Wednesday, August 31, 2005


The site for Tongue-Tied has been down (unavailable) for a lot of the last 24 hours so I am putting up below the posts that you would be reading there if the site were available. Apparently the site that hosts Tongue Tied also hosts a lot of other conservative blogs so often comes under attack from Leftist hackers who manage to shut it down from time to time. So bookmark this site as an alternative for when that happens.

"Grandma" and "Grandpa"

I thought readers might like to know that I have had heaps of emails from people who are PROUD to be called "Grandma" and "Grandpa"!

I any case, how people address one-another within the family is surely a personal matter that busybodies should keep their noses out of.

If people want their family to address them in some particular way, I am sure they would be capable of letting that be known. But getting your family to do what you want them to do is another matter entirely of course!

"Mullah" and "sheik" now incorrect?

It seems so. A bank went into a frenzy when one of their senior experts used those terms. Excerpt:

"Mr. Rubin is chief economist for the World Markets division of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Every month he issues a research report on world trends that is aimed at the bank's sophisticated investing clients. Monthly Indicators, as it's called, is distributed to a few thousand select readers, and is posted on the bank's website.... The offending passage appeared last April 5, in a report predicting that oil prices would keep rising: "The first two oil shocks were transitory, as political events encouraged oil producers to seize full sovereignty over their resources and temporarily restrict supply," Mr. Rubin wrote. "This time around there won't be any tap that some appeased mullah or sheik can suddenly turn back on."

A few days later, the bank received a letter from CAIR-CAN. The organization keeps a close watch on the media, as well as on government agencies, businesses, universities and other institutions, for signs of bias against Muslims. It says it received several calls complaining about the passage in Monthly Indicators. "We are gravely concerned that Mr. Rubin is promoting stereotyp-ing of Muslims and Arabs in a CIBC publication," executive director Riad Saloojee wrote in a letter to the bank. "We request that Mr. Rubin and CIBC World Markets issue a letter of apology and undergo sensitization training regarding Muslims and Arabs."


I guess the correct phrase would have been something like: "some rightfully offended Muslim gentleman" instead of "some appeased mullah or sheik". A pity that a lot of rulers over that way do seem to be mullahs or sheiks, though. And if everybody is not bending over backwards to appease them, then I for one don't have a clue what appeasement would look like. And the bank concerned seems to be a prime example of such appeasement. Anybody with guts would have defended their employee as telling the plain truth.

Confederate Memories Expose Sham Tolerance

Leftists never cease to preach the wonders of tolerance and diversity. But it is all a sham. They want uniformity, not diversity. Just listen to how much tolerance was extended to the diversity shown in the household described below:

""Mizzerable", in Texas, invited two African-Americans over for a dinner party. "On a tour of my home, I thought nothing of taking them to my study/library upstairs. Along with many other things, I have displayed on my wall three flags - the U.S. flag, the Texas flag and the Confederate flag. My medic friend gasped and asked why I had a rebel flag. I replied that it was a part of my heritage and I was proud of that. The pained look on her face reminded me of someone who had been fatally wounded. To her credit, she let me explain that I had two Confederate officers (in my family) who had died fighting for what they believed in. "I don't believe that the reason for the Civil War was primarily slavery. I have researched my genealogy and can find no evidence they had slaves of any race. Never mind all that - my friend was offended and said she guessed she didn't really know me at all. I was deeply wounded, but did my best to understand. They left in a huff"


I am not criticizing the particular blacks above who got offended. They were just reacting the way their liberal mentors have encouraged them to react -- seeing "racism" under every bush (or Bush!). But if their liberal mentors had REALLY been teaching tolerance, such a huge historical issue as the North/South war would have been the first issue they would have turned to as an area in which to preach that tolerance, understanding and forgiveness should be practiced and old antagonisms buried or forgiven.

And forgive an ignorant Australian if I have got it all wrong but when I read the original documents (e.g. here), it seems to me that while slavery was an undoubted element in the North/South dispute, Lincoln always stressed that the war was fought to save "the Union". And slaves are not mentioned once in the Gettysburg address. Whether we think half a million dead Americans were a worthwhile price to pay for preserving and extending the power of the U.S. Federal government is an issue for Americans, not for me. I would however think that the view that the price was too high might at least be treated with respect, rather than intolerance.

In thinking about that price it may be worth reflecting that Australia managed to free its slaves (convicts) and create a lasting Federation without a drop of blood being shed. Two of my ancestors were among the convicts concerned. So my ancestors came to my country chained up in the holds of sailing ships. Hey! Where are my reparations?

Tough image for sporting team now incorrect

Once upon a time it was considered manly to be tough and not the sort of guy anybody would dare to push around. Such male virtues are now condemned, however, as we see in the excerpt below:

"A poster intended to promote a suburban high school football team has landed the "Battlin' Bulldogs" in the doghouse.Players posed with knives, sledge-hammers and axes. It was meant to intimidate opponents but angered some parents instead. Although the poster may have been laughed at decades ago, recent incidents of school violence have forced the team to punt the poster.In Batavia, there are high school traditions, such as the annual corn boil and the football team's rough and tumble calendar photo.In the past, the Bulldogs have been pictured with a tank and "a big snow plow - plowing the competition," said Quarterback Ben Braunsky.This year's poster features the Bulldogs' offensive and defensive lines wielding a sledgehammer, a crow bar and a couple of knives. Some say this poster - the team's 21st - has crossed the line".


If they had been holding bunches of pansies, however, that would have been fine. Feminine good. Masculine bad.

Megafauna extinctions: Clarification

In my recent post under the heading: "Another "insensitive" book about American Indians", I referred in passing to the American Indians (Yes. I know they were really East Asians, not Indians, but I am NOT going to use the current politically correct term) and the usual view that it was Indian hunting which caused America's prehistoric large animals ("megafauna") to become extinct. I was NOT of course referring to the Bison, which survived the arrival of the Indians but went close to extinction because of white hunters, not Indians.

What exactly happened during prehistory will of course always be a matter of some dispute. If Fox News was not there to record it, how can we be sure what went on! But the latest scientific paper I know of on the subject is in The Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. I reproduce below the summary from it:

" After centuries of debate, paleontologists are converging towards the conclusion that human overkill caused the massive extinction of large mammals in the late Pleistocene. This paper revisits the question of megafauna extinction by incorporating economic behavior into the debate. We allow for endogenous human population growth, and labor allocation decisions involving activities such as wildlife harvesting and (proto) agriculture. We find that the role of agriculture in deciding the fate of megafauna was small. In contrast, the presence of ordinary small animals that have been overlooked in previous non-economic extinction models is likely to have been much more important.

There are however other theories such as this one

No more comments on this particular issue please (I have had heaps already) as it would take us too far off the track of what this blog is about


There is a fuller extract from the scientific paper summarized above on my Greenie Watch site.


America is always WRONG, you silly-billy!

The Great Raid is in theaters now, though it may not be for long unless movie-going America quickly realizes that there is a wonderful and inspiring film in its midst, one that celebrates courage, sacrifice and endurance, and which unabashedly proclaims that hope (plus superior firepower and tactical surprise) can conquer all. It is a movie which deserves a vast and appreciative audience.

It is 1945, and Douglas MacArthur has returned to the Philippines. More than 500 American survivors of the Bataan Death March languish at the Cabanatuan prison camp, and the Japanese plan to exterminate them, rather than allow them to survive and bear witness to Japanese war crimes. The men of America's untested 6th Army Ranger Battalion set out to save these prisoners. This exceptional movie tells the stories of the warriors who went to save the captives, the prisoners who endured unspeakable cruelty, and the Filipino resistance that came to the aid of both.

As with Saving Private Ryan, audiences have been lingering at the end of the film. There is spontaneous applause. And there are tears. The generation that fought to liberate the Philippines is passing away, but those who survive and the best of their children and grandchildren are appreciating the movie. The Great Raid has received favorable reviews from esteemed and honest critics such as Michael Medved and Roger Ebert.

But the bulk of the high-brow reviewers have rejected the movie. The New York Times's Stephen Holden represented the caucus of the dismissive when he wrote that "it is not the actors' fault that their characters fail to establish any emotional connection; they aren't given the words for the task." Holden damned the film as "a tedious World War II epic that slogs across the screen like a forced march in quicksand," and slammed it for "its scenes of torture and murder [which] unapologetically revive the uncomfortable stereotype of the Japanese soldier as a sadistic, slant-eyed fiend."

Holden isn't reviewing a movie; he's defending his own politics, as he's done before. In an October 2003 review of the documentary Fog of War about former Kennedy/Johnson administration Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Holden rebuked McNamara for serving during World War II under Gen. Curtis LeMay, thus being "part of the team that made the decision to firebomb 67 Japanese cities, killing large numbers of civilians. In Tokyo alone, more than 100,000 civilians died one night in March 1945." It is not difficult to conclude that any war movie that celebrates American resolve while neglecting to savage American hubris and American cruelty is going to fare very poorly at Mr. Holden's hands. This is the political agenda that The Great Raid is up against, and it is not limited to the New York Times and Stephen Holden. To praise The Great Raid is to praise America, and that's too much to ask of many film critics, especially in this era of the global war against terror.

