Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Don't rage at the laughing burglar - save it for the clowns who let him go free

By Peter Hitchens

At last we know what thieves really think about the people whose lives they ruin. A bitterly funny and honest letter from a burglar to his victim disposes for all time of the notion that there is any point in being nice to crooks. Remember that this creature has actually been caught and is in the hands of the police. Is he trembling and afraid? Not exactly.

He explains: ‘I have been forced to write this letter... To be honest I’m not bothered or sorry about the fact that I burgled your house. Basically it was your fault.’ The victims, he argued, knew they lived in a high-crime area, so they shouldn’t have left a window open.

What is doubly funny about this is that it is almost exactly the same message given to honest citizens by our defeatist police. They, too, are always telling us that if we are robbed, it is our fault for not turning our homes into fortified bunkers. They assume that nobody has any morals or conscience any more, and also that robbers are no longer afraid of the law.

And why should they be afraid? They know the law won’t hurt them, or punish them. The courts yearn to find some excuse to let them go – because otherwise the prisons will burst.

It was while seeking an excuse to let the laughing burglar off that the police told him to write to his victim.

They let him off anyway – no prison, just an ‘electronically monitored curfew’ and 25 hours a week of so-called ‘structured activity’. The more syllables these phoney sanctions have, the less they mean. They mean ‘let off’.

Letting criminals off is what we are good at. Nearly 30,000 habitual criminals were also let off last year with cautions, after they had returned to crime.

The prisons are bursting because hundreds of thousands of people who were once afraid of the law now laugh at it. Eventually, after 15 or more crimes, the state locks them up for a few weeks in an effort to look tougher than it is. But it is just for show.

This is all quite obvious. Our Government refuses to learn from it because it is the slave of a foolish, Leftist dogma, that crime is a disease caused by hardship. It is not. It is human evil let loose, and till we return to that view, it will get worse. Like the laughing burglar, I’m not going to show any sympathy for the clowns who have got us into this mess and keep us there.

No doubt you agree with me, in which case why do you keep voting for the clowns? That’s the bit I don’t understand.

Mr Injustice Bean says that it is not a crime to swear at the police because they hear foul language too often to be offended.

On the same principle, the time will come when burglary, mugging, GBH and even murder will no longer be crimes, because we have all got used to them happening all the time. Well, when that day comes, we won’t need Mr Bean any more.


Useless British police again

They are only good for harassing inoffensive people over trivialities -- like helping put a silly man in jail for 4 years for "holocaust denial"

Police abandoned the streets to opportunistic looters during the August riots, an inquiry has concluded. By not getting a grip at the outbreak of the violence, officers allowed the impression to take hold that the streets had been surrendered to thousands of yobs. Disturbingly, the report added that unless police improve their response few rule out the prospect of riots in the future.

The official inquiry into the five days of violence – which cost the country at least £500million – concluded the shameful scenes were not motivated by ‘politics’. Instead, the rioters’ main objectives were getting their hands on ‘luxury branded goods’ which ‘confer instant status’. The report describes looters queuing up inside shops to get the best products, trying on trainers in the wreckage of stores and admitting their motivation was ‘greed’.

The panel, established by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, concluded: ‘Rioters believed they would be able to loot and damage without being challenged by the police. In the hardest-hit areas, they were correct.’

Labour MPs had claimed the shocking scenes witnessed in August, which included 5,000 crimes and five fatalities, had been sparked by Coalition cuts. But panel member Heather Rabbatts said: ‘These were not riots that were political, these were particularly characterised by opportunistic looting and very much targeted at brands.’

The panel, which interviewed those who lost their homes and businesses, said the vast majority believed the ‘sole trigger’ for disturbances was the perception that the police ‘could not contain’ the scale of rioting in the capital.

Between 13,000 and 15,000 people were 'actively involved' in rioting which swept across the country between August 6 and 10. More than 4,000 suspected rioters have been arrested with nine out of 10 already known to the police, the study said. More than 5,000 crimes were committed - and there were five deaths.

There were 1,860 incidents of arson and criminal damage, 1,649 burglaries, 141 incidents of disorder and 366 cases of violence against the person.

The final bill could be around £500 million, with up to £300 million of claims under the Riot Damages Act and £50million on policing London.

Miss Rabbatts said scenes from Tottenham, North London, in which it ‘looked as if police were backing off’, led to a ‘perception that the streets were there for the taking’.

The panel members, headed by Darra Singh, have a long history of working in the public and voluntary sector. Mr Singh has worked for homeless charities and was chief executive of two local councils. Miss Rabbatts spent time as a barrister and a BBC governor.

They were joined on the panel by Baroness Sherlock, of the Refugee Council and the National Council for One Parent Families, and Simon Marcus, who founded the Boxing Academy for teenagers at risk of gang crime.

Riots broke out in Tottenham on August 6, two days after the fatal shooting by police of 29-year-old Mark Duggan. Unrest spread to other cities, including Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol.

Mr Singh said: ‘Our research has also led us to conclude that riots of this nature will happen again unless immediate action is taken.’

The Riots, Communities and Victims panel painted a devastating picture of a country in which ‘some would argue consumerism is the new religion’. It said: ‘The desire to own goods which give the owner high status (such as branded trainers and digital gadgets) was seen as an important factor behind the riots.’

Looters repeatedly targeted the same types of shops across the country, including Footlocker, JD Sports and electrical stores. The panel went on: ‘The ownership of luxury branded goods confers instant status. It is therefore perhaps not surprising these goods became the rioters’ main objectives.’

The panel, demanding much improved planning from police in future, said: ‘The police decision to withdraw to the periphery of riot-hit areas left many communities feeling they had been abandoned.’

The panel also called for insurers, who were accused of a ‘poor response’ in some cases, to do far more to pay compensation claims promptly.

It also called for an overhaul of the 1886 Riot Damages Act, which is used to claim compensation from the state.

An Association of Chief Police Officers spokesman said the riots had presented ‘considerable challenges’ to the police.


Britain's poor whites 'feel like they are last in line for council housing'

White working class people believe they are the last in line for state handouts, welfare help and council housing, a report by a respected research group said yesterday. It said that many think if they complain they will be silenced with the charge of racism.

The inquiry by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said that many white people in poorer districts use ‘racialised language that would be unacceptable to many reading this report.’ But it found that such rough language is regarded as normal by the people who use it, that they regard themselves as tolerant and welcoming, and that they hate being labelled as racist.

The Rowntree report also said that, contrary to the fears of many politicians and left-wing commentators, white working class people do not turn to far-right politics or organisations like the British National Party. Instead, it said there was ‘active distaste’ for racial extremism and the far right, and people were outraged that their views were taken as indicating they supported racist parties.

The report, produced by Professor Harris Beider of Coventry University was based on interviews with residents of three working class districts and findings from focus groups drawn from people who lived there. People with lower incomes from Aston in Birmingham, Canley in Coventry, and Somers Town in North London, took part in the project.

Professor Beider said: ‘The way that people from working class white backgrounds are portrayed is often negative, which doesn’t reflect the reality of the pride most people hold in their community, nor their strong work ethic, and collective values.

‘It is important to confound negative stereotypes and understand that people in these communities feel their voices are not listened to, and that they have no stake in their community. They want to be valued, heard and connected to government.’

The inquiry comes in the wake of wide concerns over the past five years over the resentment felt in by white people in poorer parts of the country.

Former Labour minister Margaret Hodge said in 2007 that her white constituents in Barking in East London felt they had little chance of getting council or housing association homes because newly-arrived migrants were given priority in the queues.

However fears that disaffection would lead to large-scale support from the BNP or other far-right extremists in places like East London or Stoke-on-Trent were proved groundless when the BNP collapsed in the 2010 general election.

The report from Rowntree – whose chief executive Julia Unwin was an adviser to Gordon Brown during his premiership – said that the allocation of social housing should be seen to be fair. This would ‘counter widespread perceptions of queue jumping or preferential treatment for certain groups.’

Since the 1970s council and housing association homes have been awarded not on the basis of waiting lists compiled largely from the names of local people, but on the basis of a points system in which ‘need’ is important. Families who are newly-arrived in a district can often score highly in terms of points if they are jobless or can say they have inadequate housing.

The report said that terms like ‘community cohesion’, coined after the 2005 London bombings when Labour ministers decided to abandon the left-wing doctrine of multiculturalism, mean little to working class white people.

Instead equality programmes are associated with political correctness or attempts by selected groups to siphon away state money. One project in Birmingham was described by a white resident as ‘run by Asians for Asians’.

White working class people, the report said, ‘are proud of their working class identity and the values it stands for – working hard, looking after each other, pride in the community.’

The report said white working class people deeply resented being painted as political extremists. ‘The association of the white working class with the far right follows an established (and false) narrative going back to the rise of Oswald Moseley in the East End of London,’ it said.

‘Since this point, the white working-class has been labelled as hostile to race and immigration: teddy boys in the 1950s; dockers in the 1960s; skinheads in the 1970s; and the rise of the BNP since 2000.’


