Thursday, September 30, 2010

A rare attack of sanity in a British court

But no credit to the useless British police

A desperate homeowner who injured a group of thugs with a catapult as they terrorised his neighbourhood has won backing from a judge who threw out the teenagers' claims for damages.

Bruce Harwood, 38, and his neighbours in a converted Georgian townhouse were subjected to a two-year reign of terror by 20 youths who urinated on the front door, threw eggs at the windows and regularly caused disturbances into the early hours.

The electrician finally snapped when the louts followed a car through the electronic gates protecting the Grade II listed building in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.

As the female driver ran into the building fearing for her safety, electrician Mr Harwood grabbed a catapult he needs for his business and fired a several 'warning volleys' of small ball bearings at them. Three of the louts were accidentally hit, leaving them with minor injuries to their legs and groins, and he was arrested by police.

He has now admitted causing actual bodily harm and been ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid community work. But in a common sense victory for victims of anti-social behaviour, the judge threw out the hoodie-wearing yobs' claims for £1,200 compensation each, saying they 'brought this very much upon themselves'.

Sitting at Cambridge Crown Court, Judge Gareth Hawkesworth said: 'In this incident, it is entirely clear to me that you and the other residents were subjected to a lot of incidents of anti-social behaviour that were deliberate provocations by local youths.

'On this occasion you and other residents had suffered from a number of disturbances that amounted to deliberate provocation. 'You responded by taking a catapult and firing it. Such action easily could have caused serious harm. Your fault was in not notifying police. 'But I think it wholly inappropriate that I should make a compensation order given that they brought this very much upon themselves.'

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Harwood, who has moved out of his £520-a-month penthouse flat and now lives with his fiancee in Northamptonshire, said: 'I was just trying to scare them away and I didn't think I had hit them. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt anyone. 'The police seem to have said to these lads "Poor you, let's get you some compensation" instead of "What the hell were you doing there?" 'This flat was my dream home and we've been under constant bombardment. Most people have moved out because they can't cope.'

It was on the evening of April 11 that 15 teenagers took advantage of the open gate to surge into the grounds of the four storey building, which had eight flats, forcing the terrified car owner to flee into her home. When Mr Harwood went to his window to see what was happening, the gang began chanting 'rich bastards' and started banging on the communal entrance.

Fearing they were going to break in and go on the rampage inside the building, he grabbed the catapult - which he bought for work to fire wire through tubes - and a handful of 38mm ball bearings which he used to fire several warning shots.

During the court case on September 21, Benedict Peers, defending, was reading out a long list of incidents involving the youths when he was stopped on the 13th example. Judge Hawkesworth told him he had heard enough to prove there had been 'provocation'.

Mr Harwood added yesterday: 'We've called police on so many occasions they sometimes don't turn up and have never arrested any of these kids. 'When you have 15 or 20 hoodies screaming and shouting you have to figure some way of getting them out. I was scared they'd get into the building.'

Three of the flats are empty at present because the occupants have had to move out. One of the other residents, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said: 'It's been going on well before Bruce moved in. I'm glad he did something because the police wouldn't.'


Free speech means the freedom to offend

A 'gang' (say the newspapers) of six British men have been arrested after a video of them burning copies of the Koran was posted on YouTube. Frankly, I'm revolted.

I'm revolted that people should publicly burn an artefact that millions of people revere, whether it is the Koran, the Bible, or even the American flag. These are actions which are intended to distress and outrage other people. Why do it?

I'm even more revolted that the laws in the United Kingdom allow people to be arrested for any such action.

Burning a flag or a religious or political book is an expression of an opinion, usually a deeply held opinion, that the item symbolises, or is the cause, of malign actions or beliefs. People should be able to express such opinions, even if it upsets and annoys others, without fear of being arrested and possibly imprisoned.

The United States has been served well for two centuries by a general presumption of free speech, encapsulated in an important amendment to the Constitution. It is felt there that free speech is vital if we are to have frank and open debate and a contest of ideas from which we can all learn and benefit. It is thought so important that it cannot be left to the judgement of officials or the police whether any particular statement is acceptable or not. We should have the same.

Many people in the UK think that the police are more inclined to prosecute attacks on the Islamic faith than on the Christian faith because Christians usually turn the other cheek while Muslims often get very angry indeed. They argue that Christians have even been prevented, by the police, from handing out Christian literature near a mosque; while it is unimaginable that Muslims would be stopped for handing out their texts near to a Christian cathedral.

The correct way to deal with these issues is simple. The right to free speech should apply equally to everyone. We might think that particular words or actions are gratuitously offensive – such as the disparaging nicknames given to racial groups – and as social beings we should argue with people to do that and try to get them to respect other people's sensibilities. But it shouldn't be against any law to offend people. It should certainly be against the law to threaten them or promote violence against them. And it should be against the law to use or threaten violence, even in response to some offensive remark or action. But there's a big difference between calling people offensive names and encouraging people to kill them.


Another attack on breastfeeding in prudish Britain

A young mother breast-feeding her baby was ordered into a changing room at High Street chain Primark

Aimee Edwards, 24, was feeding four-week-old George when a worker told her to use the changing room - or leave the store. The married mother-of-four was so angry that she left her shopping and walked out.

Mrs Edwards said: 'A woman shop assistant said if I wanted to breastfeed I had to go in the changing rooms or leave the store. 'She said it was offending other customers, but there were hardly any other shoppers near me. 'I thought she was joking at first as I have never had a problem in any other shop before.'

Mrs Edwards was shopping with her husband Ben and their children Ruby, three, and Morgan, 20 months, when baby George needed feeding. Mrs Edwards said: 'It's natural for a mum to feed her baby. Why should people feel offended? It's not as if they can see anything. 'I don't see why I should have to hide it. I was with my daughter and I want her to grow up thinking it is a natural part of life. 'I should not be made to feel ashamed. If that's their attitude then I don't know if I want to shop in a place like that.

'I have breast-fed all my children and I have never had this reaction. I don't even think about doing it now after having four children.'

Mrs Edwards from Bridgend, South Wales, was in the Swansea branch of the discount clothes store when the row broke out. She said: 'I put my shopping down and left the store. 'I think it's disgusting that I was doing something natural and I was faced with an ultimatum. 'If people don't like it then don't look. As campaigns say "breast is best", and then you get this kind of reaction.'

A spokesman for Primark, which has 143 stores across the UK, told Mail Online that the company had 'taken steps to ensure breastfeeding is better understood by all employees'. 'A supervisor in Primark Swansea approached a customer who was breastfeeding in the store and offered her the use of a fitting room cubicle which she felt would be more comfortable and would afford some privacy,' said the spokesman.

'Unfortunately, she inadvertently caused offence to the customer who mistakenly perceived that she was not welcome to breastfeed in the store. 'It was not the supervisor's intention to cause any offence - rather to offer assistance.

'However, we sincerely regret any upset that this incident may have caused and have taken steps to ensure that the company policy on breastfeeding is better understood by all Primark employees.

'Primark customers are welcome to breastfeed whilst shopping in our stores should they wish to do so. If any customer requires privacy for this purpose, every effort will be made to accommodate this request where possible.'


Indianapolis bakery refuses order for rainbow cupcakes for a national homosexual coming out day

OFFICIALS in Indianapolis are turning up the heat on a bakery that refused to take an order from a student group seeking rainbow-colored cupcakes for next month's National Coming Out Day.

A spokesman for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said city officials are conducting an inquiry into the bakery, Just Cookies, which declined to take the order last week from a diversity group at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, which ordered the cupcakes for October 11.

"The city's position is, it's the city's Market, it's a public place," mayoral spokesman Robert Vane said "There is no litmus test for buying services or products at the City Market."

Just Cookies owner Lilly Stockton defended her bakery's decision last week, first claiming that the shop does not make cupcakes, and then telling a reporter that she did not have sufficient materials to make the rainbow colors.

But her husband, David Stockton, said he had a different reason for refusing to take the order. "I explained we're a family-run business, we have two young, impressionable daughters and we thought maybe it was best not to do that," he said.

The controversy has prompted an Indianapolis radio station to hold a "Gay Cupcake Party" tomorrow. As of early yesterday, nearly 400 people had indicated that they planned to attend the event.

Vane, meanwhile, said city officials are working to determine whether the order was refused because the bakery could not provide the desired product or because something else was at play.

"It's the other proprietor stating his personal views, that's the problem, because that's not the image of the City Market and the image Mayor Ballard is trying to portray," Vane told "That's beyond the pale."

Stevi Stoesz, a spokeswoman for City Market, a nonprofit organization with a 13-member board of directors, said officials there found the bakery's alleged conduct inappropriate. "As a public marketplace, we find it unacceptable, and this is very much an equal accommodations establishment," Stoesz told "We are working with the mayor's office and city [attorneys] to resolve the issue expediently."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New British Labour party leader talks out of both sides of his mouth

Union power yes and no. Budget cuts yes and no -- etc.

Ed Miliband attempted to shake off his ‘Red Ed’ nickname yesterday – insisting he would not back ‘waves of irresponsible strikes’ or oppose every spending cut proposed by the coalition. He sought to put some distance between himself and the union barons who enabled him to inflict a stunning defeat on his elder brother David.

Mr Miliband wanted to portray Labour as the ‘optimists’ who could change the face of Britain. But he immediately prompted confusion over his position on public finances, saying the ‘starting point’ was the last Labour government’s plan to halve the deficit – but then opposing a list of coalition cuts.

He suggested the deficit should be tackled more slowly than Labour had previously proposed to avoid damaging the economic recovery. He added that it was ‘not responsible, it’s irresponsible’ for the Government to call a halt to school building projects or to deny Sheffield Forgemasters an £80million taxpayer-funded loan.

