Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Post below from Angry Harry. His comparison with pornography law is interesting:

Muslim Cleric Causes Uproar Over Women's Clothing: Australia's most senior Muslim cleric has prompted an uproar by saying that some women are attracting sexual assault by the way they dress.

Of course, this uproar was caused by various women's groups who think that women should bear no responsibility for what they do. Well, in my view, Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali is correct in what he says - at least to some extent. Indeed, only recently, I wrote the following on my Your Emails page to a woman who seemed to think that women should be able to dress as they please without needing to take into account how others might respond.

"... if women behave stupidly, then they deserve less sympathy should something untoward happen. And if, for example, they wander about the place showing off all their bits then they should not be too surprised to find that some mentally dysfunctional male might respond to them. And the fact that women know that such unhappy events are more likely to occur if they are sexually provocative then the fact that they carry on regardless suggests that they are not very concerned about such events. That is the message that they are sending out.

As such, the law should reflect this lesser concern - this message - when deciding what level of negative impact any assault might have had, AND when deciding any punishment.

... Many women, however, seem to wish to take no responsibility for their behaviours. They seem to think that they should be able to flaunt their sexuality all over the place - in order to incite men - and then they think that they have the right to claim that they are victims when some men respond to them in a manner which is absolutely consistent with the message that they, themselves, have been sending out.

In my view, women who set out to entice men sexually bear more responsibility for sexual assaults against them than do women who do not set out to entice men sexually. And this should be reflected in the law.

... Are women such sluts that they think that they are entitled to foist their sexuality on to every passing member of the public? Are women so mind-boggling stupid that they cannot see that flagrantly enticing men sexually might bring about consequences? What makes women think that they have the right to overtly sexually stimulate men who happen to be in the vicinity whereas if men did a similar thing in response - perhaps with their hands - they could be prosecuted?

When women stick out their sexual organs uninvited into men's vision then this is not much different from men sticking out their hands uninvited for a grope. After all, in both cases they are merely trying to elicit a sexual response in the other party in the best way that they know how.

... Furthermore, we all have to accept that in order to safeguard our liberties, we have to tolerate many dysfunctional and/or unstable beings in our society, as well as those who are temporarily 'unbalanced' - for one reason or another. The alternative, in practice, is truly horrible. And, of course, some 20% of males have very low IQs. As such, I think that women are - as seems typical these days - being incredibly selfish if they believe that they are entitled to swirl up the passions of whomsoever they wish and then escape all responsibility for any negative consequences that might arise from ending up with the wrong kind of attention.

In a nutshell: People who go out of their way to provoke "an attack" are less deserving - should an attack materialise - than those who do not.

Most people would agree with this. But western women see themselves as so superior that they think they should be above such things. And they think that they should be able to provoke men - all men - as much as they like - and then take no responsibility! (And this is true not just in the area of sex. It is true in many other areas.) 'Ollocks, I say. Their own behaviour must be taken into account. And, take it from me, it soon will be!

And I stand by that view! I think I'll become a Muslim. And, while on this particular subject, I wish to make an interesting point!

Here, in the UK, we are soon going to outlaw certain types of pornography because some sex-offenders have claimed that "pornography made me do it". In other words, the government reckons that men can be 'enticed' into doing bad things by looking at pictures. Well, surely, if lofty people can accept the notion that men can be 'enticed' by pictures, then they should also accept the notion that men can be enticed by 'reality'!

And, if this is so, then women - who bring about their own reality - and who thrust it upon others - must also often be viewed as responsible for enticing men in much the same way that pornography allegedly does. So, how is it that women can escape all responsibility for enticing men, whereas pornography and pornographers cannot?

Well, of course, the answer is obvious. Women are nowadays held to be responsible for almost nothing that they do; not even for those situations in which they choose to place themselves. They are not held fully responsible when it comes to choosing to bear offspring, when it comes to their work choices, when it comes to whom they have sex with - especially when they are drunk - when it comes to child abuse, and even when it comes to murder.

And now we are simply being indoctrinated with the view that pornography can entice men to do bad things, but women, themselves, cannot. What hokum, eh? What lies!

Notice also that misleading women - especially younger women - into believing that their dress has no effect on the likelihood of being sexually-assaulted will simply lead to more women enticing more sexual assaults. In other words, more women will be hurt.

But, despite what they might say, most women do not actually care about this. So long as they can say and do as they damn well please, they do not actually care how many other women might be assaulted as a result. Indeed, nothing seems nowadays to stand in the way of women getting what they want, regardless of the cost to others.

The link between Islamists and the Left is alive and well in Australia

A group that supports suicide bombers and is being investigated by Australia's intelligence agencies meets in a Melbourne suburb. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party, a self-proclaimed anti-Semitic revolutionary Arabic group, has Victorian branch headquarters in Brunswick. And, in a state election controversy, it has been revealed that a Labor candidate in next month's poll, Khalil Eideh, has close links to the group. Syrian-Australian trucking boss Mr Eideh is running for one of Labor's safest Upper House seats.

The local incarnation of the SSNP, which recently backed Hezbollah and opposes Israel's existence, meets in a semi-industrial building in Albert St. The building facade is blank, with no signs or names on its walls or doors. But the interior has several banners and the party flag on display. On its website, the SSNP heralds "Our Martyrs" -- suicide bombers who attacked Israeli soldiers.

Australian intelligence services have confirmed they are examining possible links between the Melbourne group and the militant arm of Hezbollah. It was revealed in June that Mr Eideh had sent letters to the Syrian regime warning of Zionist threats in Melbourne, reporting on Australians and pledging "absolute loyalty" to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Documents have now emerged detailing SSNP delegates among the guests at functions organised by Mr Eideh's Islamic Alawi community group.

The SSNP has also issued a statement blaming "Zionist fingers" for June's media attacks on Mr Eideh and demanding "widespread solidarity" for him. The SSNP believes in a Great Syria nation -- incorporating Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Cyprus and Jordan. Its website repeatedly attacks Israel, stating the nation is a foreign entity and should not exist in the Middle East. Party members claim on the SSNP site that Zionist leaders encouraged the Nazis to massacre Jews during World War II to help their cause of establishing an Israeli state in the Middle East.

Weeks ago, SSNP leaders met with Hezbollah fighters, congratulating them on their "defeat" of Israel in Lebanon. Another website, salaheddine.net, linked to the SSNP site and carrying its emblem, calls for a boycott of Western products. "If you cannot buy a bullet for the resistance, then do not pay for a Jewish bullet," it states.

In the SSNP's Melbourne branch, one banner reads: "All international decisions that go against the will of the Syrian nation and its right to self-determination are false decisions". When the Sunday Herald Sun visited the Brunswick building earlier this month, three men who came to the door refused to comment on who they were.

The group's Melbourne branch president Sayed Al-Nakat on Friday defended the SSNP as a democratic, peaceful political party. Mr Al-Nakat denounced terrorism, including the September 11 attacks on the US and the Holocaust of World War II. But he defended the suicide bombers who had sacrificed themselves against Israelis, saying they were not terrorists. If a foreign force invaded Australia, he would do the same to protect his home, he said. "In Israel's idea, there's no place for us," he said. "She wants to be the boss of the Middle East." In 2004, Mr Al-Nakat was quoted in Arabic newspaper El Telegraph at a meeting: "Oh my leader, you warned us what the Zionist plot is all about and that the danger won't be contained in Palestine, but it will touch Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. It's a danger on all Syrian people".



A Jewish South African reporter has been 'banned' by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) from providing news coverage from the Middle East, after her managing director said he did not want a "white Jewish girl" covering the region, the reporter told Ynetnews. "I was a reporter and newsreader, and Snuki Zikalala was head of TV and radio news, so he was my line manager. He was not that great to work with," Paula Slier, the reporter, told Ynetnews.

In 2004, Slier went to Ramallah to cover Arafat's illness. While in the West Bank, Slier said she was informed that the SABC had "received a directive: 'No more reports from Paula.'" "I tried to find out why they were not using my work anymore, and I was told by a senior manager in SABC, which obviously I can't name, that Zikalala said they don't want a white Jewish girl reporting from Ramallah, though the implication was from the whole of the Middle East," Slier said.

After it emerged that SABC's blacklist included a range of sources, including some critical of the South African government, SABC launched an investigation of itself. "When the investigation came out, Zikalala told the inquiry: 'From the movement I come from, we support the PLO.' And then he went on to call what was happening in the Middle East a 'Jewish war,' and then he said: We know Paula, we know the position which she holds," Slier said, quoting from the investigation.

The full investigation was published by South African newspaper the Globe and Mail, though SABC had initially tried to get a court order to ban the newspaper from publishing the full report. "The thing is, in South Africa, I've been heavily criticized by the Jewish community for being pro-Palestinian. So he makes the inference that because I'm Jewish, I would automatically support what would be happening in Israel," Slier added. "In the inquiry, Zikalala said we need a reporter who is impartial," Slier said, adding: "This is problematic, the guy is head of TV and Radio News."

Slier told Ynetnews she did not feel the directive to blacklist her was anti-Semitic. "For me personally I do think there is a difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment. Many in the Jewish community in South Africa fear that if many people start spreading anti-Israel sentiment, it will cause deeper anti-Semitism. But that's not the view I have. I often find that people do have the right to criticize Israel," Slier said. "I don't have any experience of anti-Semitism at the SABC, and I worked there for quite a few years. He (Zikalala) has a particular anti-Israel view. What is worrying is that this guy now, as head of SABC, is taking his own personal view, and imposing it on the SABC," she added.

Michael Kransdorff and Steven Magid, authors of the Jewish South African blog It's Almost Supernatural , have been closely monitoring the story. They told Ynetnews that the blacklisting of Slier proved widespread suspicions held by the Jewish community of bias at the SABC. "The Jewish community and my blog in particular have for a long time criticized the SABC and considered them biased against Israel. This story confirms our suspicions," said Magid.