More here


A common ingredient in food is bad -- but only in potatoes (the real target is McDonalds, KFC etc of course)

FAST-FOOD chains including McDonald's, Burger King and KFC are to be sued by the state of California for not warning consumers about a potentially cancer-causing agent produced when potatoes are deep fried.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind in the world and could result in health warnings on French fries, or at least on the walls of restaurants. It says that nine defendants, including H J Heinz, which makes Ore-Ida frozen chips; Procter & Gamble, which makes Pringles crisps; and Kettle Foods, creator of Kettle chips, are violating California's Proposition 65, which requires warnings when consumers are exposed to known carcinogens. "I am not telling people to stop eating potato chips and French fries," said Bill Lockyer, the California Attorney-General. "But I and all consumers should have the information we need to make informed decisions about the food we eat."

The agent is acrylamide, traces of which can also be found in breakfast cereals, breads, olives, asparagus, coffee and even prune juice. Mr Lockyer is seeking labelling only of potato products.

It was discovered in 2002 that potatoes cooked at high temperatures contained low levels of acrylamide. Some scientists have discounted its potential toxicity, but tests are being done by the Food and Drug Administration. A consumer group began lobbying California in June to take action. At the time Frito-Lay issued a statement saying that its food safety standards were "very stringent". Procter & Gamble said that researchers were still investigating issues raised by the 2002 study.


Note: Read my other political correctness posts for today on Tongue-Tied

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

MORE ON THE NEW INTOLERANT "TOLERANCE": "You must only tolerate what you're TOLD to tolerate!"

Commentary on "THE LONG TRUCE: How Toleration Made the World Safe for Power and Profit" by A.J. Conyers

The old virtues have all but disappeared. But there is one "virtue" that has risen to the top of the charts. There is one word that is heard constantly and incessantly: "tolerance". We are to tolerate everyone and everything. All points of view and all lifestyles are to be tolerated. Yet, as this revealing study makes clear, the modern notion of tolerance is far removed from what it traditionally has always meant. The recent concept of tolerance is a perversion of its former self, being the polar opposite to its original meaning.

Today we have managed to turn tolerance into a virtue or a doctrine. It used to be a practice or a habit. It used to be based on the way we treated one another. Today it is a an "ism" promoted by the state for its own ends. It used to be seen as a means to an end. Today it is treated as an end in itself. In the past, you tolerated someone, treated them with respect, even though you might violently disagree with their beliefs or their lifestyle. Today, to tolerate someone means you must also embrace their philosophy, their worldview, their lifestyle. That is a big difference. In this historical and philosophical inquiry, Conyers examines how the concept of tolerance has changed over the last few centuries.

He suggests that its redefinition emerged at the same time as the modern nation state arose. He argues that there is a connection between the rise of the centralisation of power in the modern state, and this redefinition of tolerance. The modern idea of tolerance first arose in the 17th century. Conyers argues that two parallel developments, the rise of the nation state and emergence of the isolated individual, served as a backdrop to the changing concept of tolerance.

As mediating institutions like the church and family began to wane, increasingly isolated and fragmented individuals had to be kept in check by growing state bureaucracies. Indeed, a pressing question for thinkers of this time was, how could a mass of individuals be controlled, when former social glues like religion and community were in decline?

Natural groups like the family and other associations are easily contained. But unnatural groups, like the organised state, need other means to achieve social harmony and conflict resolution. How can individuals live together in peace when natural groupings break down? The state, in order to reduce threats to its centralisation and control, had produced a concept of toleration which minimised absolutes, sought to water down religious and moral conviction, and promoted a fuzzy egalitarianism. Thus questions of ultimate meaning are settled, not by religion or morality, but by the state. The state maintains power by subsuming to itself powers formerly held by family, religion and the church.

Mediating structures between the individual and the state were seen as threats, and the philosophical understanding of tolerance changed to accommodate the centralizing powers of the state. That is why those who today argue that family does not mean any-and-all types of relationships, or those who proclaim that the Christian message is exclusive and absolutely true, are seen as such a threat by the state and its supporters. A watered-down religion, and an amorphous definition of family, are acceptable in today's climate, but an insistence on truth and absolutes is not. Thus relativism rules.

Conyers looks at how modern thinkers such as Hobbes and Locke altered our understanding of tolerance, to make it serve the interests of the rising state powers. He argues that we need to return to the earlier, Christian understanding of tolerance. That understanding was based on humility, not indifference.

Indeed, the modern attempt to disavow absolutes and certainty has made matters worse, not better. Our times are characterised by doubt, fear and distrust. The old verities and certainties have been jettisoned for a hodge-podge of multiculturalism, relativism and apathy. The modern promoters of secularism and tolerance may have won in the halls of power and influence (academia, the media, etc.), but the common person looks for something more sure. A notion of tolerance that waters down all convictions, that squashes dissent, and preaches relativism, is not going to satisfy.

The modern doctrine of toleration promotes isolation, but the practice of real toleration pushes us gently to community. Thus we need to reclaim the lost tradition of real tolerance. The modern hijacking of the concept has served the interests of those seeking economic and political power, but has not been a panacea to the struggling masses.


Australia before multiculturalism was a kind place, not a racist hell

Few Australians know that one of the "intellectual architects of multiculturalism", Jerzy Zubrzycki, said in 1996 that "the clumsy, pompous, polysyllabic noun - `multiculturalism' - adopted from the Canadians and incorrectly (my emphasis) associated in the public mind with the ethnic groups, has outlived its purpose". He said that politicians and self-serving ethnic leaders had made the policy "a metaphor for the entrenchment of minorities. We need another term to describe Australia's national goal as a country that has been immensely successful in integrating a wide number of ethnic communities into the Australian mosaic".

Indeed we do. One of the more bitter slanders that Australians have had to endure under governments which have caved in to the multicultural bigots is that they were, and are, racist and intolerant. It is the received wisdom among those too young to know any better, and those who have swallowed the propaganda of the multicultural revisionists, that Australians were a racist and intolerant people who were only educated out of such sentiments by the introduction of multiculturalism under the Whitlam government. It is a monstrous and insulting lie.

The Whitlam Government was elected in 1972 and the massive post-WW2 migration started in the late 1940s. So what was it like for Australians and for migrants in that more than twenty-year period before the word `multiculturalism' was ever heard of?

When the migrants first arrived, most of them couldn't speak a word of English. It's true that their arrival caused some suspicion and resentment among Australians, particularly working class men. For a start, the migrants looked very different to the Australians who were predominantly of Anglo-Celtic descent. In the main, the migrants had impossible names. The Australian men would have been brain-dead not to have had concerns. Were these strange-looking and sounding people peaceful? Were Australian men's jobs under threat? How did they know?

But as people lived together - with no government interference let alone bureaucratic bullying - the Australian tradition of the fair go ensured tolerance. The migrants belonged to the same demographic group as my parents - mostly married couples with a few young children. They were battlers. My mother would not have been alone when she said to her husband: "The poor buggers, Tom, how would you like to be in their shoes?"

Yes, the Golden Rule that abides in the human heart beats the hell out of the Office of Multicultural Affairs any day as far as establishing good relationships between people goes. Pre-Vatican II Catholicism also helped, as many of the Poles and other Baltic state migrants were Catholics. As the Latin mass was universal, there was a connection between the migrants and the local Catholics.

During those days, there were mean-spirited acts of resentment, and there were acts of great kindness. My Hungarian mother-in-law said she was humiliated by a butcher in Parkes for her poor English. In the same town, a local farmer - a total stranger - kindly paid the difference when a Polish woman was embarrassed by not having enough money for the grocery items she had selected.

Australians didn't know it then, but most Europeans celebrate Christmas on the eve rather than the day. In their first or second Christmas in Australia, our Polish neighbours insisted my parents celebrate with them. They offered vodka and such European delicacies as rollmops (pickled fish) - which my parents had never experienced. Describing the rollmops, my mother later told a sister-in-law, "Cripes, Norma, it looked like bloody snake!"

On another occasion, another migrant neighbour invited my mother and another Australian woman to her house to celebrate the birth of her Australian-born son. (While I'm sure it is not documented being very politically incorrect, many migrant couples deliberately had "one more [child] for Australia" - an act of gratitude and faith in the future). Again spirits were offered - alcohol seemed to make up for language deficiencies - and to this day my mother cannot remember how she got home. That woman's husband worked on Warragamba Dam, and he took our family on a tour of it while it was under construction, leading us through tunnels deep inside the walls.

My mother minded her Polish migrant neighbours' toddler while she worked. The migrant woman was grateful that her child was learning English with my mother, and the two women were hugely amused when my brother, the same age as little Hendryk, started speaking Polish! My parents also helped their migrant neighbours with income tax and other official forms. At school the Old Australian children, greatly outnumbered by the migrants, helped New Australian children learn English.

In this way, with simple goodwill and kindness, people coped, day by day.