The new Labour leader insisted he was ‘serious’ about reducing debt, and admitted the party would have been making cuts if it was still in power. ‘There will be cuts and there would have been if we had been in government. 'Some of them will be painful and would have been if we were in government,’ he told the conference.

Despite his attempts to shake off the ‘union puppet’ jibes, Mr Miliband’s debut conference speech was shot through with left-wing rhetoric. The new leader said he would back the unions’ key demand to improve rights of temporary and agency workers. He also backed union calls for a so-called ‘living wage’ of £7.60 an hour, which would effectively raise the minimum wage by 30 per cent.

He hit out at executive pay, suggesting that it should be capped, and also suggested there should be limits to Britain’s flexible labour market rules, which unions claim allow employers to exploit staff.

But as he delivered his message on strikes, Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, joint general secretaries of the giant Unite union, sat grim-faced. Mr Simpson was caught on camera mouthing the word ‘rubbish’.

Mr Miliband said he would not support a return to 1970s-style industrial chaos threatened by some unions. He said: ‘I have no truck, and you should have no truck, with overblown rhetoric about waves of irresponsible strikes. The public won’t support them, I won’t support them. And you shouldn’t support them either.’

But he left the door open to supporting individual strikes, and union leaders later appeared to be relaxed about his rhetoric.

Mr Miliband also lavished generous praise on the union movement for its work – leading the Tories to warn last night that it was still unclear whether Mr Miliband would stand up to his union backers or ‘pander’ to them.

The coalition’s plans to slash the number of prisoners won support from Mr Miliband, who ignored warnings from senior Labour figures about going soft on crime. He said he would not oppose Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s contentious cuts to short sentences.

Only hours before, Alan Johnson, the shadow Home Secretary who backed David Miliband for the leadership, had given a coded warning to Ed Miliband not to turn his back on tackling crime. But a defiant Mr Miliband said Labour should become the party of civil liberties again – despite its support for draconian DNA databases and ID cards.


Criminals must stop dodging the blame: Britain's black archbishop wants tougher prisons

Criminals should not make excuses for their wrongdoing, the Archbishop of York said last night. Instead of blaming their background, poverty, drink or drugs, they should face up to the cost of their crimes, Dr John Sentamu, the Church of England’s second most senior figure said.

In a tough speech on crime and society, the archbishop said prisons were necessary and condemned the way some offenders are rewarded in jail by being given cable TV and computer games.

But he called for more education in prisons, the jailing of fewer women and lesser criminals, and greater use of ‘restorative’ justice in which the offender gets a chance to make up for his or her crime.

Dr Sentamu acknowledged that some might be more likely to go to jail because of their neighbourhood, poverty, joblessness, drugs or alcohol. But he said: ‘We cannot simply blame society for the rising numbers we see going to prison each year. ‘We are accountable for what we do and what we are – in spite of all aids or hindrances from outside. ‘We are all too prone to find fault with the circumstances in which we find ourselves and this becomes our ready and familiar excuse when our conduct is found wanting.’

He said that since the 1980s there had been a steady drift towards personal interest at the expense of duty. ‘It seems that in modern culture, the rights of the individual are now paramount. But you cannot have rights without obligations and responsibilities. ‘We need to get back to valuing ourselves and our neighbours and understanding that there is a cost involved when a crime is committed – a cost to the criminal, a cost to the victim, and a cost to the community.’

Dr Sentamu said some offenders need to be jailed, and some should never be released. But he added: ‘We need to get away from the Victorian bang ‘em up culture that has been prevalent over recent decades.’ Backing the idea of community punishments, he said: ‘We need to think of a better way to tackle the underlying problems that have contributed to the choices criminals make.’

However, he continued: ‘It is common sense to say that criminals should not be rewarded for being in prison. ‘It is patently not right when we read stories of institutions that offer inmates such things as cable TV and PlayStations, and other non-essential items that many outside of prison cannot afford for their families despite working hard and sticking to the rules.’

The views of Dr Sentamu carry weight because of his long experience in dealing with the aftermath of some of Britain’s most disturbing crimes.

He was a key member of the Macpherson inquiry which produced the influential report into the 1993 murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. He was also involved in reviews following the murders of Damilola Taylor in London and Letitia Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis in Birmingham.


Making Muhammad safe

Deepak Chopra

For the past decade Islam has been suffering from fear almost everywhere you look. Arab countries are afraid of being invaded by the U.S. in the wake of the invasion of Iraq. Sunni Muslims are nervous about the rise of Iran to a nuclear state dominated by Shiites. But on a far more personal level, everyone is afraid to say anything about Muhammad that would inflame the faithful. I've experienced this recently myself. On tour for a book about Muhammad — one that I wrote primarily to tell Westerners that the Prophet led an exciting, inspiring life — the first word that comes up in every interview is fatwa. The first question is "Aren't you afraid to write this book?"

Every religion takes sole possession of its founder. That's what makes it strong. That and claiming that your version of God is the only correct one. But nobody who writes books about Jesus or Buddha does so in fear. The irony is that the stronger the faith, the more open it is to intolerance. Fundamentalist Christians believe that everyone else is an outsider to the true faith, including other Christians. But Islam has become locked down to an extraordinary degree. Those of us who want to write as sympathetically as possible about Muhammad, without giving in to official hagiography, are warned off. We are made to walk on eggshells. Saddest of all, those Muslims who are pleased to see a novel about Muhammad's life scan it nervously to make sure that nothing is out of place.

Isn't it time to make Muhammad a safe topic? The Danish cartoonist who lampooned the Prophet stepped into taboo territory since Islam forbids any physical depiction of him. But Islamic art over the centuries has come to terms with the strictures against painting portraits and taking photos of people's faces. Adaptation means survival, and those forces in Islam that don't want to adapt, far from preserving their faith for eternity, are endangering it.

The irony of the situation is double, actually. Muhammad recognized Jews and Christians as people of the Book, along with Muslims. They are not outsiders but fellow worshipers. Islam was meant to be an umbrella that includes them and tolerates their faith. So the fundamentalist streak in Islam isn't true to the spirit of the Prophet. The very notion that the Koran should never be translated from the Arabic and never commented upon was born (so far as I can ascertain) among his followers after the Prophet's death. As a result, the other people of the Book have passed through reform movements and adaptations that have been denied to the Muslim faithful.

Surrounding the Prophet with veneration is one thing. We can all understand and respect that. But surrounding him with threats, a kind of theological barbed wire, is another thing. It isn't acceptable to the outside world, and moderate Arabs would be well served to speak out against it. I don't mean to dictate to anyone how they should follow their religion. But we've come to an impasse if no one is allowed to speak the truth about Muhammad or comment upon his life. As long as freedom of thought is considered the enemy, the Islamic world will be embroiled in fear forever.


Ultimate evil calls for ultimate punishment

by Jeff Jacoby

ELECTED OFFICIALS don't usually acknowledge wanting to torture people in dark alleys, so it made news recently when Boston Mayor Thomas Menino expressed such a wish during a talk at Emerson College.

Menino had been speaking about the murder of Richel Nova, a Domino's pizza delivery driver who was brutally stabbed to death after being lured to an abandoned house in Hyde Park on Sept. 2. The suspects charged with Nova's late-night slaughter -- two [black] teens and a 20-year-old -- are accused of lying in wait with knives, stabbing him repeatedly in the chest and throat, and rifling his pockets for money as he lay dying. Then, prosecutors say, the three drove off in Nova's car and ate most of the pizza from its blood-stained box.

It was a horrific crime. And it hit Menino especially hard since Nova's two daughters, 20-year-old twins Marlene and Michelle, had worked the last two summers in his City Hall office. The killers were "animals," the mayor said, and he couldn't fathom their wanton cruelty. "Maybe you guys can tell me," he said to the Emerson students, "what do they think when they do that? Don't they think life is worth anything?"

A student asked Menino whether the three suspects ought to be tried in a state that, unlike Massachusetts, authorizes the death penalty. "I'm not in favor of the death penalty," he answered. The death penalty is "a hot-button issue that doesn't solve anything. . . It's unfair. I just don't think the death penalty is the way to go."

Then came the rumination about torture. "If I saw these guys in a dark alley, I'd like to have a fight with them," the mayor said. "I'd do some things that would be worse than the death penalty. . . . I would slowly torture them." Predictably, Menino's words generated some criticism -- one former prosecutor warned that they would "make it very difficult to select an unbiased jury" -- and in short order he retracted them. "I would not torture anybody," he told WBZ Radio. "I do regret it, yes, I do."

But the mayor took back the wrong words. It is his blanket opposition to the death penalty he ought to rethink, not his healthy and perfectly understandable urge to give Nova's killers a taste of the unspeakable evil they inflicted on their victim. It may not have been very genteel to speculate out loud about making the perpetrators suffer, but Menino was only giving voice to an innate and normal human craving: the desire to see justice done, to see those who prey on the weak or innocent get what they deserve.

Of course we don't permit individuals -- not even mayors -- to carry out such urges. An essential function of our criminal-justice system is to prevent self-appointed vigilantes from taking revenge on those who commit savage crimes. A civilized society understands the hatred and revulsion and thirst for vengeance such crimes can inspire. But it insists that punishment be meted out only by the state, not by outraged private parties -- and only after due process of law, complete with a fair trial, an impartial judge, the right of appeal, elaborate protections for the accused.

And punishments that fit the crime.

It is all well and good for Menino to publicize his fury at what was done to Richel Nova; I wish he were as vehement about every murder. But ultimately it is what a society does to murderers, not what its politicians say about them, that lets the world know what it really thinks about their crimes. Our attitude toward acts of evil is revealed in the punishment we mete out to those who commit those acts. Greater crimes call for greater punishments, with the very worst punishment, death, reserved for the very worst crime -- deliberate, cruel murder. Like it or not, a criminal-justice system in which no murderer, however vicious and calculating, can ever forfeit his life conveys the message that murder is not all that terrible.