Speaking to Ynetnews, SABC Spokesperson Kayzer Kganyago said the comments attributed to Zikalala in the SABC's internal report have not been verified. "The report was not made public, we cannot comment about things in the report, because it was not a judicial inquiry. It was a fact-finding commission. Therefore the things said in the commission were not tested." "Some of the people who made those allegations were anonymous sources, so it would be better for us not to comment on those issues," he added.

Kganyago added that Zikalala has "responded in writing to the SABC's chief executive." "The matter is now in the chief executive's hands, and he can look into the allegations that were put in place, before deciding whether to take action," Kganyago said.


Monday, October 30, 2006


A ripe pear is soft and squishy but that's still too dangerous for the soft and squishy people in charge of one British school

The laws of gravity might never have been revealed if Isaac Newton's apple tree had suffered the same fate as that of the Sacred Heart primary school's pear tree.

It may warm the hearts of health and safety commissioners across the country, but yesterday a move to cut down the tree was condemned elsewhere as madness. Governors and the head teacher at Sacred Heart Primary School, in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire sparked a furious reaction, when they decided to chop down the tree overhanging the playground. "A risk assessment was done on the tree and it was found necessary to have it removed. The risk was mainly from falling pears," said Geoffrey Fielding, chair of the governors. "We have a duty of care to the health and safety to people on this site, particularly the children and that's the decision that we have taken."

The school said they had made the decision after witnessing parents being hit on the head by falling fruit as they waited for their children. Lizzie Summerwill, a mother, praised the tree cutters. "I think it's brilliant they cut it down because of the health and safety issues," she said. "In the summertime it was infested by wasps and the fruit stank."

But Gill Franklin, owner of Cross Lane Fruit Farm, Mapledurham, which has 400 pear trees, has never been hit on the head by the fruit in 29 years. She said removing damaged pears and picking the fruit before it became ripe would resolve the issue. "Fruit doesn't drop down for no reason. You never ripen a pear on a tree. We have gone mad on risk assessment," she said. "Environmentally the world needs more trees and the children need to eat fruit. Why didn't they pick the pears? It's a frightening thought they're not using their natural resources. They're probably buying fruit in and letting the pears go to waste."

The tree is thought to be at least 25 years old, but was not included in a tree preservation order served on the site. Adam Dawson, a tree preservation officer for South Oxfordshire District Council, said Mr. Fielding did not accept his recommendations for solving the perceived problems. He added: "On balancing up the issues, and bearing in mind the considerable number of other protected trees in the vicinity, I did not consider it expedient to dedicate resources to serving an emergency tree preservation order on this one tree."

Earlier this year the school filled in a pond claiming it was very dangerous for pupils and that the area was needed for a temporary classroom.



We need to question our system of values when children can no longer play freely at recess. An elementary school in Attleboro, Mass., recently banned children from playing tag, touch football or any other unsupervised chase game during recess. This is just one example of a trend that is showing up in many regions across the country. School officials, fearing games can be exclusionary or dangerous, concur with the principal of this elementary school in Attleboro that recess is "a time when accidents can happen."

It seems Americans are full of fear and willingness to litigate. When someone infringes upon us to our detriment, we believe we have the right to sue for recompense. Perhaps the stakes have become just that much higher. Should the bruised knee of a third grader turn out to be a bone chip that hinders her athletic performance, her foreseeable future on the soccer field could be altered henceforth. Or perhaps the underdog with little athletic prowess who stumbles at touch football is so mortified of his reputation that his parents fear it damages his social capital-a powerful asset referring to his advantage created by location in a structure of relationships. At the ripe age of eight, they are utterly concerned for him. The fear is that damaged perception of self will hinder future progress in life. The dream would vanish in child play.

Parents micromanaging children's lives want to hold someone liable for accidents on the playground, simple everyday children-at-play accidents, that may not have happened had they been present. By implementing the ban, schools acknowledge and validate extreme parental involvement that might be more in the realm of self-interest rather than best interests of the child. Parents should not be suing for normal interaction between peers in order to protect their child, but schools are now complying to these parents by passing these new rules of play. Let's not forget the still-useful good old-fashioned advice to buck up and walk proud or to express humility in injury.

School officials balk at the potential implications of play at recess and the simplest solution is certainly not the best. Can you imagine tag without touch? Or tag without being able to run after the other guy? The idea is on many fronts absurd, and this is just one example of schools that are responding to the societal impetus towards protecting the self and our children. Young children need time to run off their steam. Early childhood interactions on the playground lay the groundwork for children to invent, create and develop tactics. At the very least, mingling with peers is essential socialization that teaches behavioral boundaries. All the while, America begins to contemplate reforms of school lunch and physical education programs because of high childhood obesity rates, and school leaders cut out natural and enjoyable physical exercise. Children lose a natural privilege to run uninhibited, to have the experiences that teach them to stand up to the bully, to develop on their own in nature's way, but the adults feel better about accidents that might happen.

Instead of being institutions that foster innovation and advancement of curricula and young citizens, our schools become cesspools of fear - fear of being sued, fear of losing donors. Fear is not the mechanism by which we should raise the next generation. It is not fear that will bring better programs to our schools for healthier lunches, music, academic assistance, mentorship and so on. Is our society's litigiousness the result of an equal-access legal system that allows us to pursue justice anytime we think it's due, or is it the result of a societal mentality of every man for himself? What I do know is that allowing children exposure to tough situations will in the long run lead them to the principles of respect, self-awareness, community, competition, forgiveness and will ultimately give them the satisfaction of having endured a challenge while remaining true to themselves . Even as adults we continually relearn the lesson that sometimes we stand alone and we must be our own anchor.

Schoolchildren will feel a real loss as a result of the new rule, but the detriment to their development does not have to be significant, particularly in the cases of children whose parents will and can give them opportunities to play and socialize elsewhere. However, this does not negate that recess is a fundamental component of early childhood education. Let the kids play! Let them be children! Schools should not make children targets of fear-induced rules and regulations. Not surprisingly, in the past, letting nature take its course has brought along many a fine young person.


An antisemitic university press in Australia

An article by Michael Danby, MHR:

In July last year I learned that Louise Adler, publisher of Melbourne University Press, had commissioned Antony Loewenstein, a little-known online journalist who has his own far-left blog, to write a book about the Australian Jewish community and its attitudes to Israel. Mr Loewenstein sent me a questionnaire asking my views on various subjects.

After making some inquiries about him and reading the extreme anti- Israel views at his website, I decided not to participate in this project, knowing that my participation would give it a credibility it didn't deserve. I wrote to the Jewish News urging readers to have nothing to do with Mr Loewenstein's book.

Ever since, Mr Loewenstein has painted himself as a heroic dissident being persecuted by the "Jewish establishment" for daring to criticise Israel and the Jewish community. It is sometimes perfectly obvious what is going to be in a book before it is published. If a leading publisher commissioned Pauline Hanson to write a book about multiculturalism, or Fred Nile about the gay and Lesbian Mardi gras, no doubt all the commentators at the AbC and The Age would have plenty to say, because it would be obvious what such books would be like.

The fact is that I and many other people knew Mr Loewenstein's views on Israel and on Australian Jews long before his book appeared. This is the point that Mr rodgers and his ilk persistently fail to acknowledge so they can misrepresent criticism of Mr Loewenstein. After all, he stated them openly at his own website a year ago, where he called Israel "fundamentally undemocratic and colonialist" and "a terror state", and described the Australian Jewish community as "vitriolic, bigoted, racist and downright pathetic." He also said that "so-called Western `values' deserve to be challenged and overthrown." I give Mr Loewenstein credit for honesty - he stated his views quite openly, so everyone knew what would be in his book long before it appeared.

Of course, when the book appeared, my anticipation about its contents was proved to be correct. The book is shallow, predictable, trite and obvious, as well as riddled with factual errors. This was not my view alone. Dr Philip Mendes of Monash University, author of Jews and Australian Politics (and himself a frequent, but fair, critic of Israeli policies), said: "The majority of the text [of Mr Loewenstein's book] is overwhelmingly simplistic and one-sided. This could have been a serious and objective examination of the role of local lobby groups in influencing Australia's Middle East policies. Unfortunately, that book still waits to be written."

Dr Michael Fagenblat, of Monash University's Centre for the study of Jewish Civilisation, says: "There's nothing new or interesting here and several things that seem patently false. These remarks seem completely one-sided; they overlook the complexity and manifold responsibility that has contributed to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." (both these comments appeared in the Jewish News of 28 July) since his book came out, becoming a hero of the anti-Israel commentariat seems to have gone to Mr Loewenstein's head. Despite being lionised at writers' festivals around the county, he still complains that the "zionist lobby" is working to silence him. His attacks on Israel are growing more strident. In brisbane, debating Phillip Mendes, he said: "Israel's behaviour in the West bank and gaza are the tactics of a rogue, terror state. Enough with the Holocaust, alleged Palestinian `terror' and victimhood. Take some responsibility for the parlous state of Israel in the international community. For all of us who want a safer Middle East, today's Israel is currently the problem, not the cure."

In August I was given a chance to confront Mr Loewenstein faceto- face on AbC radio, and I must thank the Jon Faine program for setting up this debate, which was ably moderated by gerard Whately and gideon Haigh. The debate was conducted in a civil manner, but I made a point of taking Mr Loewenstein to task over a comment of his which I considered particularly offensive. speaking of the comedian sandy guttman (Austen tayshus), he said at his website: "Jews are often their own worst enemies. It might help if tayshus didn't look so much like those awful caricatures we know from the 1930s!" so Mr guttman is to be criticised because he looks too Jewish for Mr Loewenstein's sensibilities!

