers and sisters, 'Don't bother fighting. We owe you, big time, and we'll fight this one for you.' And then lead a campaign to make sure Christians have the same right to express their religious faith as they've always made sure we have."

When he was a boy in Greensboro, NC, my father sang the "Ave Maria," solo, in the Christmas pageant. He was singled out for the role not because of his singing voice, but because he knew Hebrew and they figured that was closer to Latin than English. Another year, he proudly played a shepherd in the school Christmas play. My grandmother fashioned a crepe-paper-covered corn stalk as a crook, but it lacked a hook; he wondered how he could corral sheep without a hook. She said it was good enough-that the other kids would deal with the sheep-and told him to hush. All these things planted in him an abiding love of Christmas, indelibly tied to memories of childhood.....

Christmas is, to me, the high point in the year of a lost range in what Johnny Cash called "our love language." Look at the words: joy, adore, king, child, exalt, behold, virgin, Satan, star, glory, come, know, truth, reign, grace. Angels, trumpets, drums, people falling to their knees, souls ascending. What's so bad about the sentiments of Christianity? These people know how to throw a good party. Isn't "Let every heart prepare him room" a more uplifting line than, for instance, "Oh well, whatever, nevermind"?

My father grew up as a Jew in the Bible Belt, the deep South, and one thing about Southerners is, they know about reverb and generosity in language; they know how to throw a word all the way out. I think it's just the pure relief from irony and grudge that we seek in Christmas kitsch. My son is now 10 and attends public school in New York, as I did. In fact, he attends school in the same building I did, and it still smells exactly the same. When he was about three, in pre-school, I began my search, and it was every bit as blatant as the Grinch sliding down the mountainside with all the symbols of Christmas stuffed into his bulging sack. There was nothing you could say; you couldn't even give voice to what was missing, because it was eradicated in the manner of something that was supposed to never have existed. Seven years ago, they were down to songs about potato latkes plus one, if I recall, about Frosty. At that point, the only winter holiday they actually celebrated was.Chinese New Year.

Recently we went to my son's "Winter Show," at a local school I won't name. Our expectations were low, Christmas-wise. We were prepared, for instance, to not see kids with shepherd's crooks standing around a pile of hay under a star falling from the ceiling attached to a string. But maybe, instead, it would be a benign, politically correct compromise: a Kwanzaa song, maybe a Karelian snow dance or an upbeat Chinese ribbon performance. We love all that stuff too, and we're not obsessed with white Anglo culture. (My father, a WW2 generation, classic Cold War conservative, is happiest when conversing in a foreign language with a grocery bagger from Bamako or a cab driver from.anywhere but America. Anything about the rest of the world is of interest, so don't peg us for elitist xenophobes.)

With my father to my left and my sister to my right, we sat in the front row, beaming expectantly. Soon it became known that the theme of the Winter Show steered clear of anything whatsoever to do with winter, or any holidays rituals from any part of the world. Though the peg was "the 60s," the true themes of the show were class warfare, American proto-guilt, Bush-bashing and most strikingly, death.

I do think the children need to deal with death, and I am not criticizing them at all. They were terrific. But it was a most unusual choice of themes for a mid-December school play. And it made me wonder about the line separating not Church and State, but Radical Left Faculty and Students Whose Minds Are Still Forming.

The death motif was there from the start, and wound through the production, including a mock horror film, and an impressive but dark monologue by a girl who was having pervasive death anxiety and imagined herself in a coffin being eaten by worms. It was very interesting. I can't swear I'm not being a total prig here, sitting around waiting for shepherds and sheep at the school play, at a time of great political upheaval. But-a mini-play featuring five kids, boys and girls, in combat gear in Vietnam, promising each other that they would get out alive? Four were shot and killed seconds later. Eventually the fifth was too. There were also at least four anti-Bush chants, including one in which even breakfast cereals attacked the president.

We sat pressed back in our chairs. My father was pale. As we walked out into the biting wind, I expected him to say, as he often does when flabbergasted, "Put me on the hog train." He was unusually quiet. I asked what he was thinking and he said, "When I got hungry as a boy, my mother used to snap at me and say, 'Pretend it's Yom Kippur.'"

"Yeah, so?"

He laughed. "So, I'm pretending it's not December."

From here

Friday, December 24, 2004


Florida: Baptists erect Nativity scene at government building: "Knowing the Polk County Commission has refused to sanction Nativity scenes on government property, a group of Baptist grandparents took Christmas into their own hands Wednesday. Under the cover of night, they erected a manger scene on the lawn of the Neil Combee County Administration Building. And now the question is whether commissioners will evict Baby Jesus before his birthday. Wednesday's covert mission accomplished what other church groups have failed to do in recent months: move Mary, Joseph and child onto a grassy plot near the center of the county's court, government and sheriff offices."


