Saturday, December 31, 2005


"I AM WOMAN," she sang, "hear me roar." And so, with infectious exuberance, we did: "I am strong, I am invincible, I am wo-maaaan!" Heady, healthy days; by the time Helen Reddy's anthem became the singalong of the early 1970s, we already had the contraceptive pill, we had legal abortion and the youngest among us, at least, had choices far fitter and fatter than those of our mothers. We reclaimed the night, we grew shaggy armpits, we had a blast. In 1975, Parliament finally caught up with the prevailing mood and so, 30 years ago today, the Sex Discrimination Act was passed and the Equal Pay Act came into force: a decent crack was ours for the taking and woe betide he who would deny us.

As things turned out, however, it wasn't to be a he who dimmed the lights; it was a she. Moan all you will about glass ceilings and the still tenacious grip, in some quarters, of Neanderthal man; the terrible truth is that while it was women who fought for - and won - a historical advance for their sex, it was also women, thereafter, who blew it. The overwhelming achievement of these three decades of feminism and its worker bees in the "women's movement" has been to turn our triumph on its head. What was once about women's strengths is now about their weaknesses; where once we celebrated what women can do, we are asked, now, only to make allowances for what they cannot.

The purpose of the new law was to ensure what might loosely be called fair play; it beggars belief, looking back, that its proponents ever expected to see it invoked in so many cases that are, frankly, pathetic. Scarcely a week passes without some female high-flyer running to a tribunal with tales of men being beastly; in one memorable case this year a woman used in evidence the fact that her male colleagues often went to the pub without her. You might think that equality involves an equal chance of being disliked - she called it sex discrimination. (And prevailed.)

Being excessively liked, mind, causes as much grief: vast sums are paid to those propositioned by a sexually uppity colleague, as compensation for the gal being so traumatised that she is forced to retire and spend more time with her stress counsellor. Women in the Armed Forces seem especially attracted to this milch cow, with 2,400 of them last year complaining of harassment - in other words, the very women expected to produce superhuman effort under enemy fire cannot, apparently, be expected to produce a robust rebuttal of a smutty overture.

So here we are: victims all. Can't help ourselves. And proud of it. You will remember Sara Thornton, who stabbed her husband to death as he lay boozed into coma. She was entirely free to leave him, but given that he'd kicked her in the self-esteem she couldn't be expected to do that. And when the usual women's groups fought to have her released in 1995, she emerged from prison gates, clenched fists aloft, to applause fit for a heroine.

You won't, however, remember "Ann" - even if you did read the story I wrote about her in the same year. She was tied to a brute by lack of money, education, hope, opportunity and, oh yes, three small children. Nevertheless, on the day she determined that she had taken her very last fist, she bundled up her children and left, for ever, to and with nothing. An astoundingly brave move, from my kind of heroine - but, regrettably, only 20 years after the Sex Discrimination Act, a heroism of already unfashionable hue. Nobody even asks now, another ten years on, why a battered woman doesn't up sticks. Or stand up for herself: research suggests an average of 35 beatings before the first call to the police. I am strong, I am invincible?

Of course, we are never allowed to forget that it's hard to be strong when cussed by oestrogen. Where once the menstrual cycle was discreetly left to euphemistic allusions in intimate company, now it demands exemptions fit for war wounds as premenstrual tension has become an excuse for all peculiarities of behaviour. I recently heard an ambitious woman, who doubtless prides herself on being thoroughly modern, boldly blame her temporary ineptitude, to a male superior, upon her " time of the month"; in other words, "I'm as good as the men, gissa job . . . even though, by the way, I shall be howling at the moon one week in four."

Still, if our hormonally challenged flesh is weak, it is as nothing compared with our minds. This season's heated debate, for example, has concerned whether a woman's consent to sexual intercourse is valid if she is drunk. Feministas are adamant that it is not, arguing that a man who "takes advantage" of a woman rendered compliant by a few pints of snakebite is a fully-fledged rapist; again, their argument weakens us.

Allowing for the tautological assumption that "date rape" takes place on a date, and allowing therefore that both parties probably enjoyed several sherries before engaging in sex, what this means is that a man may be held responsible for his inebriated actions - but a woman need not be. A curious equality, is it not, that disallows an equal right to make our own mistakes?

The undermining of essentially female stoicism does, admittedly, benefit some: workers in equal ops quangos and viragos of agitprops, for instance, are bound to regard the naturally independent strengths of women with the same horror that a tenured environmentalist sniffs clean air. But those who follow their self-interested lead really must be daft as brushes. The evolution of the "can't cope, won't cope" philosophy has done most of us no favours at all - and it was not to make helpless wusses of ourselves that, 30 years ago, we grouped and moved, and marched and sang


The Christmas Kerfuffle

An unusual San Francisco Jewish viewpoint

Upon leaving a San Francisco shop last week, I wished the clerk a cheery "Merry Christmas," only to be met with a surly "Happy Holidays" in return. With that simple exchange, our positions at opposite ends of the political spectrum were revealed. The celebration of Christmas has indeed been overshadowed by politics in recent years, to the point where every greeting is pregnant with meaning. And even non-Christians are swept up in the Christmas kerfuffle.

As a member of the Jewish faith, I've never once felt intimidated, bothered or offended by Christmas. In fact, I grew up celebrating Christmas and still do to this day. Not the religious aspects, but rather the festive trappings of the holiday. I also light the menorah candles each year to mark Hanukkah. While this might earn me the disapproval of traditionalists on both sides of the fence, I confess it simply to illustrate that one holiday need not endanger another. Yet the political battle over Christmas rages on. Conservatives are upset over what has been dubbed the "war on Christmas," while liberals accuse them of overreacting to what is essentially a non-event. But who's right?

Skeptics of the "war on Christmas" narrative often point out that the trappings of Christmas are everywhere. The commercialization of Christmas has led to an onslaught of retail madness in recent years; the evidence is all around us. But the religious underpinnings of Christmas (the birth of Jesus Christ), not to mention the actual name of the holiday itself, are at risk of disappearing from the public sphere. All across the country, city halls, chain stores, and public squares are erecting "holiday trees" in lieu of Christmas trees. Nativity scenes are being banned in town squares, public buildings and even some malls. The singing of Christmas carols such as "Silent Night" in public schools and caroling in public parks and public housing are becoming rarities. Court cases brought by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have taken the clause that never appeared in the constitution to ridiculous levels -- and chipping away at Christmas is just one of the results.

The retail world has been the focus of much anti-Christmas activity. While profiting from the holiday, many stores seem to feel that specifying Christmas threatens the "inclusiveness" to which they seem to be pledged. A trip to Macy's, Nordstrom, Sears or just about any other department store these days will almost always result in the ubiquitous "Happy Holidays" greeting from employees as you pass through the door. Target in particular has taken a lot of heat for allegedly eliminating the word "Christmas" from its stores. Although they deny this policy, a brief look around any Target store will prove otherwise. Whether it's the advertising, the store decorations or the favored greetings of employees, "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings" has obviously overtaken Christmas. An online petition, signed by over 500,000 shoppers, produced a promise from Target to add more Christmas to the mix as the 25th approaches, but the result remains to be seen.

Even President Bush, the supposed leader of a new Christian theocracy (to hear some on the left tell it), seems to have succumbed to the forces of political correctness. The White House recently sent out its Christmas card. But as has been the custom since the Clinton presidency, it was instead a "holiday card." There was nary a mention of the word "Christmas." The bland holiday card angered many of Bush's supporters, while doing nothing to lessen the president's reputation among liberals as some sort of new pope. So one has to wonder why the White House promulgated a form of self-censorship with little or no reward involved. That Bush is the first president to honor Hanukkah and Ramadan at the White House certainly need not preclude mention of Christmas in the White House holiday card.

The excuse given by the White House for honoring this precedent is that one must be sensitive to the other holidays occurring at the same time of year -- Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and for the few pagans out there, Winter Solstice. But they really have nothing to do with the discussion. The federal holiday that the country is celebrating on the 25th of December is Christmas, period. With the exception of Hanukkah this year, which coincidentally begins on the 25th, that particular date does not belong to any other holiday. So what's wrong with acting accordingly?

Why is it that Christmas is the only holiday that must be downplayed so that other religions feel more "included"? We don't insist on calling the Muslim holiday of Ramadan by any other name, nor do we impose such restrictions on the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. In all fairness, we would have to label all religious and cultural occasions "holidays," not just Christmas. I wonder how long it would take for members of other religions to express their outrage? Yet when Christians fight back, as they are now with a concerted campaign to stem the anti-Christmas tide, they are ridiculed or vilified by their opponents.

This double standard when it comes to Christians can be seen in many spheres. A friend was shopping recently in one of those cute little neighborhood stores San Francisco prides itself on when she noticed that the man ringing her up was wearing a T-shirt that read, "So Many Rightwing Christians, So Few Lions." No doubt this was intended to be humorous, but the message has serious implications. Simply substitute the words "Jews," "blacks" or "gays" and the outrage would be immediate. But when it comes to Christians, such offensive rhetoric is somehow acceptable. There's even a term for it -- Christianophobia.

Often, the reason given by those who espouse this bigotry is that Christians themselves spew hatred toward other groups. But mostly what's being referred to is disapproval, not hatred. Criticism of another's lifestyle is not equivalent to hating someone or acting violently on hatred. While there will always be the few extremists, the majority of Christians espouse a peaceful approach to their fellow human beings. It would be nice if that fact were acknowledged now and then.