Mr Loewenstein is, of course, entitled to his views - ignorant, offensive and superficial though they are - but I don't apologise for my decision to launch a "preemptive strike" against his book last year. Nor do I resile from my view that a person who thinks that a Jewish state is "a fundamentally undemocratic and colonialist idea from a bygone era," and that the Australian Jewish community is "vitriolic, bigoted, racist and downright pathetic" was not a suitable person to be commissioned by a major publisher to write a book about our community and its attitudes towards Israel.

This is not MUP's first excursion into anti-Israel polemic under Louise Adler's direction. In 2005 she published Jacqueline rose's The Question of Zion, a tract so blatantly anti-Israel that even a self-professed anti-zionist reviewer, simon Louvish in The Independent, called it a work of "overriding shallowness" which showed "a lack of basic understanding" and "overreliance on certain dissident Israeli historians, and avoidance of others."

Ms Adler is, of course, free to publish as many bad books as she likes, but why do they all have to be anti-Israel bad books? Why does she lend the prestige of the MUP imprint to a one-sided rehashing of all the usual anti-Israel propaganda?


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Are single mothers the "New American Family?"

Call it the backlash against the backlash. Over the past decade, Americans have increasingly understood that the divorce revolution, fatherlessness and single parent households are harming our children. Now those who view the traditional family as disadvantageous to women are firing back, defending women who choose single motherhood and depicting fathers as superfluous.

Last fall Stanford University Gender Scholar Peggy Drexler penned the highly-publicized book "Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men." This month Oxford Press released Wellesley College Women's Studies professor Rosanna Hertz's "Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice: How Women Are Choosing Parenthood Without Marriage and Creating the New American Family."

Certainly one can sympathize with those single mothers whose husbands or lovers abandoned or mistreated them, and who soldiered on in the raising of their children without the father those children should have had. However, Drexler and Hertz go well beyond this, openly advocating single motherhood as a lifestyle choice.

Drexler portrays father-absent homes - particularly "single mother by choice" and lesbian homes - as being the best environments for raising boys. Hertz interviewed 65 single mothers and concluded that "intimacy between husbands and wives [is] obsolete as the critical familial bond." Whereas a family was once defined as two parents and their children, Hertz asserts that today the "core of family life is the mother and her children." Fathers aren't necessary - "only the availability of both sets of gametes [egg and sperm] is essential." In fact, Hertz explains, "What men offer today is obsolete."

Our children would beg to differ. Studies of children of divorce confirm their powerful desire to retain strong connections to their fathers. For example, an Arizona State University study of college-age children of divorce found that the overwhelming majority believed that after a divorce "living equal amounts of time with each parent is the best arrangement for children."

Objective measures of child well-being belie Hertz's and Drexler's rose-colored image of fatherless families. The rates of the four major youth pathologies - teen pregnancy, teen drug abuse, school dropouts and juvenile crime - are tightly correlated with fatherlessness, often more so than with any other socioeconomic factor.

Hertz and Drexler reached their conclusions by studying families who had volunteered to have their lives intimately examined over a multi-year period - a self-selected sample hardly representative of the average fatherless family. Moreover, Hertz's and Drexler's research is largely subjective - they personally conducted interviews of single mothers to examine their family lives and - no surprise - found them to their liking.

To Hertz's credit, she does concede that the "wish among heterosexual women for a dad for their children remains strong." Perhaps the single mothers she interviewed understand the value of male parenting? Or maybe as these women's children grow the mothers see the positive impact male influence could have in their lives? Not according to Hertz. She explains, "It is not that they believe men provide a critical difference in perspective that women cannot supply." Instead, Hertz asserts that the single mothers she studied included some men in their children's lives as a way to "connect their children to male privilege." In fact, those who include men in their daughters' lives do so because they want "their daughters to know male privilege when they encounter it and to be prepared to combat it."

Hertz and Drexler fail to understand how powerfully children hunger for their fathers. For example, famed athlete Bo Jackson devoted the first chapter of his autobiography, "Bo Knows Bo," not to his many achievements, but instead to the father he didn't have. Jackson's angry, unhappy childhood was defined by his father hunger. He explained that when he wanted something, "I could beat on other kids and steal . [but] I couldn't steal a father. I couldn't steal a father's hug when I needed one." Jackson saw his older brother go to a penal institution, feared he would end up there as well, and longed for the discipline and strong hand a father provides.

In "Whatever Happened to Daddy's Little Girl?" award-winning journalist Jonetta Rose Barras describes her fatherless childhood as "one long, empty night." After her parents broke up, she explains: "I missed him desperately. . he made me feel loved; he made me feel wanted. . Sometimes I sat on a bench or on the curb, like a lost, homeless child. I waited for [dad] to drive through, recognize me and take me with him. On the bus, I searched each man's features; I did not want mistakenly to pass him."

Hertz and Drexler also greatly underestimate the immense benefits reaped by the children who do have fathers in their lives. MSNBC anchor Tim Russert wrote the book "Big Russ and Me" about his father in 2004, and says he soon received an "avalanche" of letters from men and women who wanted to tell him about their own dads. Russert's current best seller, "Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons," was drawn from those 60,000 letters. The letter writers remembered their fathers as strong, devoted, honorable - and central to their lives. What particularly struck Russert was the overwhelming outpouring of love from women towards their fathers.

These sentiments wouldn't surprise Nobel-Prize winning novelist Toni Morrison. When asked how she became a great writer - what books she had read and what methods she had used - she replied: "That is not why I am a great writer. I am a great writer because when I was a little girl and walked into the room where my father was sitting, his eyes would light up. That is why I am a great writer."

Men are often stereotyped as fearing commitment, and it is they who are usually blamed for the divorce revolution. However, it is mothers, not fathers, who initiate most divorces involving children. In some cases, these mothers have ample justification. In others, however, they simply don't want to make the compromises and do the hard work required in any relationship, and can't or won't recognize that their children need their fathers. In fact, according to research conducted by Joan Berlin Kelly, author of "Surviving the Break-up," 50 percent of divorced mothers claim to "see no value in the father's continued contact with his children after a divorce."

These attitudes are very destructive. At the core of Hertz's and Drexler's work is a "you go girl" belief that mothers can do it alone and always know best. Unfortunately, many women are choosing the lifestyle Hertz and Drexler extol - and it's our children who are suffering for it.



No wonder they do so much harm. Ideology clearly takes the place of commonsense on many occasions

Free speech advocates are warning the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services against supporting political litmus tests in social work schools. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said Wednesday that HHS currently requires its social workers to have degrees from programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, whose standards require evaluating students on the basis of their beliefs.

The foundation urged HHS to end its relationship with CSWE unless CSWE drops these vague and politically loaded standards, a request echoed in similar letters sent today by the National Association of Scholars and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. 'By requiring that its social workers come from CSWE-accredited schools, HHS is tacitly approving viewpoint discrimination,' FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. 'HHS should take steps to ensure that CSWE eliminates the ideological requirements it currently places on universities and students.'

CSWE maintains a set of official standards on the basis of which it decides whether or not to accredit a social work program. The standards require that CSWE-accredited programs 'integrate social and economic justice content grounded in an understanding of distributive justice, human and civil rights, and the global interconnections of oppression.' They also require that graduates of CSWE-accredited programs 'demonstrate the ability to...understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and apply strategies of advocacy and social change that advance social and economic justice.'

'`Social justice` and `economic justice` are vague and politically loaded terms that mean different things to different people, yet CSWE`s standards force schools to evaluate prospective social workers based on their commitment to these ideals,' Lukianoff said. 'It`s an invitation for schools to discriminate against students with dissenting views, as FIRE has seen happen many times before.'

Requirements of ideological conformity have led to specific incidents of viewpoint discrimination against students at institutions across the country. Washington State University (WSU) threatened an education master`s student with dismissal for expressing his opinion that white privilege and male privilege do not exist. That sentiment supposedly violated the school`s requirement that students should 'exhibit an understanding of the complexities of race, power, gender, class, sexual orientation and privilege in American society.' Rhode Island College`s School of Social Work required a conservative master`s student to lobby the government for 'progressive' social changes if he wanted to continue pursuing a degree in social work policy. At Le Moyne College, a student was dismissed from the graduate education program for writing a paper expressing his personal beliefs about the propriety of corporal punishment.

'HHS should decisively reject the use of political litmus tests for its social workers. People can hold a wide variety of views and still make excellent social workers,' a foundation spokeswoman said.



Prominent Labor figures Paul Keating and Leo McLeay "demanded" a ministerial colleague grant residency for Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilaly. The two party leaders were furious when in 1989 then-Immigration Minister Robert Ray refused their requests, Labor sources said yesterday. The sources said it was at least the second time they had sought to lobby on behalf of the controversial Muslim leader. The sheik has played a walk-on role in ALP affairs since he arrived here in 1982, with Mr McLeay being his strongest champion within the party. Other Labor identities, such as NSW Upper House member Eddie Obeid, had been in the forefront of attempts to get him kicked out.

Sheik Hilaly did not get permanent residency until 1990 when Gerry Hand was Immigration Minister. The sheik's case had been taken to Senator Ray in response to appeals from electorally powerful Islamic communities within Mr Keating's seat of Blaxland and Mr McLeay's seat of Grayndler. The Saturday Daily Telegraph understands there had been moves to deport the sheik in 1989 after one of his anti-Jewish outbursts. "But Keating and McLeay demanded that he be given residency," said one source. Senator Ray effectively put him on probation but was moved to Defence in 1990. Yesterday he said his decision had been made "on the basis of the file, not on the basis of politics".

In 1986, then Immigration Minister Chris Hurford had been asked to deport the sheik and was in the process of doing so when he was shifted to another port folio. He has since told The Australian he believed residency was granted by the Government "because they erroneously believed that this would have some political influence in the particular electorates at a NSW State election".