Fat Fascists put on their brown shirts

This is NOT a medical issue. It is a civil liberties issue. The deprivation of liberty is real whereas the medical considerations are hypothetical. Overweight people live out a lifespan little different from slim people.

An obese eight-year-old boy has been taken into custody in Cleveland after social services said his mother was failing to keep his weight at a healthy level. Authorities said the child's mother was essentially neglecting him by allowing his weight to rise to more than 14 stone (200lbs).

The intervention, which will be challenged in court, has potentially widespread ramifications for social policy in the United States, where up to a third of all under-18s are estimated to be obese.

Social workers took the boy from his school on October 19, placing him in a foster home and telling his mother she could only see him for two hours a week.

"They are trying to make it seem like I am unfit, like I don't love my child," the boy's mother told The Plain Dealer website.
"Of course I love him. Of course I want him to lose weight. It's a lifestyle change, and they are trying to make it seem like I am not embracing that. It is very hard, but I am trying."

Aside from his weight, the 8-year-old is reported to be happy and doing well in school, where he is on the academic honour roll.
His only current health problem is sleep apnea, a treatable disorder which affects breathing at night, and his weight meant he was at high risk of developing diabetes or hypertension.

"We approached this as a medical issue, this wasn't a about obesity it's about the child's health and well being," Mary Louise Madigan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Family Services, told the Daily Telegraph but said she was unable to give more detail.

The child first came to the attention of social services in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, early 2010, when he was taken to hospital with breathing difficulties.

His mother was given advice on how to control his weight, including getting him a bike, and for a time he appeared to be returning towards a healthy size.

But in recent months his weight began to rise dramatically, prompting social services to step in.



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 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, November 29, 2011

Christian Worker Sues London Airport After Unfair Dismissal and Harassment From Islamic Fundamentalist Colleagues

A woman who used to work at London’s busy Heathrow Airport is suing her former employers claiming that she and other Christian staff at the airport were victims of systematic harassment because of their religion. The Telegraph reports Sunday on Nohad Halawi who is suing for unfair dismissal from the airport she worked at for 13 years:
“She claims that she was told that she would go to Hell for her religion, that Jews were responsible for the September 11th terror attacks, and that a friend was reduced to tears having been bullied for wearing a cross.”

Christian Concern reports that Halawi was fired following ” unsubstantiated complaints by five Muslims about her conduct.” Halawi had persistently complained to management over personal religious abuse and harassment from the Islamic staff, who even mocked her about “shitty Jesus.“ Halawi claims that complaints against her were made by a small group of ”extremist” Muslims, and that there is now a great fear among employees that their jobs could be at risk if the small group turns on them.

“This is supposed to be a Christian country, but the law seems to be on the side of the Muslims,” Halawi told the Telegraph.

The Telegraph notes that the case comes as Christian groups in the country have continued to complain about their treatment in comparison to Muslims:
“Her case is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, who say it raises important legal issues and also questions over whether Muslims and Christians are treated differently by employers.

It comes amid growing concern among some Christians that their faith is being marginalized and follows calls from Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, for Christians to be given greater legal protection in the wake of a series of cases where they have been disciplined or dismissed for practicing their faith.”

The paper points to recent examples of alleged discrimination at Heathrow, including a Jewish businessman who has complained about being repeatedly singled out by Muslim security staff for full-body scans. In addition to discrimination, Christian Concern notes that Halawi’s allegations, if true, raises questions about the influence of Islamic fundamentalism at Heathrow Airport and issues of national security.

Halawi, who came to Britain from Lebanon in 1977, emphasized to the Telegraph that she claims to have always got along well with Muslim colleagues, but the atmosphere has changed as a growing number of employees are espousing to “fundamentalist Islam.”

In May, five of her Muslim colleagues had complained to the trading manager at World Duty Free where she sold perfumes at a commission-based pay position, that Halawi was anti-islamic. She had described a Muslim colleague as an allawhi, which means ‘man of God’ in Arabic. A heated argument broke out when another worker overheard the remark and thought she said Alawi, which was his branch of Islam. Following the complaints Halawi was suspended and then told to withdraw her security pass in July.

A petition was signed by 28 of Halawi’s colleagues, some of them Muslims, arguing that she has been dismissed on the basis of “malicious lies.” Despite this, Halawi has not been reinstated.


British firms to be freed from elf 'n' safety red tape in bid to release us from nannying state

Ministers will today unveil plans to overhaul Britain’s ‘nannying’ health and safety culture which has held business back for decades. Employment Minister Chris Grayling will announce that one million self-employed people will be exempt from health and safety red tape – drastically reducing the amount of paperwork they have to complete.

There will be stringent curbs on local authority health and safety inspectors, to make sure they do not step beyond the law in imposing burdens on business.

Between a third and a half of all regulations relating to health and safety in the workplace will be scrapped, and the law which makes employers liable for almost any accident their staff may have will be axed.

The reforms are proposed in a report by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt of King’s College, London. Current rules are estimated to cost firms hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

Last night Mr Grayling said he would be using the findings to push the European Union to reduce the number of health and safety directives which affect Britain when they are reviewed in 2013.

He said: ‘I start from the principle that health and safety is about saving lives and stopping serious injury in the workplace. It is not about interfering in the running of decent businesses.

‘We want to put greater responsibility on the individual for their own conduct, rather than assuming that the employer has to nanny them in all circumstances.’

Mr Grayling said his reforms would lift the burden on the self-employed from health and safety red tape, giving them ‘substantial exemptions’ from rules if they run a business that does not put anyone at risk. At present, even a person running an online company from home has to fill in reams of paperwork, such as risk assessments.

Mr Grayling added: ‘We want to get back to the situation where health and safety isn’t seen as a laughing stock – and is seen for what it should be: an important part of the management of high-risk locations. ‘What you don’t need is silly rules that apply to charity shops, having to produce vast risk assessments. We want a balance of responsibility – if you do something stupid, you can’t just blame your employer.’

He blamed health and safety rules for putting pressure on police authorities not to let their officers take risks, for fear of prosecution. ‘The Metropolitan Police not being able to do something heroic because of health and safety rules makes no sense to me,’ he said. ‘This is about making Britain a much better place to do business in.’

A spokesman for the Institute of Directors said: ‘Health and safety regulation has gone too far. Our members tell us they feel forced into activity which doesn’t benefit them or their staff, out of fear of breaking rules that defy common sense.’


The Real Prison Industry

I've long thought the notion of a prison-industrial complex to be laughable left-wing nonsense peddled by Marxist goofballs and other passengers in the clown car of academic identity politics.

For those who don't know, the phrase "prison-industrial complex," or PIC, is a play on the military-industrial complex. The theory behind PIC is that there are powerful forces -- capitalist, racist, etc. -- pushing to lock up as many black and brown men as they can to maintain white supremacy and line the pockets of big-prison CEOs and shareholders with profits earned not just from the taxpayer but from the toil of prison-slave labor.

Self-described "abolitionists" in the anti-PIC cause seek to get rid of prisons altogether. Indeed, they want to abolish punishment itself. That goes for murderers, rapists and pedophiles.

"People who have seriously harmed another need appropriate forms of support, supervision and social and economic resources," explains the website for Critical Resistance, the leading outfit in the "abolitionist" cause. In other words, if Penn State's Jerry Sandusky is found guilty on all counts, he doesn't deserve prison; he deserves "support, supervision and social and economic resources."

Personally, I think that is just bat-guano crazy. Still, the state of our prisons has become something of a scandal. We have more prisoners today than we have soldiers, and more prison guards than Marines.

Our prisons have become boot camps for criminals. That's one reason why I'm sympathetic to Peter Moskos' idea to bring back flogging. A professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Moskos argues in his book, "In Defense of Flogging," that flogging -- aka the lash -- is more humane than prison and much, much cheaper. He suggests that perpetrators of certain crimes -- petty theft, burglary, drug dealing -- be given the option of receiving one lash instead of six months in prison.

Before you shrink from the cruelty of the proposal, ask yourself which you would prefer: six lashes or three years in jail?

Moskos' motive is to reduce the size, scope and influence of prisons while keeping them around for the people who truly must be locked up: murderers, rapists, terrorists, pedophiles, etc. I might disagree with where he would set the ideal size of our prison population (I think incarceration rates have reduced crime more than he does), or how many lashes criminals should get, but he makes a compelling case, and his objective is reasonable.

But it's not an objective shared by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA). This was the outfit that essentially destroyed then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's attempt to fix the state budget.

In a state where more than two-thirds of crime is attributable to recidivism, CCPOA has spent millions of dollars lobbying against rehabilitation programs, favoring instead policies that will grow the inmate population and the ranks of prison guard unions. In 1999, it successfully killed a pilot program for alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders. In 2005, it helped kill Schwarzenegger's plan to reduce overcrowding by putting up to 20,000 inmates in a rehabilitation program. It opposes any tinkering with the "three strikes law" that might thin the prison rolls.