How, Menino wonders, could the pitiless savages who murdered Marlene and Michelle's father be so callous about human life? No doubt he would ask the same about those who massacred four human beings -- including a 2-year-old -- in Mattapan yesterday. "I would slowly torture them," he fantasized at Emerson. But in real life, the mayor doesn't want even the bloodiest savages to face anything worse than prison. Perhaps, between visiting crime scenes and attending funerals, he should consider what happens to a society in which murderers have a greater right to life than their victims.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How this twisted obsession with race makes Britain MORE divided

Munira Mirza

Are race relations in Britain getting worse? If you read the official ­ statistics and look at the ­massive increase in the number of anti-­racism policies and ­initiatives, you might be forgiven for thinking that we are ­suffering the kind of ­race-hate ­epidemic you would ­expect to find in ­apartheid South Africa.

Children as young as three could now be accused of ­racism, reported by zealous teachers who have been ordered to ­highlight any aspect of their pupils’ ­behaviour that might be ­construed as having racist overtones.

Thanks to legislation ­introduced by New Labour, schools now have to inform local authorities of all ‘racist ­incidents’ in the playground - resulting in the reporting of an estimated 250,000 cases. And yet some of these involve primary school children ­calling each other names like ‘chocolate’.

Along with a growing number of people from ethnic minorities, I believe these anti-­racism ­policies are outdated and - more to the point - damaging. By obsessing about race and exaggerating the scale of ­racism, the authorities sow the seeds of mistrust and make ­communities more divided. It is time for a fresh approach that brings people together and emphasises how much we all have in common.

The truth is, Britain is a far more tolerant place than it was 30 years ago, when there was much prejudice and ignorance. People now are increasingly relaxed about living in a multi-ethnic Britain. Indeed, young people have known nothing else and mixed marriages are increasingly common.

Of course, racism still exists, but relations have now improved to a point where many ethnic minority people do not ­experience it as a feature of their everyday life. Research in many fields, such as education and employment, shows that if there is a barrier to achievement today it is social class, rather than race.

Yet, ironically, as racism declines and public attitudes change, government agencies have become ever more ­preoccupied with the issue. It was in 2000 that the Labour government passed a heavy-handed law imposing a duty on all public authorities, such as schools, councils, hospitals and universities, to ‘promote good relations between persons of ­different racial groups’.

As a result, a lot of money is spent on legions of well-paid ‘diversity professionals’ in workplaces, whose job it is to ­monitor racism, run training courses and ensure no one offends anyone.

But rather than stamping out the problem, I believe all this hyper-awareness is ­achieving the opposite result. All the monitoring, training and meddling serve to do is exaggerate the scale of the ­problem and create more ­mistrust between communities. It means that someone of a ­different race ­sitting next to you at work can become a ­potential victim of unwitting racism. As a result, people become afraid to speak their mind or ask difficult questions of anyone of a different ethnicity in case they ‘say the wrong thing’.

To see the negative effects of officialdom’s anti-racism ­policies, I only have to look my hometown of Oldham. In the summer of 2001, it was scarred by serious rioting, ­involving Asian and white youths. Both groups were angry that summer.

The media had reported the existence of alleged ‘no-go areas’ for whites and a sharp rise in racist incidents - but it was the use of clumsy, official diversity policies that helped to heighten the tension.

Professor Ted Cantle, of the Institute of Community ­Cohesion, who was asked to investigate the disturbances, found that the local white and Asian communities lived ­‘parallel lives’.

Although pupils of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin accounted for around a third of the primary school population in the town, there was not as much integration as there should have been because eight out of ten were in schools that were mostly non-white.

Indeed, the riots in Oldham erupted after more than a ­decade of diversity policies that had encouraged people to see ­themselves as different to each other.

A year before the riots, the local police force had followed the recommendation of ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers, and adopted a new ­definition of a racist incident as ‘any incident which is ­perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person’. In consequence, the police went into communities and sought to increase the reporting of anything that could be seen as a racist incident.

From being fairly steady throughout the Nineties (with 246 racist incidents reported in Oldham in 1994, 256 in 1996 and 290 in 1998) the number suddenly jumped by 56 per cent in 2000 to 452 - the ­highest rate of incidents in the whole Greater Manchester area). But it wasn’t because race crime had increased - merely that a change in the definition of so-called racist incidents wrongly suggested it had.

More generally, the drive to ‘promote good relations’ in ­Oldham means there has been a clampdown on any behaviour which might be deemed ­offensive. This naturally ­creates resentment.

When I was conducting ­interviews in the town in 2007, I kept hearing claims from locals that the council had banned St George’s flag. I asked various council staff about this claim, but none of them could confirm whether it was true or not. One official guessed it might have been done out of ­sensitivity to local ethnic minorities who ­associated the flag with ­far-Right groups that were resentful of the ­immigrant population. Another even suggested that, if the flag had been banned, it might have been for ‘health and safety reasons’.

Yesterday, a council ­spokesman said that it had not been banned. But, ­crucially, ­everyone I asked - Asian or white - felt that this sort of unnecessary, ­meddlesome decision would have been­ ­‘typical’ of the council.

Similar mistakes are being repeated across the UK, as revealed by reports of over-­zealous council officials, schools and police who have banned Christmas or English flags or other cultural ­expressions for fear of ­offending minority groups.

Even ethnic minorities often see such ­measures as over-­the-top and are irritated when they get the blame.

We know that some stories of political correctness gone mad are exaggerated - but many are not. Ted Cantle, returning to­ ­Oldham some years after his original report into the cause of rioting in the town, noted that there were complaints from the public about the police’s over-zealous ­restrictions on any expression of national pride or cultural festivals.

He also said that, despite all the diversity training and race equality guidelines, people in Oldham wanted to ask ­questions about different faiths and cultures but were afraid to do so because it might be thought ‘politically incorrect’.

Despite the well-intentioned efforts of council officials, teachers and diversity ­professionals, community ­tensions still remain. Inevitably, these grievances can grow and fester in areas of high deprivation.

No doubt, many people ­working in the field of race ­relations sincerely want to make things better. But the trouble is, they are now part of an ­infrastructure costing millions which — by ­constantly drawing attention to racism and trying to ­­micro-manage ordinary people’s behaviour - is actually making things worse.

It is time for all of us - whites and ethnic minorities alike - to put a brake on these anti-racism policies and call for the Government to review the laws that have spawned them. Let’s trust each other and talk about the things we have in common. That’s the real way to ­promote good relations.


More petty bureaucratic tyranny in Britain (1)

Council workmen blast residents for sweeping up leaves 'because it's against the rules'

Community-minded residents have had a ticking off for sweeping up leaves from outside their homes - because it is against council rules.

With the first autumn leaves falling onto their street, families in Blakenall, West Midlands, have dutifully been sweeping them up and putting them into their garden recycling bins. But their actions have been met with a stark warning from binmen, who told them depositing leaves in the brown containers was against council rules.

One pensioner in Guild Avenue was rapped by binmen for going against Walsall Council’s policy, which has been branded 'ridiculous'.

The rules outlined in Street Pride documents state leaves off the highway should not be put into brown bins because of 'contamination'.

Persistent offenders who break waste collection rules, including placing the ‘wrong’ materials in bins, could potentially face a fine of up to £1,000.

Council guidelines state that only grass cuttings, tree and shrub prunings, old plants and flowers, hedge clippings, weeds and leaves from residents’ own gardens can be put into brown bins.

The elderly woman who fell foul of the policy, who does not want to be named, complained to Walsall Councillor Pete Smith, who said it was 'crazy'. 'It’s still good to know some residents still take the trouble to keep the public footpath outside their own home clean,' he said. 'They should be encouraged, not discouraged.'

Now council leader Mike Bird has called for a common sense approach. He said: 'Anyone who has made comments to people about sweeping up leaves is taking the rules to the extreme. 'We are trying to encourage more pride in the community and this is the perfect example of a lady doing that and she should be praised.'

Retired lorry driver, Bill Pittam,79, from, Blakenall, said: 'I’ve always swept up leaves from outside my home and put them in my bin and have been doing for the last 30 years or so.'

Walsall Council, named the best authority in the country for its recycling targets, earlier this month approved a new rubbish collection policy, meaning it can now take enforcement action over those putting the wrong waste in the wrong bins.


More petty bureaucratic tyranny in Britain (2)

Professor slapped with £155 railway fine for getting off his train one stop EARLY

A professor who got off his train one stop before the destination on his ticket was ordered to pay a £155 penalty to leave the station. Martyn Evans was told he would be fined for disembarking at Darlington, near his home, rather than waiting until Durham, where he works at the university’s philosophy department.

The state-run East Coast train company said ticketing regulations meant he could get off only at the stop he had paid for – and nowhere else.

But transport campaigners warned the restriction risked driving passengers off trains and back into their cars.

Professor Evans said: ‘Anyone would understand that you’d be liable to pay extra if you stayed on the train too long. 'But by getting off early, you aren’t even using all of the product that you’ve paid for.’

The father of two bought three advance first-class single tickets from East Coast to cover his triangular journey from Durham to London, London to Birmingham and then back to Durham.

It was nearly 8pm when he arrived back in the North-East, so he decided to disembark one stop early, at Darlington, close to his home in the village of Hurworth. However, when he tried to leave the station, the automatic barrier would not let him out. Station staff told him his ticket was invalid because he had got off the train too early.

He was ordered to pay £155 – the price of a full first-class ticket from Birmingham to Darlington. After complaining, he was allowed to sign an invoice and told he must pay the penalty later.

Professor Evans said: ‘Like most people, it did not enter my mind that I was in default of the terms and conditions by getting off the train early. ‘The whole process made me feel like a wrongdoer from the beginning and that disgusted me more than just the money itself. 'It’s absolute madness – no-one would anticipate you’d be at fault for getting off too early.’