So what's at the heart of this campaign to erase Christmas? I argue that it's the creeping multiculturalism that has taken hold of our nation. Instead of a melting pot, we have a system whereby Christianity, the majority religion, is being subordinated to all the others in the interest of "equality." Accordingly, Christmas has to be diminished so that no feels left out. But this sort of excessive pandering to "diversity" is becoming ludicrous. Have we become a nation of insecure adherents to psychobabble? Does the mere presence of Christmas really threaten non-Christians?

During such times, I'm reminded of my mother's childhood in Australia and her experiences being the sole Jewish child in what was essentially a Christian school. Far from feeling left out, she simply accepted the situation at face value. Jewish traditions were kept alive both at home and in a thriving Jewish community, so they didn't need to be shared by the entire school for her to feel secure. She was never insulted or put upon for being Jewish -- that's just how it was. The point is, simply being a member of a minority group is not tantamount to being oppressed. Perhaps we should remember that lesson when thinking about the Christmas kerfuffle. And the next time someone wishes you a "Happy Holidays," wish them a hearty "Merry Christmas" in return.


Friday, December 30, 2005

Intolerance The Result Of Political Correctness

It's hard to imagine how something intended to create greater sensitivity and understanding among us all has actually accomplished exactly the opposite; the creation of complete intolerance. Like a piece of badly crafted legislation, the social movement of Political Correctness (PC for short) is having so many negative consequences that it is now to the point of absurdity. Yet anyone with half a brain could have (and should have) seen it coming.

It's been going on for a couple of decades now, though it reached a tipping point in the last few years. It began as a truly noble goal; to eliminate Polish jokes, and black jokes, and retard jokes, and religious freak jokes and atheist jokes and jokes about every other group that has had the misfortune of being predictable enough to be stereotyped (regardless of whether the shoe fit).

Then it moved onto racial and ethnic slurs, condemning us for saying anything offensive, (deserved or not) within earshot of the victim of our saying the word (though out of earshot seemed to be okay for a while, but no more). Bear in mind, this is only for those outside the stereotype. Those within the group can call each other whatever they want, no matter how degrading, as long as they sufficiently fit the stereotype. One man's offensive word is another man's welcome. No wonder we started to get confused about what's right and wrong in the social department.

Then, of course, religion got into the picture. At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, there was a time when anyone could practice just about anything, call it religion and be left alone. It was called tolerance. As long as people weren't hurt and laws weren't badly or habitually broken, it was tolerated. After all, we began as a country because others were intolerant to us and our religious beliefs. It's why we moved here from England, risking life and limb on a rickety ship across the North Atlantic. Tolerance has always been a true part of our culture, and even though we may not always have demonstrated it to the best of our abilities as a nation, we have always believed it was something we should strive for. Until now.

Now, it seems, we've gotten to the point where intolerance is the accepted practice. The PC measure for sticking your nose into someone else's business has evolved from imminent and harmful physical danger to the innocent, to the possible, perhaps, maybe fear of hurting someone's feelings, or making them "uncomfortable". What a bunch of woosies!

We should have seen it coming. Now that it's here, however, and we can all agree it's not fun or funny, we have to figure out a way to get the pendulum to swing back again. Maybe we should just all go back to telling Polish jokes. Now THOSE were funny.


Noted U.S. Psychologists Condemn Homosexual Activist Influence on APA

Senior members of the psychological community delivered a scathing condemnation of the American Psychological Association (APA), at the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) conference last month. Dr. Nicolas Cummings, Ph.D, a former president of the APA, said pro-homosexual social activist influence has undermined the scientific legitimacy of psychological research within the organization. Dr. Cummings charged that research by the APA is now limited to projects where "they know what the outcome is going to be.only research with predictably favorable outcomes is permissible."

Cummings expressed his concern over the APA's backing for legalized gay marriage, which was recommended by the APA in 2004 because it would "promote mental health," among members of the gay community. That decision, said Cummings, was based upon vague research which indicated "loving relationships are healthy'' in a general sense. "That was one of the worst resolutions, " Cummings said. " When we speak in the name of psychology we are to speak only from facts and clinical expertise." Otherwise "very soon the public will see us as a discredited organization-just another opinionated voice shouting and shouting."

Dr. Rogers Wright, Ph.D, co-author with Cummings of their newly released book Destructive Trends in Mental Health, criticized the APA for failing to live up to the organization's long-held ideal of openness to diversity. The organization deliberately avoided issuing a response to the book and, at first, forbade its member-publications from reviewing it. "So much for diversity and open-mindedness," said Wright.

Psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover, M.D., spoke at length on the ethical misuse of scientific literature in recent legal cases that have laid the foundation for major changes in family-law policy. Satinover accused mental-health associations of allowing gay activists to distort research in order to support their own social and political agendas, on a scale he finds "appalling beyond imagination." Among the methods used to falsely support the gay agenda, he identified researchers who used their own work as references, who used active members of pro-paedophilia groups as sources, and who ignored current conflicting research in favor of obsolete, discredited work.

Dr. Dean Byrd, Ph. D, Chairman of NARTH's Scientific Advisory Committee, read from a letter he sent to the APA, criticizing the organization for exercising a double standard toward individuals who express a desire to return to heterosexuality: "Though not all of the patients that NARTH members treat are religious, many are. Is it not a blatant disregard for their religious values and an affront to real diversity to marginalize these individuals by failing to acknowledge their right to choose how they will adapt sexually?

APA's continuous message of respect for diversity rings hollow if it does not represent different worldviews.either you support client autonomy or you do not; either you support client self-determination or you do not; either your actions reflect diversity, or they do not."


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Western Muslims' Racist Rape Spree

In Australia, Norway, Sweden and other Western nations, there is a distinct race-based crime in motion being ignored by the diversity police: Islamic men are raping Western women for ethnic reasons. We know this because the rapists have openly declared their sectarian motivations. When a number of teenage Australian girls were subjected to hours of sexual degradation during a spate of gang rapes in Sydney that occurred between 1998 and 2002, the perpetrators of these assaults framed their rationale in ethnic terms. The young victims were informed that they were "sluts" and "Aussie pigs" while they were being hunted down and abused.

In Australia's New South Wales Supreme Court in December 2005, a visiting Pakistani rapist testified that his victims had no right to say no, because they were not wearing a headscarf. And earlier this year Australians were outraged when Lebanese Sheik Faiz Mohammed gave a lecture in Sydney where he informed his audience that rape victims had no one to blame but themselves. Women, he said, who wore skimpy clothing, invited men to rape them.

A few months earlier, in Copenhagen, Islamic mufti and scholar, Shahid Mehdi created uproar when -- like his peer in Australia -- he stated that women who did not wear a headscarf were asking to be raped. And with haunting synchronicity in 2004, the London Telegraph reported that visiting Egyptian scholar Sheik Yusaf al-Qaradawi claimed female rape victims should be punished if they were dressed immodestly when they were raped. He added, "For her to be absolved from guilt, a raped woman must have shown good conduct."

In Norway and Sweden, journalist Fjordman warns of a rape epidemic. Police Inspector Gunnar Larsen stated that the steady increase of rape-cases and the link to ethnicity are clear, unmistakable trends. Two out of three persecutions for rape in Oslo are immigrants with a non-Western background and 80 percent of the victims are Norwegian women. In Sweden, according to translator for Jihad Watch, Ali Dashti, "Gang rapes, usually involving Muslim immigrant males and native Swedish girls, have become commonplace." A few weeks ago she said, "Five Kurds brutally raped a 13-year-old Swedish girl."

In France, Samira Bellil broke her silence -- after enduring years of repeated gang rapes in one of the Muslim populated public housing projects -- and wrote a book, In the hell of the tournantes, that shocked France. Describing how gang rape is rampant in the banlieues, she explained to Time that, "any neighborhood girl who smokes, uses makeup or wears attractive clothes is a whore."

Unfortunately, Western women are not the only victims in this epidemic. In Indonesia, in 1998, human rights groups documented the testimony of over 100 Chinese women who were gang raped during the riots that preceded the fall of President Suharto. Many of them were told: "You must be raped, because you are Chinese and non-Muslim."

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported that in April 2005, a 9-year-old Pakistani girl was raped, beaten with a cricket bat, hanged upside down from the ceiling, had spoonfuls of chillies poured into her mouth, and repeatedly bashed while handcuffed. Her Muslim neighbours told her they were taking revenge for the American bombing of Iraqi children and informed her they were doing it because she was an "infidel and a Christian."

In Sudan -- where Arab Muslims slaughter black Muslim and Christian Sudanese in an ongoing genocide -- former Sudanese slave and now a human rights' activist Simon Deng says he witnessed girls and women being raped and that the Arab regime of Khartoum sends its soldiers to the field to rape and murder. In other reports, women who are captured by government forces are asked; "Are you Christian or Muslim?" and those who answer Christian, are gang raped before having their breasts cut off.

This phenomenon of Islamic sexual violence against women should be treated as the urgent, violent, repressive epidemic it is. Instead, journalists, academics, and politicians ignore it, rationalize it, or ostracize those who dare discuss it.....

In Australia, Lebanese Christians have assimilated and become a respected part of our community. The Premier of Victoria is a Lebanese Christian as is the Governor Of New South Wales. However, Lebanese Muslims have encountered serious problems because of their refusal to accept our right to live our way of life. Nothing so clearly demonstrates that it is not an issue of race -- but of culture.

Much more here


As an ex-Navy man, the Duke of Edinburgh is one for plain-speaking:

During a state visit to China in 1986, he famously told a group of British students: "If you stay here much longer, you'll be all slitty-eyed!"

In 2001 he told a 13-year-old schoolboy he was 'too fat' to become an astronaut.

More recently he joked that the answer to London's traffic congestion was to 'ban tourists'.

Speaking to a driving instructor in Oban, Scotland: "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?"

To an Australian Aborigine during a visit in March 2002: "Still throwing spears?"