But these days it's de rigueur to document the hardships, intolerance and misery that migrants endured at the hand of the callous, racist Australians. So it's very interesting indeed to read a first-hand account, as opposed to the sociological deconstructions of the migration experience by tertiary twits who weren't even there.

For example, in the year of the 50th anniversary of the Bonegilla migrant camp, Sir Arvi Parbo, who arrived in Australia as a penniless 23 year old, described the camp as: "Sheer unadulterated luxury. Here in the middle of the Australian bush, was a camp that embodied all the things I craved. Food. Shelter. Warmth. Clothing. Peace. The very basics of life that people were still struggling for across Europe were available here. Nothing in abundance, mind you, just enough for everybody in sufficient quantity to get your way again. "I went from being a mine worker to owning several myself. The journey went from a quarry to the chief executive's office in 25 years. Australia let me do that and, outside America in the late 19th century, few nations on earth have ever done the same thing for humanity." ....

Multiculturalism is on the nose. The un-euphonious, un-English word itself stinks, and though it might once have had a good meaning, it's now lost all credibility. What it has come to mean is the opposite to the traditional Australian tradition of the fair go. It's time for Australians of all backgrounds to ditch multiculturalism and revert to the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated; walk a mile in another man's shoes.

If fifty years ago, blue-collar workers and Australians of the lowest social class managed to do that unaided by government, surely their social superiors might rise to the occasion and emulate them?

More -- much more -- here

Monday, August 29, 2005


Or am I misinformed when I hear that British jails too are full of blacks?

Insurance firm Lifestyle Services Group has been ordered to withdraw a leaflet featuring four black men in a police identity parade after Plymouth and District Racial Equality Council complained that it implied that black men are criminals.

The firm was promoting its identity theft insurance, which aims to protect victims of stolen or forged identity documents such as a passport or driving licence. The leaflet showed four black men in a parade with one of the men shorter than the others and a frightened look on his face. The text read: "Sometimes you might wish someone had stolen your identity." The advertisers said it had distributed three versions of the leaflet promoting its service to mobile phone insurance customers of its sister company.

Lifestyle Services Group said it had not meant to offend anyone and reassured the Advertising Standards Authority that the remaining leaflets had been destroyed. The ASA concluded that by featuring black models, the mailing was was seen to reinforce a stereotype that black men are criminals

More here


Washington: "Junk" food ban hits schools in wallet

"This fall, Ballard High School students will pay twice as much -- $50 -- for activity cards. Dances at Chief Sealth High School will cost more. And Rainier Beach High School may not have a yearbook. Call it the Coke effect. After a Seattle School Board decision last year to ban sales of soft drinks and junk food, school administrators are facing the loss of tens of thousands of dollars. That money went to each school's Associated Student Body (ASB) fund to help pay for travel to athletic games and a host of other student activities. School-district officials recently learned that the estate of an anonymous donor will help shore up some of the programs, though by how much is unclear. Meanwhile, the district has begun encouraging new fund-raising efforts over the long term."

More here

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Germany needs a serious public discussion about the east's many unsolved problems. Fifteen years after unification, the old east is as sunk as ever in economic and social depression. Crime statistics bear Schonbohm out. Around the same time that Hilschenz allegedly killed the last of her babies in Brieskow-Finkenheerd, another mother in the town left her two infants to die of thirst-unnoticed by the neighbors. In nearby Cottbus, police last year arrested a mother who'd chopped up her 6-year-old and stored him in the freezer-and for three years no one asked why he was missing. Christian Pfeiffer, a professor of criminology who's spent years studying the east-west crime divide, says infants are up to six times more likely to be killed by their parents in the ex-communist east. Other categories of violent crime that are sharply more prevalent in the east include random killings of foreigners, he says, which are three times more common per capita, even though there are far fewer foreigners in the east. According to Federal Criminal Bureau figures, 60 percent of east German cities are considered high-crime areas, versus only 15 percent in the west.

The question, of course, is why. But as happens so often in German public and political discourse, the problem itself is no longer the problem, but rather how one talks about it. Not talking about it, or debating it only indirectly for reasons of political correctness, leaves the problem to fester and grow. In east Germany, this atmosphere of political correctness mingles with the country's age-old instinct of labeling anyone who criticizes the group as a Nestbeschmutzer-one who sullies one's own nest, says Anetta Kahane, founder of the Antonio Amadeo Foundation in Berlin, which battles xenophobic violence. "East Germans will punish any political party they feel is criticizing easterners."]

The result is an "eastern taboo zone," says Stefanie Wahl of the Bonn Institute for the Economy and Society. In the new P.C., east Germans are victims, suffering the dislocations of transitioning from communism to capitalism. They thus cannot be directly criticized, especially by westerners. Beyond that, Kahane says, many easterners have eased into the rosy myth that communism was full of warmth and solidarity compared with the cold, competitive west. "That's not how I experienced communism at all," says Kahane, also an easterner. "But east Germans are going to defend that myth tooth and nail against anyone who tells them it was different."

And so debate is frozen. Just as it took west Germans decades to break the taboos inherent in their (much shorter) totalitarian past, perhaps it will be up to future generations of easterners to deal with the social and psychological legacy of a half century's dictatorship.

More here


Since Labour has come to power we have seen the fostering of a climate where any questioning of the secular left orthodoxy on sexuality, family issues and issues surrounding freedom of expression has not been tolerated. Any person who raises genuine theological objections to these things has been marginalised, ostracised, character assassinated, threatened with the deprivation of their property through legal mechanisms such as the Human Rights Act, ridiculed through state television, diagnosed with a psychological illness, etc. Some have been threatened with violence, been assaulted and had their property vandalised.

No one dares use derogatory terminology of the gay rights movement today, being accused of homophobia has become worse that being accused of racism, but our politicians and media call Christian criticism of the gay rights movement, "fundamentalist extremism," "intolerant," "bigoted" without any thought for the hypocrisy or any consideration that disagreement and criticism are a valid and important part of a free society.

The fostering of New Zealand's culture of religious intolerance has not come about by accident. It has been deliberately created as you can see by Labour's record on passing social engineering legislation, proposed hate speech laws and Helen Clark's comments on Christian opposition to the Civil Unions Bill in Express last year: "It is a very small minority point of view and I think, through continuing to set the tone of tolerance, acceptance and diversity, you just have to further marginalise such people. Hopefully one day nobody will think that way."

Make no mistake our government wants the freedoms and civil liberties of religious minorities silenced. The irony and hypocrisy are plain. For most Christians, the basic rights and liberties that human beings have are theologically grounded. In fact, the Western political tradition itself draws on religious traditions to provide a foundation for claims of equality and liberty. What ACT has done is to recognise that for many if not most Christians, an attack on those things is an attack on their very worldview.

Let us not be naive. ACT is a political party and wants to gain political support wherever it can, be it in the churches or elsewhere. However, for a secular political party to have noticed what is happening to Christians, for them to risk the fallout of breaking politically correct taboos and speaking up for us this close to the election demonstrates principles. It demonstrates the ability to recognise the rights of all people to think for themselves, to adhere to whatever non-violent religion they choose and to hold and express their views freely - not just the politically correct ones.

ACT are not a Christian party, yet they have the ability to see what has happened to the religious community and, more concerning, what will happen to us if Labour are re-elected. They are willing to speak against it and stand with us. At the very least they deserve our consideration this election as a party that will not coalesce with Labour and whose principles allow Christians to have religious freedom whether their MP's agree with their religious convictions or not. Other parties could learn something here.

Source. Note: I have a few comments about the above story on Tongue-Tied

Saturday, August 27, 2005


The feminist message of "empowering" women tends to blind them to their biological limits. Fortunately, there is now some attempt to combat that crazy message

Primary school students would be taught to start their families before they reach their mid-30s, under a radical plan being considered for Queensland schools. Fertility specialists are pushing the campaign after being confronted by widespread ignorance among middle-aged couples about the dangers of late pregnancies. Family Planning Queensland supports the proposal and Education Queensland wants to meet with IVF specialists to talk about it. Professor Gab Kovacs, medical director with Melbourne-based Monash IVF Fertility, is convinced the "cold, hard facts" need to be presented to primary school students. "It's important teachers tell girls that their fertility will decline with age," he said.

The campaign follows recent public meetings in southeast Queensland where specialists warned that the latest research showed 15 per cent of Australian couples encounter infertility. The research also shows the chance of miscarriage increased from 20 to 50 per cent by age 40 along with a greater risk of Downs syndrome. "We are the ones who are seeing the downside of couples saying, 'We didn't know. Why didn't people tell me my fertility would drop?' " Prof Kovacs said.

Gold Coast obstetrician Dr Brian Mullins, who works with Monash IVF, wants to hold sessions with Queensland students and teachers after delivering a blunt message about fertility to Melbourne students earlier this year. "I told them fertility is a changing thing, that there's a gradual change and by the age of 35 it's becoming more difficult," Dr Mullins said. "The feedback was very positive, especially the girls."

Family Planning Queensland director of education services Cecelia Gore said she supported the proposal. She said students were already taught about the declining fertility rate but the message was "not as blunt" as that proposed by the specialists. "All these things are best addressed as part of a comprehensive sexuality program rather than a one-off information session," she said.