Alexandra Woodsworth, from the Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘The Government has promised us fair rail fares, but being charged excessively for getting off a stop early doesn’t seem like a fair deal. ‘Passengers need greater flexibility if they are to choose the train over driving or flying, and information about ticket restrictions needs to be made much clearer.’

East Coast has cancelled Professor Evans’s penalty as a ‘goodwill gesture’, but insisted that the policy was standard across the train industry. A spokesman said: ‘The terms and conditions of the advance purchase first-class ticket – the ticket which Professor Evans had used for his journey – clearly state that breaking a journey en route, or starting from an intermediate station, is not permitted.’

A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies said: ‘Hundreds of thousands of people take advantage of cheap advance tickets every week with no problem at all. 'In return for significantly reduced prices, there are certain conditions which apply that are clearly advertised when the tickets are bought.’

Amy Bradley, from the Passenger Focus consumer group, said: ‘There are some very good deals to be had on the railway, but passengers tell us the price of flexibility is too high.’

Earlier this month, Emma Clark and her fiancĂ© Davyd Winter-Bates were fined £57 each by South West Trains for disembarking two stops early during a £6 journey from London to Southampton.


Anti-Violence Bill Promotes Abortion and Gender Quotas

This week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will begin addressing the proposed International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) — S. 2982 and H.R. 4594. With a price tag of over $1 billion over the next five years, the bill will add to the hodge-podge collection of “progressive” initiatives that are pushing the U.S. to the brink of financial crisis. Feminist groups are pushing action on the legislation before the November elections — for obvious reasons. Like so many feminist proposals, the rhetoric sounds great. Is there anybody, other than the jihadists, who is not opposed to violence against women? The problems with I-VAWA are hidden in the fine print under the lofty rhetoric; the agenda is predictable: anything promoting so-called “women’s rights” is a thinly-veiled push for anti-family policies, gender quotas, and, of course, abortion-on-demand, all on a global scale.

The issue of violence against women has a sketchy past, where facts are obscured by emotional accounts of battering and other violence. Any normal person is appalled anytime a stronger person takes advantage of or abuses a more vulnerable person. Decent people are outraged at real abuse, but false accusations and trumped up campaigns to promote hidden agendas are equally outrageous. By now, everybody knows that the old 1993 story about violent attacks on women increasing on Super Bowl Sunday was false; the “study” was debunked just days after it first appeared. Even so, periodically the “fact” still gets reported as truth. By now, everybody should also know that the majority of “domestic violence” incidences are committed by the boyfriends of mothers, not husbands and biological fathers. Sadly, however, statistics are now kept on “intimate partner” violence, and we refer to “domestic abuse” rather than breaking the violence into types of intimate partners (whether a husband, former husband, or boyfriend) or domestic household arrangement (whether marriage or cohabitation).

The facts are clear: the breakdown of marriage and family has been a major factor in increasing violence and abuse against women and children. The sad reality is that we are spinning our wheels as a nation in trying to keep up with the problems of women who are not protected by their husbands and of children who are denied the presence and protection of mature, concerned fathers. How many more women and children will be abused before we acknowledge that the investment America needs to make for the nation’s women and children is to encourage and support marriage? A married father-mother home is the safest and most nurturing place for the nation’s women and children.

Further, the urban myths continue alongside the long-standing practice of feminists equating a lack of “reproductive services” with “domestic violence.” The I-VAWA (Section 3) acknowledges U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 — which, as those who are knowledgeable about the U.N. recognize, is the section that is cited as mandating the protection of reproductive rights. The I-VAWA would allocate $10 million a year to the United Nations Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM (Section 201), one of the major U.N. agencies devoted to promoting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which prominently feature reproductive and gender rights. First, note that the UNIFEM definition of domestic violence includes “psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the government of the country in which the victim is a resident” (Section 4). Second, what the American public needs to be aware of is that the U.N.’s interpretation of “psychological violence” includes “mental distress” brought on by lack of access to abortion services.

Plus, the money trail is a maze of symbiotic relationships. For instance, the I-VAWA bill (Section 112) includes provisions for grants to Women’s Nongovernmental Organizations and Community-Based Organizations. The organization that has taken the lead in promoting I-VAWA is the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF), “which stands to receive a major portion of I-VAWA funds.” The FVPF promotes “training and sensitization” programs for judges and judicial officials that will solidify “access to reproductive services.”

Other concerns regarding I-VAWA are equally troubling. The broad definitions of “violence” and the use of terms like “psychological harm” and “coercion” leave plenty of room for false accusations of abuse that will break up families and increase welfare dependence. The bill establishes an “Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues” — what some have called a “feminist czar” — (Section 101) that would establish powers under one person’s control that would supersede current and established policy-making and financial procedures.

Ironically and unbelievably, the I-VAWA does not address sex-selective abortion, which is one of today’s most egregious policies perpetuating violence against women. Both China and India are facing shortages of marriageable-age women as a result of decades of this practice, a demographic fact that has sociologists and politicians concerned about the future of those nations.

The I-VAWA is promoted as a “groundbreaking bill” that will “apply the force of U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance to preventing gender-based violence.” That loose term — gender-based violence — can mean anything and generally covers a wide range of ideological goals from the “women’s rights” agenda. In the U.S., the bill will seek to “change public attitudes” and “social norms,” efforts that are potentially “biased in their content and ideological in their purpose.”

Though these vague, nebulous goals are dressed up to sound wonderful and disguise the intent of the ideologues who promote them, their meaning can be as misleading — and disastrous — as the campaign slogan of “hope” and “change.”



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Some secular hatred of the Vatican

BOOK REVIEW OF "The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse", by Geoffrey Robertson, a prominent Leftist lawyer in Britain who dreams of a worldwide Leftist tyranny -- in the guise of anti-tyranny, of course. The reviewer is Brendan O'Neill, a modern Marxist (or something) from a Catholic background! Brendy has a good heart, though -- JR

Robertson wants to throw open the doors of the Holy See, which he views as an irritating island of stick-in-the-mud sovereignty, and drag the pope of Rome himself before the kangaroo courts of so-called international justice. Truly, he will not be happy until his righteous writ extends everywhere.

The most alarming thing about Robertson’s book - The Case of the Pope - is that it is being treated so seriously by commentators. Written in the style of a legal document, with a list of 245 points against the Vatican, the book covers everything from the child abuse scandal that has rocked the church to the phoney nature of the Holy See’s sovereignty to the role that the Holy See plays in pressuring small nations at the UN to accept its dogma on condoms and abortion.

Yet those who have welcomed the book as a simple, clear-eyed, lawyerly argument against Holy See sovereignty, and for the potential arrest and trial of the pope, are overlooking the full-on political war that Robertson has spearheaded against the institution of sovereignty for more than 10 years now. His new attack on the Vatican, published by Penguin to coincide with Benedict’s visit to Britain, should be properly seen, not as a radical assertion of liberal humanist values over the institutionalisation of religious obscurantism, but as the latest salvo by a leading figure in the meddle-hungry human rights industry against the old ideals of sovereign equality and non-interference in other states’ affairs.

It will come as no surprise that Robertson’s tract is infused with some of the middle-class prejudices against Catholics that came to the fore of liberal public debate in Britain during Benedict’s visit. There’s the old line about Catholics being brainwashed by their priests; they are ‘indoctrinated from their childhood’ until they develop such ‘emotional and psychological respect’ for their priests that they’ll do anything the men in dog collars ask.

There’s the idea that Third World Catholics in particular are prone to turning priestly propaganda into real acts of violence, a bit like attack dogs. We’re told that ‘in Brazil and other Catholic countries’ there have been ‘macho muggings’ of gays, possibly brought about by Benedict’s decision to ‘unleash the full force of [the Catholic Church’s views on homosexuality]’. The priest speaks and the people act, because, as one expert quoted by Robertson puts it, ‘priests take the place of Jesus Christ and are to be obeyed at all costs, and never questioned or criticised’. They’re easily brainwashed, these Caflicks.

Then there is the argument that some Catholic views are so out there, so off the wall, that when they are spouted by Benedict, who exercises great influence over his flock, they become dangerous and might therefore have to be censored. Robertson argues that while it is wrong to censor ordinary individuals who make religious anti-gay comments in public, ‘Pope Benedict XVI is no voice in the wilderness’ – ‘were he to repeat in a public sermon [in Britain] his oft-stated view that homosexuality is “evil” and gays are all people with defective personalities, he would be using the full force of his spiritual office to vilify a section of the population protected by equality legislation and public order law’. In such circumstances, ‘the Home Office could not… permit his entry’, decrees Robertson.

However much Robertson tries to dress this up in the language of equality and protecting certain sections of the population from harm, it still amounts to suggesting that the state ought sometimes to interfere with and restrict people’s freedom of religion. In the Catholic case in particular – where Robertson and others seriously believe that Catholic kids are turned into priest-respecting automatons and the pope has a special hold over every Catholic’s heart and mind – the state might have to curb religious speech in the interests of preventing public disorder. And macho muggings.

While this kind of outlook has become par for the course in liberal, atheistic, so-called humanist circles in Britain, the more striking part of Robertson’s book is his stinging attack on the idea of Holy See sovereignty. I should state right now that I am no old-fashioned defender of sovereignty, especially not the Vatican’s sovereignty. As an internationalist, I can think of far better ways to organise world affairs than to divide mankind into different, often conflicting sovereign territories. I do, however, defend a people’s right to fight for and assert their self-determination against both international intervention and tyrannical rulers. And as a radical humanist, I am implacably opposed to the tiny, population-less Holy See having permanent observer status at the United Nations, where it does indeed lobby behind the scenes for restrictions on the exercise of reproductive rights, especially in the Third World.