Even before that, in 1982, the sheik was causing ripples. The Arabic community newspaper El Telegraph in July of that year reported a speech by Sheik Hilaly in which he said "the flesh of Australian women is as cheap as pigs' flesh". The paper attacked his comments and soon had to have guards protect the journalist. Not long after, the El Telegraph office was badly damaged in a suspicious fire. Its owner was Mr Obeid, who spent the next 10 years trying to get the sheik deported.


Saturday, October 28, 2006


A film review below:

Kate Winslet's powerful performance is already attracting frenzied Oscar speculation, but it is not the only striking aspect of Little Children. The film, which showed at The Times BFI 50th London Film Festival yesterday, is the first mainstream Hollywood movie to depict a community's victimisation of a convicted child sex offender.

Winslet, 31, said yesterday that it was "a really difficult subject" which she thought hard about before making the film. Little Children's plot centres on a passionate affair between a frustrated mother, played by Winslet, and a married man. But much of its atmosphere stems from the way that their Boston suburb responds to Ronnie, the "pervert" in their midst. It shows how parental protectiveness can escalate from dinner party gossip into vigilanteism. "This man is extremely sad," Winslet said. "Of course it's a sinister subject matter but in a way Ronnie is almost anything but sinister. As an audience you feel incredible pity for him."

The director, Todd Field, said that the character was meant to be "a living and breathing expression of the fear and anxiety and paranoia" that can corrode modern communities.

Field, whose last film, In the Bedroom, won the Satyajit Ray Award for a first feature at the festival in 2001, added that the nature of Ronnie's crime was left out of the film, allowing the audience to draw their own conclusions about him. "You can condemn him or you can pardon him. He's not a villain and he's not a saint," he said. "The important thing was that, in a fable-like way, he would be a troll under the bridge. What then if the troll under the bridge had a mother? What if he could experience pain? But he is also a troll, so watch out."

Everybody involved with the film emphasises that Little Children is not "a movie about a paedophile". But its arrival marks the latest stage in the gradual erosion of the taboos surrounding the subject. This year Hard Candy detailed a 14-year-old girl's revenge on a predatory middle-aged man. Two prominent actors, Kevin Bacon and Brian Cox, have recently played paedophiles in low-profile films (The Woodsman and L.I.E. respectively), while Clint Eastwood's Mystic River in 2003 touched on the issue. Campaigners who work with child sex offenders believe that films can help to quench the hysteria around the subject and increase the possibility of rehabilitating them in society.

Helen Drewery, the manager of Circles of Support and Accountability, a government-backed volunteer organisation that works with sex offenders after their release from prison, said: "I think that there's a reluctance to see both sides of the story with child sex offenders. It is treated like witchcraft in the seventeenth century."


More Favoritism for Muslims in Britain

Police in Manchester have been told not to arrest Muslims wanted on warrants at prayer times during Ramadan. Greater Manchester Police confirmed it had asked detectives not to make planned arrests during those periods for reasons of religious sensitivity. The advice was emailed out to officers working in Moss Side, Hulme, Whalley Range, Rusholme, Fallowfield, Ardwick, Longsight, Gorton and Levenshulme. Police said it was not a blanket ban, just a "request for sensitivity". The email stressed the order did not apply to on-the-spot arrests, only the execution of arrest warrants.

The holy month of Ramadan began on 22 September and is due to end with the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr next week. The internal email was sent to staff listing the prayer times, but confusion arose and a second memo was sent clarifying it was not a total ban on arresting Muslims at these times. A GMP statement said: "The primary objective of Greater Manchester Police is to fight crime and protect people. "The month of Ramadan is an important time of the year for members of the Muslim community throughout the world. "It is important that normal, planned policing activities and operations are maintained, while ensuring that officers are professional and respectful to members of the community while going about their duties."

Liberal Democrat councillor Simon Ashley, who represents the city's Gorton South ward and leads the party on Manchester City Council, said: "This sounds odd but we would need to find out what impact rescheduling arrests had on police operations. "The police's first job is to police. "I understand they have a difficult task to do and need to do it sensitively, especially within minority communities, but that can't stop them policing serious crimes."


No arrests of Christians over Easter or Christmas/New Year too? That seems to have been overlooked

Friday, October 27, 2006


Not long ago, when a study from the left-leaning Applied Research Center charged a "deep pattern of institutional racism" in the disciplinary practices of public school districts around the country, it brought back some memories.

More than 25 years ago, when I was dean of boys at a high school in northern Queens, we received a letter from a federal agency pointing out that we had suspended black students far out of proportion to their numbers in our student population. Though it carried no explicit or even implicit threats, the letter was enough to set the alarm bells ringing in all the first-floor administrative offices.

When my supervisor, the assistant principal, showed me the letter, she merely shook her head and looked downcast. She said nothing, but her body language told me that it was probably time to mend our errant ways. And when I passed the news on to our chief security guard that the feds were on our case, he merely chuckled and said, "They're bad"--meaning our rowdy clientele, which I took as confirmation of what I still believe: that until then, I hadn't recommended suspension for anyone who didn't richly deserve it.

There never was a smoking-gun memo, or a special meeting where the word got out, and I never made a conscious decision to change my approach to punishment, but somehow we knew we had to get our numbers "right"--that is, we needed to suspend fewer minorities or haul more white folks into the dean's office for our ultimate punishment.

What this meant in practice was an unarticulated modification of our disciplinary standards. For example, obscenities directed at a teacher would mean, in cases involving minority students, a rebuke from the dean and a notation on the record or a letter home rather than a suspension. For cases in which white students had committed infractions, it meant zero tolerance. Unofficially, we began to enforce dual systems of justice. Inevitably, where the numbers ruled, some kids would wind up punished more severely than others for the same offense.

I remember one case in particular. It was near the end of the day, and the early-session kids were heading toward the exits. I stood in front of my office looking deanlike, establishing the presence of authority to ensure orderly dismissal. It didn't entirely work. The boy was a white kid, tall, with an unruly mop of blond hair. He was within 200 feet of the nearest exit and blessed freedom. But he couldn't wait. The nicotine fit was on him, and he lit a cigarette barely two yards from me. I pounced, and within 20 minutes he was suspended--for endangering himself and others.

Surely we acted within the boundaries of our authority, and, as it emerged during the suspension hearing in the principal's office, the boy was having academic problems that his father was only dimly aware of. So the whole incident might have accomplished something positive in the end.

But, of course, we might have achieved the same result and arranged a parent conference without resorting to suspension. The kid wasn't a chronic troublemaker--indeed, until now he'd been a complete stranger to the dean's office. It was a first offense. And keeping him out of school for a whole week, the maximum that state law allows, was obviously not going to help him with his grades.

During the principal's hearing, as I sat across the table from the boy and his father, I recalled a classic essay that I had often taught my senior English classes. It was by George Orwell, and it recalled an unpleasant incident during his service as a policeman in Burma. Knowing that he was doing wrong, Orwell shot an elephant to save face before a mocking crowd of natives. No one suggested that we had acted incorrectly. Kids in our charge had to learn right from wrong, we told ourselves. But, more than two decades later, I still can't escape the nagging thought that, though we had other choices, better suited for the boy's welfare, at bottom all of us just wanted to get our numbers right.


Correctness trumps honesty in relationships

How many times have you heard a woman utter the words, "I wish guys would just be honest?" or, "Why can't men say what's on their minds?" or, my personal favourite, "I'm so sick of guys playing games". You want to know why we do this stuff? It's very simple: we're like trained seals. Men do things that, over time, we've learned result in a reward. For example: beer = drunk = fun or gym = muscles = attraction from opposite sex = tooling = fun and sport = inflicting pain on others = fun. On the other hand, there's this equation: be honest with women = information used against you at a later date = never-ending misery.

Last week a New Zealand law clerk named Craig Dale learned this the hard way. "Chippa", as he's known to his mates, sent an email to a chick called Azadeh Bashari at a rival law firm laying his cards on the table. The couple had been on one unsuccessful date, so he thought he'd cut through the crap and put an ungilded offer of sex out there. You can read his email here, if you like. And you know why you're able to read it? Because Ms Bashari forwarded it to her friends, who forwarded it to their friends and now Chippa is being laughed at as a loser across the world, just for being honest ...

A journalist, Miles Erwin, who broke the story in The New Zealand Herald, put it this way: "When law clerk Craig Dale sent an email to a female lawyer suggesting a no-strings-attached fling, he probably imagined his cheeky proposal would, at worst, end up in the bin. "But yesterday he awoke to a nightmare after discovering his proposal had travelled like wildfire through New Zealand's legal profession under the heading 'Loser Alert!'."

Having read the email, I'll admit Chippa isn't the most gifted writer but he doesn't come across as a drooling moron nor as a loser. "In terms of a relationship I was never looking for anything long-term, more like 'friends with benefits'," he says in the email dated October 17. "I was being the ultimate nice guy because I thought it was what you wanted to hear, aka coffee, lunches, David Hasselhoff long walks along the beach. "I thought you were hot and was sure you'd be a rocket in the sack. At the end of the day we are both really busy and don't have time for anything else but a bit of good-hearted action."

Pretty honest, right? No game playing there. Chippa's told Ms Bashari exactly what's on his mind. Even cracked a David Hasselhoff joke. So what did Ms Bashari do? Forwarded it to a group of friends and had a bit of a chuckle at Chippa's expense. "I'm setting up a loser alert for all my single friends to avoid dating disasters with idiots like the one below," she said. Ms Bashari then urged any of her buddies who encountered "this little charmer" to "run run run" with her email rapidly doing the rounds of some of New Zealand's major firms including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Chapman Tripp and KPMG, according to the Herald. The story was subsequently picked up by Asian new services and London's Evening Standard, all laughing at a bloke for being honest. And you wonder why all men are liars.



Freedom of speech is not a celebrated cause in the West today. While all right-thinking people are concerned about state censorship in China, or the imprisoning of poets by authoritarian regimes across the world, it seems self-indulgent or even hysterical to complain about `censorship' in the liberal West. Consequently, the demand for free speech is often seen as pedantic, eccentric even, the preserve of right-wing social inadequates who like to go on about `political correctness gone mad' or occasionally left-wing social inadequates who like to announce that democracy is being overthrown by neocon conspirators.