According to UCLA economist Lee E. Ohanian in a illuminating paper for The American, "America's Public Sector Union Dilemma," California's corrections officers have exploited their monopoly labor power to push policies that will expand the prison population and, as a result, the demand for more guards who just happen to be the best-paid corrections officers in the country. That's why, contrary to what the Marxist sages would expect, they've successfully kept privately run prisons out of the state.

Meanwhile, incarceration costs in the essentially bankrupt state are exploding. California spends $44,000 per inmate, compared with the national average of $28,000. A state prison nurse exploited overtime rules to earn $269,810 in one year.

Also contrary to left-wing expectations, these policies have been implemented not so much by the hard-hearted captains of industry and their Republican lackeys, but by a Democrat-controlled state legislature lubricated with donations from a powerful public-sector union.

The system is now up for much-needed reform thanks to a court order mandating that California fix the prison mess. Gov. Jerry Brown, whose 2010 gubernatorial campaign received more than $2 million from CCPOA, has been forced to figure something out.

Still, I suppose I owe the folks in the clown car at least a small apology. They're still nuts, but they're right about the existence of a prison-industrial complex. They were just looking in the wrong direction.


EU could ban orchestras from using cow gut for violin strings

They are lauded as some of the greatest works of European culture. But even compositions by the likes of Bach, Vivaldi and Purcell aren’t safe from the Brussels busybodies.

Performers warn it may soon be impossible to play such music as the composers intended it to be heard because of EU rules restricting the manufacture of traditional cow gut instrument strings. Brussels has got involved over fears that musicians could catch ‘mad cow disease’ from the strings.

Specialist musicians play violins and cellos with such strings to replicate the musical sounds of 1650 to 1750. However, strict controls on raw materials from cows are threatening the centuries-old technique of making their instruments.

Campaigners say that to catch mad cow disease, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, from strings from an infected animal, you would need to swallow several yards of them.

Carolyn Clarke, of manufacturer Bow Brand, of King’s Lynn, Norfolk, said: ‘The gut is bleached and varnished in string making so it poses no risk to humans. ‘And why would anyone chew on a harp string?’

Violinist Viktoria Mullova, who has a 1750 Guadagnini violin with gut strings, said banning such strings ‘would be like telling pop stars they couldn’t use microphones’.

Among those potentially affected is the British-based European Union Baroque Orchestra. A spokesman said: ‘It would be catastrophic if gut string production ceased. We would have to close. Gut strings are essential to our music.’

The gut string craft is regulated by controls brought in a decade ago. Some makers were granted EU dispensations allowing them to continue but the rules were toughened again in 2009 and fears for the industry were sparked earlier this month when leading Italian manufacturer, Aquila Corde, was told its dispensation had ended and had not been renewed.



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 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, November 28, 2011

Bitch Wisconsin prosecutor

A new low in the criminalization of children

A 6-year-old Grant County boy has been accused of first-degree sexual assault after playing "doctor" with two 5-year-old friends.

Now, a federal lawsuit has been filed against the prosecutor, who attorneys said is trying to force the boy to admit guilt.

The boy's parents had planned to speak with WISC-TV on Monday to discuss the emotional toll the prosecution has taken on their son. But the prosecutor, Grant County District Attorney Lisa Riniker, on Monday morning asked a judge for a gag order in the case and was granted it. The gag order prohibits the boy's parents from talking about the case.

But the attorneys for the parents in the federal suit, which names Riniker as a defendant, can aren't included in the gag order, and they spoke with WISC-TV from Chicago.

Attorneys for the parents of the 6-year-old, who is being referred to as "D," said that Riniker has gone too far by bringing a felony sex charge against a first-grader for touching a 5-year-old girl inappropriately while playing doctor last fall.

"That behavior by a prosecutor is outrageous," said Christopher Cooper, an attorney for the boy's parents.

Cooper and attorney David Sigale filed the federal suit last week, alleging that Riniker wants D to sign a consent decree admitting some level of guilt.

"We're certainly hoping to vindicate D in the eyes of the law," Sigale said.

"He (the boy) says he didn't do it, and the little girl says he didn't do it. The little girl says he touched the back of one of her buttocks," Cooper said.

The attorneys are also asking for about $12 million in damages from Riniker and two co-defendants.

Cooper and Sigale said they are prepared to present evidence that D has been psychologically harmed by the court proceedings and is terrified of going to jail.

"She (Riniker) bypassed the parents and sent a 6-year-old boy a summons, on which is a threat that the 6-year-old will go to jail for failure to appear," Cooper said.

The attorneys said they have sought the opinion of many experts who said that children "playing doctor" is not a sex crime.

"(The experts say) a 6-year-old child is unable to intellectually and emotionally associate sexual gratification with the act that D has been accused of committing," Cooper said.

In justification for the charge, Riniker is quoted in the lawsuit saying "the Legislature could have put an age restriction in the statute ... the legislature did no such thing."

The lawsuit also alleges the charges were brought because the 5-year-old is the daughter of a high-ranking official in Grant County.

Repeated calls to Riniker and an attorney for she and two co-defendants have gone unanswered since Friday, WISC-TV reported.

Riniker went to Judge Bill Dyke, who is handling the case from Iowa County, and he issued a gag order for the parents Monday morning. WISC-TV has not received a copy of the order nor a reason for its issue.


White Air Force Vet Prohibited from Registering to Vote Because of Race

Believe it or not, there is a place where the American flag flies that citizens of particular races are excluded from voting. Citizens not of the chosen race are not allowed to vote in an important election. White and Asian citizens of the United States there are even prohibited from registering to vote for the election. As implausible as it sounds, such is the law on the island of Guam, a territory where the American flag flies and the Voting Rights Act applies, along with the 15th Amendment to the Constitution.

Unless you are a Chamorro (a “native”), you are not allowed to register to vote for a certain election involving the future of Guam. If you are white, or Filipino, you are prohibited from participating.

Even in the Jim Crow south of 1951, some blacks successfully registered to vote after they navigated the nasty maze of character exams and shifting office hours. In Guam, for the plebiscite election, whites (or Filipinos) cannot register to vote, period.

Yesterday, a lawsuit was filed in United States District Court in Guam by the Center for Individual Rights to have this racially discriminatory law declared illegal. Dave Davis, a retired Air Force Major who has lived on Guam since 1977, is the plaintiff. I am also an attorney helping to bring the case. We seek to open up the election to all U.S. citizens, regardless of race.

Many Americans don’t appreciate Guam’s important relationship to America. For starters, more than 1,700 U.S. Marines died liberating Guam from a brutal Japanese occupation in the summer of 1944. I’ve stood on Asan Beach where the Third Marines landed and clawed up sheer beachside cliffs to dislodge the suicidal Japanese firing down on them. More than 18,000 Japanese died in the battle. Guamanians have served in the U.S. armed forces since the island became a territory in 1899, and continue to give their lives for America in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Guam is the tip of the spear for American power in the western Pacific, while at the same time China is challenging American dominance in the region. A nuclear submarine base is on Guam, as well as Andersen Air Force Base, the operating home of B-2 and B-52 bombers aiming west.

But organized anti-American agitators want to throw this essential military presence off Guam. They use the tactics of the European Pershing missile protesters of the early 1980s, but add a native twist — calling the United States the “colonizer” while loudly picketing outside Andersen and the Navy base. They even rely on calls by the United Nations to “decolonize” places like Guam.

Enter the racially discriminatory status plebiscite we are challenging in federal court.

The plebiscite election would decide what Guam’s relationship to the United States should be. The supporters view it as the tool to achieve “decolonization.” One choice would be to sever all ties with the United States. If that choice prevailed (though it is unlikely the federal government would peaceably acquiesce), it would antagonize relations between Guam and the United States.

The organizers have rigged the plebiscite election by prohibiting any whites or Asians from participating in the vote. Only native “Chamorros” are allowed to register and participate. Once enough Chamorros are registered to vote, the election will take place. The government promises to ratify the results of the racially discriminatory election however they can.

In an echo from a nasty bygone era, the plaintiff, Dave Davis, literally had his voter registration form rejected because he is white. Filipinos have been rejected also.

Unfortunately for the activists, the United States Constitution applies on Guam. The 15th Amendment prohibits racial discrimination in voting and the Organic Act of 1950 (the federal law which serves effectively as Guam’s constitution) incorporates the Amendment. The Voting Rights Act also applies on Guam, and strictly prohibits racial discrimination in voting.


745 youngsters are out of work in a British town, but a craftsman can't find a British apprentice there

The result of a welfare State

Skilled crafts are dying out in Britain because our failing schools are producing a generation of youngsters ill-equipped for working life. That is the view of one master cabinet-maker, who is struggling to recruit a new apprentice despite the fact there are 745 jobless young people in the small market town where he works.

Piers Hart said British teenagers had a poor work ethic, and blamed the education system for failing to prepare them for employment.

When he advertised for a young trainee three years ago, the only applicant willing to work for apprentice wages while he learnt his craft was an 18-year-old Lithuanian who spoke little English.

Now he is looking for more help – and has hit the same difficulties.