Yet it’s important to recognise why Robertson and other intervention-happy human rights activists are so hostile to the institution of sovereignty: it’s because they view it as a barrier to having the ‘international community’ barge its way into usually small, normally black or brown states to arrest the ‘scoundrels’ who run them. In short, the sins of the tradition of sovereignty pale almost into insignificance when compared with the gung-ho, border-busting, World Police-style system that Robertson and Co. would like to replace sovereignty with.

Those championing Robertson’s apparently liberal assault on Vatican sovereignty are overlooking, or ignoring, the fact that he has previous form on this issue. In the post-Cold War period, Robertson has been amongst the most vehement critics of sovereignty. It’s a ‘pernicious doctrine’, he has argued; a ‘stumbling block for the development of international justice’; it is ‘the refuge of scoundrels’. In 1998, in that liberal interventionist moment which culminated in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia (600 civilians dead), Robertson was on the side of ‘humanitarian’ interventionists such as Tony Blair and Bill Clinton when he said, ‘It has taken half a century but we seem at last to be working out a way to bring tyrants to justice. Why did it take so long? The problem is that the world has always been organised on the principle of “sovereignty” of the state, [the idea that] there must be no intervention in their internal affairs.’

This principle of non-intervention (which, for the record, from Aden to Vietnam to Panama, was never adhered to by Western powers during the Cold War period) is viewed by Robertson and others as a barrier to them fulfilling their fantasy about being knights in shining armour who can save the destitute and downtrodden of the world. Robertson has over the years attacked any state that jealously guarded its sovereignty rather than opening itself up to ‘international justice’. China is ‘the most obsessive defender of state sovereignty’, he has declared; that pesky Colonel Gaddafi, when elected chairman of the African Union, turned it into ‘the main opponent of the International Criminal Court, guaranteeing to protect Omar al-Bashir from its arrest warrant over his alleged crimes in Darfur’.

In an interview with the Guardian in 2008, Robertson even shared his fantasies about setting up a ‘Convention Against Tyranny’, which, the interviewer told us, would be ‘capable of giving legal justification in order to overthrow evildoers’. This is how Robertson sees himself: as a warrior against the ‘Machiavellian doctrine’ of sovereignty because it stands in the way of his pursuit of those whom the ‘international community’ decree to be ‘evil’.

In Robertson’s ideal world, the basis upon which the righteous of the international community (the West) should be permitted to force their way into those scoundrel-like states that hide behind sovereignty (the rest) should be expanded. At present, intervention is largely confined to situations where ‘genocide’ is occurring; Robertson argued in 2008 for a situation where ‘other forms of barbarism’ could be cited as a justification for the overthrow of evildoers, including, for example, ‘the Taliban’s denial of education to women and girls’. In short, any sinning state, any entity judged by international law to be wicked, should be subject to Robertson and Co.’s sword of justice.

And what a terrible sword it can be. A great irony of The Case of the Pope is that such is the extent of Robertson’s fervour for war against evil that he makes the pope look like a paragon of peace and justice in comparison. Robertson slams the Vatican for ‘regularly condemn[ing] wars – no matter how just’. And one of those ‘just’ wars that the Vatican opposed was ‘the first Gulf War, to drive Saddam out of Kuwait, which he had unlawfully invaded’. Otherwise known as the war that left 180,000 Iraqis dead, entire towns destroyed, and most of Iraq in a state not too far from the ‘Stone Age’, as one boastful American official described it. It seems that any level of tyranny is justified in combating tyranny; all forms of barbarism can be deployed in the fight against ‘other forms of barbarism’. When you have right on your side, you can do no wrong. The kind of one-eyed self-righteousness that can make someone think that the ‘international community’ is combating tyranny even as it massacres thousands really puts so-called Catholic self-delusion into perspective, and makes the idea of papal infallibility seem almost meek in comparison.

The authoritarianism and divisiveness of the post-sovereignty system of ‘international justice’ is best summed up in the International Criminal Court. Robertson was an early cheerleader, of course, arguing in 2000 that the ICC would be a ‘court for all the world’. Really? Finally instituted in 2002, the ICC is in reality a racist institution which drags African leaders to be tried for crimes against humanity. Its cases have included Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Darfur/Sudan.

What do all the defendants have in common? That’s right, they are all what the old colonialists would have at least more honestly described as ‘niggers’. As Courtenay Griffiths QC, the defence lawyer for Charles Taylor at The Hague, recently said: ‘How is it possible that in 2010 we have a situation where every indicted individual at the ICC is African and every investigation is, guess where, Africa…? [T]he ICC was set up to try those lesser breeds without the law – the Africans. This is the same civilising mission from the late nineteenth century and I find it, as a black man, totally objectionable.’

This is what the liberal-elite war on sovereignty has resulted in: not increased internationalism and global equality, but their opposite – the jungle-style division of the world into the righteous forces of the West and the savages ‘over there’, and wars which have left thousands dead (but it doesn’t matter, because they died in the name of ‘combating tyranny’). Robertson’s arguments against Holy See sovereignty need to be seen in this light. Far from being a positive assertion of secularism over the international privileging of a particular religion, this looks to me more like an attempted final blow against the institution of sovereignty, the haranguing of an institution that continues jealously to guard its right to sovereign independence and integrity and the non-interference of other states and their agents in its affairs. Okay, there’s nothing positive about Holy See sovereignty; but nor is there anything positive in what motivates the main arguments against Holy See sovereignty today.

The great irony is that the human-rights lobby today plays a role that is not too dissimilar from the Catholic Church’s role of yesteryear. Robertson quotes a nineteenth-century historian who said that the then Vatican was attempting to ‘establish a power which would be the most formidable enemy of liberty… throughout the world’. In short, the Vatican had global ambitions; it longed to make everyone submit to its religious ethos and worldview and to assert its moral authority across the nations. Ring a bell?


The British Labor Party lurches Left

It's in their genes --but it should ensure a Tory victory at the next election

In his first interview since his surprise win over his brother David in the party’s leadership election, Mr Miliband insisted he was his “own man” and not in thrall to the unions, whose support gave him victory.

The former energy secretary said he was tough enough to make difficult decisions and pledged to fight for hard-working “Middle England” families.

But despite insisting that the party would not “lurch to the Left” under his leadership, he spoke of plans for new taxes for higher paid workers, an assault on City bankers and new trade union rights for employees. He refused to condemn forthcoming strikes and indicated he would oppose Coalition plans to reform public sector pensions.

In a direct attempt to appeal to those traditional Labour voters alienated by Mr Blair’s premiership, Mr Miliband said: “The era of New Labour has passed. A new generation has taken over.”

But he left himself open to accusations that his attempt to reposition the party is less significant than he has suggested when it emerged that he may offer his brother – an arch Blairite – the crucial post of shadow chancellor. His claim to be working to unite the party was also weakened when, within hours, his comments drew criticism from MPs close to Mr Blair and David Miliband.

At a Progress Rally in Manchester, where the party’s annual conference is being held, Ben Bradshaw, the shadow culture secretary, said activists should declare “very firmly” that “New Labour is not yet dead”.

Jim Murphy, another former Cabinet minister and a close ally of David Miliband, said the party did “absolutely remarkable things as New Labour”.

Margaret Hodge, the MP for Barking, said she was worried the party might “write off all the things that brought Labour three election victories in a row”. Ed Miliband must use his first conference speech as leader to demonstrate the party “was not in the pockets of the trade unions”, she said.

One angry Blairite MP said: “We cannot just put Tony Blair in a box. We cannot totally disown New Labour as this lot seem to want to.”

Mr Miliband beat his brother by a wafer-thin margin after four rounds of voting. He had been consistently behind in support from fellow MPs and party members, and only edged ahead with the help of the unions. He yesterday insisted he would not be in thrall to the unions, and told the BBC: “I’m nobody’s man. I’m my own man and I’m very, very clear about that.” He added: “It’s not about some lurch to the Left, absolutely not.”

He dismissed claims that he wanted to do to Labour what Margaret Thatcher did to the Tories when she took over as leader. He described his nickname “Red Ed” as “both tiresome and rubbish”.

Mr Miliband denied that he lacked the required steel to lead his party. “I can take the toughest of decisions that you’re required to do as Leader of the Opposition and hopefully as prime minister.”

He claimed to want to represent the middle classes. “I think there are big injustices that we need to deal with in Britain — many of them affecting so-called Middle England in this country.

“People who are working hard, working long hours. They don’t have enough time to see their kids. They’re worried about their kids getting into debt. They’re worried about housing. They’re the people I want to speak for in this country.”

Labour has been thrown into turmoil by Mr Miliband’s shock victory. Tory insiders are known to be delighted by the outcome because they believe that, despite his claims to the contrary, his Left-wing leanings will alienate the middle class vote at the next election.

The election of the younger Miliband could provoke his brother to stand down. David Miliband is clearly devastated at being deprived of the leadership after coveting it for several years. Asked what role his brother might play in opposition, Ed Miliband said: “He needs time to think about the contribution he can make. I think he can make a very big contribution to British politics, but he needs the space to do that.”

Last night, David Miliband gave the strongest hint yet he was considering stepping away from front-line politics, if not immediately then in six to 12 months. In Manchester, he said he would not do anything yet to distract from his brother’s first day in the job. “Today is not a day to take anything away from what Ed is doing. I think he has made a great start.”

Yesterday it emerged that Ed Miliband is considering offering his brother the job of shadow chancellor to make up for the disappointment. There is no guarantee he would accept but if he did, the new leader risks angering Ed Balls, who is keen to shadow George Osborne.

