Monday, December 31, 2012

An intolerant British feminist -- perhaps a Lesbian -- gets a reply

The president of the Girls’ Schools Association, Hilary French, has fired another broadside in the battle of the sexes. “We are still creating a generation of girls who think that the whole idea of looking after children is really the most important thing,” she complained to the Press Association. “We do still expect women to be at the core of the relationship, the homemaker, the person who brings up children.”

She cited a meeting between business leaders and schoolchildren. “One of the young entrepreneurs,” she said, “a lady, dared to say that she had probably put her business ahead of her son, and the sharp intake of breath from all of the girls was audible.”

It should be unnecessary to state that women absolutely deserve absolute equality. To every reasonable person, this is self-evident, as is the fact that gender equality is woefully lacking in certain areas of British life, especially in places like the boardroom and Parliament. The difficult question, however, is what having equality really means.

Many people feel that the rush to redress the gender imbalance has bankrupted traditional women's roles. This is no new concern. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph in 1972, the eminent author and psychiatrist Ann Dally put it very well: "The happiest women I know don't go around wondering what sort of women they ought to be. They don't worry about whether they ought or ought not to leave the children and they don't feel guilty if they prefer a life of total domesticity to the excitement of the big wide world. They're all very different, but they have one thing in common. They all understand what sort of people they are and make use of the opportunities that suit them. And they do not allow themselves to be influenced by people who say what women should and should not do."

Mrs French is the headmistress of Central Newcastle High School, an independent girls' day school. One of the school's stated aims is to allow every girl "the opportunity to become a confident, self-assured young woman". Herein lies the challenge: a young woman – and, for that matter, a young man – must separate the weight of social expectation and prejudice from her true sense of what will fulfil her. This will certainly require a great deal of "confidence" and "self-assurance".

Although women must of course have full access to traditional male roles, to see that as the only possible means of equality constitutes merely an inverted form of oppression. Ultimately, it deprives women – as well as men – of their ability to be equal and different; or to put at another way, to be equal on their own terms. The fact that women are prevented from pursuing highflying careers by society’s loaded dice is completely unacceptable in modern Britain. At the same time, however, it must be recognised that real freedom entails the ability to choose one’s way of life without stigma. If a woman wants to be a mother and homemaker, there should be no pressure against that, either.


Battle of the professors: Richard Dawkins branded a fundamentalist by expert behind the 'God particle'

Athiest campaigner Richard Dawkins was yesterday branded a 'fundamentalist' by one of his most eminent scientific colleagues.

The militancy of Professor Dawkins's attacks on religious belief mean he is 'almost a fundamentalist himself', scientist Peter Higgs said.

Professor Higgs, whose theory on the sub-atomic 'God particle' was recently supported by experiments at the Cern research centre near Geneva, is considered one of the world's leading scientists and is widely tipped for a Nobel prize.

Professor Higgs is an atheist and has said he doesn't like that the particle is nicknamed the 'God particle', as he believes the term 'might offend people who are religious'.

Dawkins' criticism of the teaching of creationism in schools has earned him the moniker 'Darwin's rottweiler', a reference to biologist T. H. Huxley, known as 'Darwin's Bulldog' for his advocacy of evolutionary ideas.

Professor Higgs has used his new status to pour scorn on 71-year-old Professor Dawkins, a champion of evolution and author of The God Delusion which argues that belief in God is irrational.

Professor Dawkins's contempt for religion has recently led him to suggest that being raised as a Roman Catholic is worse for a child than physical abuse.

But Professor Higgs said that Professor Dawkins has caricatured religious believers as extremists and ignored those who try to reconcile their beliefs with science.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Professor Higgs, who is 83, said: 'What Dawkins does too often is to concentrate his attack on fundamentalists. But there are many believers who are not just fundamentalists.

'Fundamentalism is another  problem. I mean, Dawkins in a way is almost a kind of fundamentalist himself.'

Professor Higgs also told the newspaper: 'The growth of our understanding of the world through science weakens some of the  motivation which makes people believers.

'But that's not the same thing as saying they are incompatible. It is just that I think some of the traditional reasons for belief, going back thousands of years, are rather undermined.

Roman Catholic former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said: ‘Dawkins doesn’t know what to say next to get attention. No sane person would believe that being brought up in a force for good, in the Ten Commandments, in the Beatitudes, and in the Gospels can be worse than child abuse.’

'But that doesn't end the  whole thing. Anybody who is a convinced but not a dogmatic believer can continue to hold his belief. It means I think you have to be rather more careful about the whole debate between science and religion than some people have been in the past.'

Professor Higgs added that a lot of scientists were also religious believers. I don't happen to be one myself, but maybe that's just more a matter of my family background than that there is any fundamental difficulty about reconciling the two,' he added.

The criticism of Professor Dawkins – who was Oxford University's Professor of the Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008 – ends a year in which his determination to condemn religion has led to a number of abrasive arguments.


Christians have no right to refuse to work on Sundays, rules British judge

Judges have been accused of diluting the rights of Christians after a key judgment on whether they can refuse to work on Sundays.