On cuisine in 1966: "British women can't cook."

During the 1981 recession: "Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed."

Sharing a joke with a blind, wheelchair-bound girl with a guide-dog: "Do you know they have eating dogs for the anorexic now?"

Commenting on modern stress counselling for servicemen in 1995: "We didn't have counsellors rushing around every time somebody let off a gun, asking 'Are you all right? Are you sure you don't have a ghastly problem?' "

Responding to calls for a firearm ban after the Dunblane shooting: "If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, which he could do very easily, I mean, are you going to ban cricket bats?"

Referring to an old-fashioned fusebox in a factory near Edinburgh in 1999: "It looks as if it was put in by an Indian."

Referring to a Cambridge University car park attendant who failed to recognise him in 1997: "Bloody silly fool!"

Talking to young deaf people in Cardiff about the school's steel band: "Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf."

During a 1984 visit to Kenya, he's presented with a small gift from a native woman: "You are a woman, aren't you?"

Accepting a conservation award in Thailand in 1991: "Your country is one of the most notorious centres of trading in endangered species in the world."

When asked to stroke a Koala bear in Australia in 1992: "Oh no, I might catch some ghastly disease."

Speaking to a Briton in Budapest in 1993: "You can't have been here long, you haven't got a pot belly!"

Speaking to an islander in the Cayman Islands in 1994: "Aren't most of you descended from pirates?"

Speaking to a student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea: "You managed not to get eaten then?"

At a 1986 World Wildlife Fund meeting: "If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it."

Pointing at 14-year-old Shahin Ullah during a visit to a London youth club: "He looks as if he is on drugs!"


Wednesday, December 28, 2005


More criminals are returning to a life of crime within months of serving jail or community sentences than at any time since Labour came to power, figures released quietly yesterday show. More than 60 per cent of young male thugs and muggers are convicted of another offence within two years of ending their sentence. Three quarters of young male burglars and thieves also reoffend, according to the Home Office figures placed unannounced on its departmental website.

A massive 90 per cent of offenders on the drug treatment and testing order, designed to tackle the link between drug use and prolific offending, go on to commit more crimes. The programme costs the Government 53 million pounds annually. There is also a high dropout rate by offenders given the orders, which were introduced across England and Wales five years ago.

The figures are a severe blow to the Government, which is attempting to end the "revolving-door" syndrome, in which offenders are constantly in and out of jail. The data were released less than a week after Damien Hanson was convicted of the murder of the City financier John Monckton only three months after being released early from a twelve-year prison term. Elliot White, the second killer of Mr Monckton, was on a drug treatment and testing order at the time of the offence.

The figures show that 58.5 per cent of adult offenders released from jail in the first quarter of 2002 or starting a community sentence at the same time were convicted of a further crime within two years. When Labour came to power the figure was 53.1 per cent and in 2000 it was 57.6 per cent. The number of criminals who committed further offences within two years of leaving jail was even higher. It rose three percentage points to 67 per cent last year and reoffending by those on community sentences increased fractionally to 53 per cent.

When Labour came to power the reoffending rate for prisoners within two years of being released was 58 per cent. More than a third of criminals reoffended within six months of ending their sentence and almost 50 per cent within a year.

Statisticians in the Home Office insisted that the figures meant that there had been an improvement because the actual number of new crimes was 0.2 per cent below their predictions. The explanation is scant comfort for the Home Office, which is already facing a semi-independent inquiry into reoffending by the two men convicted of killing Mr Monckton.

A Home Office spokesman admitted last night that performance had slipped and that the figures were disappointing. Baroness Scotland of Asthal, QC, a Home Office minister of state, said: "We accept that these statistics are less positive than we had hoped. However, they still show that the reconviction rate for adults is less than had originally been predicted." She added: "Reducing reoffending is one of the core priorities of this Government and is at the heart of the reforms that led to the creation of the National Offender Management Service. Since 2001, we have made significant investments in the correctional servi-ces and have done more than ever before to address the underlying factors that lie at the root of reoffending....."

More here

Intolerant Britain again: Christians accused of homophobia

A retired couple were accused of being homophobic after they sent a letter to their local council objecting to what they saw as its pro-gay stance. Joe Roberts 73, and his wife Helen, 68, of Fleetwood, Lancashire, wrote to Wyre Borough Council complaining at their bid to promote awareness of gay issues. The devout Christians said the council was "pandering" to minority groups and said they felt discriminated against. Police questioned the couple but decided no crime had been committed.

The pair had questioned the council's bid to improve equality, part of which would see gay lifestyle magazines distributed around staff areas. Mr Roberts had asked if the council would display Christian leaflets, and was told all applications would be considered, but nothing that would offend minority groups would be approved.

He said in his letter: "If gay people made the decision not to think gay, they would not act gay. "Whatever they are giving their attention to will eventually mould them into its image."

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: "As a matter of routine, a police officer attended an address in Fleetwood to make further inquiries and to establish whether any crime had been or was likely to be committed. "As a result of those inquiries, words of suitable advice were given and we will not be taking any further action. "Hate crime is a very serious matter and all allegations must be investigated thoroughly."

A council spokeswoman added: "We received a telephone call and letter from Mr and Mrs Roberts. "Some of the wording in the letter was clearly inappropriate and so it was decided to consult the police on suitable action."



A German prison chief has banned inmates from having Christmas trees this year. However, this is not because he is trying to be a modern day Scrooge, intent on preventing any sort of festive cheer, but rather on the grounds that the trees could be used to smuggle drugs into the prison. For Guyanese growing accustomed to stories of cocaine in lumber, it is not such a farfetched tale.

A county council in England recently banned the display of posters promoting Christmas services in a public library for fear of offending other religions. It however transpired that the same library had hosted a party to celebrate Eid just a few days earlier. The party had been organised by the grandly titled multicultural services librarian, a Muslim, but the council is predominantly Christian. Naturally, the double standard has elicited outrage, not so much at the attempt to be sensitive to the religious beliefs of others, but at the notion of bending over backwards to accommodate a non-protesting minority at the expense of the majority.

But the council was being consistent. Two years ago, it had ruled that a local church could not publicise its Christmas services on a community notice board for the very same reason. The Anglican religion may be the established faith of the United Kingdom, but for the council it is just another "religious preference group."

Another council has similarly announced that festive lighting does not "fit with the council's core values of equality and diversity" because Christmas focuses exclusively on the Christian faith. That would be a bit like telling our Hindu community that it can't light up for Diwali. But why should any council or other official body wish to embark on this slippery slope?

And surely it is taking political correctness too far when, according to surveys in the UK, as many as two-thirds of employers have put a stop to Christmas trees and other decorations in the office over fears that they will offend people from minority faiths.

In the current climate of Islamist fanaticism and the threat of home grown terrorist action by alienated British Muslims, UK officialdom is understandably very keen to avoid offending its Muslim citizens. Also, the UK increasingly sees itself as a genuinely multicultural and multi-faith nation. Some years ago, in recognition of the changing face of the country, Prince Charles famously said that on ascending to the throne and succeeding his mother as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, he would rather be "defender of faiths" than "defender of the faith."

So why can all faiths not co-exist happily in the UK with equal opportunities to celebrate openly? To most Guyanese accustomed to multiple religious public holidays and feast days, it would seem absurd to suppress visible displays of celebration. Indeed, we would probably agree that all citizens should have the right to observe their respective religious festivals in public, within reason, and not feel harried, hassled or persecuted in any way.

Without getting into the larger debate about the fact that Christianity lies at the heart of British culture, as has just been asserted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his predecessor in what appears to be a co-ordinated defence of the place of Christianity in society and an attack on "silly bureaucrats", political correctness and profit-driven consumerism, suffice to say that common sense in the application of rules and laws and the observance of religious traditions should prevail.

Of course, it is another matter altogether in America, where some fear that the true spirit of Christmas is in danger of disappearing altogether with the banning of the use of the word "Christmas" in store promotions and retail advertising, following hard on the heels of the use of salutations such as "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings", and the lighting of "holiday" trees in public sites, to be replaced by one long shopping season.

These more developed countries could perhaps learn something from countries like ours, where we treat our major religions equitably and accommodate minor ones too. Christmas, Diwali, Eid and so on are all worthy of equal respect and celebration and this adherence to a multi-faith society represents the best of our evolution as a nation.

Of course, many of us are only too happy to have a party even if its origins lie in another faith and this might arguably be more cause than effect when examining our record of religious tolerance. Nor must it be forgotten that Christmas in Guyana, as in the Western world, has become increasingly secular and commercialised, much to the chagrin of serious Christians.

But the Christmas season at least releases much of the tension built up over the year, and we can still catch glimpses of the true Guyanese spirit amidst the festive cheer of Christmas, whether we be Christian, Hindu, Muslim or whatever. It should be a season of peace, love and giving, though the unabated violence and murders do threaten to cast a pall over our festivities.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas is Racist

Below is a provocative post lifted from Majority Rights. I should perhaps point out that the writer shares the view of racism that is now usual among social scientists: That racism is normal and natural

People get emotional about the public display of the Nativity Scene. Maybe the real reason it is so emotionally charged is not that it is sectarian but racist.

7000 years ago the largest free standing structures in the world were the longhouses of the LBK culture of the Danube basin. This was temporally and spatially in close proximity to the Black Sea flood, which may have caused the Indoeuropean dispersion.

During winter, families lived in these longhouse structures with their cattle for mutual warmth. Children born during the winter months would literally have been born in a barn because there was no distinction between the barn and the house.

The cattle would have been an essential part of the scene providing, as they did, milk for the entire family convtering precious food calories in the form of grasses otherwise not consumable by humans, into a human consumable form. This gave rise to the genetic adaptation for lactose tolerance which rarely occurs outside of regions population by those descended from north Western Europe but predominates within those areas.