Ed Miliband was asked to condemn the long-running British Airways dispute and planned BBC industrial action which is threatening to blackout the Conservative conference. But he replied: “I’m not going to adjudicate on every strike. But what I am going to say to you is that they should always be a last resort.” He also failed to back what will be controversial changes to the gold-plated system of public sector pensions. Mr Miliband indicated that he would not oppose all the public sector cuts being planned by the Coalition.

He also said he would look again at Alistair Darling’s plan to halve the deficit in four years, suggesting that a greater tax take was possible to compensate for fewer cuts. His declaration of the death of New Labour was welcomed by the union bosses.

Paul Kenny, the general secretary of Unison, said: “It had its time and now it has gone. The general public don’t trust it any more. People like Mandelson, and a certain degree Tony Blair, are harking back to a golden era, which of course people do when they get older like that. But the reality is it has had its time.”

Other union bosses were also quick to back Ed Miliband, but warned him to remain true to what he had said during the four-month leadership campaign.

Yesterday, Lord Kinnock [The Welsh windbag: a famous loser], a supporter of Ed Miliband, claimed David Miliband lost out because Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson both backed him. “I think Peter Mandelson’s book and his utterings afterwards may have made a difference that damaged the case of David Miliband,” he said


Every British parent will end up on vetting database unless it is scrapped, warns think tank

A national anti-paedophile database is "poisoning" relations between generations and even increasing the risk to children, a report has warned.

The controversial vetting system, designed to check adults who work with children, has become so out of control that it could eventually cover the majority of the population because most people come in to regular contact with youngsters, think tank Civitas predicts. The system, which is under review by the Government, also threatens to undermine David Cameron's desire for a "Big Society".

Unless the rules are dramatically scaled back, the report warns that volunteering will plummet. Adults will also become less willing to intervene when children are misbehaving, or help those in distress for fear of being seen as potential child abusers.

The proposed Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) was created by the last Labour Government and would involve at least nine million people who want to work with children or vulnerable adults having to register on a database and have criminal record checks.

The plan was met by a wave of intense criticism amid claims it was over restrictive and would even hit parents who signed up for driving rotas for weekly sports events or clubs.

In June, the new Coalition Government halted the scheme, which was due to start the following month, and is currently reviewing it's future, with plans to scale back its scope to "common sense" levels.

But in the report for Civitas today, respected sociologist Prof Frank Furedi, and co-author Jennie Bristow, warn unless the Government gets rid of the scheme altogether then nothing will change. Their study, Licensed to Hug, calls for a radical new approach to the way adults and children can interact that is "based on the assumption that the majority of adults have no predatory attitudes towards children".

The previous Government stressed the vetting system would not target those parents who make private arrangements that bring them in to contact with children, such as picking up a neighbour's child. But Prof Furedi said such assertions "ignores the reality that adults interacting with their own children in public will generally be interacting with other people's children as well, and on that basis they can be targeted for vetting".

The report said the system has resulted in society widely accepting "the principle that adults spending time with children who are not their own should have some kind of licence to do so".

"The logical consequence of demanding that some adults need to 'pass the paedophile test' is to set up an expectation that other adults, organising play dates or giving children lifts in their car, should have their motives similarly scrutinised," it adds. "Given the extent to which this scheme seems likely gradually to encompass all parents, as well as adults working or volunteering with children, the logic is that the majority of the adult population will sooner or later find itself on the vetting database."

The report, a revision of a study first published in 2008, said the Vetting and Barring Scheme is "gaining the dubious distinction of being the most unpopular piece of regulation ever developed". "Under the guise of protecting children from abuse, heavy-handed regulations not only discouraged volunteering and undermined trust, but also created a false sense of security."

Prof Furedi also warned that most adults now will simply comply with vetting rules for fear that refusing will fuel suspicion or leave them barred from being involved in whatever the activity.

He said a criminal records check is starting to be seen in similar terms to having a First Aid certificate or teaching qualification, "as though being officially cleared of child abuse give these adults some particular knowledge of, and skill with, children, whilst the rest of the adult population is effectively blacklisted and cautioned to keep its distance."

A Home Office spokesman said: "Registration with the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) was halted in June to allow the new Government to bring the criminal records and Vetting and Barring regime back to common sense levels. "The terms of reference for the remodelling of the VBS and of the criminal records regime are currently being considered and a further announcement will be made shortly.”


Stephen Colbert, Castro Spies and Extremism

Say Glenn Beck regularly hosted a “Christianity-expert” on his show. And say this expert was also an author who thanked Timothy Mc Veigh in the acknowledgements to his book. Say these thanks read as follows, “Timothy Mc Veigh spent long hours with me, helped open doors I could not have pushed through myself: and offered friendship and warmth to myself during research for my book. Timothy Ms Veigh championed this (book) project.” Then say Glenn Beck held a rally in Washington D.C. to counter “Extremism” in America.

Might the MSM raise a ruckus? Might they, at the bare minimum, chuckle and snark? Well, change “Christianity-expert” to “Cuba-expert”. Change Glenn Beck to Stephen Colbert. Change Timothy Mc Veigh to Jose Gomez Abad, and it’s on tap—and without the mildest MSM ruckus, chuckle or snark.

“What?!” some readers ask. “So who’s that Cuba-expert? And who’s the Spanish-named guy? And how can you possibly equate him with Timothy Mc Veigh?” The Cuba-expert is the MSM’s go-to expert on Cuba/Castro and a frequent Colbert quest, Julia Sweig. The Spanish-named guy is a Castroite terrorists whose bomb-plot to incinerate and entomb thousands of New York Holiday shoppers was foiled in the nick of time by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, and is among the six Castro agents who (Colbert guest) Julia Sweig thanks in her book’s acklowlegements.

And since you asked, here’s a link to Ms Sweig’s book acknowledgements where she thanks Jose Gomez Abad and fellow Cuban terrorist Elsa Montero. And here are these Cuban terrorists shortly before the FBI slapped on their handcuffs.

A little background: On Nov. 17, 1962, the FBI cracked a plot by Cuban agents that targeted Macy's, Gimbel's, Bloomingdale's and Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal with a dozen incendiary devices and 500 kilos of TNT. The massive attack was set for the following week, the day after Thanksgiving. Macy's get's 50,000 shoppers that one day. Full details and documentation here.

Had those detonators gone off, 9/11’s death toll would have almost certainly taken seconds. The intent and will by Castroite terrorists (and subsequent Julia Sweig friends and champions) to commit mass-murder against Americans was certainly present, only our FBI foiled it.

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent interviews with Fidel Castro’s in Havana were arranged by Julia Sweig. Goldberg himself described Ms Sweig as “a friend at the Council on Foreign Relations…a preeminent expert on Cuba and Latin America.” “We shook hands,” writes Goldberg about meeting Castro. “Then he greeted Julia warmly. They (Castro and Sweig) have known each other for more than twenty years.”

Seeking light on Fidel Castro’s “stunning!” (to those abysmally ignorant of his regime’s history, i.e. most MSM “reporters”) comment to him that “the Cuban Model doesn’t even work for us,” a perplexed Jeffrey Goldberg turned to nearby Julia Sweig for illumination.

In true Carnac the Magnificent mode the CFR’s “preeminent Cuba expert” seemingly held the envelope to her tilted head …”what does Castro really mean?” Then she ripped it open, blew into it, and revealed:

"He wasn't rejecting the ideas of the Revolution. I took it to be an acknowledgment that under 'the Cuban model' the state has much too big a role in the economic life of the country Ms Sweig indeed holds pre-eminence in one field: no “scholar” in modern American history—much less any honored guest on Glen Beck--thanks six different Stalinist spies and terrorists in the acknowledgements to their book, three of whom were expelled from the U.S. for terrorism and/or espionage. And no other scholar’s website references as an authority a Communist spy convicted for the same crimes as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and currently serving 25 years in a U.S. maximum security prison.

Regarding the latter: “In 1998, a comprehensive review by the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Cuba does not pose a threat to U.S. national security,” this from the Council on Foreign Relations (Julia Sweig’s employers) website.

You’d think the CFR might know that this “1998 comprehensive review” was authored by the Clinton Defense Department’s Ana Belen Montes, who dodged the fate of the Rosenberg’s only with a plea bargain and currently serves 25 years in a U.S. federal prison for the crime of espionage. The Montes case ranks as the most damaging (for us) spy case since the “end” of the Cold War. “Ana Montes compromised our entire program against Cuba, electronic as well as human.” admitted Joel F. Brenner, National Counterintelligence Executive.

Now regarding the former: in her book’s acknowledgements, (frequent Colbert guest) Julia Sweig also thanks Ramon Sanchez Parodi, Jose Antonio Arbesu, Fernando Miguel Garcia, Hugo Ernesto Yedra and Josefina Vidal for their “warmth, their friendship and their kindness in opening Cuban doors.” All the above rank as veteran officers in Castro’s KGB and STASI-trained intelligence service. “Says who?!” some snort.

Says the retired Defense Intelligence Agency officer with a key role in nabbing Ana Belen Montes herself, that’s who. His name is Liet. Col. Christopher Simmons. He made the above allegations against the Cuban spies and Sweig accomplices, and in fact alleges that (frequent Colbert guest) Sweig herself qualifies as a “Cuban-agent-of-influence.”

In 2003 Lieut. Col. Simmons helped root out 14 Cuban spies who were promptly booted from the U.S. One was Julia Sweig accomplice, Josefina Vidal.

We will certainly look for “America’s ballsiest reporter” Stephen Colbert to address this vital issue of extremism within “America’s most influential think tank,” the Council on Foreign Relations

Granted, given Comedy Central’s mindset, Stalinist terrorism might not qualify as “extremism.” Also possible: the prospect of challenging The Council on Foreign Relations just might cause those outsized organs advertised on Colbert’s website to cravenly shrivel into their quiver.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Think, Therefore I’m Guilty

Everyone can agree that today’s Britain — which we’re always being told has become so much more liberal — is the very model of a forward-looking, tolerant society in which freedom of expression is paramount. Correct?