In 1647 Oliver Cromwell cancelled Christmas: no parties, no fun, no days off work. Cromwell's Puritanism was offended by bacchanalian revelry, led by the Lord of Misrule. Each year, town criers went through the land ordering that "Christmas and all other superstitious festivals" should not be celebrated.

The English were outraged. Secret festivities were held, pro-Christmas riots broke out and dozens of Christmas martyrs were jailed. A pamphlet called An Hue and Cry after Christmas was published, demanding that: "Any man or woman, that can give any knowledge, or tell any tidings of an old, old, very old grey bearded gentleman, called Christmas . . . let him bring him back again into England."

In the past century, the godless Communists banned Christmas. In Cuba, Fidel Castro allowed people to take Christmas Day off work only after an intervention by the Pope.

Now the Christophobes are on the rampage again. The heirs of the Puritans and Communists have declared war on Christmas. But this time it is by stealth and guilt-tripping. The first step is to eviscerate the festival of any meaning by taking the Christ out of Christmas. Even as a lifelong atheist who finds all God stuff embarrassing, I appreciate Christmas's religious message. But you are as likely to find a reference to Christ in civic Christmas decorations as you are to find a sixpence in a Christmas pudding. Almost no companies and few individuals send cards with any religious message. For the third consecutive year Christmas postage stamps will be Christless. A quarter of schools will not have Nativity plays, and almost as many have banned carols.

Once Christmas has been supplanted by a spiritually vacuous post-Christian orgy of consumption, the next phase of the war is to ban it altogether. Simply turn it, as Birmingham famously did, into a generic "Winterval" to make it equally meaningless to everyone. Tony Blair's Christmas cards have no reference to, well, Christmas. The Eden Centre in Cornwall has banned Christmas, replacing it with "a time of gifts".

The war on Christmas is being waged across Christendom. In Italy, a school replaced the Nativity play with Little Red Riding Hood, while another replaced the word "Jesus" in carols with "virtue". The Mayor of Sydney caused outrage by reducing the city's Christmas decorations to a single secular illuminated tree with the sign "Season's greetings". The US now has a national "holiday tree" and schools take " winter holidays". Christianity has gone back to its origins, and become the world's most widely persecuted religion, finally prompting the Vatican to hit back with a campaign against "Christianophobia".

So who are the modern-day Scrooges, Grinches, Cromwells and Castros, and what motivates them? In most cases, the Chistophobes use the excuse of multiculturalism, insisting that celebrating Christmas is offensive to non-Christian minorities, often citing Muslims. But the truth is that it is done in the name of Muslims, rather than at the request of Muslims, who accept the existence of Christ. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists don't mind Christmas celebrations any more than Christians object to Diwali, Eid or Chanukkah. As Trevor Phillips, the Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, said: "It's not offensive to minority communities to celebrate the festival of Christmas."

No, the real Christophobes are the self-loathing, guilt-ridden politically-correct liberal elite, driven by anti-Christian bigotry and a ruthless determination to destroy their own heritage and replace it with "the other". It is the American Civil Liberties Union that is threatening lawsuits against any schools that allow the singing of carols and the BBC's editorial policy bans criticism of the Koran, but not the Bible.

In reality, the Christophobes are acting against the interests of ethnic minorities. By stripping Britain of its culture and traditions, they are causing a dangerous rising tide of anger. It prevents social cohesion and integration - who could want to integrate into a culture that is committing suicide?

So do your bit for community relations. Don't let Scrooge and the Grinch win. Like the English under Cromwell, protest if you spot any Christophobes waging war on Christmas, sing a Christmas carol, and wish your neighbours "Merry Christmas!"

More here


For US columnists, the end-of-year column bemoaning the fanatical efforts to expunge all Christmas traditions from public life has become an annual Christmas tradition in itself. This year, there's no shortage of contenders for silliest Santa suit. In one New Jersey school district, the annual trip to see Dickens's A Christmas Carol has been cancelled after threats of legal action. At another New Jersey school, the policy on not singing any songs mentioning God, Christ, angels, etc, has been expanded to prohibit instrumental performances of music that would mention God if any singers were around to sing the words. So you can't do Silent Night as a piano solo or Handel's Messiah even if you junk the hallelujahs. But let's not obsess on New Jersey's litigious secularists. In Plano, Texas, in the heart of God-fearin' Bush country, parents were instructed not to bring red and green plates and napkins for the school's "winter" parties, as red and green are colours with strong Christmas connotations and thus culturally oppressive. In Massachusetts, in the heart of Bush-fearin' country, the mayor of Somerville issued an apology for accidentally referring to the town "holiday party" as a C-------- party.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph long ago got the heave-ho from the schoolhouse, but the great secular trinity of Santa, Rudolph and Frosty aren't faring much better. Frosty The Snowman and Jingle Bells are offensive to those of a non-Frosty or non-jingly persuasion: they're code for traditional notions of Christmas. The basic rule of thumb is: anything you enjoy singing will probably get you sued. At my little girl's school, the holiday concert is a melange of multicultural dirges that are parcelled out entirely randomly: she seems to have got stuck with the H's - last year she wound up with a Hannukah song, this year she's landed some Hispanic thing; next year, no doubt, a traditional Hutu disembowelling chant. It would be offensive to inflict Deck the Halls or God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen on any hypothetical Hutu in attendance, but it's not offensive to inflict hot Hutu hits on bewildered moppets.