More here

Planned Parenthood Affiliate Quietly Removes Cartoon Advocating Violence Against Pro-lifers

Christian and pro-life groups say attack is supported by tax dollars

Pro-life groups are up in arms about a Planned Parenthood cartoon that shows an abstinence educator being drowned in a trash can, pro-life picketers being shot at and blown up, a pro-life senator being boiled in oil, and another pro-life picketer being decapitated by a flying condom. The video was produced by Planned Parenthood Golden Gate in San Francisco. "It is a promotion of violence against Christians and against pro-lifers," says Jim Sedlak, executive director of American Life League's Stopp International, which exists solely to oppose Planned Parenthood. "They call on pro-lifers to tame down our rhetoric because it incites violence, and then they not only produce this video but they put it on the front page of their website," said Sedlak, whose organization was among the first to respond to the video. The link to the video was taken off the Planned Parenthood Golden Gate website Tuesday, though the url still works."

Other pro-life groups are also upset by the cartoon. "NARAL is doing ads blasting John Roberts and accusing him of promoting violence in abortion clinics, which he has not," says Pia de Solenni, director of life and women's issues at Family Research Council. "And at the same time you have Planned Parenthood clearly promoting violence against anyone that thinks differently than they do. The irony is just striking." The video's propaganda is also simply wrong, de Solenni says. "When [the main character] is talking with the senator, she says family planning will reduce social costs in the long run. And the fact is, the more we spend on family planning and the more that we've supported abortion in various forms, the more social costs have actually gone up," she says. "These do have an effect on our society and we're continuing to pay the cost."

The rise in abortion after Roe v. Wade coincides with the rise in child abuse, de Solenni says. "I think the link is pretty evident. If you devalue human life in the womb, why should it be protected at any other stage, if you won't protect it when it's most innocent and most vulnerable? De Solenni says the campaign may be subsidized by the government. "Why is Planned Parenthood receiving so much federal funding when this is the type of stuff they're promoting?" According to Planned Parenthood Golden Gate's 2004 report, it receives 53 percent of its revenue from government fees and contracts. "How does this really fulfill their objectives of providing health, which is presumably what the federal government is giving them money for?" de Solenni says. "All the federal funding is doing is giving them the ability to use private donations to do this type of smear campaign."

Planned Parenthood Golden Gate did not respond to requests for interviews, and a spokesman for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said it knew nothing about the video.



I am at the moment guest-blogging on Tongue-Tied -- while Scott Norvell is on vacation. I am still posting here but am not putting up exactly the same stuff on both blogs -- so for the moment you will have to log on to both blogs to read of the latest politically correct idiocies.

Friday, August 26, 2005


I was interviewed earlier today on a Canadian (Calgary) radio station -- which very kindly gave this blog a good plug. So if you have found your way here as a result of that interview, Welcome!

Although I blog from Australia, my focus is international so you will find heaps here about the USA, the UK and Canada, as well as Australia.


A good comment from Gordon Sawyer

Every now and then I think the politically correct characters in academia have lost their cotton pickin' minds, no matter how many PhD's they've got. The National Collegiate Athletic Association came out the other day with an edict that will ban any team carrying a native American name (that refers to American Indians for those of you who aren't up to date on politically correct speak) ,..bans them from hosting any NCAA post season tournaments or championship events. Actually, they went further than that. Listen to this: mascots or nicknames deemed to be "hostile or abusive" cannot be used on athletic uniforms or other clothing at any NCAA tournament after the first of February 2006.

If this is the same politically correct crowd that is rewriting history, you can count on it: this will not stop with just the "Seminoles" or other Indian names. Next they will declare Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets to be either hostile or abusive, or both. Can't you just hear Lewis Grizzard if he were still alive: "Hey, prof. What do we call them now; the ag school weenies and the trade school propellerheads?" Will the Gamecocks of South Carolina be changed to the settin' hens? Will the Volunteers be morphed into the draft dodgers? And if Arkansas tames its wild razorbacks, will it have to give up sooey as its favorite yell?

On second thought, maybe the politically correct gang is on to something. This new ruling should easily eliminate the "Fighting Irish" from football bowl games, and certainly the Duke Blue Devils would be banned from basketball tournaments.

Fat Cats

An interesting comment from Economist's Apprentice

Paul Krugman thinks that the government should do something about obesity. He draws a comparison to how much good the government has done by reducing smoking. Given that a hunger for fat and sugar is part of people's physiological makeup, it is likely that any strong attempt to reduce excessive eating would amount to a human rights abuse. For people with particularly strong hunger, being overweight is completely rational. There is a tradeoff between quality of life and longevity.

However, people have self-control problems, which raises the question "how much would people weigh, if they could commit to a certain lifestyle in advance?" If tomorrow the typical American was being shipwrecked on an island, would he want the boat full of broccoli or potato chips? It is difficult to know if there is too much obesity in America, because introspection doesn't give much guidance for what would be best for other people.

I think the way people treat their cats shed light on this. People love their cats. They have almost complete control over what their cats eat. If they think that it is best for the cat to go hungry between meals to live longer lives, they can easily impose this regime. My guess is that people make the decisions for their cats that they would make for themselves if they didn't have any self-control problems. Given the number of fat cats I've seen, the government shouldn't leave it up to Paul Krugman to decide how much people should weigh.


"Too many people might be emotionally affected by the subject matter. … It’s too controversial to be aired at this time.” So said a statement from CBS/Infinity Radio, declining to run a series of paid commercial announcements. What were these emotionally affecting and controversial spots advertising? Vivisection of puppies? The North American Man/Boy Love Association?

No, the rejected ads were to announce a conference, “The Radical Islamist Threat to World Peace and National Security,” sponsored by the People’s Truth Forum. I will be participating in this symposium on September 21 in Connecticut, along with Harvey Kushner, author of Holy War on the Home Front; Brigitte Gabriel, a former anchor for world news in the Middle East; and Laura Mansfield, a counter-terror analyst.

What is so frightening to CBS? I cannot speak for the other participants, but at the conference I intend to challenge media bias head-on by exploding the common politically correct notions that American injustice and economic inequalities are the real cause of terrorism, not any imperative derived from Islamic theology. I will show how jihad violence – in the words of terrorists themselves including Osama bin Laden – gains its impetus from core elements of Islamic theology mandating warfare against unbelievers, and call upon sincere moderate Muslims to confront and repudiate these elements of Islam. From what I know of the other speakers, I seriously doubt that they intend to sugar-coat matters or toe the line of politically correct orthodoxy. And the ads, in a quiet but unmistakable way, make that clear.

Why is this too much for CBS? The rejected ads touted the conference as revealing the motivation behind the madness of the 9/11 attacks and announced the speakers. The fact that CBS/Infinity Radio would find this in itself too controversial and emotion-arousing for the American people is just one sign of the abysmal state of public discourse about Islamic terrorism today. The forces of political correctness as well as prominent American Islamic advocacy groups seem to be doing all they can to make sure that the American people are not exposed to any serious investigation of the genuine root causes of Islamic terrorism – such as I have undertaken in my new book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).

Even speaking the truth about Islam is becoming increasingly difficult in today’s stifling politically correct atmosphere. After successfully getting radio talk show host Michael Graham suspended for his remarks about Islam, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) directed its ire toward Geoff Metcalf, Graham’s replacement. Metcalf annoyed CAIR by telling his listeners that the Qur’an allows Muslims to lie to unbelievers. Yet even as it complained about Metcalf’s statement, CAIR’s press release attacking Metcalf doesn’t say that what Metcalf said was false. Why not? Because it’s true.

Religious deception of unbelievers is indeed taught by the Qur’an itself: “Let not the believers take for friends or helpers unbelievers rather than believers. If any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah; except by way of precaution, that ye may guard yourselves from them” (Qur’an 3:28). In other words, don’t make friends with unbelievers except to “guard yourselves from them”: pretend to be their friends so that you can strengthen yourself against them. The distinguished Qur’anic commentator Ibn Kathir explains that this verse teaches that if “believers who in some areas or times fear for their safety from the disbelievers,” they may “show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly.” The Qur’an also warns Muslims that those who forsake Islam will be consigned to Hell — except those forced to do so, but who remain true Muslims inwardly (Qur’an 16:106). In other words, those who lie.

If CBS and CAIR get their way, the American people will be denied the ability to act in their interests of their own self-preservation – by being not allowed to investigate and discuss the roots of Islamic violence and terrorism. And that in turn will lead only to our increased vulnerability to new terror attacks, more virulent than any we have seen up to now. Is that what they want?"



I am at the moment guest-blogging on Tongue-Tied -- while Scott Norvell is on vacation. I am still posting here but am not putting up exactly the same stuff on both blogs -- so for the moment you will have to log on to both blogs to read of the latest politically correct idiocies.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


I am at the moment guest-blogging on Tongue-Tied -- while Scott Norvell is on vacation. I am still posting here but not perhaps quite as much as usual. I am not so far putting up the same stuff on "Tongue-Tied" and here so for the moment you will have to log on to both blogs to read of the latest politically correct idiocies.