If only. In fact, the intellectual trend in Britain is a remorseless slide towards a dark age of intolerance, reverting to a reason-suppressing, heresy-hunting culture in which certain opinions are being turned into thought crimes.

Astoundingly, people are being arrested by the police — even if the case against them eventually falls — because of what they have said. They are not inciting violence or any criminal activity. They are merely expressing a point of view. Yet for that they may find the police feeling their collars.

It is difficult to say when, exactly, the priorities of the British police shifted from the prevention of criminal offences towards criminalising people for causing offence. The police have become the thin blue line against the Wrong Opinion. Instead of protecting society against oppression, British police officers have become the agents of oppression.

Freedom of religious expression, for example, is a bedrock principle of an open society. Yet if Christians express their religious opposition to homosexuality, they are treated like criminals.

Dale McAlpine, a Christian preacher in Cumbria, was carted off by the police, locked in a cell for seven hours and charged with using abusive or insulting words or behaviour after telling a passer-by that he believed homosexuality was a crime against God.

Harry Hammond, an evangelist, was convicted of a public order offence and fined for holding a placard saying ‘Stop Homosexuality, Stop Lesbianism, Jesus is Lord’ at a street demonstration in Bournemouth — even though he was attacked by members of the public who poured soil and water over him.

Pensioners have even found the police on their doorstep accusing them of ‘hate crime’ for objecting to the local council about a gay pride march or merely asking if they could distribute Christian leaflets alongside the gay rights literature.

Such Christians are far from alone in finding that certain opinions are now forbidden. Across public life — in academic, legal, governmental, scientific and media circles and beyond — an atmosphere is being engendered which is inimical to independent thought.

And this is often amplified to incendiary levels through the electronic lynch-mob of the internet. Writers who bust the boundaries of permitted thinking may become the target of frenzied denunciation by a global army of haters whipping up a campaign for the dissident to be boycotted, banned or sacked.

After Jan Moir suggested in the Daily Mail that the death of the gay Boyzone singer Stephen Gately was linked to a louche lifestyle, she was subjected to a fireball of vilification on the internet, Twitter and Facebook.

The Crown Prosecution Service then said ‘the Metropolitan Police passed the article’ to them ‘to determine whether or not any crime had been committed’, but Moir would not be prosecuted.

Prosecuted! For making what at most was a tasteless remark? What on earth has Britain come to when the CPS entertains this as a serious possibility?

Moir’s particular thought crime was unwittingly to desecrate the hallowed shrine of victim culture. Certain groups of ‘victimised’ people — lone mothers, ethnic minorities, Muslims, gays — enjoy a kind of Protected Species status, in that they must never be offended; nor can any fault ever be laid at their door.

To offend or criticise them is to be guilty of hate crime. But since hatred is a subjective notion, this has opened the way for an oppressive culture of coercion, double standards and injustice.

Offending such groups has become a hanging offence — and that includes protesting against this very phenomenon.

It took Robin Page, chairman of the Countryside Restoration Trust, some five years to clear his name after he was arrested for remarking at a 2002 rally against the government’s anti-hunting laws: ‘If you are a black vegetarian Muslim asylum-seeking one-legged lesbian lorry driver, I want the same rights as you.’

To enforce the dogma of thought crime, language has been hijacked and turned inside out. Dissent has been relabelled as either hatred or insanity. Those who disagree with current orthodoxies are therefore deemed to be either bad or mad.

These modern heretics are demonised as Europhobes, homophobes, xenophobes or Islamophobes. They can therefore safely be purged from all positions of influence and their ideas trashed without any discussion.

The taunt of ‘phobia’, or irrational fear, is used along with outright accusations of insanity to place rational dissent beyond the pale. As the former Today programme editor Rod Liddle recently revealed, a BBC apparatchik said to him of Lord Pearson of Rannoch and other Eurosceptics (whose views happen to be shared by half or more of the population): ‘Rod, you do realise that these people are mad?’

Just such a charge was made by totalitarian movements from the medieval Catholic church by way of the Jacobins all the way to Stalin’s secret police.

In similar vein, the rational anxieties of millions about mass immigration or militant Islam destroying the culture of the country are held merely to demonstrate that ordinary people are racist bigots or Islamophobes.

The great gift bequeathed to us by the 18th-century Enlightenment is the freedom to disagree. This is now in eclipse. The intelligentsia — the supposed custodians of reason and intellectual freedom — has turned itself into an inquisition, complete with an index of prohibited ideas.

Nowhere is this more starkly displayed than in the hounding of scientists and others who question man-made global warming theory.

Such sceptics are vilified, smeared, denied funding and even — according to the renowned meteorologist and IPCC reviewer Professor Richard Lindzen — intimidated into telling lies to shore up the theory.

Assertions wholly inimical to science, such as ‘the argument is over’ or that global warming is the belief of a scientific ‘consensus’ — the claim once used by the medieval church to stifle Galileo — are deployed to ensure the argument is over before it can begin.

More viciously still, these dissenters have been dubbed ‘climate change deniers’ to equate their views with Holocaust denial. Not only are they thus likened to Nazi sympathisers, but rejecting man-made global warming theory — for which many of the best brains in climate-related science say there is scant or no evidence — is equated with the genocide of the Jews.

Without the freedom to question and argue, science cannot thrive — and without science, reason would be crippled and modernity would grind to a halt. Which is of course the aim of the environmental movement, whose roots lie in a stream of pagan, irrational and proto-fascist thinking which goes back to the counter-Enlightenment.

‘Politically correct’ views all derive from anti-Western, secular ideologies such as anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism, utilitarianism, feminism, multiculturalism and environmentalism. These all share the aim of overturning the established order in the West.

So any groups who have power within that order can never be offended or hurt because they are themselves offensive and hurtful, while ‘powerless’ groups can never be other than victims.

This obsession with power is, of course, a Marxist position; indeed, ‘political correctness’ is a form of cultural Marxism. But how has good old empirical, pragmatic, anti-ideological Britain succumbed to such extremism?

Part of the explanation is that, with the collapse of Soviet communism, the left shifted its focus from economics and politics to the cultural arena. Employing Gramsci’s tactic of ‘the long march through the institutions’, it captured the citadels of the culture for a variety of utopian ideas.

Class divisions would give way to equality, capitalist despoliation of the earth would be replaced by pre-lapsarian agrarian communes and all hatred, prejudice and irrationality would be excised from the human heart.

Like all ideologies, these utopian fantasies wrenched facts and evidence to fit their governing idea. Independent thought thus became impossible — which inevitably resulted in an attack upon freedom, because reason and liberty are inseparable bed-fellows.

Because these creeds purported to embody unchallengeable truths, they could permit no dissent. Reason was thus replaced by bullying, intimidation and the suppression of debate.

What we are living through is therefore a fresh mutation of the previous despotisms of first the medieval church and then the totalitarian political movements of the 20th century.

The West has now fallen victim to a third variation on the theme: cultural totalitarianism, or a dictatorship of virtue. For, in a pattern that goes back to the French Revolution, the left believes that its secular, materialistic, individualistic and utilitarian values represent not a point of view but virtue itself.

To oppose such coercive behaviour or uphold factual evidence in the face of ideological distortion is thus to be damned automatically as evil, mad and extreme.

But here’s the really striking thing. Progressive intellectuals who scorn ‘the right’ as knuckle-dragging extremists are themselves promoting a range of secular fantasies which uncannily mirror pre-Enlightenment religious fanaticism.

Anti-imperialism, anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, environmentalism, scientism, egalitarianism, anti-racism, libertinism, moral relativism and multiculturalism are all quasi-religious movements — evangelical, dogmatic, millenarian and with enforcement mechanisms to stamp out heresy.

Some would call all this tyranny. But to progressives, tyranny occurs only when their utopia is denied. Virtue therefore has to be coerced for the good of the people at the receiving end.

Since progressivism is all about creating the perfect society, it is therefore incontestably virtuous; and so — like Robespierre’s Committee of Public Safety, like Stalinism, like Islam — it is incapable of doing anything bad. Unlike everyone else, of course, for whom it follows they can do nothing but bad.

Accordingly, progressives feel justified in trying to stifle all dissent. Never engaging with the actual argument, they instead use gratuitous abuse to turn their opponents into pariahs (while they themselves, failing to grasp the point about evidence, characterise all reasoned arguments against them as outrageous ‘insults’).

So if you are a white Christian man upholding traditional family values and expressing a desire to stop immigration and leave the EU, while being sceptical of man-made global warming and believing that Darwinian evolution does not explain the origin of life on earth, Britain is no longer your country.

But don’t worry. Utopia is taking its place. The police are on their way to tell you.


Equality -- or Freedom?

If you would understand why America has lost the dynamism she had in the 1950s and 1960s, consider the new Paycheck Fairness Act passed by the House 256 to 162.

The need for such a law, writes Valerie Jarrett, the ranking woman in Barack Obama's White House, is that "working women are still paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man." But why is that a concern of the U.S. government, and where is the empirical evidence that an inequality of pay between the sexes is proof of sexist hostility to women?

On average, Asians earn more than Hispanics; blacks less than whites. Mormons earn more than Muslims; Jews more than Jehovah's Witnesses. And Polish Americans earn more than Puerto Ricans. Does that prove America is a racist and religiously bigoted country?

The assumption of the Jarrett-backed law is that the sexes are equal in capacity, aptitude, drive and interest, and if there is a disparity in pay, only bigotry can explain it. But are there not other, simpler answers for why women earn less?

Perhaps half of American women leave the job market during their lives, sometimes for decades, to raise children, which puts them behind men who never leave the workforce. Women gravitate to teaching, nursing, secretarial and service work, which pay less than jobs where men predominate: mining, manufacturing, construction and the military.