Philip Roth famously observed that, with Easter Parade and White Christmas, Irving Berlin had taken the two holidays that celebrate the divinity of Christ and "de-Christed" them both, turning Easter "into a fashion show and Christmas into a holiday about snow". But Berlin found an angle on Christmas that anyone can get into. The new school of "de-Christers" seems to deny the possibility of any common culture, so that the holiday concert winds up a celebration of hermetically sealed cultural ghettos.

And yet this year I'm disinclined to join in the general bemoaning. Flipping the dial on my car radio, I notice more stations than ever have been playing non-stop 24-hour "holiday music" for the month before C-day - not just Winter Wonderland and Jingle Bell Rock but Bing and Frank doing Go Tell it on the Mountain and Andy Williams singing O Holy Night. And not just the old guys, but all the current fellows, especially the country singers: Garth Brooks's new album - The Magic of Christmas - includes Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! but also Baby Jesus is Born and O Little Town of Bethlehem.

The seasonally litigious rest their fanatical devotion to the deChristification of Christmas on the separation of church and state. America's founders were opposed to the "establishment" of religion, whose meaning is clear enough to any Englishman: the new republic did not want President Washington serving simultaneously as Supreme Governor of the Church of America, or the Bishop of Virginia sitting in the US Senate. Two centuries on, these possibilities are so remote that the "separation" of church and state has dwindled down to threats of legal action over red-and-green party napkins.

But every time some sensitive flower pulls off a legal victory over the school board, who really wins? For the answer to that, look no further than last month's election results. Forty years of effort by the American Civil Liberties Union to eliminate God from the public square have led to a resurgent, evangelical and politicised Christianity in America. By "politicised", I don't mean that anyone who feels his kid should be allowed to sing Silent Night if he wants to is perforce a Republican, but only that year in, year out it becomes harder for such folks to support a secular Democratic Party closely allied with the anti-Christmas militants. American liberals need to rethink their priorities: what's more important? Winning a victory over the kindergarten teacher's holiday concert, or winning back Congress and the White House?


Thursday, December 23, 2004


One of today's most obvious misleading number games is grade inflation. Teachers have accommodated student desires for higher grades to the point that the median GPA of graduating seniors has risen about a full grade point since 1965, when it was about 2.2. At some elite schools, almost everyone gets As and Bs today, and who is valedictorian has become how many 4.0 students will share that title.

High schools have gone even further, making it possible to get better than a 4.0. Many make advanced placement or community college courses worth an extra grade point. These and other policies (e.g., statewide comparisons crafted to show that, as in Lake Woebegon, all children are above normal) have, however, thrown away much of the useful information grades once contained.

Price inflation is another form of ego-building by manipulating comparison numbers. If I want to brag that I make more than my father ever did, the effects of inflation can overwhelm every other difference and make it so. On the other hand, older Americans use it to prove how much better things used to be ("I remember when bread was a nickel ...").

Competitive inflation also occurs in other dimensions. We regularly cheat on the new in "new and improved." Books and new car models come out well before the year starts (you can already buy used 2005 cars). Magazines arrive with dates two weeks into the future.

Statistics and percentages are subject to the same abuse. "Giving it 100 percent" was once going all out, but that has been replaced with giving it 150 percent, 200 percent and even 1 thousand percent. I'm 1 million percent sure there is something wrong with this inflated hyperbole. Similarly, statistics are routinely manipulated to make insignificant changes look significant. Instead of saying some drug increases the probability of some cancer from 0.00001 to 0.00002, reports scream that it doubles your risk.

We cheat on clothing sizes. Adults want to feel thinner, so what was a given size dress years ago is now a smaller size. Parents, however, want their children to be "ahead of the curve," so some companies cut infant sizes smaller, so everybody can have children that are ahead of their peers.

Everywhere you turn, people "cheat" to make today's results look better than yesterday's. This is particularly true in competitive sports, where we often judge quality by numbers (e.g., baseball statistics). We have changed rules to favor the offense in sports, so that more points get scored. We have tuned track surfaces with steel springs to make sprinters faster and have designed more flexible poles so pole- vaulters go higher.