It is true that there are relatively few legal restraints on free speech in the West. However, with new and proposed restrictions associated with the `war on terror', formal and informal injunctions against `offensive' speech, and the continuing travesty that is libel law, especially in the UK, there is little reason for complacency. Nonetheless, freedom of speech is not an issue discussed with any urgency; all too readily it is trumped by other priorities. Indeed, more striking than any of the formal restrictions on free speech is the cultural climate, in which none of these restrictions provokes more than a half-hearted whimper of dissent. Free speech is simply not held to be especially important when weighed against security or the protection of minorities from abuse, for example. For the most part, then, it is enjoyed but not valued. It is not understood as a hard-won freedom at all, but taken for granted from day to day. Bizarrely, most of us, most of the time, have free speech in reality, but not in principle, in practice but not in theory.

The justification for this diminishment of free speech is far from clear, however. While detractors often present free speech as an `airy fairy', abstract ideal that must be compromised in the face of more complicated realities, in truth it is more often the critique of free speech that is hopelessly abstract. There are no really good arguments against free speech in principle, because to argue against free speech is to argue against reason itself, to put something beyond debate. Instead, censorship is justified with reference to hypothetical and often irrational suppositions about how people might respond to things, and a general anxiety about unrestrained expression.

The weakness of the case against free speech means debates too often go from outlandish examples proving that `there is no such thing as absolute free speech' to arguments for restricting speech at the drop of a hat. In this context, those of us who want to challenge particular instances of censorship - whether it is the suppression of dissent in authoritarian regimes overseas, or the UK law against `incitement to religious hatred' - must decide whether it is worth holding to a general principle of free speech such as that argued for by JS Mill, in his seminal On Liberty, or whether it is better to argue on a case-by-case basis. Should we accept that there are indeed limits to free speech, and make the debate about where they should be placed? If not, what is the case for free speech as a principle, and how does it differ today, if at all, from that made by Mill in 1859? .......

Free speech and other values

The most common case made for censorship today is not that unregulated speech might incite violence or disorder - though this remains the ostensible rationale behind much recent British legislation limiting freedom of speech - but that it is likely to cause offence. While the moral weight behind the government's bid to outlaw incitement to religious hatred, for example, comes from the idea that `religious hate speech' might provoke violence against Muslims, there is little, if any, evidence for this - in substance the law is about protecting the feelings of those who are upset by perceived insults to their religion.

The notorious Danish Mohammed cartoons published across Europe earlier this year did not incite anti-Muslim mobs, but only outrage among Muslims themselves, just as some Sikhs in Birmingham were offended by the play Behtzi in December 2004. Following that case, Christian protests against the BBC's decision to broadcast Jerry Springer: the Opera followed the same template, emphasising personal offence at the show's depiction of Jesus, rather than the old-fashioned, quasi-political offence of blasphemy against the established religion. In all of these cases, it was suggested that, freedom of speech not being absolute, a line should be drawn at offending religious sensibilities.

It is generally taken for granted that `the line has to be drawn somewhere'. In his polemic against free speech, Stanley Fish presents this commonsense assumption in more theoretical terms, arguing that it is `originary exclusion' that gives meaning to free speech. That is, free speech is defined in the first place by the exceptions to the rule. Fish cites the poet John Milton, who believed in free speech for everyone except Roman Catholics, and by implication other superstitious and impious types who would threaten the seventeenth century English Protestant `faith and manners' on whose behalf he did champion free speech. Fish's argument is not that Milton didn't really believe in free speech, because he excluded Catholics, but that it would have rendered his particular case for free speech meaningless if he had extended it to Catholics, because what he really meant was free speech for people like him.

But it is disingenuous to ignore the substance of Milton's argument for free speech on the grounds that, having discovered its true motive, and seen that Milton himself prized that motive more than free speech itself, we can now dismiss it as merely contingent, a rhetorical tactic. Milton's fear of `Popery' wasn't just a personal peccadillo, after all. Nor was it born of some irrational religious prejudice. At that time in much of Europe, free speech was almost synonymous with the right to criticise the all-powerful Catholic church, which brutally suppressed dissent (in Milton's words, `it extirpates all religious and civil supremacies'). Thus, for Milton, censoring Catholics in Protestant Britain was not about oppressing a minority, but upholding the liberty of all. If, for Milton, liberty was a means to a religious end, the lesson of history is that ultimately it was religious passion that served liberty. (Just as the long religious wars that followed the Reformation finally gave birth to the notion of religious toleration and a battle of ideas rather than arms.)

The lesson of Milton's case is that freedom of speech sooner or later comes into conflict with other principles, often those that inspire us to talk about freedom in the first place. One response to this is to abandon free speech in favour of other priorities. Another is to recognise it as a special kind of freedom, one that must be tolerated even when it does come into conflict with more passionately held principles. This has to do with the nature of speech itself, as something that is subject to rational argument as discussed above. Free speech is the means by which all other principles, convictions and values can be rationally debated. As such, it takes on special status as an end in itself, to be honoured even when it is used in the service of particular ideas we oppose.

Accordingly, hostility to free speech reflects a disavowal of reasoned argument, a belief that certain principles or values must be protected from opposing ideas. For example, when Frank Ellis, a lecturer at Leeds University made racist comments to a student paper earlier this year, it was widely argued that this posed a threat to the university's core values. The university secretary prepared the way for disciplinary action by explaining: `The University of Leeds is a diverse and multicultural community whose staff and students are proud to support our values, which include mutual respect, diversity and equal opportunity, and collegiality.'

Ellis was then suspended and eventually took early retirement. This was generally seen as a good result. As one student said to the Observer: `Knowing that he's a lecturer and that he holds views that black people are inferior and that women can't achieve the same as men, it's disgusting and certainly not conducive to an academic environment.' Of course it could be argued an academic environment implies academic freedom, the right, responsibility even, to speak one's mind and challenge conventional wisdom: hence free speech. Nonetheless, one can see what the student meant. For the most part there is an agreeable sense of shared values and common purpose in universities, within which students and lecturers alike find encouragement and support. While there are always intellectual disagreements and even rivalries, members of a university generally show mutual respect.

This liberal conviviality is undoubtedly threatened by unbridled free speech. Not only boringly racist views like those of Ellis, but, more importantly, original ideas of any kind, when passionately held and rigorously argued, can upset the delicate balance of a university community, making students and faculty alike uncomfortable. Whether or not one agrees with this model of the university, then, is it not reasonable that a university constituted on these grounds should limit speech in order to preserve that multicultural conviviality?

In fact, to the extent that any university limits freedom of speech, it diminishes its credibility as a university. Some institutions, such as religious ones, do have core values that are beyond rational debate. Such institutions routinely suppress freedom of speech in order to preserve their authority. Similarly, authoritarian political regimes resort to censorship in order to protect their `values' from criticism. In institutions committed to reason, however, free speech is defined not by `exceptions to the rule' as Stanley Fish would have it, but as places where those exceptions-to-the-rule do not apply. If there were not a censorious culture outside universities (with or without overt censorship), the `academic' in `academic freedom' would be redundant.

No doubt it would be a good thing if nobody ever talked about free speech because nobody ever threatened it: the term would be meaningless. Unfortunately, free speech is given an abundance of meaning by repeated attempts to stifle it. In censoring the expression of unsavoury opinions, a university is not dispensing with an accidental feature in the interests of its real purposes as a university; it is relinquishing a defining characteristic of any institution committed to the pursuit of knowledge. Without the freedom to think offensive thoughts, and to express them openly, a university cannot function as a university. The `diverse and multicultural community' celebrated by the university secretary at Leeds becomes an empty shell, not distinguishing the university from any other institution.

Old-fashioned racism such as that professed by Ellis has long since been discredited intellectually, and had he tried to put forward his opinions in properly academic contexts, at departmental seminars or in scholarly journals, they would quickly have been dismissed, not as forbidden thoughts, but simply as intellectually untenable ones. More often than we acknowledge, the collective pursuit of truth works. This process is actually short-circuited by attempts to police what can and cannot be said in the university, whether or not it is said in an academic context.

It was the campaign against Ellis that drew wider attention to his racism, and in such a way that misrepresented the nature of intellectual authority. As one of Ellis' Leeds University colleagues argued, `Yes, he has the right of freedom of speech to hold such views, but I strongly believe our university is not the platform from which he should promote them.' Instead of a place where ideas are debated, argued over and ultimately accepted or dismissed, the university is presented as a `platform' that lends legitimacy to anyone lucky enough to find himself there. That Ellis' racist ideas convinced nobody in the university - that the free exchange of ideas works - is not considered important. The fact that racism is intellectually untenable is presented as something that has to be artificially imposed on university life, rather than something that can be demonstrated again and again in the course of reasoned debate.

Worse than hounding someone out of his job for his views, then, this approach means obscuring and undermining the purpose of the university itself. Stifling free speech in keeping with prevailing ideas brings the university into line with the rest of society, rather than serving the distinct purpose of the university. And paradoxically, censorship within the university is justified with the suggestion that free speech belongs somewhere else. Ellis can have `free speech' in the abstract, but not as long as he is associated with the university. In the one situation where free speech is upheld in principle, it is denied in reality.

The politics of free speech

Free speech is not only essential to the pursuit of knowledge. It is also essential to the practice of democracy. This is because the principle of free speech is a permanent challenge to the idea that some questions are beyond contention, and thus a permanent challenge to authority.