His experiences echo an influential survey, reported in The Mail on Sunday last week, which said firms were being forced to recruit foreign workers – despite one million 16 to 24-year-olds being out of work – because the British education system was not equipping teenagers with basic skills.

Mr Hart, 63, said that when he offered a job to a local youngster in Thetford, Norfolk, he lasted just one week. ‘He did not turn up on the second Monday so I rang his mother to check he had not been hurt in an accident on the way to work,’ he said. ‘She said her son had decided “he did not like it”. That’s typical of the attitude. ‘Young people rarely apply to join us, and when they do they’ve had no preparation for the job and don’t know what a day’s work is.’

Yet the Lithuanian he took on, Paulius Gelezauskas, was delighted with the job, which pays £8 an hour now he is qualified. ‘I would recommend it to anyone,’ he said. ‘We make such beautiful things. If I wasn’t here with my craft, I’d be in a chicken factory.’

Mr Hart said the job market had changed substantially in the 37 years he has been in business, with schools turning their backs on vocational training. ‘Twenty years ago I would write to the schools’ careers masters and ask for suitable candidates,’ he said. ‘They identified people and the process was well-handled.

‘We would regularly get 20 applicants for one apprenticeship. We found really good people and in fact my first apprentice came to me at 16 and is still with me – he’s 50 now.’

But now he says he gets no response from schools, adding: ‘Either they have no interest in advertising the jobs or woodworking is of no interest to young people.’

He has also given up on Jobcentres, saying: ‘They have no idea who is a realistic applicant. Jobcentres will send you someone who has once cut a piece of wood with a saw and think that will make a woodworker. ‘Or we get people who apply for jobs just to get their benefits, but have no interest in the job at all.’

Mr Hart is offering £3.50 an hour (the minimum wage for apprentices is £2.60) but said Government red tape was holding him back. His company operates on four ten-hour shifts a week, but health-and-safety laws prevent a 16-year-old from working more than eight hours a day.

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg unveiled measures to try to tackle the unemployment crisis among young people, including a £1,500 incentive for small businesses taking on their first apprentices.

But Mr Hart believes the money would be better spent on vocational training, saying his recruitment efforts have been impeded by Suffolk College in Ipswich scrapping the three-year, one-day-a-week NVQ cabinet-making course, due to lack of demand. Woodworking is still on the curriculum, but it is geared towards the building trade and does not teach the craftsmanship that is needed for high- quality goods.

A spokesman for the National Apprenticeship Service said Mr Hart should advertise his position online.



Taliban paid £100 a month to stop fighting. It didn't work in the 10th century and it won't now either

Members of the Taliban who give up their fight are being paid £100 a month and will be allowed to keep their guns in a new initiative to end the insurgency.

The “reintegration” programme, which has the full support of Nato, is intended to keep them from attacking troops from the International Stabilisation and Assistance Force (ISAF).

Those who have attacked and killed British forces are also effectively given an amnesty, which means they will never be put on trial.

The amnesty extends to all Taliban fighters, including those who have taken part in atrocities, such as murdering children, beheadings and hanging women.

The agreement is part of a policy signed by the British Government in which insurgents are being allowed to “walk off the battlefield” and enter a “reintegration” scheme.

Taliban joining the programme are not interrogated but instead are asked to complete a questionnaire explaining their reasons for joining the insurgency.

The strategy has been designed to encourage rank and file Taliban to stop fighting and instead return to their communities with “dignity and honour”.

More than 2,700 insurgents have been reintegrated into mainstream Afghan society since October 2010, with 800 now described as “showing interest in leaving the Taliban”. Of those, about 90 are from Helmand, where nearly 400 British troops have been killed and more than 5,000 injured.

The reintegration policy has already produced some startling results. In northern Afghanistan, about 900 former Taliban have left the insurgency and violence has decreased by 30 per cent.

But it is not without risk. Maj Gen David Hook, the director of the Joint Force Integration Cell in Kabul, admitted in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph that the programme would be difficult for many British families to accept but insisted that reintegration was vital if peace was to be achieved.

The British general, who previously served as a commander in southern Afghanistan, said he saw some horrendous examples of Taliban brutality, which he said he would have “personally found difficult to forgive”.

The general confirmed that even if the insurgent who murdered five members of the Grenadier Guards battlegroup at a check point in Nad e’Ali in November 2009 entered the scheme, he would not be prosecuted. “This is an Afghan process which the international community signed up to,” said Maj Gen Hook.

“My role is to support the Afghans in that process. This idea of forgiveness has been agreed by the international donors and the UK has given £6.5  million and helped design the programme to deliver peace at the local level.

“We accepted large numbers of IRA back into our own society because we wanted peace in Northern Ireland and I don’t see it any different in Afghanistan.”

Taliban who want to leave the insurgency enter a three-month training programme of “de-indoctrination” where they are taught the values of good citizenship and must vow to severe all links with al-Qaeda, take no further part in violence and uphold the laws of Afghanistan.

Islamic scholars also provide lessons explaining that the true path of Islam is non-violent. During this period volunteers are paid a stipend of about £100 a month. “We’ve had more than 2,700 Taliban come across and only five have returned to the insurgency,” said Maj Gen Hook.

He said many of those who joined the Taliban had simply had enough of fighting and wanted to return to their families. “General John Allen [the American commander of the ISAF] talks about three natural ways of leaving the Taliban – killed, captured or reintegrated,” he said.

“The prospect of death is a great motivating force. The insurgents are feeling the pinch after a very effective summer of fighting by Nato. The insurgents know that if they continue fighting they will be killed.”

The money — there is a total of £98 million — is handed out by the Afghans who run the scheme, which is under the supervision of Maj Gen Hook.

Those who complete the process are offered a period of vocational training and efforts are made to establish whether they will be welcomed back by their communities.

Maj Gen Hook said: “It’s not a case of, 'Come in and we’ll give you £100 a month.’ Some of these negotiations take weeks while people try to resolve the grievances that are keeping them in the insurgency. Once their grievance has been addressed it’s another powerful reason why they won’t become recidivistic.”

He said it was important to distinguish between draining the Taliban of its numbers and surrendering to them. “This programme is about an individual coming back and seeking forgiveness from his community and the community willing to accept them back,” he said.

“It is not surrender. That forgiveness provides a strong bond between the individual and the community, which is perhaps better than some of the previous attempts [to get men to leave the Taliban] where people have been paid to stop fighting but return to the fight once the money has gone.”

The idea is based on a concept of “afwra”, part of the code that governs behaviour among Pashtuns, the ethnic group from which the Taliban tends to be drawn. “Afwra is about forgiveness, so both sides have to forgive for it to work and when that forgiveness is given by both sides they lock into each other, which makes it less likely to break down,” he said.

Contact is made with the Taliban by Afghan “outreach” teams venturing into rural areas and trying to establish the reasons why young men are joining the insurgency.

Research had shown that many join the insurgency because of a grievance that is not addressed by central government. Some Afghan men turn to the Taliban for help. In Helmand, for example, the governor of the province believes that the insurgency could be reduced by 25 per cent if disputes over land rights could be resolved. Maj Gen Hook said: “If you address the grievance then those young men don’t want to fight because there is no reason to fight.”

Despite the relative success of the programme, he admitted that the number of Taliban leaving the insurgency had not been as high as expected. “There was an expectation that the programme was going to be more successful than it has been and that it is one of the challenges we face,” he said.

“It was designed by people whose experience was Iraq, which from a tribal aspect was far simpler and there was a degree of optimism at the start of the programme but the tribal dynamics in Afghanistan are such that the programme was never going to be the silver bullet that perhaps people thought. “I see it as a slow process which will eventually reach a tipping point.”

However, critics of the scheme have warned that too few of those defecting are actual insurgents, and that it is failing to undermine the rebels in their southern heartlands.

Hanif Atmar, a former interior minister, said last week: “Of around 30,000 insurgents, only eight per cent have reconciled so far — and 99 per cent of them are not from the south.

“Frankly speaking, it does not work. The eight per cent that are reconciled, most of them are not genuine insurgents, particularly not from the regions that matter.”



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 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, November 27, 2011

British Father Christmases told children can no longer sit on their knee

Don’t blame Father Christmas if he doesn’t allow your child to sit on his knee at a school event — teachers may have banned him from coming into contact with youngsters. While those playing Father Christmas are no longer required to pass a Criminal Records Bureau check, many schools have decided to “err on the side of caution” and impose rules on grotto behaviour.

Parents who have offered to don the red suit have been told they must not allow youngsters to sit on their laps and cannot be left alone with them.

Because CRB checks are required only for volunteers who have regular contact with children, Father Christmases are exempt. However, government guidance states: “Under no circumstances must a volunteer who has not obtained a CRB disclosure … be left unsupervised with children.”

Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said this meant many of its members had decided it was better if Father Christmases avoided all physical contact with children.

“The climate we work in, and the risks of getting it wrong, mean many school leaders err on the side of caution,” he said. “And if you are going to 'err’ I think that’s the side most parents would prefer.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said children could still sit on Father Christmas’s knee as long as parents were consulted and were “completely comfortable” with the situation. “Santas in schools should be treated in the same way that other visitors to the school are managed. Our guidance recommends that for such visitors a member of staff is present,” added the spokesman.