It is time we were honest with ourselves about our innumeracy. While we understand that better mathematics skills are important and that we would like to handle numbers more deftly, most of us are unwilling to put in the time and effort to do so. And in many cases we simply do not want to "do it right," because that would force us to trade in some of the self-delusions we want to keep for the reality we are often desperate to deny.

More here


The arrogant food know-alls are always picking on McDonalds. Why? Not because of what McDonalds sells. It sells only a slight variation on a normal Western diet of meat, bread, greens and potatoes. If meat, bread, greens and potatoes are bad for us we are all in big trouble. But our lifespans are in fact among the world's highest. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has tons more dietary "sins" (animals fats etc) than you find in the average McDonalds meal. If health were really what was at issue, it would make more sense to campaign against roast dinners. So McDonalds is targeted only because it is popular. The motivations of the campaigners are the same as the Puritans of old -- who opposed bear-baiting not because it hurt the bear but because it gave pleasure to the spectatiors. There are plenty of people-haters and would-be dictators around still

The Pizza Hut is shuttered, its neon sign collecting dust on the floor. But knocking down the Golden Arches has proved far more difficult for Toby Cosgrove, the new head of the Cleveland Clinic. A heart surgeon who has cleaned out a career's worth of clogged arteries, Cosgrove didn't think Big Macs, supersize fries and inch-thick, six-cheese pizzas belonged in the lobby of a hospital renowned for its cardiac care. So he decreed the fast-food joints had to go. Pizza Hut went quietly. But McDonald's, halfway through a 20-year lease, has refused to shut down a franchise that serves 12,000 doctors, nurses, janitors, secretaries, patients and visitors each week. "Our menu is something we're all proud of," said Marty Ranft, a McDonald's vice president. "We've got a great relationship with the Cleveland Clinic. We are not interested in closing" the restaurant.

In the struggle against obesity, Americans are losing. And among the favorite targets for blame are fast-food chains such as McDonald's. Studies show that consuming large portions of high-fat, salty, sugar-laden foods has helped create a nation in which 64 percent of people are overweight or obese. They often land here at the Cleveland Clinic seeking treatment for diabetes, strokes, heart failure and crippling joint pain. "We have to set an example with the food we serve our patients and employees," said Cosgrove, a trim 63-year-old. "In a way, McDonald's was symbolic as much as anything else. It is not associated with heart-healthy food; neither is Pizza Hut."

But Cosgrove's crusade has been met with resistance from not just McDonald's executives, who say they are being singled out for a problem that goes beyond the occasional Happy Meal, but also from staff and visitors who resent what they consider to be a paternalistic attitude from bosses who can afford pricier, more healthful food. "What they have in the cafeteria is not a lot better, and it's certainly not affordable," said Donna Wilkison, a post-operative nurse waiting in line for her McDonald's salad with chicken. The cafeteria salad bar, priced at $4.64 a pound, "gets very expensive. They need to bring in something else that's more affordable."

On its sprawling urban campus, the clinic has a Subway sandwich shop, Au Bon Pain and Starbucks. Adjacent to the McDonald's is a cafeteria that features a large salad bar, a grill, a deli and hot entrees. The choices range include fresh fruit and homemade mashed potatoes. At Subway, salads begin at $3.99 and subs are about $5. McDonald's salads cost $4.10.

More here


Trumped-up excuses to avoid exposure of indoctrination sessions

Two parents who objected to a Massachusetts high school's homosexual-awareness day were expelled from the campus after a mother began videotaping a session. Brian Camenker, an activist who has a son at Newton North High School in Newtonville, Mass., and Kim Cariani, mother of two students, said four police officers and the school principal warned they would be charged with trespassing if they didn't leave the campus Wednesday. A distraught Cariani told the Boston Herald she believes the school's "To BGLAD: Transgender, Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Awareness Day" has no place in the curriculum. "It's against my religion," she said. "It's morally wrong and forced in a child's face." Camenker said the event, with assemblies and workshops such as "Out at the Old Ballgame'' and "Color Me Queer," was intended to make students feel good about homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism. "This is so incredibly objectionable," he said, according to Concerned Women for America. "The parents are so outraged that this is being pushed on their kids that they don't know what to do. To use children's minds this way without even letting the parents know is horrible."

As WorldNetDaily reported, Camenker's Article 8 Alliance is a pro-family Massachusetts group seeking to unseat the four Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court justices for the Nov. 18, 2003, decision that led to legalization of same-sex "marriage."