In the political sphere, free speech is a principle independent of what is being expressed. The caricature is that people only fall back on `free speech' when they can't win the argument; it is a rhetorical sleight, the last refuge of the bigot. No doubt it is true that those who invoke free speech often do so in defence of racist and other opinions that have long ago been discredited in open debate. One of the more bizarre characteristics of the free speech debate today is that it is often members of far-right organisations that have nothing but contempt for freedom, who pose as champions of free speech. But this says more about the intellectual cowardice of those who want to censor them than about the merits of free speech. True supporters of free speech uphold it even for those with whom they profoundly disagree. Free speech is not a mere rhetorical device, but a political principle in its own right.

Rather than saying, `you can't ban that - it's against free speech', where the magic word `free speech' is used to actually close down argument, one can make the case as JS Mill did that bans impoverish debate and demean our rationality. This is very different from having to argue the merits of each case in terms of the content of what is being expressed. It means that even while arguing vehemently against what is being expressed, we can nonetheless insist on people's right to express it. In fact, it is only through open debate that an argument can truly be won.

This is not to suggest that all objectionable opinions are susceptible to rational debate. Some things are not worth arguing against - Holocaust denial, loopy conspiracy theories etc - in most contexts, it is enough to acknowledge what is being said to dismiss it. Unfortunately this has become a stock response to far more serious arguments that demand a proper response, from the defence of fast food to the rejection (from either side) of a `two-state solution' for Israel-Palestine. Those who dissent against the respectable line on such issues are dismissed as cranks, and often have their motives questioned. The principle of free speech is a challenge to this unimaginative and conformist way of thinking as much as it is a challenge to old-fashioned authority. Genuinely free speech requires a climate in which people are allowed to think out loud, and not shouted down for saying the `wrong' thing.

In September of this year, the pre-eminent British science institution the Royal Society issued something akin to a Papal Bull against dissenting views on climate change, seeking to establish the current scientific consensus as beyond dispute. Nobody is being officially censored or locked up, but the intervention serves to reinforce informal limits on what it is acceptable to say in public or even in respectable company - crucially, not by dismissing errant ideas through rational argument, but simply by mobilising the weight of majority opinion. `You can't say that,' is the prevailing sentiment.

Anyone who does voice the wrong opinions is assumed to be up to no good, or simply nuts - in any case, not to be listened to. In cases like this, it is not that particular ideas are considered offensive as such, so much as that they mark people out as less respectable. Rather than bans or legal prohibition of certain ideas, a subtle or not-so-subtle taboo grows up around such issues, demarcating the decent majority (or would-be majority) from unsavoury dissenters. As JS Mill himself noted, the effect of such informal taboos can be even more restrictive in practice than official censorship.

These kinds of restrictions on free speech today are rarely justified in terms of upholding authority or maintaining the social order in some old-fashioned way, however. It is not the consequences of free speech that are feared so much as freedom itself - unfettered, unbridled, unrestrained activity, `irresponsible' opinions or arguments that jar with accepted orthodoxies. In this context, censoriousness is seen as a generally `civilising' influence rather than a check on specific dangers. Often, it is not so much particular ideas that are seen as a threat, as wild or unchecked attitudes and feelings in general.

This is true even of laws against `incitement', and even when national security is invoked. The much-debated British law against incitement to religious hatred, for example, is not a response to widespread attacks on Muslims or any other religious group. Rather, it expresses anxiety about embarrassing sentiments that might be held by some members of society, and a desire to impose a more respectable, well-mannered attitude to other people's religions. Similarly, attempts to silence Muslim clerics who support terrorism, as if terrorism were a virus spread through sermons, are based not on evidence that such clerics have inspired terror attacks, but on an almost existential panic about `the threat within'. Rather than being a credible strategy to prevent future attacks, the UK ban on `glorifying' terrorism is a desperate gesture. Willingness to sacrifice free speech is presented as a sign of hard-headed realism when in fact it is a pathetic substitute for an intellectual rebuttal of `radical Islamist' ideas. In both cases, censorship is more symbolic than instrumental, but no less pernicious for that.

In this context, to argue for free speech is to make the case for free-thinking, reasoned debate and genuine tolerance. It is also to put forward a particular understanding of how society functions and the role of individual and collective agency, which is very different from the fearful and conservative worldview that gives birth to censorship and taboos. Instead, it is a worldview that allows for the possibility that things could be very different, and that human beings could be the authors of our own destinies. Rather than seeing change as a threat and seeking to contain discord, we can talk openly about the future, exchange ideas and argue over them rather than trying to suppress those that make us uncomfortable. Freedom of speech is not merely a means to an end, then, or a rhetorical trick. It is an invitation to live a free life.

More here

Thursday, October 26, 2006


But will they defend something healthy, like the Boy Scouts? No Way! Pedophiles are entitled to their views but the Scouts are not!

These are the facts: In October 1997, 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley was lured into a car in Cambridge by Charles Jaynes and Salvatore Sicari. He fought back for as long as 20 minutes before he was suffocated with a gas-soaked rag. His body was sexually molested before it was finally packed in a container and dumped into the Great Works River in Maine.

Sicari was later convicted of first-degree murder and Jaynes was convicted of second-degree murder and kidnapping. Both are in prison on life sentences, Sicari without chance of parole. Sicari and Jaynes were members of the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), although Jaynes' membership check had apparently bounced.

Curley's family filed a federal wrongful death suit in 2000 against NAMBLA in Massachusetts, seeking $200 million on allegations that the organization had turned Jaynes from a timid and confused soul into an aggressive pervert. NAMBLA has since been dismissed from the case, but several of its members who were responsible for its Web site and published materials remain as ACLU clients.

Among the allegations is that Jaynes read material he obtained on NAMBLA's Web site or directly from the organization. Some of the material Jaynes read was horrible. In essence, it told readers how they could rape a child and get away with it.

The ACLU of Massachusetts is defending the case because it regards the publication of such materials, whether on a Web site or in hard copy, as a basic free-speech right regardless of how repulsive it might be. "This is a First Amendment case," said Sarah Wunsch, one of the ACLU attorneys handling the defense, in an interview Friday. "It's about NAMBLA putting out a magazine." "The organization did not commit these crimes," she said. "In this free society that we claim to be, it may mean representing people whose rights are being violated but who are not popular," she said. "This is one of those cases. People should not be ashamed of that or run away from it. It is what makes us a free society.".....

The lawyer for the Curley family, Larry Frisoli, is the Republican candidate for Massachusetts attorney general in the November elections, and his lawsuit is a key element of his campaign. "I have devoted hundreds of thousands of dollars of my time and money because I believe there should not be a national organization training its members to rape young children," he said in his acceptance speech in April at the Massachusetts Republican Party convention.

Conservative Web sites have also seized on the case. Type ACLU and NAMBLA into Google.com and it will return 96,400 hits, the first being a link to the "ACLU NAMBLA Rage Page." In a statement shortly after the Massachusetts chapter took on the case, the national ACLU in New York issued a statement defending the decision. "The lawsuit involved here, were it to succeed, would strike at the heart of freedom of speech," it says. "The case is based on a shocking murder. But the lawsuit says the crime is the responsibility not of those who committed the murder, but of someone who posted vile material on the Internet."

More here


When I was a kid, life was simpler on every level. If you did something stupid, you got hurt, and you learned not to do it again, or to try a better way. No one that I knew ever fell out of a tree or put their eye out. We had a basic survival instinct and some personal freedom, which I treasured.

I was not a free kid. I went to Catholic school, church and I washed mountains of dishes, and I mean washed them and dried them by hand. There was no such thing in our neighborhood as an automatic dishwasher. (Well, the youngest kid was automatically the dishwasher.) Barring property damage, and within certain parameters, my playtime was largely unregulated.

My Dad worked hard, but he didn't really sweat small stuff. He couldn't have cared less about the Joneses' cars or furniture. Mostly he didn't want to be bothered with "kid stuff" either, but his indifference, to me, meant freedom, and freedom is freedom. There's nothing else like it. I loved everything about it. It made me feel alive. It still does.

There's a deep down excitement mixed with bliss that only comes from going after what revs your engine (forgive me, I grew up in the shadow of the motor city). Excitement must be a little fear and some uncertainty; the challenge of not knowing for sure if you can actually do what it is you'd like to try doing, but being free to try and free to fail. Life was an internal experience, based on your knowledge and skill so far. We were learning all the time, at least when we weren't in school.

We took some calculated risks and sometimes we got hurt. When you did, you'd go home and into the bathroom to try to stop the bleeding yourself. You'd clean up your wound as well as you could with Kleenex, water and Band-aids. We didn't die. Any crying out would attract the unwanted attention of your Mother and possibly the sound of the dreaded words, "it's time to stay in anyway." If you made a big fuss about being injured, your Mom would put iodine or mercurochrome, or some other horror on your open wound and you'd be sorry and stained for days. In summer we played outdoors all day long. We made damn sure we didn't hurt ourselves bad enough for Mom to have to call Dad at work to take you to the emergency room or you were really in trouble then, and that was due to Dad's wrath, not your discomfort level. No police or emergency room personnel questioned your parents about abuse, ever.

There were no parents dragging children to structured activities run by adults. My Mother, like most, didn't even have a car. Luckily for us, adults didn't want to be bothered with children's games. Mom was busy hanging laundry outdoors. Dad mowed the lawn and painted the garage. Luckily, girls were excused from lawn mowing - you might put your eye out by a flying stone, mysteriously boomeranging back at you from underneath the power mower. It was understood that a man with an eye out could still get a woman, but a girl with an eye out, no way. She'd be a burden to her parents for life.

We didn't sit around doing nothing. We played kickball in the street. If an adult had tried to interfere to make it "fair," they would have destroyed the order emerging from chaos. It started with an idea. We picked teams ourselves, which were just about perfectly matched, making for close games, even though we all played to win.