Christine Blower, of the National Union of Teachers, added: “It would be a great shame if misinterpretation of regulations deterred schools from traditional festive celebrations.”


Thousands of serial offenders handed just a caution in Britain

Almost 30,000 serial offenders escaped with a caution when they went back to crime last year, figures show. Some 4,600 of them were career criminals with at least 15 previous offences to their name. They were given an effective slap on the wrist even though their new offence was so serious it could have been dealt with in a crown court. And thousands more who were taken to court were handed fines, community penalties or conditional discharges.

The trends last night fuelled concern that little is being done to combat the most serious and persistent offenders and a revolving door in the criminal justice system.

It will increase pressure on Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, over his planned sentencing reforms, which will see tens of thousands fewer criminals go to jail.

In May this year, it was revealed that serious repeat offenders stand the lowest chance in a decade of being jailed. And it emerged in the wake of the summer riots that half of those involved were, on average, responsible for 15 previous offences, but had never been jailed.

Dee Edwards, of the R and K Foundation, a crime victims' group, said: “The revolving door is clearly going faster. “It saddens me that some many crime victim groups have set up over the years and it feels like we are banging our heads against a wall. “The people with the power are still not giving out the sentences that they should.

“In my view the first time you commit a crime you should go to jail just to see what it is like. But for someone who has committed 15 or more offences to then be given a caution the next time, they are just laughing at us.”

In the year to June 2001, some 101,774 adult offenders received a caution for a so-called indictable offence, effectively crimes that are usually dealt with in the crown court.

Of those, some 27,682 had at least three previous offences on their record and 4,600 had fifteen or more, according to the Ministry of Justice figures. That was a rise on the 4,400 the previous year. Related figures showed 28 per cent of offenders fined by the courts had at least 15 previous offences, up from 16 per cent a decade ago.

One in five were given a community order, up from 12 per cent in 2001, and 29 per cent received a conditional discharge, compared with 14 per cent ten years ago.

Separate figures from May showed only a third of all such career criminals received a jail term after committing a new offence. That was the lowest custody rate since such figures began being recorded in 2000.

Mr Clarke has been criticised by traditional Tories over proposed sentencing reforms that will see fewer criminals sent to prison and more handed penalties such as community orders and fines.

Figures released in September found hundreds of the August rioters were serial offenders who had been handed community penalties, fines or cautions for their previous crimes, leaving them free to join in the disturbances last month. One in 20 had more than 50 previous offences to their name.

Nick Herbert, Justice Minister Nick Herbert said: “Out-of-court disposals have an important part to play in the criminal justice system. “They allow the police to deal quickly and proportionately with low-level, often first-time offending which does not merit prosecution at court, freeing them up to spend more time on front line duties and tackling serious crime. “They can also provide reparation and a prompt resolution for victims.”


We Are Atheism’ Initiative Tries to Mimic Gay Rights Campaign to Get Non-Believers to ‘Come Out’

If they stopped attacking Christian observances and mocking religion they would have no problem. I am an atheist but always treat Christian observances and beliefs with respect and I have never had a moment's difficulty because of being an atheist

Modeled after the well-known “It Gets Better” campaign, an initiative geared towards gays and lesbians, three non-believing University of Kansas college students have launched “We Are Atheism.”

The campaign hopes to encourage those who don’t have a belief in a higher power to “come out” and be open about their views. Amanda Brown, 25, who is one of the project’s co-founders, says that it’s time for atheists to “stand up, speak out and be counted.”

“It is time for us to put up our videos and change the face of atheism. We want people to see we are normal people who have children and lives and do good in the community,” she explains. ”The whole point of the website is to let younger atheists know you will face persecution. But through us knowing each other we can all help.”

Brown, her husband and a friend started the campaign after hearing Jessica Ahlquist speak. Ahlquist is a teen atheist who was bullied after rejecting a school prayer banner that has been on display in her high school.

Essentially, Brown’s effort serves two overall purposes: The first, as mentioned, is to encourage closeted atheists and to change the way that the general public views non-believers. Thus, the project is essentially a PR effort to change the perceptions that believers have about atheists.

To accomplish these goals, videos and personal essays from atheists are published on the “We Are Atheism” web site, where daily traffic has been known to climb into the thousands. Prominent names in the anti-faith movement have even produced their own videos for the cause. Take, for instance, David Silverman from American Atheists. His profile on the site reads:
I’ve been an atheist since I was a small child, and I’ve never been closeted. I asked many questions, starting as early as 6 years old, but the answers were always hollow and nonsensical, even from my religion instructors. After a short time, I realized that my Jewish education was a waste of my time, and of my parents’ money.

According to Brown, atheists of all ages have reached out to say that the site has helped them feel less isolated. Some have even claimed that it has encouraged them to “come out” to loved ones.

Brown, who as Religion News Service highlights, had experience founding a gay-straight club in her school, has modeled “We Are Atheism” on the gay community’s “It Gets Better” campaign — an effort intended to stem bullying. While the latter inspires closeted gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual individuals, the former is intended to inspire those who fail to believe in the Almighty.

The idea here is that by exposing people to non-believers, biases and prejudices against them will dissipate. The students behind the initiative have already scored the support of The Richard Dawkins Foundation, one of the premiere groups promoting atheism.


Nurse Says He Was Fired Over Treating Muslim Women

A male registered nurse and Vietnam war Army medic has sued the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, saying he was fired for disobeying a Muslim supervisor's order not to treat women wearing conservative Islamic dress.

John Benitez Jr. filed a sex discrimination suit Wednesday in Detroit U.S. District Court after getting the go-ahead from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a "right to sue" letter Oct. 19.

The Associated Press left phone and email messages during the Thanksgiving holiday seeking comment from Dearborn officials. The Detroit News said a Dearborn spokeswoman declined comment.

In a complaint filed on his behalf, his lawyer, Deborah L. Gordon, said Benitez joined Dearborn's Health Department in September 2010. The 63-year-old Madison Heights resident has a three-decade nursing career. Dearborn has a large Muslim community and one of the largest Arab immigrant communities in the U.S.

Soon after starting work, Gordon said a Muslim supervisor told Benitez to refer patients wearing hijab to her, rather than treating them himself.

The complaint said Benitez complied until Nov. 17, 2010, when a doctor saw what he was doing and questioned him "about the cumbersome and unusual practice of taking women wearing a head scarf to the nursing supervisor for care," rather than going ahead and treating them.

The complaint said Benitez then began complying with the new instruction that he treat women wearing hijab.

On Dec. 1, 2010, Gordon said Benitez was fired. She said he was told it was "not because of any performance problem, but was instead carried out because the clinic's conservative male Muslim clientele did not want a male treating female patients."



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 Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hate crime charges filed in Amish beard cutting

Seven members of a breakaway Amish group in eastern Ohio were arrested on federal hate crime charges for allegedly shaving the beards and cutting the hair of individuals who refused to support their leader, according to a criminal complaint released Wednesday.

One of the seven men is Samuel Mullet Sr., the leader of the breakaway sect and a man that local law enforcement and other Amish in the area consider a cult leader.

Mullet ruled the group with an iron fist, in some cases "forcing members to sleep for days at a time in a chicken coop" and beating those "who appear to disobey" him, according to an FBI affidavit.

Mullet had been "counseling" married women in his sect, "taking them into his home so that he may cleanse them of the devil with acts of sexual intimacy," the sworn statement from an FBI agent said.

Law enforcement officials believe he was behind the various beard and hair cutting attacks of the past few months. The men charged are said to have carried out "a series of assaults against fellow Amish individuals with whom they were having a religiously based dispute," according to the Justice Department.

The Amish who were attacked are believed to be former members of Mullet's group who left over various disagreements. Mullet wanted to "seek revenge and punish the departing families," the federal documents said.

"In doing so, the defendants forcibly restrained multiple Amish men and cut off their beards and head hair with scissors and battery-powered clippers, causing bodily injury to these men while also injuring others who attempted to stop the attacks," the Justice Department said. "In the Amish religion, a man's beard and head hair are sacred."

Several of the men have confessed their involvement to local investigators, according to a sworn statement by an FBI agent that was attached to the complaint filed in Cleveland.

The seven men were arrested as part of a raid on Mullet's 800-acre compound that went down "without incident" early Wednesday morning, according to Mike Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Ohio.

A combination of "about 40" officials from various agencies, including the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Jefferson County and Holmes County sheriffs, were involved in the raid, Tobin said.

The defendants appeared in federal court Wednesday afternoon. A magistrate ordered them held until a detention hearing, Tobin said. No date has been set for the hearing.

Samuel Mullet's sect is made up primarily of his relatives living on and around the compound in a remote valley outside Bergholz, Ohio, officials say.

The alleged religiously motivated physical assaults were a violation of the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Justice Department said Wednesday. If convicted, each man could face up to life in prison, it said.