The school did not send home a note to parents about the event, a Newton North spokeswoman acknowleged to CWA's Culture & Family Institute. But she said the event is listed on the school's website and in calendars at the beginning of the year, and some e-mails were sent out. While the event was not mandatory, she said, "Classes are scheduled to attend various workshops, but if students are uncomfortable or their parents are uncomfortable, the students can instead go to the library."

Camenker and Cariani, who kept her two children home that day, were in the audience when adults on a panel discussed being homosexual. The video recording began when one man told students he was attracted to his sister's husband. The principal demanded Cariani turn over the videotape or leave, Camenker told the Herald. District policy prohibits taping or photographing students without parental permission. "They took the two of us and pulled us out and gave us one minute to leave and if we came back on the property we would be arrested for trespassing," Camenker said. A local newspaper columnist, Tom Mountain of the Newton Tab, also was barred from the assembly "for the safety and security of the children."

Camenker told CWA he sent a copy of the event schedule to the school superintendent and all eight school board members prior to the event, advising them that parents would be at school that day monitoring activities. At a "gay day" two years ago, Camenker said, a 20-year-old male wearing a dress spoke to students, telling them he was taking female hormones but hadn't yet had his penis cut off ....

Camenker's Article 8 Alliance supports a Parents Rights Bill in the new Massachusetts Legislature that would change attendance rules to make sex-related programs and courses "opt-in" instead of "opt-out" and would include all school programs and activities.

Massachusetts taxpayers pay about $1.5 million annually for a Gay and Lesbian Youth Commission that aggressively promotes homosexuality in public schools and helps schools create "Gay/Straight Alliances," student clubs that press for acceptance of homosexuality. The school's website notice about "To BGLAD" includes the long-discredited "fact" that one in 10 students is homosexual, CWA says. Most researchers place the population at only about 1 percent.

More here

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Longtime holiday pianist silenced by Midway rules: "By performing Christmas tunes on a piano, Phyllis Silhan can get an airport concourse to break into song or provide comfort to a grieving traveler. Not this year. After 22 years as the piano lady of Midway Airport, Silhan -- a woman once called Chicago's best ambassador by Mayor Daley -- is no longer playing at the airport. Faced with more restrictions by the city -- including a new rule that she could no longer place a tip jar on the piano to collect money for charity -- Silhan decided enough was enough."


There is something unique about diabetes: it is an incurable illness that can be controlled. It is a medical success story - perhaps one of the greatest of the twentieth century - that is now being treated as a modern plague, an out-of-control epidemic. For the very reason that diabetics no longer face certain death, it is one potentially fatal disease that public health campaigners, health journalists and anybody else can comment on with impunity. With a clear conscience, every health guru can take a good kick at the unhealthy, King Size Mars bars guzzling masses who are apparently asking for the wrath of diabetes to be visited upon them.

A thinly disguised paternalistic condemnation of underclass fat munchers breaks out when the 'diabetes crisis' is publicly discussed. Ulster Unionist assembly member Billy Armstrong was in tub-thumping form when he declared 'the diabetes epidemic must be addressed!' and, citing concern about economic strain on the NHS, Billy issued dire warnings about the cost that diabetic slobs could inflict on society: 'If the diabetes epidemic continues to rise, the losers will not simply be those who suffer the condition. All of us could be directly affected. Each of us [has] an obligation to encourage people to practise healthy living, both in dietary form and in physical exercise. If we do not, the prospects are too terrible to contemplate.'

Diabetes UK, a charity that has done much to support diabetics and their families, is not immune to the 'brought it on themselves' point of view. Diabetes UK national manager Delia Henry said: 'We also know that because of lifestyle changes, people being overweight and not having as much activity in their life as they should have, that can be a trigger for diabetes. The combinations are not good for the future and we know that the number of people with diabetes will double.' (2) A recent advert for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation reads 'Juvenile diabetes strikes our children at random. Let's strike back' (3). I'm all for striking back, but the first part of this well-meaning declaration is a serious misrepresentation of scientific fact.

Diabetes is not random, and juvenile diabetes is the least random of all. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is early onset, and there is a considerable body of scientific research that shows a strong genetic predisposition to developing this sort of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is late onset, and is thought to be associated with obesity in some cases.

At the heart of current representations of diabetes is a medical profession that has lost a sense of its duty to cure rather than chastise. When the medical profession turns to prevention instead of cure, the disease becomes fetishised around individual behaviour and experience rather than an understanding of the disease itself. The disease comes to define the person rather than being a physical obstacle to be overcome.

Even if there is a link between obesity and some forms of diabetes, shouldn't we focus on cure rather than lecturing people about their lifestyle? Prevention is not better than cure: it is more often than not a copout.

There are many dedicated medical researchers and doctors determined to find a once-and-for-all cure for diabetes. The turning away from cure is something that has happened within a society that no longer believes in progress and in our ability to defy the odds with which we are born.