That the maximum boat-speed on a famous Cumbrian lake has now been set at a stately 10 miles per hour may not seem like a throbbing issue in itself. And, probably, many living in metropolitan UK would instinctively conclude that such a restriction would be better for the environment, safety, peace and quiet, and so on. The fact that the Cumbria Tourist Board and local hoteliers are claiming that the new speed limit is having a ruinous effect on holiday trade has hardly made front-page news. Even if it did, one wonders whether the chattering classes would notice - or care enough to change their view.

At the Future Foundation, we are ready to lay enormous symbolic significance on to the battle of Lake Windermere. The marketing services community is slowly realising that a new culture of regulation and restraint is busily corroding consumer access to so many markets. Individuals too are facing inhibitions to modes of consumption that only a few years ago would have seemed ordinary, harmless, unquestionably fun. It is getting harder and harder to sell certain things, especially in markets with an indulgence dimension, and ever trickier to procure them.

This 'assault on pleasure' takes two interactive forms.

Firstly, public authorities - from the Lake District National Park Authority upwards - are, often driven by the best of motives, introducing more formal regulation into more aspects of our lives. The Scottish Executive is to ban smoking in public places. A health authority in Norfolk has banned a famous fast-food chain from giving free vouchers to hospitalised families. A school in Shropshire has banned pupils from bringing birthday cakes on to the premises. As you look around at common-or-garden politics today, it's not hard to find the itch-to-prohibit being noisily scratched by important people everywhere.

Secondly, there is a new strain of moral opprobrium spreading through the body social. We all have an ever-swelling inventory of things we feel we ought not to do - both because lobbies or pressure groups suggest they damage the common good and because our friends might like us less if they knew we did them. Green campaigners tell us to question whether we really ought to take long-haul flights. Health campaigners invite us not to give sweets to one another. Safety campaigners insist we drive at much lower speeds. There is a censor at every corner.

It is hard to deny that a new Puritanism is abroad. A national study run by the Future Foundation in 2005 has found that nearly half the country now thinks that the government should ban chocolate-vending machines in schools and hospitals. Around 40 per cent of us now agree that jeeps and four-wheel drive cars should not be allowed into city centres. Perhaps most eerie, is the finding that 30 per cent of us now endorse the proposition that a pregnant woman found smoking in a public place should be given a caution by a police officer.

To some, all this will seem like progress, evidence of a society with the maturity to discipline excess and to contain indulgence of all kinds. And it is not easy for anyone to argue that the environment can take care of itself or that children do not need better food or that speed is danger-free. Majorities of common-sense support can naturally form in favour of many of the new restrictions and restraints.

But it is the apparently tentacular reach of modern regulation and the sheer unchecked energy behind it that should give us pause. In five years' time, will giving sweets to children be tugging the same moral tripwires as smacking does today? Will all office Christmas parties, by diktat, be shandy-only? Will tourists for Petra or Machu Picchu be booed as they arrive at Heathrow to board their flights? Will your Friday night Bacardi Breezer come with a Department of Health beer-mat decorated with a drawing of a diseased liver? Will a new law ban angling because fish might be able to feel pain? The evidence of the past few years hardly suggests we are holding hyperbolic thoughts here.

We are not arguing that the future will bring no perfectly sensible changes to attitude and behaviour. But that might be more by luck than detached judgement. For we live today in something of a quiet chaos of political power and practical authority. In a time drained of ideological struggling where the macro-economy is well run by steady-as-she-goes technocrats, policy-makers of all kinds are in a constant search for something valuable to do. At the same time, single-issue lobbies press their claims with a moral superiority which the media - awash with disdain for the doings of the conventional political class - are generally happy to endorse. It seems arrogant to reject the principled case mounted by nutrition campaigners, anti-alcohol groups, GMO protestors and road safety lobbies. Policy-makers thus fall in line.

This universe of one-issue agit-prop has one abiding, perhaps under-noticed feature. And that is what we might call insatiable incrementalism. As restraints on behaviour are ever more formalised in the name of the common good, so lobbies have a habit of not disappearing. Indeed, even though the world, by their lights, may have been measurably improved by the success of a particular campaign, their politically monotone clamour can remain as loud as ever.

The Office of National Statistics might well tell us that between 1998 and 2004 there was 'little change in the proportions of men and women exceeding the daily benchmarks' for alcohol consumption. The World Health Organisation might well add that alcohol consumption in the UK is running at less per capita/per annum than in France, Germany or Spain and that we have less cirrhosis here than in any of those countries. But you would hardly get this impression from the websites of alcohol-anxiety movements. Alcohol abuse is a social evil, and temperate drinking should be encouraged. But can the lobby groups really cope with the possibility that things are not actually getting any worse and may even be getting a little better? Under what conceivable conditions will any such lobby simply declare their war over, pack up and go home?

The 'assault on pleasure' seems to be rooted in a myth of decline. Life is not as good as before. Social problems are multiplying and intensifying. Too much individualism and free choice - and certainly too much consumerism - are depleting our stock of spiritual resources...and so on. Versions of these pessimisms are to be found in much of the learned commentary that is offered about life in Britain now. In Richard Layard's recent Happiness - Lessons from a New Science, the distinguished economist tells us that 'despite all the efforts of governments, teachers, doctors and businessmen, human happiness has not improved' - the fault variously of competitive individualism, too much divorce, too much TV, too much secularism, and something called the 'hedonic treadmill'. Such statements are taken as superior wisdom, and they reinforce attempts to regulate, restrict and restrain.

Any one of us can reach a dispassionate view as to whether a speed limit on Lake Windermere is a good thing or a bad thing. And many good instincts are at work in all the debates we have about nutrition and drinking and smoking and hunting with dogs and global warming and children's wellbeing. But maybe we can feel too that regulatory impulses are spreading into too many crannies of our lives; that there is too much randomness and incoherence in the way certain behaviours are being stopped or discouraged; that there is in the air the unmistakeable pungency of puritanical bossiness.

A quarter of us now agree that only a limited number should be allowed to visit the Lake District each year. Just how and where and when will this overheating culture of inhibition come to a sensible close?


The Only Permissible Kind Of Hate Speech: America Bashing

The left has long made a crusade of suppressing what it likes to call "hate speech." That is any language that leftist intellectuals find to be racist, sexist or biased in any way. Unfortunately, there is one kind of hate speech that the left not tolerates but embraces, supports and promotes: speech that encourages hatred of America.

Anti-American hate speech is heard and seen everywhere these days; at peace rallies, college graduation ceremonies, the Academy Awards, college classrooms, in big budget movies, in best selling novels and non-fiction books. Major celebrities who get tainted by even a hint of racism or anti-Semitism become pariahs. Yet major celebrities who bash America, who call Americans evil and predators or such nonsense escape that kind of wrath.

In the last two months we've seen a big-budget movie, the X-Men sequel, X-2: X-Men United, aimed at youth, that portrays the U.S. military as Nazis, a distinguished author and journalist calling Americans predators in a graduation speech, and Disney bankrolling a documentary by film maker Michael Moore that blames America for the September 11th atrocity. This sort of nonsense is tolerated and celebrated in modern America.

Just imagine the reaction if a big-budget movie promoted the idea of the world Jewish conspiracy, a distinguished author and journalist talked of the racial inferiority of black people at a college graduation, or a distinguished film maker wanted to make a documentary that proved all homosexuals are child molesters. Such bigoted expressions of opinion would never be tolerated. The claims made would be false and harm innocent people.

Yet the same people are willing to tolerate and even promote anti-American hate speech: vicious attacks on America and American life that add up to nothing but shallow and shrill propaganda. Yes, as Americans we have a duty to respect the opinions of others. However, it is the duty of all thinking people to denounce genuine hate speech in whatever form it takes and whomever it targets.

It is time that the left started applying their own standards to the torrent of vicious anti-American hate speech pouring out of our news and entertainment media and academia. Perhaps then people will believe that their campaign against hate speech is genuine


Wednesday, August 24, 2005


For the next couple of weeks I will be blogging on Tongue-Tied -- while Scott Norvell is on vacation. I have a few posts already up. I will still be posting here but not perhaps quite as much as usual. I don't plan to put up the same stuff on "Tongue-Tied" and here so for the next couple of weeks you will have to log on to both blogs to read of the latest politically correct idiocies.

Ex-homosexual threatened with death

San Diego 'gay' activists call for 'suppression,' 'elimination' of Christians

A homosexual activist website in San Diego has published a threatening message directed specifically at a prominent ex-homosexual and more generally against other Christians activists. Hillquest, a homosexual-oriented business promotion company, published the anonymous threat against James Hartline, who produces an email newsletter circulated through the Christian community in San Diego, and others like him. The message was signed only by "A Concerned Community Member."

"Now is the time to come together, to reconcile our differences that we all tout and to once again march under the same banner," said the message. "The moment was never riper for the San Diego (LGBT) community to push for the elimination and suppression of the James Hartline's (sic) of the world. We currently have an openly lesbian (interim) mayor of San Diego and an openly gay mayor of Chula Vista; PEOPLE....WE are in POWER! WE are IN CHARGE!"