Five of the men were arrested last month on charges of kidnapping and burglary stemming from an incident at the home of Myron and Arlene Miller in early October in which a group of men pulled Myron Miller out of the home by his beard, held him down, and cut off large portions of the beard.

The incident at the Millers' home was one of a handful of incidents in several counties in which as many as 30 men and women carried out similar attacks, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred J. Abdalla said.

When CNN asked the senior Mullet last month if he was behind the beard incident, he responded by asking rhetorically, "Beard cutting is a crime, is it?" He then denied the allegations that he was running a cult.

Asked about what was, at the time, the start of a federal investigation, Mullet said, "We're not guilty, so we have nothing to hide. If they want to come and check us out, we'd be glad to see them here."


New food bill in New Zealand takes away human right to grow food

In order to protect seed companies

I was shocked to learn from a friend on the weekend that a new Food Bill is being brought in here in New Zealand. The new bill will make it a privilege and not a right to grow food.

I find two aspects of this bill alarming. The first is the scope and impact the new bill has, and secondly that it has all happened so quietly. There has been VERY little media coverage, on a bill which promises to jeopardise the future food security of the country.

I read that the bill is being brought in because of the WTO, which of course has the US FDA behind it, and of course that is influenced by big business (Monsanto and other players). It looks like this NZ food bill will pave the way to reduce the plant diversity and small owner operations in New Zealand, for example by way of controlling the legality of seed saving and trading/barter/giving away; all will be potentially illegal. The best website to read about the problems with the new bill is (I have no connection with this website)

Here are some snippets:

- It turns a human right (to grow food and share it) into a government-authorised privilege that can be summarily revoked.

- It makes it illegal to distribute “food” without authorisation, and it defines “food” in such a way that it includes nutrients, seeds, natural medicines, essential minerals and drinks (including water).

- By controlling seeds, the bill takes the power to grow food away from the public and puts it in the hands of seed companies. That power may be abused.

- Growing food for distribution must be authorised, even for “cottage industries”, and such authorisation can be denied.

- Under the Food Bill, Police acting as Food Safety Officers can raid premises without a warrant, using all equipment they deem necessary – including guns (Clause 265 – 1).

- Members of the private sector can also be Food Safety Officers, as at Clause 243. So Monsanto employees can raid premises – including marae – backed up by armed police.

- The Bill gives Food Safety Officers immunity from criminal and civil prosecution.

- The Government has created this bill to keep in line with its World Trade Organisation obligations under an international scheme called Codex Alimentarius (“Food Book”). So it has to pass this bill in one form or another.

- The bill would undermine the efforts of many people to become more self-sufficient within their local communities.

- Seed banks and seed-sharing networks could be shut down if they could not obtain authorisation. Loss of seed variety would make it more difficult to grow one’s own food.

- Home-grown food and some or all seed could not be bartered on a scale or frequency necessary to feed people in communities where commercially available food has become unaffordable or unavailable (for example due to economic collapse).

- Restrictions on the trade of food and seed would quickly lead to the permanent loss of heirloom strains, as well as a general lowering of plant diversity in agriculture.

- Organic producers of heirloom foods could lose market share to big-money agribusiness outfits, leading to an increase in the consumption of nutrient-poor and GE foods.


I will end the sicknote culture that acts as 'conveyor belt to a life on benefits', says British PM

A sicknote culture in the workplace is acting as a ‘conveyor belt to a life on benefits’, David Cameron warns today. At least one in five of those who are absent on long-term sick leave should either never have been signed off in the first place or could go back to work, the Government believes.

The Prime Minister, speaking to the Daily Mail, said he would press ahead with recommendations from an expert report to strip family doctors of the power to sign people off work long-term.

Businesses are being hit with a £9billion bill every year thanks to the 300,000 people who are slipping out of work and on to sick pay and then welfare handouts, he said.

Mr Cameron revealed he had asked ministers to draw up plans for an independent service which would assess workers’ fitness ‘more quickly and efficiently’.

An expert report for Downing Street suggested more than three-quarters of GPs admitted they had signed people off sick for reasons other than their physical health.

It also found that public sector workers are almost twice as likely to go off sick as those in the private sector. While privately employed workers take an average four days off sick each year, those in the public sector take seven, with council workers taking nine.

Mr Cameron said that attempting to steer Britain through the economic ‘storm’ raging across Europe meant not just helping people get jobs, but ensuring that those in work stay in it too.

‘Part of that means getting a proper grip of sickness absence in this country,’ the Prime Minister said.

‘Every year more than 300,000 people fall out of work and on to health-related benefits. Many… fall ill, get signed off by their GP, their fitness isn’t checked again; and before they know it they’re on a conveyer belt to a life on benefits.

‘Of course some of these people genuinely can’t work, and we must support them. That’s only fair. But it’s also fair that those who can return to work should be supported to do so. We need to end the something for nothing culture.’

The Prime Minister said it was clear that the ‘whole system is a mess’ and ‘incredibly frustrating’ for everyone involved. ‘It’s frustrating for business, as it costs them £9billion a year, and it’s frustrating for GPs too, many of whom resent being asked to sign the sicknotes,’ he said. ‘They want to focus on making people better, not spend their time policing the benefit system.’

Mr Cameron said he was alarmed by evidence of the scale of the problem from a report by Dame Carol Black, a world-leading expert on health at work, and David Frost, the former director general of the British Chambers of Commerce.

‘While 90 per cent of sickness cases are short-term – that stomach bug or flu that we all suffer from occasionally – nearly half of all days lost to sickness absence are because of cases that last four weeks or more,’ he said.

He also expressed concern at the spiralling number of sickness claims from those with ‘manageable conditions like stress or backache where a life on benefits is not an inevitability and where early intervention can really make a difference in preventing needless job loss’.

Mr Cameron backed the idea of passing responsibility for signing workers off sick long-term from GPs to a new, independent service.

‘The independent service would be free to all employers from four weeks of sickness absence, with the option for employers to pay for it earlier,’ he said. ‘It would provide an in-depth assessment of an individual’s physical and mental function. So if they’re unable to work, they’ll be helped – but if they are fit, they’ll be identified and supported back into the workplace.

‘This doesn’t just mean better advice for employees and employers in making the adjustments necessary for a faster return to work. It’s also potentially a vital step in getting to grips with sickness fraud.

‘So, for example, in cases where a foreign worker comes here to get a job and then goes back home to be signed off sick and is never seen again – the employer could simply reject the foreign sicknote and refer the employee to the independent assessment. If the employee refuses to attend the assessment, he or she will get no sick pay and ultimately could be fired.’

Mr Cameron said he had asked welfare reform minister Lord Freud and employment minister Edward Davey to draw up a ‘robust and effective’ new system ‘as soon as possible’. ‘We can’t shy away from this problem. We have to end the sicknote culture in this country, and that is what we will do,’ he said.

The Prime Minister’s proposal is likely to prove highly controversial, with critics claiming it is a way of forcing sick people back to work. It is also likely to alarm some Lib Dem MPs who believe the Government’s welfare reforms are moving too quickly.

A similar independent scheme for assessing people on Employment and Support Allowance – the new name for incapacity benefit – has provoked a storm of protest from disability groups.

The report from Dame Carol and Mr Frost suggested that ‘more generous’ sick pay on offer in the public sector was likely to be a factor in high sickness rates, as was the high level of trade union activity.

Civil servants, it said, took an average 8.2 days off sick last year. But while those at the Treasury took just 3.2 days, those at the Northern Ireland Office took 12.1 days.

The highest rates were found among ambulance staff and healthcare assistants who took almost 14 days a year off sick on average. By contrast, nurses and midwives took 2.3.

The study found that overall, sickness costs the economy £15billion a year, with 140million working days lost. Of those who move on to health-related state benefits, two-thirds are men over 50.


Portrait of Waterloo hero that has hung in a court for generations 'must be removed as he approved torture as colonial governor'

As one of the Duke of Wellington’s most skilful generals, he fought on the frontline of some of the bloodiest Napoleonic wars and was the highest ranking officer to die at the Battle of Waterloo.

So it is perhaps unsurprising that, to celebrate Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton’s military heroism, a large portrait of the Welshman hangs inside the court house in Carmarthen, South Wales.

But today it emerged that a row has broken out about the painting, which lawyers claim is offensive and should not be displayed behind the judge’s chair in Carmarthen Crown Court.

They say Sir Thomas’s reputation as a cruel and brutal colonial governor – he was military governor of Trinidad at the turn of the 19th century, where he was accused of torturing a young slave girl - mean his image should not be associated with modern equality and justice.

However, Carmarthenshire Museum, who own the 8ft x 4ft portrait, disagree and say it was specifically commissioned for the court house, where it has lived for the past 182 years, and should stay.

Criminal lawyer Kate Williams, who is among those calling for the painting to be taken down, said: 'I appreciate the painting for historical purposes and that he (Picton) was a figure of note.

'But I find it very offensive that someone who was not only a known slaver, but also allegedly tortured a slave, should have his picture in a place where the values of justice are served.