Strong feelings toward ancestral scenes-scenes so ancient and vital that they resulted in genetic adaptation-is racist. This is why the scene and song where "cattle are lowing, the poor baby wakes" is so emotive for us all. Christmas is racist.


The jail preparing to give a London bomb suspect slap-up grub over Christmas was compared to a country club last night - by one of its guards. He spoke amid growing anger at plans to pamper inmates with a range of delicious dishes. Bosses at Category A Woodhill Prison will even give gifts of œ2 worth of phone card credits to cons. A prison officer working there said: "We couldn't believe it when we saw the prisoners' menu. It's supposed to be a Category A nick, not a country club."

As it was learned the lags were to get the treats, it was revealed some NHS workers have had their Christmas Day meals AXED. Scrooge hospital chiefs said they could not afford the usual annual blow-out.

Meanwhile Woodhill - dubbed Britain's Alcatraz - will be serving roast turkey with all the trimmings and traditional pud soaked in brandy sauce. Inmates will also be able to choose a veggie option of chestnut, apple and cranberry grill. Muslims, including July 21 London bomb plot suspect Hussein Osman, 27, can opt for a halal meal of roast beef. Dinner later in the day will include baked gammon, chicken fillets, mini vegetable savouries with a tossed salad and coleslaw. There is also a desert of Christmas cake and chocolate eclairs. There are equally lavish meals promised for Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

Woodhill, which has housed Soham killer Ian Huntley and armed robber Charles Bronson, contains terror suspects, murderers and other violent cons. The lock-up, near Milton Keynes, Bucks, has around 750 inmates. Norman Brennan, of the Victims of Crime Trust, said of the meals: "This reads like something from a country club menu." But a Prison Service spokesman said: "Prisoners are fed on just œ1.43 a day and the food is not sumptuous."

The hospital workers who had their traditional free meal scrapped work at North Devon District Hospital, Barnstaple. Bosses said they could not spend œ2,000 on the 180 staff - despite having a œ60million annual budget. One nurse said: "This does nothing for morale."



Projection, denial, you name it. Leftists use all the Freudian defence mechanisms

There has been a backlash by some conservative pundits and commentators against the trend to eliminate Christmas from the holiday lexicon. Their campaign is having an effect as people - who realized there was this trend to eliminate Christmas yet thought that they were being too dogmatic or fanatical - now realize it is those who want to eliminate Christmas who are the fanatics.

The campaign to eliminate religion from public life is not new. It is a doctrine that has been propagated by the liberal bien pensants for years. They use the pretext that America is a secular nation, as such, one cannot - and should not - mention Christmas in the public square.

This campaign, initially, was limited to ensuring government entities prevent the free exercise of religion. It has now expanded to include nongovernmental organizations and private industry.

However, there is now a backlash against the backlash. Liberal pundits and commentators denied there was a campaign against the expression of Christmas or religion. Some qualified it, the Philadelphia Inquirer for one, by claiming that only a few "fringe" organizations were complaining.

Who is correct? Are conservatives legitimately concerned about a real threat to the free exercise of religion? Are the liberal deniers correct by saying that conservatives are being irrational alarmists?

Let's go to the videotape - as they say. These are just some examples of the attempt to bowdlerize Christmas from public and private arenas:

* A woman complained to McDonald's restaurants' corporate office about a sign at a Raleigh, NC McDonald's that says: "Merry Christmas, Jesus is the Reason for the Season." The woman was quoted by the website of WRAL-TV, Raleigh NC as saying: "I care because I'm Jewish, and the reason for the season is upsetting to me,..It offends me because it specifically talks about Jesus, Merry Christmas. It doesn't give credit to anyone else.". The woman requested that the sign be changed to the politically correct Happy Holidays. The response from McDonald's HQ was the owner has the right to do what she wants with the sign.

* The Samona family of Novi, Michigan, was threatened with fines from their development's management company if they did not remove a nativity scene from their front lawn.

* New York City public school system's written policy permits students to display the Jewish menorah and Islamic star and crescent in school, but specifically prohibits students from displaying Christian nativity scenes.

* Maplewood Public School District, New Jersey banned all religious music, including instrumentals, from public schools in the district.[4]

* a New Jersey elementary school, a class trip to see a Broadway performance of the Charles Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol" was canceled owing to the threat of a lawsuit

* Plano, Texas, school parents were prohibited from using red and green plates and napkins - they could bring only white decorations for "winter" parties.

* Palm Beach Florida schools warned teachers not to allow any Christmas decorations to be displayed.

* In a Texas classroom, children were told to draw a tracing of their foot, and then put a message on the drawing. One little girl wrote "Jesus Loves Me" on hers. The kid's teacher ripped the tracing off the board. "Don't you ever do this again," she said. The little girl burst into tears. When her outraged father called the school, nervous officials told the child to make another tracing. She did so-but this time, instead of scrawling "Jesus Loves Me," she drew a tiny cross that was so small it was almost invisible

Apparently, none of these incidents constitute a threat to the "free exercise " clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution, as far as liberals are concerned. It does not, because liberals think the aforementioned incidents to be perfectly normal and satisfactory behavior.

Religion seems to be a threat to the state according to the statists. This shows how far they have progressed. They used to think religion was the "opiate of the people."

For my own part, I would welcome more education about different religions in public schools. I would welcome more acknowledgements of religious holidays. It is impossible to teach human history and science without including religion. Yet, public schools seem to make a concerted effort to do so.

This is a problem for several reasons - prohibiting the free exercise of religion is only one of them. By excluding the mentioning of religion in general or specifically discriminating against Christianity, public and private organizations are making Americans even more culturally ignorant than we already are.

There is no question this happens when schools prohibit religious expression. Most of the world's people are religious. How can they not teach about religion? How can schools in good conscience not mention Christmas?

Denying Christmas exists by staging concerts at Christmas time and calling them "Winter Festivals" is to deny reality. Denying reality makes the educational experience unrealistic. Making the educational experience unrealistic is not educational at all.

Those liberals who want to deny that the bowdlerization of religion from American is not occurring are being "parochial." They are either ignorant of what is occurring around them or they are being disingenuous.

The aforementioned examples perfectly illustrate that there is no room at the inn for "Christmas." The only room at the inn is for "Holiday"


Monday, December 26, 2005


This traditional Christmas Eve in the City of Angels might offend someone:

It's a traditional Christmas Eve here, not Winter Eve, not Holiday Eve. The Grinch who is trying to steal Christmas has not yet discovered this city.

In the lane where I live, some shops have decorations and signs with the actual words "Merry Christmas". There are no signs saying "Happy Kwanza", or "Happy Hanukah", or "Happy Winter Season". Some people might feel offended.

This afternoon, as I walked into the building where I live, the doorman greeted me with a hearty, "Merry Christmas, Sir". He did not greet me with some bland alternative.

Tonight in the lobby of the building, a choir of school girls came to sing Christmas carols. They sang the traditional ones, including "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Silent Night, Holy Night". All the words followed the original lyrics.

And all of the school girls in this choir have similar skin color. There was no forced attempt to achieve a quota of racial mixing.

The choir director for these 8-12 year-old girls is a middle-age man. This man is not a sexual predator; he's their music teacher.

Santa Claus came along, too: a robust, jolly man with a hearty laugh and a huge bag of gifts for the children here. The children here are all rich kids -- this is an expensive part of town. Santa and the kids were having a lot of fun. Nobody was fretting over some "disadvantaged", poor kids on the other side of town.

And Santa was a white man - Caucasian - just like the traditional Santa used to be. And he had a pillow under his red costume to ensure he looked traditionally obese. In some places, obesity is against all the regulations.

After the caroling, I walked to a nearby restaurant for their Christmas Eve dinner. Not a Winter dinner, not a holiday dinner; the sign indeed said, "Christmas Eve Dinner". Dinner was roast turkey and roast pork with sausage stuffing: real meat, not some healthy, low-fat, or vegetarian substitute. And for desert, traditional plum pudding with hard sauce: Real hard sauce, the kind the soaks into your arteries and refuses to leave. Hard sauce hasn't been banned here, yet.

At the next table, a young couple had just finished their meal. They were enjoying an after-dinner cigarette.. Yes, in the year 2005, they were smoking inside a restaurant. And nobody else seemed to care. Can you believe it?

Feeling quite satisfied, I strolled back home in the early evening. Along the way I was greeted with the occasional "Merry Christmas to you". Not everybody was friendly - this is not Disneyland, after all - but I did see many smiles.

Ah, yes, Christmas is here, in the traditional way. No grinches lurking around, trying to enforce diversity, multi-culturalism, food regulations, anti-obesity campaigns, or no-smoking regulations. Nobody standing over your every move to make sure it won't offend somebody else.

And as I walked back along the lane, I couldn't help noticing the dozens of smiling, giggling, prostitutes. They looked so adorable in their little, red, Santa hats and their short, short, skirts.


Yes, prostitutes, wearing little, red, Santa hats and short skirts, getting ready for their normal, Saturday night's work. Prostitutes have been a tradition around this part of the world since long before the birth of Christ. Nobody here seems too offended by that tradition either.

This year I am enjoying Christmas in the city of Bangkok, Thailand; a city whose name -- in the local language -- means, "City of Angels". Seems a fitting name for a place where men still have the freedom to enjoy Christmas as they wish.

Peter in Bangkok (Email: )

The above email reminds me of my previous posts about the enthusiasm for Christmas in China and Malaysia -- and also of this:

"Hundreds of young men decked with tinsel wander outside Senegal's mosques, hawking plastic Christmas trees. Women pray to Allah on a sidewalk where an inflatable Santa Claus happens to be hanging.