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Among the most foolish ideas to emanate from the foolish '60s is that what you feel in your heart is more important than what you publicly express. According to this thinking, to cite one example, patriotism is a feeling, not a flag displayed on national holidays. On the contrary, such displays are derided as "flag waving," which has been rendered a pejorative term. We have lost an appreciation for the monumental significance of public ritual in maintaining our national identity and values. We have also greatly overstated the ability of feelings to be maintained without public expression of those feelings.

Additional examples make this point clear. Ask your wife if she would feel equally loved and appreciated if you never gave her a card or gift on her birthday, your wedding anniversary or Mother's Day. After all, if you really believe that feelings need not be manifested in any formal, ritualistic way, why bother with a card or gift on her birthday? Presumably you love her just as much on that day as any other, so why engage in card waving?

The reason is that for the vast majority of people, their birthday is a significant day, and its significance should be publicly manifested and even celebrated, not just internally felt. "Honey, there's no card, no dinner out, no party and no gift, because I don't believe in those things. I love you in my heart" -- that doesn't work. Nor does, "I love my country, so any public manifestation or celebration of that love is pointless." So many Americans are tone-deaf to patriotism as anything more than public dissent, or affirmation of the Constitution, or personal feeling. Yet, Americans have died for the flag, and members of Congress had tears in their eyes (as I had in mine) when Republican and Democrat alike sang "God Bless America" after 9-11.

That is why many of us want the Pledge of Allegiance with the words "under God" said in schools every day. The argument that anyone can do all the God-talk they want at home or at church is no more convincing than the argument that anyone can sing the national anthem at home, so why have people do it at baseball games? Public expressions of societal values are crucial to keeping those values alive. An America without its flag displayed on national holidays is an America that has lost its sense of self. I am not arguing that displaying the flag guarantees patriotism, only that (a) it is an indispensable aid to its survival, and that (b) never displaying the flag will eventually kill patriotism.

Which brings me to Christmas decorations. A Christian can feel deeply religious and personally celebrate Christmas with great fervor without hanging one light bulb in front of his home. But society suffers from such a self-directed faith. It will be a very sad day in America if Christmas decorations are entirely absent. I am a religious Jew who deeply bemoans the absence of Christmas decorations (or menorahs in windows) in large parts of my city, Los Angeles. My city and I are the poorer for it.

Life is greatly enhanced for Americans of all faiths by people who take the time and pay the expense to put up Christmas displays. Do some people put up displays so lavish that the purpose is partly to outdo their neighbor? Probably. But so what? The rest of us benefit from such competitions. So here's the bottom line: If you celebrate Christmas and you put up no public display, please reconsider. It is one way you can immediately have a positive impact on our society. But if you won't, at least consider this -- send a thank-you note or some other token of appreciation to your neighbor who does put up a display. They are doing a major public service.

From Dennis Prager

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Headteachers in some inner city schools have had to introduce initiatives to stop tearaway pupils from bringing knives, knuckle-dusters and other weapons into the classroom. But a school on the edge of the Cotswolds has felt the need to go a little further, ordering students not to wear tinsel at a Christmas party for fear they could be throttled. It has become customary for some pupils of Chipping Sodbury school in Gloucestershire to wear tinsel around their necks at a "mufti" party which they are allowed to attend out of uniform. To the bemusement of parents and children, the school banned pupils from wearing tinsel this Christmas, citing "health and safety reasons".

The deputy headteacher, Mel Jeffries, said: "We want all our children to enjoy Christmas and have a good time, but at the same time making sure there are no accidents to spoil it. If tinsel is worn loosely around the neck it can be pulled tight and we don't want anything like that." One mystified parent, Julie Brown, said: "It's only tinsel - I haven't heard of anyone getting hurt by it." Her eldest daughter, Michelle, 17, has just left the school - having survived years of wearing tinsel on the last day of term. "She always went on the last day of term with some tinsel in her hair and it was never a problem," said Mrs Brown, 42, who has two other children still at the school. Another parent said: "How can the school ban tinsel but allow ties? Surely ties are more likely to cause injury to pupils?"

More here


From Jeff Jacoby

My one-year-old hasn't built up much of a vocabulary yet -- "wow" and "hey" and "oh" are about the only words he's mastered. But they were all he needed the other night as we drove through Boston's Mission Hill section, gazing at the lavish Christmas displays lighting up so many front yards. On one block we saw Santas and reindeer and a giant polar bear ("Wow!"); on the next there was a beautiful nativity scene and dazzling lights made to look like fireworks ("Hey!"). Rooftops were trimmed with icicle lights, trees pulsed with color, and streets normally bland and unremarkable were lovely in their holiday glow.