Hartline characterized the publication of such a letter as "one of the most shocking examples of just how hateful and venomous are the attitudes of gays and lesbians towards Christians who are standing up for traditional family values."

The Hillquest website is operated by Ann Garwood and Nancy Moors. It is not the first time the site has targeted Christian activist Hartline. The website includes a "James Hartline Watch" page to monitor the activities of the private citizen. Mike Hampson, a member of the group "Scouting For All," also makes a veiled threat against Hartline on the site - albeit, calling for lawsuits to be filed.

"It's time to take care of the source of our problem, James Hartline," writes Hampson. He called for suits to be filed against him for using the Internet to harass "the LGBT community."

Hartline, meanwhile, is asking San Diegans and others to pressure law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, to investigate the threats. "Publishing death threats on Hillquest is a prosecutable offense," he says.



Lifestyle changes don't lengthen life

It appears to be all about science. After five days of WHO-think on health prevention at the Bangkok Global Conference on Health Promotion, it would be easy to conclude that science is the foundation for everything that the World Health Organization (WHO) does on health promotion. Wherever you look there are references to the scientific basis of health promotion and how everything that is done by WHO's health promoters meets the standards of modern medicine by being "evidence-based". But the scientific basis of WHO's health promotion is about as genuine and as sturdy as a Potemkin village. It makes impressive copy in all of WHO's conference press releases and it adds a veneer of respectability to the more controversial and dangerous of WHO's plans, but in reality it has little to do with real science or with medicine that is based on the evidence of best practices. That's because genuine science is fundamentally at odds with health promotion. Or to put it slightly differently, just as health promotion is a menace to the health of the developing world so it is a menace to real science. There are two reasons for this.

The first of these is that health promotion accepts if not encourages the manipulation and misrepresentation of scientific findings about the connection between health and lifestyle. Health promotion claims that by massive interventions by the public health community and the government into the "lifestyles" of ordinary people, the major diseases of the old in affluent societies can be prevented. As Gina Kolata, writing in the NY Times (April 17, 2005) observed. "The promises are everywhere. Sure, you smoked. But you can erase all those years of abusing your lungs if you just throw away the cigarettes. Eating a lot of junk food? Change your diet, lose even 5 or 10 pounds and rid yourself of those extra risks of heart disease and diabetes." But is this in fact true? Is there a scientific basis for the basic claim of health promotion that, for example, the two leading causes of death -- cancer and heart disease -- are the products of unhealthy lifestyles and that changing these lifestyles can prevent these diseases? Or are the promises of lifestyle change based on nothing more than hype?

The answer, which many will find surprising, is that after over fifty years of international data there is not good scientific support for the claim that lifestyle changes prevent diseases or increase longevity. Take, for example, one of the most extensive and publicized efforts in health promotion of all time, the Mr Fit (Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial) which was specifically designed to establish the truth of health promotion by showing that heart disease and cancer could be reduced through reducing blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking. After sixteen years of study, the intervention groups, which had received extensive assistance with exercise, changing diet and smoking cessation, had results which were not significantly better than the group that had received none of these "health promotion" interventions. Indeed, the intervention group, despite lower rates of smoking, actually had higher rates of lung cancer. What MR Fit showed was precisely how lifestyle interventions failed to reduce mortality from multifactoral diseases like cancer and heart disease.

Nor was Mr Fit a scientific fluke. Consider the Framingham study. Begun in 1950 as a longitudinal investigation of the causes of cardiovascular disease, some 5,209 men and women aged 30-59 were followed for 30 years on the assumption that those who were thinnest would have significantly lower risks for heart disease. But in 1979 when three of the study's lead researchers published their data it was found that for men the highest risk -- that is the worst life expectancy -- was for the thinnest men; men who were 25-40% fatter than the ideal weight were living the longest. For women, mortality was elevated only for the very thin and the very fat. The recent Centers for Disease Control study on obesity and mortality produced similar results.

The reason for this lack of scientific support for lifestyle changes is to be found in the nature of the diseases about which we are speaking, and the fact that we know so little about them and how they might be connected with some particular aspect of how we live our lives. Both heart disease and cancer are multifactoral diseases, generally of old age, diseases that have multiple causes. For example, heart disease alone has over 300 risk factors that can be linked to lifestyle in thousands of possible combinations, while the etiology of cancer remains a mystery. To assume then that we can confidently tell people what life-style modifications can "prevent" cancer or heart disease is something much closer to propaganda than careful science. As Dr. Barnett Kramer of the National Institutes of Health told Kolata, people believe that if they change their lifestyle they can eliminate the damage and cheat disease because of the health promotion messages from the public health community and the government. "It is easy to overestimate based on the strength of the messages. But we're not as confident as the messages state."

At its very core, health promotion is a menace to legitimate science since it is prepared to fudge, force or fix whatever science says in order that it might serve the ends of promoting health. If you think this is too extreme a description of how health promotion views its relationship to science simply listen to Marc Lalonde, a former Canadian Minister of Health and founder of the health promotion movement, speaking about the relationship of health promotion and science. ".[T]he spirit of enquiry and scepticism, and particularly the Scientific Method. are a problem in health promotion." It's somewhat worrisome that the world's primary health organization, WHO, has embraced a health strategy for which science is a problem.

Health promotion is a menace to science in that it attempts fraudulently to use science to shut down debate about its demands for lifestyle change by claiming that its position is purely scientific and not open to any challenge on the basis of personal values or choice. Consider, for instance, the typical argument frequently advanced by WHO's health promoters against eating fast foods. The health promoter will claim that it is a scientific fact that if you stop eating fast foods you will live longer. (This is likely not true, but let's suppose it is.) Therefore you should stop eating fast foods. But this argument only works if another premise, a distinctly non-scientific premise is added, namely, IF you value living longer more than you value eating fast foods, then you should stop eating fast foods.

As soon as this premise is added the phony scientific character of health promotion is exposed for what it is -- a semantic trick that hides the value-laden and unscientific nature of the undertaking. Although it could be true that one could live longer if one eats less fast foods, it is not science that tells me that I ought to value living longer more than eating fast foods. In other words at its heart health promotion is completely unscientific: unscientific in the sense that its prescriptions are not backed by science and unscientific in the sense that they rest on the moral, not scientific premise that longevity is the prime moral virtue. This does not mean that the health promoter's injunctions about fast foods are unworthy of attention, though they probably are. It rather shows that they are not the pronouncements of science so much as someone's views about a particular way of living. This means that they must be justified like every other bit of moral philosophy about the good life through careful argument, not by spurious claims of scientific authority and the force of law.

At best then, the scientific foundations of health promotion extend only to its claims about the connection of disease and lifestyles, and these foundations, as we have seen, are highly dubious. When those in favour of getting the State involved in the lifestyle intervention business begin to speak about what to do about these claims, they cease to speak as exalted scientists and become simply moralists. And this has enormous implications for public policy that is founded on health promotion. When, for example, the health promoters at Bangkok tell us that we must all be thin, even if this involves the coercive powers of the state to "promote health", they must tell us -- and this they never do -- why a life of, say, 70 years packed full of the self-chosen pleasures of fast foods and chocolate is in some sense inferior to a life of 72.5 years without these pleasures.

This does not mean that 70 years crammed with fast foods and chocolate is necessarily better than 72.5 abstemious years. But it does suggest is that these are not scientifically mandated choices that the proponents of health promotion can make for the rest of us under the guise of "scientific decision-making" or "evidence-based medicine", so much as individual choices about the kinds of thing that we value and the sorts of life we want. Genuine science both understands and respects this. The "science" that drives WHO's Bangkok health promotion agenda does not, and because it does not it is a menace to us all.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005


For the next couple of weeks I will be blogging on Tongue-Tied -- while Scott Norvell is on vacation. I have a few posts already up. I will still be posting here but not perhaps as much as usual. I don't plan to put up the same stuff on "Tongue-Tied" and here so for the next couple of weeks you will have to log on to both blogs to read of the latest politically correct idiocies.

Warning from Australia: don't legislate against hate

An Australian Muslim says that Victoria's laws against incitement to religious hatred have sown division, and undermined freedom of speech, thought and conscience:

The attempt, for the third time, to pass laws outlawing incitement to religious hatred in the UK has, once again, drawn applause from the usual quarters. It has been welcomed by some on the left who seem to view society as so irredeemably racist that only the state can protect people from each other; and it has the support of Muslims who see the law as a weapon to wield against the miasma of Islamophobia.

However, as is often the case with government attempts at social engineering, the results will not be as expected. Indeed, if the Australian experience is any guide, these laws will undermine the very freedoms they seek to protect, and bring division to the community they seek to unite.

As an Australian Muslim who supported the introduction of such laws, I now live with their unfortunate consequences. Like his Blairite counterparts, the premier of Victoria, Steve Bracks, introduced the legislation amid promises of a new era of 'tolerance'. Two years later, it's a strange kind of tolerance when Muslims are suing Christians, witches are suing the Salvation Army, acolytes of Aleister Crowley are suing child psychologists, and faith communities are playing an obscene game of 'gotcha'.