Senegal may be 95 percent Muslim, but it certainly knows it's Christmas. In fact, for this nation of 12 million it's a national holiday.

Blame it on globalization, which has turned the West's yuletide icons into a worldwide commodity. Or the Internet, or Hollywood, or the availability of travel that allows new generations of Senegalese to sample Christmas at close quarters. But mainly, Senegalese revel in the trappings of Christmas because they can and want to.

Muslims recognize Jesus Christ as a prophet, but don't generally celebrate the date of his birth. Many Muslim societies discourage Christmas hoopla. But Senegalese say they have a long history of tolerance and coexistence with Christians, so why not share Christmas?"

It is only the hate-everything Western Left who are intolerant of Christmas


(From Deroy Murdock)

The idea that Christmas is offensive offends me.

I say this not as a Bible-waving Religious Right-winger, but as a socially relaxed libertarian whose last wisps of faith evaporated in college while studying the Holocaust. (I never could wedge the phrases "loving God" and "gas chamber" into the same sentence.) Even as a non-believer, I resent the relentless drive to convert Christmas into "Holiday" and pretend that all those beautifully decorated trees are really Hanukkah bushes, Kwanzaa shrubs, or Solstice topiaries.

The Orwellian impulse to hammer Christmas into the generic "Holiday" is mainly a project of far-left, militant secularists as well as corporate marketers whose courage can be measured in thimbles. Fearful that "Merry Christmas" might make someone "uncomfortable," they instead antagonize the 95 percent of Americans who celebrate Christmas, according to a Fox News poll.

Some have gone further, with acts that are insensitive, offensive, or simply stupid.

* The White House this month mailed 1.4 million cards wishing recipients a "Happy Holiday Season." This is not the first such generic card design, but in today's atmosphere, it made many Bush supporters grind their molars.

* In Manhasset, N.Y., Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman upbraided a Catholic priest who appeared at a Dec. 2 Christmas festival. "We're here to celebrate the holiday tree lighting," Kaiman said after Father Nick Zientarski offered a blessing. "This is not the place for a religious ceremony." Kaiman apologized after he unleashed a maelstrom.

* Centennial, Colo.'s Heritage Elementary School banned cookies shaped like Christmas symbols, candy canes bearing religious messages, and teacher and student references to seasonal gatherings as "Christmas" parties.

* A Memphis, Tenn., public library allowed a Nativity scene _ provided Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were excluded. (Manger, yes. Messiah, no.) Attorneys persuaded the library to reverse this decision.

* Much as "Uncle Joe" erased his enemies from photos of VIPs taken atop Lenin's Tomb, Stalinists at Ridgeway Elementary School in Dodgeville, Wis., airbrushed the lyrics to "Silent Night." Children in its "Winter Program" instead sang these bastardized words: "Cold in the night, no one in sight/winter winds whirl and bite/How I wish I were happy and warm/safe with my family, out of the storm."

"Silent Night" is neither a paean to Christianity's darkest hours, such as the Spanish Inquisition, nor a blood-soaked depiction of Christian Muslim-killing during the Crusades. Either might terrify first-graders. Instead, it features some of music's gentlest lyrics: "Silent night, holy night/All is calm, all is bright/Round yon virgin mother and Child/Holy Infant, so tender and mild/Sleep in heavenly peace/Sleep in heavenly peace."

How jarring. This leveling campaign is also tactically idiotic. Many of those undermining Christmas happen to oppose the teaching of intelligent design, favor gay marriage, and support physician-assisted suicide. These are all weighty matters on today's public agenda. If "progressives" want to be taken seriously on these issues between January and November, it would be smart not to spend December pettily tormenting those who usually disagree with them.

Americans who busy themselves bleaching Christmas into "Holiday" are the same folks who otherwise preach tolerance and celebrate diversity. Well, how about tolerating those of us, Christians and otherwise, who advance diversity by observing Christmas, just as other Americans mark Hanukkah and assorted occasions this season? "Holiday" does not recognize these separate practices; it swirls them in a conformist blender. The meaningless puree that emerges satisfies no one. Christmas is a cultural expression as well as a religious one. It should be preserved as such.

For me, and surely others, "Silent Night," Saint Nick, and Christmas cards (not "Holiday" cards), conjure up fond memories of drinking egg nog with relatives at grandma's house, wrapping gifts with my mom and cousins, waking up at dawn to see what Santa Claus brought me and my sisters, and assembling train sets and Hot Wheels race tracks with Daddy. By laundering Christmas right out of December, the "Holiday" police condemn these formative experiences as evil. Shame on them.

If the radical secularizers have the courage of their rigid convictions, they will lobby Congress to repeal Christmas as a federal holiday. Then we all can go to work every Dec. 25. I wonder if that would make anyone "uncomfortable."

Enough is enough. Get off our backs. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Don't mention the C-word: The word 'Christmas' is conspicuous by its absence in NYC

"Here in New York City, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. There are all the trappings: the trees, the lights, the tinsel. The radio plays Jingle Bell Rock, Santa is in his Grotto, and 10 mail-order catalogues, identical to the ones that arrived yesterday and the day before, arrive to remind us just how long it's possible to procrastinate and still get the goods on time. And yet, this year is different...there is something off about it.

The most obvious difference is the disappearance of the word 'Christmas'. I'm not talking about simply substituting 'Happy Holidays' or 'Season's Greetings' for 'Merry Christmas' on cards. It's almost as if the word never existed. Watch the TV commercials during an afternoon of American football, and 'Christmas' is conspicuous by its absence. Santa is there, the reindeer, the Christmas trees, but there's nary a 'Merry Christmas', just 'Ho! Ho! Ho! Happy Holidays'.

Christmas parties are 'Festive Holiday Gatherings' and even Christmas decorations have a strangely half-hearted feel. Witness the rising popularity of the snowman. These roly-poly men are everywhere, just bland enough to please most of the people most of the time. Stick a sprig of holly on a snowman and he's vaguely Christmassy. In a multicoloured scarf he's just an inoffensive ball of precipitation - supernatural, yes, but in a woolly, wintery sort of way.

Shopping for gifts, it's virtually impossible to find the C-word in advertising or displays. Visit any of the big-box retailers - Target, Walmart, K-Mart - and you will see few references to Christmas. 106.7 Lite FM, New York's soft rock radio station, is playing 'non-stop holiday music'. The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is now simply referred to as 'THE TREE'. It looks a lot like a Christmas tree, it's popularly called 'the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree', but no one wants to go on the record saying that.

Personally, I'm not so shy. I love Christmas. Not enough to set up one of those year-round Christmas boutiques but more than enough to start humming Silver Bells in early November. Yet even I have wavered this year. Being an atheist, I have never sent cards with a picture of the baby Jesus or wise men or stars, but this year I find myself wondering who among the people I know might be offended by something as overtly Christmassy as Santa Claus and reindeer. In the dark night of my soul, I chose snowmen.

Of course, I'm not the first person to comment on the absence of Christmas at Christmas time. Conservative Christians are very sensitive to the rise of 'The Holidays'. In October, John Gibson, a commentator for Fox News, published a book called The War Against Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought. He argues that liberals, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in particular, are at the forefront of a campaign against Christmas as part of a broader anti-Christian movement. He cites examples from across the country: a float featuring a nativity scene banned from Denver's Christmas parade; in Washington state a mother is prevented from serving her child's class a cake decorated with the words 'Happy Birthday Jesus'; in Maplewood, New Jersey, a class trip to see a performance of Dickens' A Christmas Carol is cancelled and performances of Christmas music prohibited.

For Gibson and others it seems there is a secularist conspiracy. Look more closely, however, and something different is going on. For one thing, the bans aren't always aimed at overtly religious symbols. They include Christmas trees, saying 'Merry Christmas', and decorations in red and green. More tellingly, they seem to be defensive responses to the threat of criticism rather than a premeditated effort. In most cases, school administrators and local bureaucrats have acted on the basis of a single complaint, or more commonly just in case someone might be offended.

These bans are unique and unprecedented. They far exceed any of the existing prohibitions on what can be displayed on public property without violating the American separation of church and state. Even the Supreme Court, the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution's first amendment separation of church and state, takes a softer line on Christmas. It has no problem with 'secular' Christmas displays featuring elements like reindeer or candy canes and even allows the display of religious imagery because it is representative of the origins of the holiday. The bans don't so much seek to take the Christ out of Christmas as to take the 'Christmas' out of the Christmas holiday entirely.

Why is American society so ambivalent about this Christmas? To put things in perspective, Christmas has been under attack for a while; it has been targeted for years by moralists and killjoys. We have been told how it is grossly commercialised, too materialistic and too unhealthy. We have been told how it puts us at risk of depression, strains our families and our pocket books. It is a testament to the enduring appeal of Christmas that no one has yet tried to ban it for health reasons.

The current assault on Christmas has its root in the politics of diversity. Over the past decade, diversity has become part of the lexicon of American culture and business. Every corporation espouses its commitment to achieving it. Diversity consulting has become a burgeoning industry, offering services in organisational development, human resources management, education, training , legal and 'crises management'. What is offensive or inappropriate is judged, not on the basis of actual complaints, but on the basis of standards set by diversity experts.

An article by Simma Liberman, co-author of the book Putting Diversity to Work: How to Successfully Lead a Diverse Workforce, is typical: 'Guess who's not celebrating Christmas this year? Millions of people in the United States. That's right. Tens of millions of Americans don't celebrate Christmas religiously, either as followers of non-Christian religions (Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews) or as individuals with no religious affiliation.. It used to be that being inclusive meant sending out politically correct "Happy Holidays" greeting cards and changing Christmas office parties to "holiday parties". Today, inclusiveness and diversity is about more than just changing labels and titles.'