I enjoy Christmas decorations -- and Christmas music, and the upbeat Christmastime mood -- and I say that as a practicing Jew for whom Dec. 25 has no theological significance at all. I have never celebrated Christmas, but I like seeing my Christian neighbors celebrate it. I like living in a society that makes a big deal out of religious holidays. Far from feeling threatened when the sights and sounds of Christmas surround me each December, I find them reassuring. They reaffirm the importance of the Judeo-Christian culture that has made America so exceptional -- and such a safe and tolerant haven for a religious minority like mine.

Unfortunately, it isn't only nativity scenes and Santas that make an appearance every Christmas. The holiday season also heralds the annual return of Scrooge and the Grinch. Or, as they're known in Bellevue, Wash., these days, Sidney and Jennifer Stock.

The Stocks are atheists who want Bellevue's city council to remove the Christmas tree from the lobby of City Hall. Since "it is impossible for everybody's religious belief to be displayed and non-religious belief to be displayed," Sidney Stock told reporters last week, "no religious beliefs [should] be displayed."

Never mind that Christmas trees themselves have no religious significance. In Bellevue, as it happens, they don't even call it a Christmas tree. They call it a "giving tree," because its purpose is to stimulate gifts to the poor. In addition to tinsel and gold ribbon, the tree is hung with requests from needy families, and passersby are encouraged to help the less fortunate by making a donation. According to KOMO-TV in Seattle, the giving tree generates nearly $25,000 in contributions.

Most Americans, whatever their faith, would regard Bellevue's tree as a beautiful demonstration of true Christmas spirit. But to the Stocks, its presence on city property is a matter of "injustice and inequality." That is the voice of anti-religious fanaticism -- what Rabbi Daniel Lapin, the Orthodox Jewish founder of Toward Tradition, calls "secular fundamentalism."

Every year these fundamentalists renew their assault on Christmas and its Christian meaning. Sometimes they claim the Constitution bars any expression of religion in government venues (it doesn't). Or they speak of "sensitivity" to those of other faiths. Or they couch their censorship in the language of "tolerance" and "diversity." Or they simply oppose any reference to Christmas at all. One way or another they end up demanding that America's vast Christian majority keep its religious feelings to itself. It's an outrageous demand, and it leads to outrageous results:

(*) In Maplewood and South Orange, N.J., the school board has banned all Christmas carols, even instrumentals, from holiday concerts.

(*) In Denver, the city's annual Parade of Lights included German folk dancers, a gay and lesbian Indian group, and belly dancers -- but a Christian-themed float was banned because it would have included a message reading "Merry Christmas."

(*) In Southwest Florida, the rule against celebrating holidays is so rigid that one middle school principal told the Sarasota Herald Tribune: "You won't see any Christmas trees around here. We keep it generic."

(*) In New York City, official school board policy authorizes displays of "Christmas trees, menorahs, and the [Muslim] star and crescent" -- which it describes as "secular holiday symbol decorations" -- but prohibits depictions of the nativity.

(*) In Franklin, Mich., the annual Holly Day celebration has been renamed the Franklin Winter Festival. "Holly Day," the sponsors decided, sounded too Christmassy. "We wanted to try to make it more inclusive."

But there is nothing inclusive about silencing the 90 percent of Americans who celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christians, after all, have freedom of religion, too -- and that freedom shelters my faith no less than it does theirs. Christmas is a blessing for all Americans. May yours be filled with joy.


Compulsory religious studies would be dropped in favour of lessons on human society and the environment under a plan being considered by school authorities. But Jewish and Christian groups warned yesterday that ending mandatory teaching of religion to primary school students would increase intolerance and division. The NSW Board of Studies is considering changes to the syllabus for kindergarten through to Year 6 that reduce the number of mandatory subjects. Teachers would have more time to focus on helping students with literacy and numeracy as well as greater flexibility to develop their lessons, says a consultation paper released by the board. The paper suggests teaching students about the customs, practices, symbols, languages and traditions of their family and community as part of a mandatory subject called human society and its environment. But mention of religion has been dropped.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said yesterday he was very concerned about the proposed changes, which would apply to all primary school students. Religious schools in NSW teach religion as a separate subject. In most other states, teaching a basic understanding of religions and cultural diversity is part of the curriculum. "We live in a multicultural society and it is critical that people, especially from a young age, are not only familiar with the differences in our society but are comfortable with these differences," said Mr Alhadeff, whose board has written a submission for the board of studies. "And the best way to achieve that is in a classroom where there is nothing exceptional about it being taught."

Other community leaders said they were concerned that as a result of the changes, religious schools would be able to teach their own religion but would have no obligation to mention the existence of others. "With so many conflicts in the world at the moment based on religion, this seems extraordinary," one said. Christian Schools Australia said it also had concerns about the plan, although a spokesman said its schools taught students about the existence of all religions, not just Christianity. "To not discuss openly and fully the background of the Australian community is both un-Australian and potentially divisive," said CSA chief executive Stephen O'Doherty. "I think it works against the interests of the public schools and works against the interests of tolerance and respect for each other."