It wasn't any sense of generosity that made the teams well matched. The two best players were captains. Not because they were superior beings, but because no one wanted them on the same team. (The word for that would have been "slaughter," which wasn't fun, and didn't happen too often.) Each side got one pick at a time, and you picked the best you could. The youngest and/or worst players got picked last, which was only an honest estimation of your value as a player in that particular sport, not a personal insult about your worth as a human being. If someone got hurt or called home in the middle of a game, perfectly suited adjustments were instantly concocted and agreed upon by all to continue the game, because it was fun. Sure, everyone would have liked an "edge," but if you got one this time, it'd go against you the next time, and that wouldn't be fun.

We knew The Rules like breathing in and out and enforced them ruthlessly. Sometimes the rules were adjusted, depending on who was available to play on any given day. Otherwise, one half of an inning could go on for longer than we had time left to play before dark. When we needed to fine-tune The Rules, the changes were articulated by older kids, but agreed to by everyone because we all knew what was fair. Our assent was not voiced, but displayed by resumption of the game. There was no use wasting precious game time on pompous formalities.

Everyone was a referee. If someone had consistently played dirty, they would have been ousted, but no one ever did. Being part of the magic of having fun and being free to try your best within agreed upon parameters was too important. We regulated ourselves based upon a mutual benefit. "The Virtue of Selfishness," as Ayn Rand put it.

Playing it safe

Life was not ideal when I was a kid. It was limited and painful in a lot of ways. It had its vice, but it had its virtue. Even though it was by default, I had unstructured time and opportunity for reflection and self-direction.

Today there are no kids playing kickball in the street. Kickball is as outdated now as the game of "kick the can" that my parent's generation played. This is only natural; times change. But the passing of pick-up games, though unnoticed, is lamentable. They've been wiped out by a silent killer, progress, and no one at the CDC is looking for a cure.....

Children are now rushed from one activity to the next, with nothing other than a vague emptiness signifying that something is missing. So often there's just an unexamined sadness in their eyes. After spending all day in government day prisons (school), they down nutritionally void, happy, dollar meals in the SUV on the way to organized activities. They may never know the thrill of working freely with others toward a common goal, it's not in their job description. They lose trust in their own dreams and organizing ability and find the thrill of creating something exciting out of nothing an odd, suspicious stranger. They learn to wait for someone else to spoon feed them ideas, to make things fair for everyone, to make Johnny play nice. No wonder so many teens are promiscuous, depressed and violent.

Eichmanns Here, Eichmanns There

When I was a kid, you didn't need a $10 pass to walk your licensed dog in the park like we do today--the one which must be noticeably displayed within two feet of said dog, on a leash no longer than six feet. In case you should try to use the dog ID to walk your other, unregulated dog that you didn't pay the $10 for, said pass bears a particular dog's description, because everyone knows you'd walk your dogs separately to save the $10 a year. And that's ten extra dollars, above and beyond the licensing fee, which is dependent upon proof of a rabies vaccination, and ten dollars more beyond that for non-neutered dogs. For your convenience, the city sends a fellow around to snoop in back yards near you to make sure all dogs are pre-approved.

Even with your licensed, vaccinated, neutered and park-passed pet, you'd better be out of the park before dusk. The government is protecting us all from those dangerous ducks in the pond that are apparently transformed into man-eaters (or dog-eaters) after dark. (If you're willing to take it up the tailpipe like this, maybe you really shouldn't be out after dark.) This isn't Central Park in Manhattan , it's a small town of under 12,000 in Michigan .

Yes, our small town has its very own police force. We even have our own bicycle patrol officer to prosecute pet rule violators who flagrantly walk dogs without passes. It seems there is no limit to how well our masters care for us.

Where I grew up, our tiny suburb had its own police force too. However, the cops never stopped us for walking down the street like they stop my kids now. We live in an affluent neighborhood well outside Detroit that has almost no crime, or didn't until this past year when the local economy went kaput. It's still what I would consider a very low crime area.

At 14, my son, who weighed probably 99 pounds at the time, went through a gothic phase-long black hair, big black pants. He had a mild case of it--no piercings or tattoos, but still apparently a very grave threat to a fearful society. It got him stopped regularly for simply walking down a neighborhood street in broad daylight. This is a town where you don't want to be caught driving while black, either, or you'll get pulled over for possessing a car which "resembles one reported stolen." I'm not making this up. It could be called, "Stepford."

One time our son made the grave mistake of trying to leave the library at 9 p.m. The librarian, a good little Eichmann, said she couldn't just let him leave, because minors aren't allowed out on the street alone at that time of night. She'd call the local cops, who would give him a free ride to the police station, where he could call his parents to come and pick him up. She called them, unlocked the door to wait out there with him and as soon as she did, he waved at her, said "see ya," and disappeared into the night. He never made the mistake of staying at the library after 8:50 again. See, children are learning all the time!

Why not just completely emasculate our sons? Why not just castrate them all at birth? We could eliminate crimes like jaywalking and rape in our lifetime before they even get started! It would save all those years of effort by low I.Q. schoolteachers to turn little boys into little girls, as Fred Reed says. Yes, little girls, all nice and conforming-like. Our sons can get a head start on becoming metrosexual. Nice is a four-letter word, isn't it? One relied upon by polite society, so that the powers that be can keep sticking it to average taxpayers to keep them towing the line and coughing up the tax revenues. In another culture it might be referred to as "bow, bitches!" which isn't at all "nice," but is at least straightforward.

My husband is one of the least confrontational people I know, but a number of times he, after hearing that our son had been patted down and questioned for walking around in the middle of the day, more than once headed for the door to do something about it. With his hand on the doorknob, he declared his intention of going down to the police station to give them a piece of his mind. After all, we'd lived here and paid high property taxes for years. These moments always ended with our son's pleas that any confrontation would make him more of a target in the future, which was only too true. Those were the only magic words that could stop my husband in his tracks. Now we just want out of the city life.

Nowadays there's a bureaucracy for everything; unimaginable a generation ago. Property taxes keep escalating to cover the benefits and pensions of all those additional paper pushers and police. Luxuries we, like many Americans, can never hope to achieve for ourselves, what with all those taxes breathing down our necks, even though the bureaucracies are all here "for our benefit!"

We can't afford any more help

Orange alert has come to small town America , and - surprise - it doesn't have brown skin. It's not the African Americans driving down from Pontiac , it's not the Mexicans coming up across the Rio Grande , it isn't the Muslims fighting back at U.S. invaders. It is our own image staring back at us in the mirror. They have found the underbelly of our vulnerability, fear of the unknown. Our ability to deal with the unknown has been educated, regulated and organized right out of us. Now we're "nice," but we're also afraid, and fearful people do stupid things, like kowtow to bullies.

The ravenous predator that is government preys upon our collective fear. They point fingers at danger, make more laws for us in the name of eliminating those dangers, putting us in jeopardy. They take our guns to keep us safe, putting us in even graver danger. They ratchet up our fears and play off of them like professional criminals. They use it to grab more money and power for themselves, even though they are truly impotent, ignorant and evil, torture-loving, feral scoundrels.

Governments raise our collective paranoia to dizzying heights by broadening danger, eliminating hope that we will ever be free of it, guaranteeing the continuation of their reign of terror. If we wait for government to somehow make us safe and free, then no, that day will never come. The Founding Fathers knew this 200 years ago and so placed their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in harm's way. We must do the same, as security is an illusion and freedom is completely up to us. There's nothing else like it.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The veiled conceit of multiculturalism

A misinformed tolerance finally hits its limits in Britain

How tolerant must a free society be of those who are intolerant of the values it holds dear? This question is at the heart of a controversy that has flared up in Britain over the past fortnight concerning Muslim women who wear nikabs, burkas and other face coverings that allow little more than the eyes to be seen. Two weeks ago, former British foreign minister Jack Straw, writing in his local newspaper, criticised Muslim women who covered their faces, saying the practice maked "better, positive relations" between communities "more difficult". He added that the veil was a "visible statement of separation and of difference". And although his remarks were sensationalised, in pointing out that the multicultural emperor is wearing not too few clothes but too many Mr Straw largely won applause. Senior Labour politicians rushed to echo his concerns. Newspapers cheered the opening of debate and Tony Blair himself offered his support, calling the veil a "mark of separation". Not long afterwards, a Muslim teaching assistant in a British school was suspended for wearing a veil that allowed only her eyes to be seen, on the grounds that hiding her face hurt her communication with students. In this case as well, reaction to the school's decision has been largely positive. Many Britons are concerned that multicultural policies that have discouraged assimilation have divided their society and created what one commentator called a "voluntary apartheid". In the age of terrorism, this is a worrisome trend, especially considering that a recent survey of British Muslims suggested 100,000 of them felt the 7/7 attacks were justified and that one in five felt little or no loyalty to Britain.

The debate over the veil is not confined to Britain. It is an important one for any Western country with a sizeable community of Islamic immigrants, including Australia - though we have, happily, been far more successful at integrating Muslim newcomers than many other Western European nations and the veil is not the feature of public life here that it is there. But when women wear headcoverings that hide the face, they are committing a powerful act that has political as well as religious overtones and which sends a message that many people find threatening.

Many justifications have been offered for the veil. Speaking recently in Sydney, Munira Mirza, a young British Muslim woman, told The Australian that schoolgirls were wearing head coverings as a statement about Western oppression. On the other side of the spectrum, the veil can be worn as a mark of superiority that makes women who dress less modestly by the standards of the veil-wearer seem less moral, or as a way for men to control their wives and other women in their families. At its most dangerous, this thinking can be seen in the Sydney gang-rapes crisis, when Muslim youths felt their victims deserved their fates because of the way they dressed and behaved. It can even be used as a justification for terrorism. The philosophical basis for groups such as al-Qa'ida largely hinges on the idea that non-Muslims must convert or die to hasten the advent of an entire world under Islam, and veils are one way of indicating who is in the elect. Finally, some Muslim women claim that the veil is a liberating force, or that it is an inherent part of their cultural identity. But no matter the justification, the question remains whether a practice with its roots and justification in medieval Arabia has a place in a postmodern secular society such as Australia. Religious beliefs are by definition sacred, and as much as possible they should be a private matter. But when an individual or a community feels that their personal practices should trump widely held values while also setting themselves apart, the question arises as to whether those people would not be more comfortable in a place where such behaviour is the norm.