To employers, Liberman suggests making the holiday party general with decorations that are not specific to any religion, or holding a New Year's party instead. To individuals, she advises plugging the word 'holiday' into Google and reading about other traditions and adding holidays like Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Ramadan and Diwali to calendars and PDAs to increase awareness of them.

The assumption is that celebrating Christmas inevitably excludes and possibly offends vast numbers of people. This seems unlikely. In the US many people, Christians, atheists and even a fair number of Jews, celebrate Christmas and up until recently most people were fairly relaxed about it. What's changed is that the politics of diversity is now so ubiquitous, we are simply no longer able to take any cultural event at face value...

More here


News from Nice in France

An extreme-right French group has found a way to distribute Christmas cheer only to a chosen few by offering homeless people free hot soup containing pork, which observant Jews and Muslims do not eat. The soup kitchen, set up at the harbour of this Riviera town, draws about as many protesters as poor people. Police stand guard between it and a Catholic charity group distributing vegetable soup outside their church.

Dominique Lescure, head of the small ultra-nationalist group distributing the soup, disputed charges by angry protesters on Wednesday evening that what he called his "patriots' soup" was meant to exclude Jews and Muslims. "I don't see why I should not be able to put pork, which has always played a major role in my country's cuisine, into a traditional soup that I want to distribute, admittedly, to my compatriots and European homeless people," he argued. "I'm not excluding anyone," he shouted in a heated exchange with a handful of jeering protesters. "We're tired of being treated like little Nazis. If a Muslim comes, I'll serve him, but the real poor these days are our people."

Standing nearby under bright Christmas lighting, a city official said he could do nothing about the controversial soup kitchen. "Serving soup with pork is not a crime," said deputy mayor Noel Ayraud.

The nationalist far-right is a strong fringe group in France, where its supporters feel under threat from Europe, globalisation and the country's five-million-strong Muslim community, the largest Islamic majority in Europe.... When he launched his soup kitchen in early December, Lescure said in a statement he wanted to help "our least fortunate blood brothers ... in this hour when the black tide of demographic submersion and free-market impoverisation is rising."

More here

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Pity if you're the child concerned though. Political correctness is very strange indeed in deciding to whom it extends its special favours

An [Australian] Aborigine's jail term has been lifted on appeal to 18 months for having sex with his 14-year-old promised wife. The case has flamed debate about the role of customary Aboriginal law in the wider Australian legal system, as the traditional Aboriginal man believed his actions were allowed under tribal law. The man - who speaks English as his fourth language and lives in the remote NT outback - also did not know his actions were illegal under NT laws. The Northern Territory Court of Appeal today found the 55-year-old's earlier sentence was "manifestly inadequate".

The court had heard the girl was promised to the man - who cannot be named for legal reasons - when she was just four. He became angry after she struck up a friendship with a young man in June last year, during her school holidays. Believing the girl had a sexual relationship with the boy, the man beat her with a boomerang at the outback Aboriginal community, south-west of Katherine. He later took her to his remote outstation - where he lived with his wife and young children - threatened her with a boomerang and had anal sex with her. The child later told police: "I told that old man I'm too young for sex, but he didn't listen".

The man believed that intercourse with the girl was acceptable because she had been promised to him and had turned 14, the court heard. In August, the man pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault and a charge of carnal knowledge. At the time Chief Justice Brian Martin imposed a total two-year sentence, but suspended it after one month.

The Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the leniency of the sentence, and the Court of Appeal today imposed a total sentence of three years and 11 months, suspended after 18 months. In handing down the court's ruling, Justice Dean Mildren issued a stern warning that violence would not be tolerated by the courts. "The courts view very seriously and will not tolerate violence by Aboriginal men upon Aboriginal women or children, whether that violence is tolerated by Aboriginal law or not," Justice Mildren said. He said it was important Aboriginal people know sexual intercourse with a child under 16 was a serious offence. "The fact that the child has been promised in marriage according to Aboriginal customary law does not excuse such offending," he said. However, he said it was important to remember the man was not charged with rape.

Justice Mildren said the law had stopped short of making promised marriages illegal. "(But) such marriages cannot be consummated until the promised wife has turned 16," he said. "Plainly the purpose of (the law)... is to give Aboriginal girls some freedom of choice as to whether or not they want to enter into such a marriage, and to thereby empower them to pursue ... employment opportunities or further education rather than be pushed into pregnancy or traditional domesticity prematurely."



It shows what liars Western Leftists are when they say that Christmas "offends" Muslims. Christmas is probably better celebrated in Malaysian shopping malls than in some American ones

With just seven days to go before Christmas, Malaysians of all races are beginning to soak up the festivity spirit, especially at shopping malls. Take, for example, the scene at Mid Valley Megamall yesterday. Armed with camera phones and digital cameras, Malaysians and tourists gathered around the glittery silver and white Christmas decorations there to take snapshots with their friends and family.

Crystal balls and feathers decked white tree branches while gold lights hung down from the ceiling. Large Christmas trees were adorned with silver balls and "angels wings" with Christmas carols in the air.

Property consultant James Ng said his boys, aged seven and five, were so excited that they ran towards the decorations and wanted to get on the stage. "The decorations are beautiful. It's nice just to leave problems aside, and enjoy the moment and Christmas spirit with the family," he said. Pakistani tourist Kehkashan Awan said it was heartening to see people spend time together as a family while Norashikin Abdul Ghani took photographs with her husband and four-month-old daughter.

Children also had the opportunity to take pictures with Santa for RM10 during the "Santa Meet-and-Greet" session ending on Dec 25 with proceeds going to charity.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

What's the real difference between wishing someone a "Merry Christmas" or instead, saying "Happy Holidays?" Both are said in kindness, meant to wish someone well during the same time of year. It seems that the two should be interchangable, that they both essentially mean the same thing. Therefore, when someone takes offense to being wished a "Merry Christmas", it seems like no big deal to just substitute "Happy Holidays" and be done with it. It may seem like no big deal, but it is.

A Very Big Deal.

Christmas is not just any old holiday. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, and the teachings of good will and kindness towards one another that Christ brought to this world. We celebrate his birth not only to honor Him, but to remind ourselves of how we strive to live our lives of faith.

The majority of Americans belong to a religion or faith that believes in the teachings of Jesus. Why is the majority being asked to hide their faith for the so called 'comfort' of a minority? Our country is based on majority rule. While it would be unreasonable to force all to be the religion of the majority, it is equally unreasonable to ask the majority to deny their faith because a select few are uncomfortable. Yet, this is exactly what is happening.

We deny our children the right to celebrate Christmas in their public schools. They are not allowed to sing Christmas carols, decorate Christmas trees or even hand out candy canes with religious sentiments. In fact, some of our children have been punished, suspended or chastized for doing so. What message does this send to our children? It implies that there is something wrong with expressing faith in Jesus. It subtly pulls them away from their faith, while at the same time promoting other minority faiths as being somehow 'better' or more acceptable. Our children are damaged by these ridiculous practices, and it is time to put an end to the persecution of Christianity in our public schools. Christianity is the predominant faith of our country, it should not be treated as it it was deviant or radical or even subversive. Yet, it is. Small wonder that our society is moving farther away from religion and losing touch with the discipline and moral code that religious practice offers.

It is also interesting to note that many non-christians celebrate Christmas. Has any Christian ever come out and condemned anyone for participating in the holiday without believing in Christ? Has any Christian group ever come out and denied a religious presentation in a public school by another religious group? Of course not. It is only Christianity which is repeatedly shunned from school celebrations. The liberal agenda is hard at work, making sure Jesus stays out of his own holiday.

The fact is that the teachings of Christ are the basis for our legal system and government. Thou shalt not kill, ( murder) covet thy neighbor's wife, (adultery) lie, steal, bear false witness, etc all come from the ten commandments. As a member of our society, we buy into these beliefs as true and sound. Therefore, we have a reason to celebrate Christmas even if we aren't Christian, as we are celebrating the fundamental cornerstones of our society.

What we lose when we generalize the Christmas season with the ambiguous "Happy Holidays" is the connection between Christ and Christmas. That is exactly what the liberals want us to do. They want to level the playing field and keep the minority in rule, instead of the rightful majority. Liberalism is socialism, and if you look at socialism or socialist countries you will find that they often do not allow religion. They don't want anything to compete with the influence of the government over its people. "Happy Holidays" is the first step in eradicating the most prominent religion from our society.

What can we do about this? We can remember to stand proud in our faith, and not allow ourselves to be browbeaten by the minority liberal agenda. We can set a place for Christ at our Christmas table, and make sure that our holiday is centered around the teachings of Jesus. We can take the time to renew our faith, and build upon the strength that our faith provides for us. We can greet one another with a boisterous "Merry Christmas!" and know we mean just that.


Public kissing still allowed in Queensland, Australia

Queensland's corruption watchdog has thrown out a sexual harassment complaint made against the state's top cop over a kiss on the cheek. The Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) today confirmed it was no longer investigating the complaint, which was made by the wife of a police inspector disciplined for sexual misconduct. The woman alleged Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson sexually harassed her when he greeted her with a kiss on the cheek at a Police Youth Club function last month. A CMC spokeswoman said the body had assessed the complaint, which was received on November 7. But she said it was not intending to take the matter further. "It doesn't raise a suspicion of official misconduct and police misconduct," she said.

Premier Peter Beattie today defended his police commissioner as a decent man and described the complaint as "silly". "I think it's just a nonsense," he said. "A peck on the cheek for many people is not an unreasonable thing." Mr Beattie said he was regularly kissed on the cheek - and kissed others on the cheek in his role as a public figure - and did not regard it as sexual harassment. "I went to a function last night at one of our major corporate bodies and I must have kissed or been kissed by 10 or 15 .... women at the function," he said. And he urged Queenslanders not to be overly sensitive about such affectionate greetings.