Over 95 percent of our 40,000 dead and wounded from Afghanistan and Iraq were men. Men in prison outnumber women 10 to one. Is that the result of sex discrimination?

Sports have become a national obsession, and among the most rewarded professions in fame and fortune. And TV viewers prefer to watch male athletes compete in baseball, basketball, football, hockey, golf, tennis and boxing. Is unequal pay for men and women professional athletes a matter for the government?

Larry Summers lost his job as president of Harvard for suggesting that women have less aptitude for higher math and that may explain why they are underrepresented on Ivy League faculties in the sciences, economics and math. Would not that male aptitude help explain why men are dominant in investment banking and corporate finance, where salaries are among the highest?

Jarrett wants to empower the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to more closely monitor all businesses until women reach pay parity.

But if inequality of pay is a result of human nature and a free society, a greater equality of rewards can only be achieved through coercion, a government declaring its value, economic parity, to be supreme, and imposing its value and its preferred pay structure upon employers.

If this is where America is headed, why not go all the way and dictate that Asians and Hispanics, Muslims and Jews, women and men, blacks and whites, gay and straight must all be paid the exact same for the same work -- and let the EEOC hire 100,000 more bureaucrats to see that it happens? Would that be a great country or a socialist hell?

And before we empower the EEOC to monitor every business for sexism and racism, perhaps the commissioners will explain why African-Americans are 40 percent of all EEOC employees, while only 10 percent of the civilian labor force. Not a single white male sits on the commission.

Whence comes this egalitarian fanaticism? Not from our Declaration of Independence, which spoke of all men being equal in their Creator-endowed rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nor from the America Revolution, which was about liberty not equality, not this alien ideology of egalitarianism.

Equality is not even mentioned in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, and the 14th Amendment's "equal protection" clause did not even make an appearance until after the Civil War. And that was about equal justice under law, not the socioeconomic equality of all Americans.

No, this egalitarian ideology is traceable to the French Revolution, where the royalty and aristocracy went to the guillotine in the name of "egalite."

Under the Paycheck Fairness Act, writes Jarrett, "employers will be required to prove in court that any wage differences were based on factors other than sex -- such as education, training or experience -- and were consistent with business necessity."

In short, women alleging sexist practices by their bosses do not have to prove their guilt. The boss must prove his innocence. This is another way of saying businessman are to be presumed guilty when charged. If that is not un-American, it surely once was.

Should this bill become law, the effects are predictable: more forms to be filled out by businesses, more bureaucrats for the EEOC, more charges of sex discrimination, more class-action suits, more fines, more lawyers getting rich via the litigious looting of the private sector.

America's decline is directly related to the growth in government power and the concomitant loss of freedom.

Except in God-given and constitutional rights, we are not equal. We are all unequal. The utopian promise of equality is but the banner of every power-hungry politician in modern history. And the rise of the egalitarian society means the death of the free society.


Contraceptive pill better for men than for women

Far from bringing equality, contraception has redistributed power away from women, says Cardinal Pell

THIS year is the 50th anniversary of the contraceptive pill, a development that has changed Western life enormously, in some ways most people do not understand. While majority opinion regards the pill as a significant social benefit for giving women greater control of their fertility, the consensus is not overwhelming, especially among women.

A May CBS News poll of 591 adult Americans found that 59 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women believed the pill had made women's lives better.

In an article in the ecumenical journal First Things that month, North American economist Timothy Reichert approached the topic with "straight-forward microeconomic reasoning", concluding that contraception had triggered a redistribution of wealth and power from women and children to men.

Applying the insights of the market, he points out that relative scarcity or abundance affects behaviour in important ways and that significant technological changes, such as the pill, have broad social effects. His basic thesis is that the pill has divided what was once a single mating market into two markets.

This first is a market for sexual relationships, which most young men and women frequent early in their adult life. The second is a market for marital or partnership relationships, where most participate later on.

Because the pill means that participation in the sex market need not result in pregnancy, the costs of having premarital and extra-marital sex have been lowered.

The old single mating market was populated by roughly the same number of men and women, but this is no longer the case in the two new markets.

Because most women want to have children, they enter the marriage market earlier than men, often by their early 30s. Men are under no such constraints.

Evolutionary biology dictates that there will always be more men than women in the sex market. Their natural roles are different. Women take nine months to make a baby, while it takes a man 10 minutes. St Augustine claimed that the sacrament of marriage was developed to constrain men to take an interest in their children.

Men leave the sex market at a higher average age than women to enter the marriage market. This means that women have a higher bargaining power in the sex market while they remain there (because of the larger number of men there) but face much stiffer competition for marriageable men (because of the lower supply) than earlier generations.

In other words, men take more of "the gains from trade" that marriage produces today.

Reichert also claims that this market division produces several self-reinforcing consequences, including more infidelity.

From a Christian viewpoint it is incongruous and inappropriate to consider baby-free infidelity as an advantage for women or men.

But younger women are likelier to link up with older, successful men than older women with young men, as any number of married women can attest after rearing children, only to find their husband has left for a younger woman.

Another consequence is a greater likelihood of divorce. Because of their lower bargaining power, more women strike "bad deals" in marriage and later feel compelled to escape. This is easier today because the social stigma of divorce has declined and because of no-fault divorce laws. More women also can afford to divorce and, in some cases, prenuptial agreements provide insurance against the worst.

Only the official teaching of the Catholic Church remains opposed to the pill and indeed all artificial contraception, but this is not even a majority position among Catholic churchgoers of child-bearing age. Indeed, this particular Catholic teaching is often cited as diminishing the church's authority to teach on morality among Catholics themselves, as well as provoking disbelief and even astonishment among other Christians and non-believers.

Catholic teaching does not require women to do nothing but have children but it does ask couples to be open to kids and to be generous. What this means in any particular situation is for each couple to decide.

Progressive Catholic opinion 40 or 50 years ago urged believers to follow their consciences and reject the church's opposition to artificial contraception. Today's advocates of the primacy of personal conscience urge Catholics to pick and choose among the church's teachings on marriage, sexuality and life issues, although they generally allow fewer liberties in social justice or ecology.

These changes, regarded as progressive or misguided depending on one's viewpoint, are not coincidental but follow from the revolutionary consequences of the pill on moral thinking and social behaviour; on the broadening endorsement of a moral individualism that ignores or rejects as inevitable the damage inflicted on the social fabric. This revolution was reinforced by the music of the 1960s, for example Mick Jagger's Rolling Stones, or the Beatles.

While early Catholic supporters of the pill claimed it would diminish the number of abortions, this has not eventuated. Whatever the causes, abortion rates have increased dramatically since the mid-60s in Australia and the US, although the number has peaked.

Real-life experience suggests that the "contraceptive mentality" pope Paul VI warned about in 1968 has had unforeseen consequences. To paraphrase Reichert, an unwanted baby threatens prosperity and lifestyle, making abortion seem necessary. It is the women who bear most of the burden of trauma and grief from abortions.

Even women who believe deeply in the Christian notion of godly forgiveness, and those who do not believe in God at all, can battle for years with unassuaged guilt.

In support of his claims that women are bearing a disproportionate burden in the new paradigm, Reichert cites evidence that in the past 35 years across the industrialised world women's happiness has declined absolutely and relative to men.

We have a new gender gap where men report a higher subjective wellbeing. This decline in women's happiness coincides broadly with the arrival of the sexual revolution, triggered by the invention of the pill.

The ancient Christian consensus, which lasted for 1900 years, linking sexual activity to the lovemaking of a husband and wife to create new life, was first broken by the Anglican Church's Lambeth Conference approval of contraception in 1930.

In this new contraceptive era, where no Western country produces enough children to maintain population levels, the Catholic stance is isolated, rejected and often despised.

But the use of the contraceptive pill not only changes the dynamics within a family between husband and wife, it is also changing our broader society in ways we understand imperfectly. But 50 years is not a long time; it is still early in the story.


Sydney artist protests burqa

SECURITY has been called in after tensions threatened to boil over a provocative mural to ban burqas at a Newtown workshop. Following artist Sergio Redegalli's painting opposing the Islamic face covering veils with the slogan "Say no to burqas", security outside the premises has been called in after tensions threatened to boil over.

Police also attended the unit at Wilford and Station St after a female resident allegedly unleashed a foul mouthed tirade against the picture and attempted to deface it with paint.

Security guard Nathan Daniels, called in by Mr Redegalli to protect his work, said there had been a lot of abuse - nearly all from women. "The trouble has been mainly from feminists saying it was sexist and racist. This one woman was abusing the artist - shouting and swearing at him as well as making threats that she's `going to get him', so we had the police called in," Mr Daniels said.

"The thing is Mr Redegalli is trying to get the message across that by women wearing the burqa their identity is being wiped out. A policeman said to me it has practical problems for them, such as identifying people," he added.

A resident, who did not want to be named in case of reprisals, said: "I'm only a pensioner but I would like to give the guy $50 for doing this. "These people come to our country so the least they should do is try and integrate a bit. I don't want to be named because I fear for the safety of my family and friends - everyone's scared of them."

Mr Redegalli said the painting was a rallying call against the creeping growth of extremism in Australia and was not anti-Islam. "It's about the burqa and extremism and not Islam. This mural has come from frustration," he said. "You can't say anything about Muslims without getting in trouble."

The image, which faces one of CityRail's busiest corridors, has been defaced twice since painting began on Monday.

Marrickville Mayor Sam Iskandar said he "condemns" the painting but council did not have the right to remove it.

Muslim Women's National Network Australia president Aziza Abdel-Halim said the image was disrespectful, insulting and an "immature way" of starting a debate. "I don't think [Mr Redegalli] is really even worth thinking about," she said. "[Wearing a burqa] is a matter of personal choice."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.