At its heart is the question of where tolerance should end and the old adage, "When in Rome, do as the Romans", should kick in. While tolerance is certainly a positive virtue that should be strived for, it cannot be a cultural suicide pact. A culture that is tolerant of those who are intolerant of its freedoms is ripe for destruction, and bit by bit will see all it values eroded. And radical Islam knows this. Just as an Australian wouldn't go to Saudi Arabia to wear a bikini on the beach and drink beer in the corner pub, those who see the proper role of women as subservient, anonymous and under cover should not expect a postmodern secular democracy such as Britain or Australia to accommodate these beliefs. Australians, who quite properly want their daughters, sisters, wives and mothers to be able to achieve anything, are right to feel uncomfortable about religiously mandated coverings and the limits they imply. We do not allow practices such as female genital mutilation simply because they are practiced by an immigrant "other". Disappointingly, those who have traditionally been a positive force for the liberation of women against oppression in other spheres have here largely been silent on the question of Islam's beliefs concerning half of humanity.

If it is true that the past is another country, then what confronts the West today is not so much a clash of civilisations as a clash of centuries. The jumbo jets that have enabled the mass immigration from Muslim countries to the West are, in effect, time machines that have brought millions of people from a pre-Enlightenment world - where men are the unquestioned bosses, stoning and forced amputation are punishments rather than crimes, and sectarian differences are worth dying over - to secular, liberal and postmodern democracies such as ours. Integration in such circumstances will be difficult but should not be shied away from, even if it means newcomers will have to adapt. Mainstream British politicians have done a great service by opening a debate on this subject. Government-supported ethnic essentialism ultimately leads to segregation - anathema to an immigrant nation such as ours whose success lies in the adoption of common values rather than the preservation of divisive behaviours. In the debate over values, far better that we appeal to our shared humanity rather than encourage behaviours that seek to demonstrate separateness and superiority


Attack on conservative Australian broadcaster is blatant homophobia

You can imagine the howls of outrage if a conservative columnist "outed" a prominent leftist media identity!

To speculate on lies, to peddle gossip, purely because the figure in question is a homosexual and an effective conservative one, is simple rubbish writing and muckraking, writes John Heard. Alan Jones is a homosexual. Michael Kirby is a homosexual. Sadly, both men have been targeted for vilification purely because they are attracted to their sex. In Kirby's case, it was the Left who accused the Right of homophobia following baseless allegations by Liberal senator Bill Heffernan in 2002. In Jones's case, which has come to light in a new book by the ABC's Chris Masters, the Right must accuse the Left. I know Kirby on a personal level but I've never had anything to do with Jones. It makes no difference. This situation is outrageous enough to warrant a disinterested critique.

Jones has been targeted because of a heresy dear to many on what remains of the Left. Homosexuals should not be conservatives and, if they are, they must be repressed, in denial or self-hating hypocrites. This creed, because those who profess it seem to consider it a fundamental truth, pervades public discussion of politics, religion, social justice and sport. Gay Catholics, for instance, who dare to think their Pope may know more about human flourishing than the homo-activists who act as apologists for the apparently liberated gay community must be full of hatred for themselves and those like them. There is no way, the heresy teaches, that they could be discerning individuals who are simply sick of the rot.

Similarly, gay citizens who admire John Howard, think Thatcherism did more good for the poor in Britain than many socialist ideas and are committed to free enterprise, libertarianism and social cohesion must be ingrates. How can they deny that it was Stonewall and the Left who bought their liberation from conservative social mores?

If operators on the Left had to choose a hero from the homosexuals in Australian public life, other than Kirby, who probably deserves the accolade, he would be of the John Marsden variety: brash, apparently unrepentant and lined up against the narrowness and bitterness of a life lived in the closet. And it is all nonsense. I am no fan of lies and dishonesty. A man should stand up for himself; he mustn't be afraid to list his weaknesses alongside his strengths and demand the world keep both in mind while judging him. But there is no compulsion, no sense of decency or rigour that obligates a public figure to discuss his sexuality in a particular manner or at all.

Masters's silly book reads like the worst sort of Victorian scandal sheet. One is surprised the text isn't subtitled: Exposing a Sodomite. Contra Masters, Jones's ancient arrest in London by the somewhat homophobic British police after they suspected him of public indecency does not constitute a sex scandal. Publishing details of the same, details that reveal Jones was cleared of all charges and the police were embarrassed in their ridiculous game of entrapment, while still insisting it was a sex scandal is irresponsible, if not potentially defamatory.

By making a mealy-mouthed concession - "it is not, nor should it be, a crime to be homosexual... it is not a sin to have your penis out in a public toilet", as if Masters were some sort of arbiter of what homosexuals are allowed to do - only to follow it up with a line such as, "but having easily defeated the criminal charges, Jones sought to defeat common sense as well, by asking the rest of the world to join him in his denial", Masters demonstrates the hatred, the homophobia that seethes beneath the otherwise politically correct exterior of the modern Left. Sure, they seem to like homosexuals, but only if we walk and talk, live and lie, in the manner that the Left prefers.

Am I going too far? Absolutely not and the proof is in the extracts published in the Fairfax press last weekend. Masters repeatedly suggests, at least as much as he can without leaving himself open to legal proceedings, that Jones is possibly a pedophile, thinking nothing of the damage caused to Jones or the lies that he perpetuates by linking such a high-profile discussion of homosexuality, once again, with that old canard, the predatory homosexual intent on kiddy fiddling. That he could corrupt what sounds like the earnest, chaste and otherwise successful bond between a dedicated teacher and football coach with his young male charges into the filthiest kind of homophobic slur - Jones couldn't have been motivated by anything high-minded; he must have been thinking with his penis - only reiterates the point. The Left doesn't care about homosexuals unless we vote as we are told.

The sheer arrogance of the attempt, the total lack of respect for another human being, his privacy or the plight of his brother homosexuals, is extraordinary. That The Sydney Morning Herald's David Marr - another homosexual - could go on The Insiders on the ABC and defend his involvement in this nasty business only proves the power of the deception on display. Such, at best, momentary abdications of common sense and humanity can stem only from a dissonance and the heresy: Jones is the perfect target and fair game.

How else to interpret passages that describe Jones as "resplendent in flared trousers and an orange cravat" singing a song from a "West End musical" (of all things! You can almost hear Masters sneer) before a "flabbergasted" King's School crowd? The homophobia in such passages veritably oozes. Not only is Jones fair game but he must be outed, humiliated and exposed for the dirty liar he is, the moral degenerate Masters and his mates obviously think Jones to be. It is their duty. It should be their great shame. I don't care what Jones did or didn't do in a bathroom in London all those years ago. I don't even care if he was an overbearing or demanding English teacher or football coach.

I do care if there was any wrongdoing - and Masters has no proof but repeats the rumours regardless - but an investigation would no doubt have locked up Jones. No such thing has occurred. To speculate on lies, to peddle gossip and innuendo, purely because the figure in question is a homosexual and - perhaps worse in the politics-blinded eyes of Masters, Marr and others - an effective conservative one, is simple rubbish writing and muckraking. It amounts to hate speech.

For too long, same-sex-attracted men have lived in ridiculous fear. We have been scared of blackmail. We have had to worry whether our best efforts will be interpreted in the worst possible light. We have been pursued unjustly by police and a legal system that criminalised a love that still dare not speak its name for fear of reprisals and retribution. This is just the kind of nonsense Masters and others have managed to bring once again to the pages of Australian newspapers and discuss in scandal-chasing books. The angle has changed but the methods of oppression are the same.

Anyone involved with this outing of Jones, any man who puts his name to or any paper that publishes extracts from the kind of sensationalist nonsense Masters is trying to sell, is not progressive or liberated. They are more like the ninth Marquess of Queensberry, he of the boxing rules and the "somdomite" misspelling and notorious slander case that put Oscar Wilde behind bars. He is certainly no friend to homosexuals. Even Marsden paid Cardinal George Pell and the priests of the Archdiocese of Sydney to say masses for the salvation of his apparently unrepentant soul. If they must take Marsden as a paragon, let the Left imitate him at least in that final humility and ask forgiveness for this latest expression of an old hatred.


Denying free speech

The French parliament recently passed a bill to criminalise denial of the 1915 Armenian genocide by Ottoman Turks. In Turkey it is illegal to acknowledge the genocide. The bill was accepted on the day Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Pamuk famously went on trial in January charged with `insulting Turkishness' after his comments in an interview with a Swiss newspaper that `one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares talk about it'. Commenting on the recent bill, Pamuk said `freedom of expression is a French discovery, and this law is contrary to the culture of freedom of expression'.

French president Jacques Chirac phoned up Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologise for his government's behaviour and promised to do his best to prevent the passing of the law. He also assured Erdogan it would not influence Turkey's EU negotiations. Meanwhile, Turkish consumers launched a boycott of French goods, the French embassy in Ankara was pelted with eggs and an Armenian genocide memorial statue was stolen in France. The Turkish parliament's justice committee is now considering passing a law that would make it illegal to deny that France was responsible for a genocide during its rule over Algeria from 1830 to 1962.

Establishing historical truth by denying one side of the debate a voice and obsessing about giving people recognition for their suffering is only going to bring about absurd reactions and childish acts of revenge such as those of the past week. Both sides accuse each other of hypocrisy and undemocratic measures against certain opinions, but in this case the principle of free speech is only a straw man. The French and other EU nations who defended Pamuk against the Turkish assault on freedom of expression just a year ago have sunk to their level. While fretting about genocide denial, the only thing that is really being denied is free speech.