"I have a lot of faith in Bob Atkinson and I think he's a very decent man, and I think we have to be a bit careful about not being too politically correct and too sensitive about these things," he said. "If that's the case, quite a lot of people could be charged with sexual harassment."


Thursday, December 22, 2005


Troops are massed on the ground floor of a nondescript, green-glassed building that's become ground zero for an annual campaign to defend Christmas. The "soldiers" lined up for the fight are 832 lawyers ready to charge any municipality or public school that dares excise the mention or observance of the world's most widely celebrated holiday. A framed poster near the entrance asks: "Have you ever experienced discrimination because you are a Christian?" It hints at the philosophical bent of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Christian legal group based here.

The phones are busy in Scottsdale. The first week of December alone brought in 159 calls from around the country for legal advice on everything from protecting creches at city hall to what to do when a school in Wisconsin changes the first line of "Silent Night" to "Cold in the night, no one in sight."

The ADF is not alone. The Rev. Jerry Falwell recently started a "Friend or Foe Christmas campaign," offering the free services of 700 lawyers with the Liberty Counsel of Orlando, Fla., ready to file suit over any holiday infringements.

Earlier this month, the newly formed Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation held a press conference calling on American Jews to defend Christians' right to say "Merry Christmas" and to celebrate openly the birth of Jesus Christ. "Christmas is disappearing," Don Feder, the group's president, says. "It's disappearing from our culture at an alarming rate, disappearing from stores, disappearing from schools and disappearing from the public square."

The ADF says it's been aware of the trend since its founding 12 years ago by 30 Christian organizations. Two Minnesota cases were what drew the attention of Joseph Infranco, the ADF's senior vice president. One involved two girls who were suspended in 1999 from a middle school in Rochester for wearing red-and-green scarves and saying "Merry Christmas" in a school video. The other case involved Ramsey County Courthouse in St. Paul, which in 2001 banned red poinsettias for being a religious symbol. "We looked at each other one day and said, 'It's a sad, sad day in America when you have to retain an attorney to say Merry Christmas,' " Mr. Infranco says.

What's helped the ADF grow from $400,000 in gross revenues in 1993 to $17 million today is its annual "Christmas project," which enlists lawyers around the country to take up cases where Christmas is under attack. But first these lawyers had to be trained. "There's a litigious component to our culture wars," says Jeffery Ventrella, an ADF vice president. "You can't just have a good-hearted lawyer. You have to be a good-hearted, skilled lawyer."

In 1997, the ADF began its "national litigation academies." In weeklong sessions, legal experts coach attorneys on the concepts of religious freedom, parental rights, the First Amendment and equal access. The ADF pays all expenses. According to its 2004 tax return, the group spent $4.8 million training 80 law students and 120 attorneys last year. The 832 lawyers who have attended the academies agree to donate 450 hours, which at $175 an hour clocks out at $65 million worth of pro-bono time.

In 2003, the ADF took on a dozen Christmas-related cases. Officials at the organization said they were amazed to see that, in many cases, all that was needed was a "demand letter" to school or municipal officials. "Half the battle is showing up," Mr. Ventrella says. "You have to saddle up and show up or you lose. We're winning 75 percent of the cases we're showing up at. And if you set a precedent, it's the gift that keeps on giving."

In 2004, the ADF sent more than 6,700 letters to school districts and cities, informing local officials that the U.S. Constitution does not forbid public celebrations of Christmas. Christmas carols may be sung in school; it's constitutional to refer to the December break as a "Christmas holiday"; the right of teachers and students to say "Merry Christmas" is protected by the First Amendment. The ADF also assures local officials that the religious origins of Christmas may be studied in school and that students may express religious viewpoints in clothing, reading materials and school assignments.

Other advice: Schools may display religious symbols if there's an educational reason for doing so. Cities may sponsor religious displays on public property if there is a secular purpose, such as celebrating a holiday or depicting its origins. "When you take a creche out of a public square that's been there 80 [to] 90 years, you send the message there's something wrong with that display," Mr. Infranco says. "And by removing that display, you change the culture. For instance, how many public school districts still call the Christmas holiday its 'Christmas break?' Almost nowhere."

Reaction to the ADF was swift, he adds. "It was amazing the extent of hostility by organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union or Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who were the tail wagging the dog," he says. "We knew that 96 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas, and they were being held hostage by these extremist groups."

Americans United spokesman Rob Boston calls the ADF "a powerful group." "I think the ADF is interested in moving this country toward an officially Christian state by knocking down the wall of separation between church and state," he says. Within nearly 17,000 school districts in the United States, "a handful of incidents a year does now show a systemwide bias against Christianity," he says. "It does show some people in the school system do not understand the law."

This year, the ADF sent out letters to more than 10,000 school districts and hundreds of cities across the country, warning them to not curtail legal Christmas observances. Its Web site,, posts legal victories to date. "We hope citizens will take the holiday back," Mr. Infranco says. "They can go to city hall and say, 'We had a creche here five years ago. What happened to it? We want it back.' "



Panic: 'MP calls for ban on artificial sweetener', reports the Guardian on fears related to the sweetener aspartame, more widely known as NutraSweet. Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams, a member of the parliamentary select committee on food and the environment, said in a Commons debate that there was 'compelling and reliable evidence for this carcinogenic substance to be banned from the UK food and drinks market altogether'. Williams referred in particular to a study announced earlier this year from the European Ramazzini Foundation, which found statistically significant increases in leukaemia and lymphomas in rats fed a diet with the sweetener added.

Don't panic: While there have been long-standing suggestions that aspartame is carcinogenic, the sweetener has been the subject of numerous reviews that have drawn the conclusion that it is not a health risk.

On the face of it, aspartame seems an unlikely cause of cancer. As it is digested, the sweetener is broken down into simpler by-products, two amino acids plus methanol, which are already found in the diet in other foods. If aspartame is carcinogenic, then so are many normal foods. For example, tomato juice contains six times as much methanol as the equivalent volume of aspartame-sweetened soft drink. The quantities of aspartame consumed on average, about 2-3mg per kilogram of body weight per day, are well below the 40 mg/kg per day specified as safe by the European Union (EU).

The European Ramazzini Foundation study does suggest that aspartame is a health risk. Rats bred to spontaneously develop cancers developed more cancers while consuming aspartame than those that did not. For example, rats given the equivalent of 100 times the safe dose of aspartame were roughly twice as likely to develop lymphomas and leukaemias as those given no aspartame. There were also effects seen at lower doses.

However, such a study on a rather peculiar breed of animal cannot be a reliable guide to the effect of aspartame on humans. In passing, it is worth noting that there have been suggestions in the past that aspartame could increase the risk of brain tumours - but no significant increased risk of brain tumours was found in this study.

Before these results were widely publicised, it would have been better for them to be reviewed in the light of previous research, especially human epidemological studies, to make a balanced assessment of risk. Given the ubiquity of aspartame in all sorts of foods, any significant increased risk of cancer in humans would surely have shown up by now. One of the largest manufacturers of aspartame, Ajinomoto, has criticised the Ramazzini study as 'not consistent with the extensive body of scientific research which already exists on aspartame'.

The irony is that this is another example of competing panics. Aspartame has become popular at a time when many people are trying to lose weight, often for health reasons inspired by the hysteria around obesity. On the other hand, it is now suggested that aspartame may be carcinogenic. So, we're damned if we do and damned if we don't. Sweet.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas in Suzhou

(Post lifted from China Hand, an Australian expatriate teaching in China)

The politically correct brigade in Australia and elsewhere, and the (minority) Muslim/Jewish bandwagon riders might like to note that here in China where Christians are a tiny minority, Christmas is publicly celebrated with more enthusiasm than in Oz. My college, Suzhou HKU SPACE Global College, which is a Malaysian-HK-local university joint venture is decked out with Christmas decoration and the lift lobby plastered with notices of Christmas parties.

Department stores everywhere in Suzhou are decorated and Christmas carols blare from every speaker. Restaurants and bars are covered in fake holly and Santa faces. I haven't seen a Santa Claus in the flesh yet but he can't be far away.

Our school, which has Christians amongst its leaders, has organized a Christmas Eve dinner. One of my colleagues did demure when it was suggested, saying "I can't go, I'm a Buddhist!". I heard he was one of the first to confirm his attendance.

Since the 1980's local Chinese friends - some known for their hard line against the Open Door policy - have been sending me Christmas cards. Sure it might be just Western Chic, but it is rather touching to an old Scrooge like me!

It seems China leads Australia in multiculturalism and tolerance!

Multicultural Christmas waning in Australia?

Sydney Mayor Clover Moore learned her lesson. Last year, Ms Moore decided to put a limit on Christmas decorations around the city, allegedly out of sensitivity to multiculturalism. She was on the receiving end of a highly non-festive barrage of criticism, including from John Howard, who branded her decision "political correctness from central casting". This year, you can hardly move in Sydney for trees, fairy-lights and Santas. But Ms Moore is not the only pollie who finds it convenient to cosy up to the fat guy in the red suit. Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has called for the Christian symbolism to be put back into Christmas, including in schools, and Mr Howard was back on his favourite silly-season turf yesterday, calling for department stores to bring back nativity scenes.