At the heart of such laws lies the fallacious idea that the state can regulate human emotions. Hatred, we are assured, can be struck from the hearts of men with the stroke of a legislator's pen. If people can only be prevented from saying hateful things, then hatred will just dissipate. This is, of course, pure fantasy. Governments might criminalise the public expression of hateful ideas, but they cannot ban the ideas themselves.

In fact, ideas draw strength from attempts to silence them. When the state criminalises hateful ideas, it gives them legitimacy. And when religious communities sue their critics, preferring the force of the law over the force of argument, it bolsters the view that the criticisms were valid.

The only way to deal with extremism is to confront and expose the ideas that underpin it. This can only be achieved if those ideas can be expressed, and then exposed, in the public domain.

The law's advocates frequently link hateful speech to hateful conduct; implying that unless laws are passed, violence against minorities will escalate. However, most people who hate something do not graduate to violence. And were they to make the quantum leap from disliking Muslims to wanting to hurt them, then there already exist ample laws to prevent both the incitement to commit crimes, and the actual crimes themselves.

One can understand why these laws are so attractive to minorities. Nobody likes to hear nasty things said about them or their faith, but the Australian experience shows that laws of this kind cause more problems than they fix. Not least of all to the very religious groups they purport to protect.

The first major case under the Victorian legislation was brought by the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) against Catch the Fire Ministries (CTFM), a small evangelical organisation. CTFM had held a seminar in which some nasty things were said about Islam and its adherents. Some Muslims were in attendance, at the suggestion of an employee of the Equal Opportunity Commission of Victoria (the government body that polices the legislation). Understandably, they were outraged by what was said. The ICV then initiated legal action on their behalf.

For an obscure organisation with a controversial message it must have seemed too good to be true. Suddenly, CTFM had an international stage and were on the cusp of martyrdom. The ideas that had so offended the Muslims were being aired and discussed on radio, television and in print. Their audience had grown exponentially as had their importance to the public debate. Indeed, so far reaching was the interest in the case that the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs took the extraordinary step of requesting updates from the judge, so as to allow Australia's embassy in Washington to respond to correspondence from concerned American Christians. The case had transformed a couple of evangelicals into suburban Joan of Arcs being burnt on the pyre of political correctness.

The effects of the suit were felt across the community. Small teams of Christians, armed with notepads and tape recorders, began attending Islamic lectures, recording possible transgressions that might be used as evidence in the case. Islamic bookstores were mined for nuggets of intolerance. True to its promise, the law had brought Christians and Muslims together like never before.

The court case dragged on for months as the judge listened to complex theological evidence tendered by both sides. Arguments flew back and forth about the nuances of Arabic grammar, the interpretation of various verses of the Koran, the requisite qualifications for Islamic scholarship, and the relative legitimacy of different schools of Islamic jurisprudence. Nobody, it seemed, noticed the inappropriateness of a secular court, more accustomed to matters of trade practices disputes and parking fines, presiding over a case centering on contentious theological arguments.

The judge ruled in favour of the Islamic Council, finding, among other things, that the Christian pastors had mocked Islam and not discussed the religion in 'good faith'. The remedy was to order the two ministers to apologise by way of a court-defined statement on their website, the ministry newsletter, and by taking out four large advertisements in Victoria's two daily newspapers. It wasn't enough that they apologise to the individuals they offended or even the Muslim community, but rather they had to apologise to the entire society. In addition, they were ordered never to utter or publish the offending comments in public again in any Australian state or on the internet.

They refused to comply, insisting they would rather go to jail.

Recent media reports place the legal costs for this Pyrrhic victory at over $1million. With CTFM having filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, this expense will only mount. As will the emotions.

While the UK considers the passage of such laws, Australian states cannot drop the issue fast enough. After observing the Victorian experience, then Labor Premier of New South Wales, Bob Carr, promised to fight their introduction in his state. Speaking before parliament, Carr warned: 'The Victorian experience spells out how anti-religious vilification can be misused.. [These] laws can undermine the very freedom they seek to protect - freedom of thought, conscience and belief.'

He has a point. If public speech is constrained to only that which doesn't offend, then it interferes with the religious freedoms of all citizens. While the secular proponents of this law envision some sort of syncretic utopia, it is a strange religion indeed that proclaims its truth without decrying the falsehood of other faiths. For the true believer, there is nothing outside his faith except misguidance. The right to offend is therefore as intrinsic to religion as the right to evangelise.

Unlike race, a man can change his religion. It is, after all, simply a collection of deeply-held ideas about the world and how one conducts one's affairs. As a matter of choice, not nature, it does not deserve or require the same legal protections as race or gender. If our claim to pluralism means anything, it must mean a willingness to allow all ideologies - however strange or repulsive - to compete in the free market of ideas. The defective idea will be quickly rejected, with only ideas of substance remaining competitive.

Religion is an abstract concept. This causes issues in a secular state that cannot hold an opinion as to the spiritual legitimacy of a faith. A witch, for example, is therefore entitled to the same protection from vilification as a Christian or Jew. In fact, it is not inconceivable that, with a few constitutional adjustments, even the British National Party in the UK might morph into a 'religion' of sorts, thereby entitled to protection under the religious hatred law.

It's an ambiguity that hasn't been lost on everyone. Convicted paedophile Robin Fletcher, currently serving time in a Victorian prison for drugging, raping and forcing into prostitution two 15-year-old girls, used the legislation to drag both the Salvation Army and the prison authorities to court. By supposedly linking witchcraft with 'Satanism' during an introductory course on Christianity, the Army was alleged to have violated Fletcher's right to protection from religious hatred. The judge hearing the case ultimately dismissed it, but pointed out in his closing statements that the law needed reform so as to reduce its use in vexatious and frivolous lawsuits.

Catholics might soon sue those citizens of Sussex, England, who retain the tradition of burning an effigy of the Pope on Guy Fawkes' Day. Anyone who sings 'Remember, Remember' is certainly fair game, particularly if they sing it to completion ('Burn his body from his head, Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead, Hip hip hoorah!'). And for Scientologists, angry at mocking media coverage of Tom Cruise's recent antics, the law might give critics of the 'Church' the 'auditing' they deserve. With hundreds of thousands of registered adherents to the Jedi religion around the world, could a bad review of the latest Star Wars film be construed as inciting religious hatred? The opportunities for state-enforced tolerance are limited only by one's imagination and sense of pettiness.

Religious hatred laws are also a useful tool for cults wishing to stifle debate or hinder exposure. In Australia, followers of Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis have already initiated a lawsuit against a prominent child psychologist. Dr Reina Michaelson, a former Australian of the Year, had the temerity to quote from the group's own Book of Law as evidence linking the group with the ritual abuse of children. Currently overseas working with victims of the Asian tsunami, she must now return to Australia to defend herself in the courts.

However, there is one case that captures the sheer ridiculousness of laws against religious hatred. Enter Ms Oliva Watts: former policeman, transsexual naturopath, and witch. In March 2003, Ms Watts decided to run for local government in the City of Casey, a community distinguished by its proliferation of Pentecostal churches. The possibility of a transsexual witch entering local government in this most Christian of communities provoked a fierce reaction. A day of prayer was called to protect the city, and councillor Rob Wilson issued a press release suggesting that a witch in the council might be a 'concern' for some residents of the area.

Understandably, Watts was offended. And to whom do disgruntled transsexual naturopath-witches turn for justice? The Equal Opportunity Commission, of course. It wasn't long before Ms Watts had Wilson hauled before the courts on charges of inciting hatred against witches.

At a time when everyone has a group to protect their 'identity rights', witches are no exception. So into the fray stepped the Pagan Awareness Network (PAN). Fuelled by a $400 donation from the Witches Voice in America ('NeoPagan News/Networking on the net since 1997'), PAN ran a fierce campaign: sending fire-and-brimstone letters to both the premier and attorney general of Victoria; rallying witches across the world; and publishing pamphlets rebuking the councillor for his wiccaphobia. Watts joined the Wiccan PR blitz. 'I have never in my life done any offensive piece of magic, a curse, a hex', she assured the Age newspaper. 'It would be inconsistent with my beliefs.'

As the trouble brewed, the attorney general moved quickly to clarify his government's position. 'We [the government] govern for all Victorians - and that includes witches, magicians and sorcerers', he declared.

Faced with the indefatigable forces of PAN and growing legal fees, councillor Wilson conceded defeat, entering an out-of-court settlement. As part of that, he was required to offer a public mea culpa, 'for any hurt felt by Ms Watts'.

By this time, Wilson had already accumulated a legal bill of $130,000 for the 14-month battle, and, adding insult to injury, the City of Casey faced an increase in its 2005 insurance premium as a result of the litigation. It would all make a great joke, were it not now illegal to tell it.


The age of intolerant tolerance

The meaning of tolerance has mutated in recent years

If the slogan of the Second World War 60 years ago was 'Victory', the slogan of the war on terror in Britain today appears to be 'Tolerance'.