A new ruling by a High Court judge - the first on the issue in nearly a decade - says that Christians have no right to decline working on Sunday as it is not a “core component” of their beliefs.

The judgment - which upholds an earlier decision - means that individual Christians do not have any protection from being fired for not working on Sundays.

Campaigners said the decision puts Christians at a disadvantage to other religions and means the judiciary are deciding what the core beliefs of Christians can be, which they say is an interference in the right to practise religion.

The judgment was issued by Mr Justice Langstaff as he ruled on an appeal brought by a Christian woman who was sacked after she refused to work on Sundays at a care home.

Celestina Mba claimed the council she worked for pressured her to work on Sundays and threatened her with disciplinary measures - even though other workers were willing to take the shifts.

The 57 year-old, from Streatham Vale, south London, worships every Sunday at her Baptist church, where she is also part of the ministry team offering pastoral care and support to the congregation.

She said that when she took the position in 2007 providing respite care for children with severe learning difficulties at the Brightwell children’s home in Morden, south-west London managers initially agreed to accommodate the requirements of her faith.

But within a few months of starting the job, Miss Mba said managers began pressuring her to work on Sundays.

She found herself repeatedly allocated Sunday shifts and threatened with disciplinary measures unless she agreed to compromise her church commitments, meaning she had no alternative but to resign from the job she loved, she said.

The care worker launched an unsuccessful legal claim in February this year and this month lost her appeal in the High Court.

Her constructive dismissal case was funded by the Christian Legal Centre which instructed Paul Diamond, a leading religious rights barrister.

Mr Justice Langstaff, who as president of the Employment Appeal Tribunal is the most senior judge in England and Wales in this type of case, upheld the lower tribunal’s ruling which said it was relevant that other Christians did not ask for Sundays off.

The fact that some Christians were prepared to work on Sundays meant it was not protected, the court said.

The senior judge said that a rule imposed by an employer which affected nearly every Christian would have a greater discriminatory impact than one which only affected a few.

There was evidence that many Christians work on Sundays and this was relevant in “weighing” the impact of the employers’ rule, and the earlier decision did not involve an error of law, he added.

Campaigners said the ruling showed that Christians are being treated less favourably than people from other religions, such as Muslims, Jews and Sikhs. They pointed to cases where the courts offered protection to other religions even when only a minority of adherents were affected.

In 2008 Sarika Watkins-Singh, then 14, successfully claimed she was a victim of unlawful discrimination because she had been excluded from school in Aberdare, south Wales, for breaking a jewellery ban by refusing to remove a “kara” bangle which she said was central to her faith.

But in her case the court did not examine how many Sikhs wanted to wear similar items of jewellery.

The judgment in Miss Mba’s case will fuel concerns that judges are promoting secularism. A report from the cross-party Christians in Parliament group warned earlier this year that there was a lack of religious literacy among judges, politicians and officials.

Andrea Williams, director of Christian Concern, said of the latest ruling: “The court in this case created an unrealistic test which means that people like Celestina who wish to respect the Sabbath will be forced out of the workplace.

“The court seems to be requiring a significant number of adherents of the Christian faith to observe a particular practice before the court is willing to accept and protect the practice.

“In the past year we have seen mandatory tests of faith in relation to the wearing of crosses by Christians, belief about marriage between a man and a woman and now observing the Sabbath when in all cases reasonable accommodation could have been made.

“Such tests do not appear to be similarly applied to Muslims who are permitted to wear the hijab and observe prayers and Sikhs with the kara bracelet.”

In 1994, when Sunday trading in England was liberalised shopworkers were given a guarantee that working would be strictly voluntary, but the guarantee did not apply to people in other sectors.

The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations, published in 2003, say employers must justify Sunday working as a “legitimate business need” and does not give a blanket right to Christians not to work.

If employers fail to treat staff fairly and proportionately, the employee may be able to claim discrimination, the rules add.

The last ruling by judges was when a quarry worker claimed his Christian beliefs had been treated with “contempt” by employers who tried to force him to work on Sundays in 2003.

Stephen Copsey lost his case at the Court of Appeal in 2005, with judges ruling his employer had “compelling economic reasons” for insisting that he worked on Sundays.

Yvette Stanley of Merton council, Miss Mba’s former employers, said it did its best to allow religious practice but also had a duty to meet the needs of the disabled children for whom it cares and added: “We are pleased with the outcome of this second tribunal. Staff recruited in the respite care service are advised that it is by its nature a weekend service.”


In a Crisis, Humanists Seem Absent

The NYT tries to make the best out of a bad job below

Since the Newtown massacre on Dec. 14, the tableau of grief and mourning has provided a vivid lesson in the religious variety of America. An interfaith service featuring President Obama, held two days after Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, included clergy members from Bahai, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and both mainline and evangelical Protestant congregations.

The funerals and burials over the past two weeks have taken place in Catholic, Congregational, Mormon and United Methodist houses of worship, among others. They have been held in Protestant megachurches and in a Jewish cemetery. A black Christian youth group traveled from Alabama to perform “Amazing Grace” at several of the services.