'It’s fair to say he has a murky past and it is inappropriate to have his picture in a modern court of law, where we are supposed to represent the principles of equality and justice for all.

'I think people might misread the prominence of the picture as saying he has done something worthwhile to contribute towards justice, which really isn't the case.'

Sir Thomas, who was born in Poyston, Pembrokeshire, in 1758, was appointed military governor of Trinidad following the British victory in 1797 where he oversaw the production of sugar by slaves on the island’s plantations. But he operated a brutally authoritarian regime which lead to accusations of slave torture, false imprisonment and execution.

In 1806 he was called back to Britain and faced trial in London over claims he authorised the torture of a 13-year-old girl, Louisa Calderon, who was accused of robbery, by forcing her to stand on a sharpened wooden peg while suspended from the ceiling.

This form of torture was dubbed 'Pictoning' at the trial and, although he was found guilty, Sir Thomas later overturned his conviction on appeal and went on to resume his military career.

His greatest successes came in Spain, where he was instrumental in the Battle of Vitoria, helping Wellington eventually claim victory in the Peninsular War.

Sir Thomas was killed after being was shot through the temple by a musket ball at the Battle of Waterloo, where, Welsh folklore contends, he fought in his top hat and tails because his uniform had not arrived at the frontline in time.

His military reputation was so high after his death that several colonial frontier towns in Canada, Australia and New Zealand were named after him and he remains the only Welshman to be buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

His statue is among 12 'Heroes of Wales', in Cardiff’s City Hall, a comprehensive school in Pembrokeshire is named after him and there is also another monument to him in Carmarthen.

The portrait, by Sir Martin Archer Shee, was presented to the former Carmarthen Borough Council on September 2 1829. It was placed in the town’s Guildhall – which is now used as a court – and has been hanging in the same spot ever since.

Ann Dorset, a spokeswoman for the museum, said that although Sir Thomas was a 'cruel and brutal' governor of Trinidad, he was a 'a man of his time' and should not be judged by today’s standards.

'Picton was a very well respected general but on the other hand he was regarded as a rough and tough man and a great disciplinarian. 'He was a great leader of men and these wars were tough. 'It was hand to hand fighting and they were not like the battles of today. He would have been right in the middle of it. 'I think we have to accept Picton warts and all and not judge him by today's standards.'

Richard Goodridge, former mayor of Carmarthen, said removing the painting would be churlish. He said: 'Louisa Calderon suffered no ill effects from the treatment she received and required no medical attention afterwards. 'After she was released from custody she walked more than a mile to the store where the crime took place, smoking a cigar.

'In February 1810 the court ordered Picton's recognisance and no further action ever took place. He was, and remains to this day, innocent of all the charges.

'Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton, despite what history may think of his unconventional ways, was an extremely popular officer and was killed in action at the battle of Waterloo in 1815 — the most senior officer to die for his country.'



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 Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Friday, November 25, 2011

British Liberal leader accuses banks of discriminating against their black customers

Must not mention the possibility that blacks are less economically competent or that recent arrivals may not have significant savings or a savings record

Nick Clegg will today accuse banks of discriminating against black and other ethnic minority customers.

In an explosive attack, the Deputy Prime Minister will point to evidence suggesting that firms owned by black people are four times more likely than those owned by whites to be turned down for loans.

Even if they they can get credit, black African, black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani-owned firms have also been subject to higher interest rates than white and Indian-run enterprises, he will say.

Mr Clegg will make the claim in a wide-ranging speech on race equality, in which he will also highlight evidence of discrimination in the criminal justice system and sport. There are no black managers in the Premier League and just two in the top four divisions, though a quarter of players are black, he will say.

And there are 400 more young black British men in prison than young black students at the elite Russell Group of universities.

But it is his suggestion of discrimination by High Street banks that will prove most controversial.

Aides insisted, however, that he was not accusing them of institutional racism, and admitted current evidence was limited and that the reasons for ethnic minority customers having less access to credit were likely to be complex.

Mr Clegg will announce that he is asking race equalities minister Andrew Stunell to examine the ‘barriers preventing black and ethnic minority groups from accessing loans’, working with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the Government’s ethnic minority advisory group.

Giving the annual Scarman Lecture in Brixton, South London, the scene of race riots in 1981, Mr Clegg will attack Labour’s approach to race equality as ‘too narrow’. He will say: ‘They attempted to deliver equality solely through the state. The state has been used to hide the sins of the market – and the veil is now being lifted.’

Mr Clegg will say that no matter how many new laws are put on the statute book, or how much pressure is exerted on companies, what happens at home has a ‘huge influence’ on how children do.

He will say: ‘In any family, black, white, rich, poor, we need parents and relatives to support their children, helping with homework, keeping them in school.’

Mr Clegg, who will admit that he leads a party that is ‘still too male and too pale’, will say that among current business leaders, there are some ‘hugely important’ ethnic minority figures – but not enough.

‘Why is it that members of some of our ethnic communities want to start their own businesses, but their success doesn’t match their ambitions?’ he will ask. We know, for example, that 35 per cent of individuals from black African origin say they want to start a business, but only 6 per cent actually do.

‘Past evidence shows that firms owned by individuals of black African origin have been four times more likely than so-called “white firms” to be denied loans outright. And that Bangladeshi, Pakistani, black Caribbean and black African-owned businesses have been subject to higher interest rates than White and Indian-owned enterprises.

‘The reasons will be complicated: a mix of poorer education among ethnic minority groups, perhaps a lack of the right guidance, a lack of their own capital to invest. There may be an element of self-exclusion too.

‘But if we are serious about turning the UK into an island of entrepreneurs, we need to get to the bottom of this. Are our banks doing enough?

‘Britain’s banks, bailed out by the British people, have just as much responsibility as everyone else, arguably more responsibility, to help Britain build a strong and dynamic economy. Unleashing black and ethnic minority talent is their duty too.’

The research highlighted by Mr Clegg was published in the International Small Business Journal, and involved more than 3,000 British firms.

Lesley McLeod, of the British Bankers’ Association, said: ‘UK banks wish to support all our customers. We take racism very seriously and many already have diversity and inclusion policies, with trained staff in place to help. Bank mentors are already working with the Enterprise and Diversity Alliance.’


Nasty British bureaucracy again

Council workers have left a family distraught after stripping a war hero's grave bare in a row over who owns the plot. Widow Judy Collins, 72, found decorations had been removed when she turned up to pay her respects. In place of her late husband Harry's memorial was a mound of mud, she claimed. Judy, who has visited the grave every week for the last 23 years, even found the cross bearing his name had been taken away.

The council said it removed the items because its records showed the grave was ‘unpurchased'. They say they put up notices in the area saying graves at the cemetery not owned by relatives would be cleared away.

But the family of Mr Collins - who served as an army mechanic in the Second World War - insist they were never informed. And they claim his plot was paid for by the Co-operative Funeral Directors when he was buried at the cemetery on May 25, 1988.

Daughter June Collins said her mother was on one of her weekly visits to the grave when she found the items were 'bagged up' in council sacks and left in a shed. June said: 'We have been looking after the grave and putting flowers on it every week without fail for 23 years. 'My mum has been left very distressed by this. A wooden cross made by my sister Linda’s partner has been ruined.'

Miss Collins said the family met council officials and claim they were told there is no record of the grave plot being paid for. She said the authority told the family that notifications were placed on 'unpaid' graves and letters sent to families.

June, from Portsmouth, Hants, added: 'We haven’t received anything from the council and there wasn’t a notice on my dad’s grave. It could have blown off. 'The council said they have no record of mum owning the grave and have it listed as ‘common’, which means they can bury someone else on it.'

The council confirmed the plot is one of 2,756 listed as 'unpurchased' at Warblington Cemetery, near Havant, Hants, and said decorations recently started appearing on it.

A spokeswoman for Havant Borough Council said: 'Prior to removing these items, we attached a sign to the area asking for those who had been visiting to make contact with us. 'After the time had lapsed for the visitors to make contact, the decorations were carefully removed and stored in a safe place.'

Graham Lymn, head of operations for The Southern Co-operative End of Life Services, said it has offered to pay half of the cost for purchasing the plot. He said: 'We, nor the council, have been able to find records going back to 1988. It’s difficult to say what may have happened nearly 25 years ago.'


Celtic fans: You’re not singing anymore

In what country was a 17-year-old recently arrested for singing an outlawed song? Iran? China? No, it was the UK.

Imagine the scene. A dawn raid. A vanload of police officers batter down a front door. A 17-year-old boy is dragged from his home and driven away. He is charged with a crime and appears in court. His lawyers apply for bail, but the court decides his crime is too serious for that. So he is taken to a prison cell and remanded in custody.

What was his crime? Terrorism? Rape? No, this 17-year-old was imprisoned for singing a song. Where did this take place? Iran? China? Saudi Arabia? No – it was in Glasgow, Scotland, where the 17-year-old had sung songs that are now deemed by the authorities to be criminal. The youth was charged with carrying out a ‘religiously aggravated’ breach of the peace and evading arrest.