More here

Monday, December 20, 2004


But you can say anything you like about Christianity

An evangelical Christian ministry has been found to have vilified Islam during a seminar and in a newsletter which mocked the religion. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) today blasted the Catch the Fire Ministries, its pastor Danny Nalliah, and speaker Daniel Scot over the March 2002 seminar in Melbourne and several articles in the church's newsletter. In a decision handed down today in a key test of Victoria's three-year-old racial and religious vilification laws, Judge Michael Higgins found in favour of the Islamic Council of Victoria, which took the action against Catch The Fire.

Judge Higgins found that Catch the Fire and Pastor Scot had breached section eight of the Religious and Racial Tolerance Act. Also found in breach was church leader Pastor Nalliah, who was an unsuccessful senate candidate for the Family First party in this year's federal election. Judge Higgins will decide on penalties, which could include orders for an apology or damages, early next year. Judge Higgins said the seminar run by the ministry, a newsletter on its website, and a website article written by an author identified as Richard all breached the Act.

In a summary of reasons for his decision, Judge Higgins said Pastor Scot had throughout the seminar made fun of Muslim beliefs and conduct. "It was done, not in the context of a serious discussion of Muslims' religious beliefs," Judge Higgins said. "It was presented in a way which is essentially hostile, demeaning and derogatory of all Muslim people, their God, Allah, the prophet Mohammed and in general Muslim religious beliefs and practices." Judge Higgins said that, during the seminar, Pastor Scot had claimed that the Koran promoted violence, killing and looting and that Muslims were liars and demons. Pastor Scot also had said Muslims had a plan to overrun western democracy by violence and terror and wanted to turn Australia into an Islamic nation, and he exaggerated Muslim population numbers in Australia. "I find that Pastor Scot's conduct was not engaged in reasonably and in good faith for any genuine religious purpose or any purpose that is in the public interest," he said. Judge Higgins said an article in the church's newsletter, written by Pastor Nalliah, incited fear and hatred of Muslims, as did a third article by a person identified as Richard, which claimed it was not possible to separate Islam from terrorism.

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In February we noted that a kerfuffle had erupted at the University of Oregon over a production of "The Vagina Monologues," with protesters objecting to the lack of "diversity" in the show. We're pleased to report that hilarity has ensued as a result of the efforts to head off problems in this year's performance. The result, as recounted in the Daily Emerald, a student newspaper, is a perfect story of political correctness:

* The producers will not hold auditions. Last year, says "Women's Center spokeswoman" Stefanie Loh, "the fact that they had auditions means that some people are automatically excluded." Instead, the "Women's and Gender Studies Program" will nominate potential cast members.

* Producer Nicole Pete says that last year, "the queer community, the women of color community and the plus-size community did not feel represented," and she plans to remedy this by selecting performers who are " 'not necessarily drama-oriented' in favor of 'people who work (toward) 'The Vagina Monologues' mission of ending violence against women."

* "All parts in the script calling for women of color will be played by women of color," reports the Emerald. Says Pete: "That was one of the big concerns last year was that a white woman portrayed a woman of color." Presumably it will be all right for a woman of color to portray a woman of pallor.

* There's one big problem, however: "It will be more difficult to ensure that women who identify with the queer community participate in the production. 'That's where it gets kind of tricky,' Pete said. 'I don't think we can legally ask anyone what their sexual orientation is.' Instead, the producers will inform a potential actor that a particular part is a 'queer role' and ask, 'Do you feel that this represents you?' "

This whole story is wonderfully rich, but our favorite part is the bit about "the plus-size community," a euphemism for fat women. Will anorexics now demand to be called "the minus-size community"?

Post lifted from Taranto. The original of the story is here.


In August 1998, Storey placed a Confederate flag sticker on his lunch box and put two Confederate flag bumper stickers on his pickup truck. One bumper sticker included the slogan, "The South Was Right," and the other proclaimed, "Heritage not Hate."

In 2001, supervisors at Burns told Storey that the company was about to implement a "diversified hiring program," and that Storey would have to remove his Confederate flag stickers. When Storey refused, they explained that Sony and Burns had a "zero tolerance" policy with respect to the display of Confederate symbols, according to court papers.

Top managers tried to persuade Storey to remove or cover his stickers because other employees might be offended by them, but Storey refused, saying that, as a Christian, he was offended by things that occurred at work -- such as the use of profanity -- but that he accepted it as something he had to deal with, according to court papers.

The next day, Storey was told that the company had concluded that he had voluntarily resigned

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