It's all fairly shameless posturing, but it has a point: Christmas is Christmas, which is not quite the same thing as the "holiday season". And what Christmas means to Christians -- who still number over half the Australian population -- is the celebration of the birth of their Saviour. The real point about the effort to drain Christmas of religious content, supposedly in the name of multiculturalism, is that it does not originate from any religious or ethnic minority. Like "critical literacy", the sanitised Christmas seems largely the creation of social engineers and education bureaucrats. When this same debate surfaced last year, Waleed Aly from the Islamic Council of Victoria said it all in The Australian: banishing the Christianity in Christmas, he wrote, is not multiculturalism at all -- "it is anti-culturalism". All faiths are welcome here, but the Christian story, and the values it reflects, have a special and immutable place in our tradition.



England's most zealous policeman has been told to stop feeling quite so many collars because he is scaring the suspects off. PC Diederik Coetzee, who holds the national record for the number of arrests in a year, has been ordered not to make any more in a particular street in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, despite its reputation as a haunt of drug dealers. Managers of the Sherwood Street day centre and YMCA hostel complained that PC Coetzee was nicking too many of their "vulnerable" young clients and frightening away the needy who sought refuge from a life on the streets.

While the average officer manages only 9.5 arrests a year, PC Coetzee has already smashed the existing record of 305 held by a Northumbria police dog handler and has received an official commendation. He had set himself a target of 380 by the end of this month, an aim which will now be more difficult to achieve. "Everyone has a lot of respect for PC Coetzee, but there is no point in having a centre like this if the very people it is meant to help stay away," a source at the day centre said.

Chief Inspector John Eyre said: "PC Coetzee is an enthusiastic, tenacious and pro-active police officer. Recently his work, including arresting people who have failed to appear in court, has led to concerns from managers at Sherwood Street day centre that his actions may deter vulnerable members of the community from using the service." Chief Inspector Eyre added: "In a spirit of co-operation with the day centre, police have come to an agreement that extra care and consideration will be taken as to where any such arrests take place."

Known locally as Robocop, PC Coetzee, 48, a married father of two, came to Britain from South Africa eight years ago after 24 years as a police explosives expert and dog handler in Johannesburg. Two years ago, the area was among the 30 most deprived areas in England and Wales. The latest crime figures show 26 violent attacks per 1,000 head of population compared with a national average of 16.5; 10 house burglaries against an average of 6.4; 7 vehicle thefts against an average of 4.5 and 17 thefts from vehicles compared with 10.

When he joined Nottinghamshire Constabulary five years ago he set about cleaning up the Ladybrook estate on his mountasin bike, unlike his bulletproof vest and firearms days in Johannesburg. Speaking recently after his commendation PC Coetzee said: "I've got to know the criminals and they all know me. They don't even try to run from me any more, because they know I'll catch up with them." At the time Inspector Samantha Wilson, his area commander, said he was an outstanding officer who had made a significant contribution. Now she has had to tell him to ease off.

Down at Mansfield nick yesterday the talk was of little else. "It's ridiculous," a source said. "He's officially the best copper in Britain but he's been told to stop arresting people in an area where drug dealers and burglars are known to hang about. His trouble is he's too good at what he does." The same cannot be said for Nottinghamshire Constabulary, which two years ago was named the second-worst performer among the 43 forces in England and Wales.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

No ham for Christmas: Muslim menu for West Australia hospital

No tolerance shown for Australian majority customs -- like ham at Christmas dinner

A WA hospital has scrubbed baked ham from its Christmas menu, fearing Muslim patients could be offended. It has also overhauled its entire menu so that all meals are now halal - containing only meat and other food prepared according to Muslim customs.

But Port Hedland Regional Hospital staff and many non-Muslim patients are outraged, saying it is a case of political correctness gone mad. Kitchen staff are so angry that they have organised a petition demanding ham be put back on the Christmas menu. Other WA hospitals are also introducing halal dining, though the Health Department says Port Hedland is the only one to convert its entire menu to suit Muslims.

Hospital directors decided to axe the traditional festive season baked ham because of the high percentage of Muslim patients. Eating pork or ham is forbidden under Muslim custom. Until now, Muslims were asked to supply their own food if they did not want to eat hospital fare. The hospital's nursing director, Judy Davis, said though ham was not on the menu, Christian patients would not miss out on festive cheer. "We'll still make Christmas special - we've got prawns and all sorts of other special treats," she said.

But one long-time Port Hedland hospital worker told The Sunday Times the menu change was "unAustralian". "It's going to be a boring old Christmas lunch for the patients," he said. "After all, what's Christmas without a ham, or Sunday morning without bacon and eggs? "The management of the hospital are unable to stand up to a minority and keep our Australian way of life intact. They are bowing to the pressure of a select few." He warned that the only politically correct fare would soon be "a bowl of rice and a cup of tea". "No wonder the true-blue Australians are getting angry," he said. "Now all we need is for someone of the Hindu faith to jump up and down and we'll have no beef. "Before we know it, if you're sick in Port Hedland, you will have to be happy with a diet of boiled rice and a cup of tea."

A Health Department spokeswoman said the menu change was about meeting the needs of the Islamic community. She denied it meant sacrificing Christian traditions. "Port Hedland has one of the largest Muslim communities outside the capital cities of Australia, and has done so for many years," the spokeswoman said. "Changes to the menu meant pork and ham were no longer offered to patients. "However, other meat and alternatives are available." She said no patients had complained, but the Health Department was aware that staff at Port Hedland were unhappy.

"We are aware that staff would like ham for Christmas lunch, and this will be provided by the hospital," the spokeswoman said. "The majority of hospitals try to take into account the different patient mix when deciding on their menu, and offer several choices."


Big Brother is Watching Out For You

A post about the near future lifted from Peg Kaplan

You're on vacation for the Christmas winter holidays. Strolling over to the local Barnes and Noble, you decide to pick up a hot, semi-trashy novel to enjoy by the fire. But alas; when you get to B & N, you can't find anything like that in the store. A friendly employee explains. "Oh, of course we used to carry those kinds of books. But, since the government passed the "Reading for your Mind" legislation, we're not allowed to carry anything other than Fine Literature and Non-Fiction. May I interest you in a copy of Macbeth? Or perhaps A Practical Guide to Vertebrate Mechanics?"

She continues on. "Actually, we feel fortunate that we're still allowed to carry any fiction at all. The Reading Committee for Your Health was contemplating barring anything that wasn't non-fiction. At the last minute, however, they decided to make exemptions for Shakespeare, Chaucer and the like. Can I help you find some 18th century literature? Or perhaps a nice book on string theory?" A bit in shock, you politely decline. No Good Girls Don't at B&N? Wow.

OK. Instead, you decide to go out for a pleasant dinner. Being the holidays and all, you elect to treat yourself to your favorite cuisine at Chez Trendy. They have a seafood dish in cream sauce that's to die for..... Uh oh. Apparently the Act for Better Eating has utterly destroyed the menu at Chez Trendy! No more snails swimming in butter, no delectably marbled meats, no alfredo anything. Other than fresh fruit, desserts have been eliminated. "Can I interest you in some steamed cauliflower and broiled turkey burgers?" inquires the attentive waiter. After checking the miniscule selection on Chez's menu, you ultimately decide upon the Baked Chicken Breast with Boiled Mashed Carrots. "I'd like a little extra butter for my carrots, too," you tell your waiter.

He blanches. "Butter?!?" he asks in a hushed but shocked tone of voice? Oh, sir. We aren't allowed to carry butter any longer in the restaurant. The Act for Better Eating only allows one tablespoon of canola oil per diner... Perhaps you'd like a side of low fat cottage cheese instead. That's still available - for those who are no more than 20% above the ideal body mass index." Now they're assessing your body mass when you go out for dinner? That's about it. You storm out of Chez Trendy, and decide to pick up a juicy cheeseburger at the local fast food greasy spoon. As you drive by, however, you see a sign out in front: "Closed. This establishment found to be Unsafe by Order of the Act for Better Eating."

Everywhere you go, it's the same. You wanted to splurge and get a glitzy piece of jewelry, but the Enforced Savings Regulations make it a felony to spend more than .5% of your annual income on precious jewels. The next morning, you and the family were going to go skiing, but that sport has been deemed a Highly Dangerous Activity and is now illegal.

Perhaps the worst blow was the warning you receive in your mailbox. "Warning. It has come to the attention of the FBM (Federal Body Monitoring) that you have not been exercising appropriately as of late. Please make certain that you complete at least 5.7 hours of exercise each week, fill out the details of same in this 16 page disclosure, and fax to us at 555.3812. Failure to do so can result in heavy fines, or even arrest."

Now, life in these United States isn't quite at this stage yet. And, if freedom loving citizens have their way, it won't ever get close. Sometimes, however, even the most sensible of people embrace the notion that government should tell us how to live - in our own best interests, of course.

Here in MN, Hennepin County just rolled back a ban on smoking. Actually, that's not quite accurate; smoking is still banned in restaurants, but relaxed for bars meeting certain criteria. The upshot? The smoking police are up in arms.

And we've all heard the stories about communities considering banning soft drinks for kids, advertising for fast food, or the inability to get a rare burger when you want it.

Now, don't get me wrong. I actually enjoy the fruits of smoking bans, I believe in eating healthy and exercising (at least, most of the time) - and I'm a strong proponent of living within your means and saving. I also think that loads of what we read, see and hear today is trash, and we'd all be better off if we improved our cultural fare. Yet I am also a strong believer that society is best served when everyone gets to decide for themselves how to live their own life. Who's to say what books are truly worth our while? If an individual chooses to be overweight and relish what they think is good food - who are we to stop them? Even though exercise is clearly beneficial for all - should we be forced into doing it?

Whenever people have choice, some percentage of people will get it woefully wrong. Still, the mere fact that we have that choice will force people to learn about their options, gain skills, and adapt to making wise choices. Otherwise - survival of the fittest will be the law that teaches them - and they won't like the lesson.