Why haven’t you heard about this case? Why aren’t civil liberties groups tweeting like mad about this affront to freedom? Because the young man in question is a football fan. Even worse, he’s a fan of one of the ‘Old Firm’ teams (Celtic and Rangers), which are renowned for their historic rivalry, and the songs he sang were football ditties that aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Draconian new laws are being pushed through the Scottish parliament to imprison fans for up to five years for singing sectarian or offensive songs at football games, or for posting offensive comments on the internet, and this 17-year-old fell foul of these proposed laws.

This is far from an isolated case. This young man is merely the latest victim of a new policy of intimidation directed at Celtic and Rangers supporters. Even before the new laws have officially been passed, there have been numerous arrests at or after football matches. Only last month, as I reported on spiked, Stephen Birrell, a Rangers fan, was jailed for eight months for expressing his hatred of Celtic fans on his Facebook page. In Scotland, sadly, what people say and write is now sufficient criteria for imprisoning them, as the centuries-old distinction between words and action is abolished.

In the absence of any criticism from civil liberties groups, it has fallen to fans themselves to take a stand against the proposed new laws. Despite being portrayed as ill-educated sectarian bigots, many Celtic fans have shown themselves to be intelligent and articulate defenders of free speech. A group called Celtic Fans Against Criminalisation has taken to the airwaves to argue against censorship and managed to mobilise 2,000 people for a public rally against the news laws in central Glasgow.

Even before the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communication Act has been passed, the singing of songs has become a key target of heavy-handed policing. The Scottish police have persuaded UEFA to announce an investigation into ‘illicit chanting’ by Celtic fans at a home game against French side Rennes. Likewise, Rangers Football Club was recently fined £35,000 and their fans banned from their next European game for singing sectarian songs during a match against PSV Eindhoven. Not to be outdone, the Scottish Premier League has launched an official investigation into the singing of offensive songs by Celtic fans at a Hibs game that took place several weeks ago. Things have now reached such ludicrous levels that last Sunday’s Scottish newspaper reports on the Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Celtic game devoted more column inches to the songs sung by Celtic fans than to the teams’ performance on the pitch.

Why is something that has always been part of the Old Firm tradition – that is, the singing of Irish republican songs by Celtic fans and anti-IRA, loyalist songs by Rangers fans – suddenly been declared a massive problem? Of course, Irish rebel songs are not to everyone’s taste, but the irony is that - as memories of the Irish conflict fade - fewer fans tend to sing them anyway. Contrary to media reports, IRA songs are no longer a massive part of Celtic fans’ repertoire.

Nonetheless, to the extent that these songs, which clash against loyalist songs amongst Rangers fans, are still sung, they have been an accepted part of Old Firm games for decades. The idea that they are offending vast swathes of rival fans is a myth that is fast becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, as more and more public figures line up to prove their anti-sectarian credentials by denouncing ‘hateful songs’. The Celtic game against Rennes that is now subject to a UEFA enquiry was actually a peaceful, good-natured match, at which some fans sang Irish rebel songs to no doubt bewildered French football fans. It is hard to imagine how that 17-year-old arrested for allegedly singing IRA songs, which he is said to have done at this Celtic/Rennes match, was breaching the peace of anyone.

The criminalisation and demonisation of Old Firm football fans by the massed ranks of the Scottish government, police and media is a serious problem. Far from reducing ‘sectarian conflict’ in Scottish football, the new censorious laws and the accompanying police campaign have led to a dramatic increase in tensions, with fans now encouraged to spy on each other, to take offence at every comment, and to report rival fans to the police.

In a very vicious cycle, the more rival fans are coaxed and cajoled into reporting offensive incidents, then the more arrests there are, and the more the authorities can cite such increases in arrests as a justification for tough new laws and sanctions. It is an open secret that over the past six months, police have been trawling Celtic Park for the remotest hint of a republican song being sung, so that they can arrest, prosecute and convict the person singing it in order to construct a PR image of mass religious hate crimes being committed. It is no coincidence that new and seemingly shocking arrest figures were released to the media in the week before a Scottish parliament vote on the proposed new laws.

The 17-year-old was finally released from prison after a successful campaign by Celtic Fans Against Criminalisation. But it is time that others, especially those who claim to support free speech, added their voices to the opposition to these tyrannical new laws. If we sit back and allow people to be imprisoned for saying (or singing) things that the state does not like, then we won’t be able to complain when the state decides to come after us.


But would you let someone shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre?

by Sean Gabb

This is the question that every advocate of free speech has at some time been asked. It may be one of the most tired clichés of political debate. It may indeed seem one of the most tiresome. But its continued popularity, and the air of finality with which it is unfailingly produced, do indicate that it expresses a very common belief - that the free expression of ideas may result in harm to others, and should therefore be restricted. And for this reason it merits at least a brief answer. Would I, then, let someone shout “Fire” in a crowded theatre? Or, to dive the question a more personal form, would I consider myself free so to shout? I can think of two replies.

First, we consider the matter purely on its own facts - which, though not entirely satisfying, does provide a technically sufficient answer. Every time that I go into a theatre or other similar place of entertainment, I enter into a contract with the management. I am to be entertained in a certain manner. In turn, I am to pay an entrance fee and abide by the rules of the house. To say that I do not specifically promise anything, nor ever see a copy of these house rules, is no proper argument. Assent to them is so obvious and reasonable a requirement of me that, for any legal purposes, it may be taken for granted on my buying a ticket and going in and I need only ask to be shown a copy of them. One of the rules will almost certainly be that I do not cause or participate in any disturbance within the theatre liable to endanger life, property or the enjoyment of other patrons. In that no one compels my attendance there, my consent, though tacit, is purely voluntary. To be sure, I have a right to speak my mind, but not to do so in breach of my freely given word. I therefore have no right to shout “Fire” in a crowded theatre.

The second reply is the genuine one. Suppose that, for whatever reason, I conceive a strong belief that the theatre I am in is on fire Perhaps I have the most sensitive nose in the audience, and I can smell burning. Or the position of my seat gives me a unique view of the spreading flames. Or my vast experience of other theatres indicates a fire by the nature of the draught playing around my feet. Grant this, and then tell me what I am to do. Certainly, to scream “Fire” and run for the nearest exit will be to start a panic which might result in injuries or deaths. But does this mean that I should sit still, patiently waiting my own death? Or should I bet up with every appearance of calm, and alone or with a few chosen friends walk out, leaving everyone else to burn?

Of course, I do no such thing. In the first instance, I make my fears plain to the management, which must, I presume, have some plan in readiness for dealing with this kind of emergency, or at least enough sense to be able to put one together at short notice. But suppose again that I have reason to believe that the management will refuse to hear me, and may throw me out - or even knock me on the head and hide me somewhere. Quite obviously, I must then use my discretion. I must communicate my fears to the rest of the audience while causing the least possible panic. This might involve walking from aisle to aisle, clearing each one at a time. Or I might force my way onto the stage and call for an orderly evacuation. But, if the progress of the fire is so advanced as to leave no time for orderly evacuations, I may well do best simply to shout “Fire” and hope that fewer people will be crushed in the panic than burned in the fire.

These are the two replies to the question. There are, however, two further points to discuss. Firstly, it must be said that, being such an extreme instance, the question hardly ever provides a fair analogy with what happens in the normal run of controversy. In the theatre, a man hears a shouted alarm. He sees others getting up and running for the exit. He may see neither the truth nor extent of the stated danger. He has no time to investigate. He is given strongly to believe that he must act at once or possibly die. If, in a crowd, he tramples someone else to death, his is not the moral responsibility that belongs to whoever has raised the alarm, and this is who will deserve punishment should the alarm have been a false one.

In the world at large, things are commonly very different. There is almost never any comparable emergency requiring instant and unthinking action. An idea is conceived and then stated, with supporting reasons given. There is no shortage of time for it to be considered, and replies to it framed or examined. Whoever acts on it immediately, and thereby attacks life or property, must, on any liberal view of human nature, be treated as entirely responsible for his actions, and not as the blind tool of someone else’s passion. The nearest case comparable to the theatre panic is that of a mob led by a demagogue. There are, of course, circumstances in which he will be liable to punishment along with those whom he may have incited to lawlessness. But, unless we are indeed to treat people as no more than irresponsible tools - in which case, why wish them free to direct their own lives or, by their votes, those of others? - This does not make out any general case for the suppression of the written word or of the temperately spoken word.

Secondly, it may be said that the question is nearly always asked by those wanting to suppress pornography or the ideas of the fascist right. The former, if at all, leads to individual assaults, hardly ever to bloodshed on a large scale. The latter, strictly defined, mean virtually nothing in the Anglo-Saxon world, and never have done. Yet if ever ideas have caused harm to others, there are those of Karl Marx. How many lives have been snuffed out this century in the name of the proletarian struggle is a number beyond my reckoning. Sixty million? A hundred million? Who knows? One thing, however, I do know. From that class of intellectuals who most often ask the above question I have never once heard it suggested that Das Kapital might be a fit subject for banning.



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 Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.