Almost before the last bomb had exploded in London on 7 July, government ministers, opposition leaders, London's mayor, police chiefs and anybody else who could get the media's attention were all emphasising the need for tolerance in our society. In the weeks since then, the demand for tolerance towards all communities and faiths, especially Islam, has become a mantra repeated on all sides. If you did not know better, you might think that the bomb attacks of 7 and 21 July were aimed at mosques rather than trains and buses.

Tolerance might sound like a worthy aim. Normally, I like to imagine myself as tolerant as the next angry middle-aged libertarian Marxist. But this is something different. Some of us are finding it increasingly hard to tolerate the way that appeals to British tolerance are being used to justify intolerant censorship and repression.

The pattern goes like this. Tony Blair says that we have to meet the extremist threat by 'championing our values of freedom, tolerance and respect for others'. Then his ministers announce new plans to criminalise 'indirect incitement' of terrorism, along with tougher proposals to outlaw 'incitement to religious hatred'.

The government must have a different dictionary than I do. Mine defines tolerance as 'broad-mindedness' or 'permitting free expression of views one does not share'. In the Whitehall Newspeak edition, however, tolerance appears to mean the opposite. In order to defend our tolerant society we apparently have to ban views that most people do not share. Welcome to the age of intolerant tolerance.

A law against indirect incitement will do nothing to prevent an outrage such as the London bombings. There are already more than enough laws against plotting to blow up people on the Underground. No, committing the offence of 'indirect incitement' sounds more like what used to be called expressing an offensive opinion. The Lord Chancellor says it could mean 'attacking the values of the West'. The Home Office police minister says it could mean declaring that a suicide bombing was 'marvellous'. Others claim it would lead to the prosecution of Muslim clerics who have said that the London bombings were the fault of British people who voted to re-elect Blair. The government's latest proposals for the post-bombings crackdown, outlined on 5 August, included a list of 'unacceptable behaviour' that could be prosecuted, including such vague offences as 'engaging in extremism'.

Many people might well find the opinions expressed by radical Islamic clerics outlandish, fatuous and hateful. But are we now so afraid of words that we need to outlaw them, as if talking about a suicide bomb was the same as detonating one? As Lord Justice Sedley put it a few years ago, when throwing out a case against a ranting fundamentalist Christian preacher, 'Freedom to speak only inoffensively is not worth having'. Those 'values of the West' must be pretty fragile today if they can be seriously threatened by the ranting of a few crank preachers. And elevating the importance of these infantile fantasists seems guaranteed to put them on the fast track to martyrdom among disaffected Muslim youth.

The proposed law against incitement to religious hatred is another bad example of intolerant tolerance. In order to 'champion our values of freedom and tolerance', it seems, we can no longer tolerate people having the freedom to ridicule or offend Islam or other religions. Yet surely that is one of the hard-won liberties of our genuinely tolerant, secular society.

The meaning of tolerance has mutated in recent years. First, it became a central plank of the official doctrine of multiculturalism. As examined elsewhere on spiked, the celebration of multiculturalism and 'diversity' has served as a substitute for any more coherent worldview within the British elite (see The price of multiculturalism, by Michael Fitzpatrick). That is why, when they try (and generally fail) to define what British values might mean today, politicians will invariably emphasise the importance of tolerance. In this context, it always ends up sounding as if they are saying, 'Our central value is that we tolerate the values of others'.

More recently, however, and especially since the bombings of 7 July, it has become clear that this emphasis on tolerance is more than a vacuous retreat into non-judgementalism. It is also a threat. In order to maintain the fragile status quo in our fragmented society, the authorities are telling us not to rock the boat. Their idea of tolerance thus involves suppressing opinions or ideas that might cause offence or controversy. This is the doctrine of what we might call illiberal liberalism, summed up by the trite phrase 'I can tolerate anything except intolerance'. Or as New Labour's Welsh secretary Peter Hain put it after the bombings, 'We will not tolerate people abusing Muslims' (with 'abuse' now being so widely defined as to mean anything you don't like). The message to all of us is 'Be tolerant - or else!'

The authorities are trying to use the doctrine of intolerant tolerance to keep the lid on things and hide the empty hole at the heart of the debate about British values. But in the end it can only make matters worse. Forcing problems underground is not the same thing as doing something about them. Indeed, this approach is far more likely to intensify a sense of grievance on all sides: among Muslims who might feel that the continual calls for tolerance and condemnations of 'Islamophobia' confirm their special victim status in society; and among white people who might feel aggrieved at being lectured and policed as if they were a mob of bigots straining at the leash to burn down a mosque or beat up a Muslim.

In fact most people in Britain today are more tolerant than ever before, and there has been very little serious conflict between ethnic or religious communities since 7 July. But if anything seems likely to stir things up, it is the state's enforcement of the etiquette of intolerant tolerance.

What we need instead is more genuine tolerance. This is not an appeal for anybody to go soft in the debate about terrorism or anything else. We need to tolerate the 'free expression of views one does not share', in order that we can sort out the truth in the open, instead of trying to bury difficult issues beneath a pile of bans. Let everybody freely express their views - and let us all have the freedom ruthlessly to question, criticise and interrogate everything that is said, about everything from religion to race, from suicide bombings to British values. Now more than ever we need freedom of speech for a frank and 'broad-minded' debate about the sort of society we live in and where it is heading (see Defend free speech - now more than ever, by Mick Hume). Instead, the doctrine of intolerant tolerance aims to stop anybody pointing out the embarrassing fact that the emperor of multicultural Britain has no clothes.

Now the government has even told UK universities, which surely ought to be the last bastions of broad-mindedness, to worry less about protecting freedom of speech and more about countering extreme views. 'Think for yourselves, and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too', Voltaire wrote in his Essay on Tolerance. Those in academia might like to take a look, before it gets condemned as intolerable.


Monday, August 22, 2005


The story about a ban on Parliament house security guards and other staff in Canberra, Australia, using the word "Mate" as a form of address seems to have been picked up around the world. Outside Australia, however, very few people understood what it was all about. It goes back to the fact that the British-origin population of Australia mostly originated from the English regions and the English working class. And in such circles -- particularly among working-class Londoners ("Cockneys") -- it is normal to address someone as "Mate" if you don't know his name. I remember when I was in London, if I bought a downmarket newspaper such as the "Sun" from the newspaper vendor, he would say "Ta, Mate" when I gave him the money. If however I bought a more upmarket newspaper such as the "Times", he would say "Ta, Guv" when I gave him the money. So a custom that is class-based in England is universally respected in Australia, though still to a degree class-based. Australians these days are mostly bourgeois but working-class traditions are now national traditions. So an attempt to impose more formal manners on anybody was bound to meet with widespread condemnatioin -- which it did. One of the news stories about the matter is reproduced below:

"A ban by Australia's Parliament House on the term "mate," a popular colloquialism and symbol of egalitarianism, has been overturned following a barrage of protest. Security guards at Parliament House in Canberra had been directed Thursday to refer to people as sir and ma'am. The ban was imposed after the head of a government department complained about being called mate, local media reported. But a parliamentary circular issued Friday removed the directive warning staff not to use "mate" when dealing with the public or members of parliament, instead suggesting they use their judgment on when a more formal approach is required.

Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke said the attempted ban was "pomposity gone mad," while current Prime Minister John Howard described the ban as "absurd and impractical." "There are circumstances where a more formal address is appropriate," Howard told Australian radio. "But in the same conversation you might start off calling somebody you have just met sir or madam but as you become more familiar ... you might end up saying mate."

The move also prompted a flood of calls to talkback radio around the country and was slammed by Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper as "ludicrous" because it took Australia back to the days of the class system.


A couple were banned from playing the Robbie Williams hit "ANGELS" at their civil wedding - in case it offended non-Christians. Howard Monks, 47, and Julie Sagar-Doyle, 36, wanted the star's 1997 song played as they took their vows, because it is "their tune".

But just 15 minutes before the ceremony, politically correct bureaucrats barred the tune by Robbie, as it contains the word heaven - giving it "religious connotations". Instead the pair had to settle for Shania Twain's From This Moment when they wed at Dukinfield registry office, Greater Manchester. Printer Howard, of Hadfield, Derbys, blasted: "It's ridiculous to say this would upset ethnic minorities. It's just a pop song. Robbie's hardly some religious bigot. The General Register Office said it is now reviewing the content of civil marriages.


The incorrectness of "Dixie": "To hear some newcomers to Hanover County, Virginia, tell it, 'Dixie' is a five-letter four-letter word. They want to change the county's annual Civil War commemoration from 'Dixie Days' to something else, to avoid, among other things, offending Yankees who have moved into the county. Dixie cups are probably OK, concedes one county official, but not 'Dixie' -- that reminds everyone of, well, the South. Jamelle Wilson, a member of an advisory panel reviewing the annual event, told a public gathering earlier this month that 'Dixie Days' is 'problematic' and that calling a Civil War commemoration by that name 'tends to represent the past.' If 'Dixie' remains, the county schools shouldn't promote or endorse it, she said. But a war, so far fairly civil, is brewing."