This illustration of religious belief in action, of faith expressed in extremis, an example at once so heart-rending and so affirming, has left behind one prickly question: Where were the humanists? At a time when the percentage of Americans without religious affiliation is growing rapidly, why did the “nones,” as they are colloquially known, seem so absent?

To raise these queries is not to play gotcha, or to be judgmental in a dire time. In fact, some leaders within the humanist movement — an umbrella term for those who call themselves atheists, agnostics, secularists and freethinkers, among other terms — are ruefully and self-critically saying the same thing themselves.

“It is a failure of community, and that’s where the answer for the future has to lie,” said Greg M. Epstein, 35, the humanist chaplain at Harvard and author of the book “Good Without God.” “What religion has to offer to people at moments like this — more than theology, more than divine presence — is community. And we need to provide an alternative form of community if we’re going to matter for the increasing number of people who say they are not believers.”

Darrel W. Ray, a psychologist in the Kansas City area who runs the Web site The Secular Therapist Project, made a similar point in a recent interview. As someone who was raised as a believing Christian and who holds a master’s degree in theology, he was uniquely able to identify what humanism needs to provide in a time of crisis.

“When people are in a terrible kind of pain — a death that is unexpected, the natural order is taken out of order — you would do anything to take away the pain,” Dr. Ray, 62, said. “And I’m not going to deny that religion does help deal with that first week or two of pain.

“The best we can do as humanists,” he continued, “is to talk about that pain in rational terms with the people who are suffering. We have humanist celebrants, as we call them, but they’re focused on doing weddings. It takes a lot more training to learn how to deal with grief and loss. I don’t see celebrants working in hospice or in hospitals, for example. There are secular people who need pastoral care, but we abdicate it to clergy.”

In fairness, it should be pointed out that the families of each Newtown victim chose religious funerals. The interfaith service, by its very definition, precluded the involvement of leaders from non-faith organizations like the Ethical Culture Society or the American Humanist Association. At the most divisive, the former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee asserted that violence like the Newtown shootings occurs because “we’ve systematically removed God from our schools.”

The net effect can be to leave humanists feeling frozen out and defensive. “We send out letters, we send out press releases, we’re on Meetup,” said Anne Klaeysen, 61, leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture. “But we feel people don’t pick us up. We’re not proselytizers. But the religious landscape has changed so that we have to market ourselves.”

While tacitly excluded from religious coalitions, humanist groups did respond to the Newtown killings. The Ethical Culture Society chapter in Teaneck, N.J., helped organize a gun-control rally there. The Connecticut branch of the American Humanist Association contributed about $370 to Newtown families from a winter solstice fund-raiser. The organization American Atheists reports on its Web site that it has collected more than $11,000 in online donations toward funeral expenses in Newtown. A secular support group called Grief Beyond Belief operates on Facebook.

Still, when it comes to the pastoral version of “boots on the ground” — a continuing presence in communities, a commitment to tactile rather than virtual engagement with people who are hurting — the example of Newtown shows how humanists continue to lag.

That lag persists despite significant growth in the number of nonbelievers. A recent national study by the Pew Research Center found the share of “nones” had risen to about 20 percent of Americans from 15 percent in just five years. The humanist movement of the last decade has had eloquent public intellectuals in Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens.

Yet, in the view of internal critics like Mr. Epstein and Dr. Ray, humanism suffers in certain ways for its valorization of the individual. The inside joke is that creating a humanist group is like “herding cats.”

“You can’t just be talking about cowboy individualists anymore,” Dr. Ray said. “We have to get out of this mentality we’ve been in over the past 50 years of just saying how stupid religion is. We have to create our own infrastructure.”

Mr. Epstein is currently involved in a three-year, $2.5-million project to study, develop and spread the concept of nonreligious community. But he believes that better organizing must be accompanied by better messaging.

“A lot of humanist rhetoric of previous generations revolved around reason,” he said. “We’d say, ‘We’re people of reason rather than people of faith.’ But I’ve always been uncomfortable with that as the banner under which we march. We need to think of reason in the service of compassion — caring, being cared-about, a life of meaningful connection. Reason itself is the tool. When we see it as the end-product we miss the point.”



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Saturday, December 29, 2012

More "child protection" evil in Britain

The latest unbalanced proposals are more likely to hurt rather than help  children.  Both innocent and guilty parents will now avoid taking hurt children to hospital for fear of legal attack and losing their children

Many parents feel their blood freeze at the memory of something awful happening to their children.

And reading this week about the Government’s plan to introduce a register of children treated in accident and emergency departments evoked one such chilling recollection for my wife and me — and its deeply worrying aftermath. One evening 14 years ago, in the winter of 1998, I was at home reading when I heard my wife call out from upstairs, where she was getting the children to bed.

Our elder son was four, and the younger, Johnnie, 18 months. I went upstairs and found Johnnie standing in his cot, beaming and bouncing on his mattress while holding on to the bars. He had only just learned to walk and was still unsteady on his feet. My wife asked me to feel the left side of his head. It was sponge-like, though appeared to be giving him no pain or discomfort.

We agreed that she must at once take him to hospital, which was, luckily, less than ten minutes’ drive away: this was just after 7.30pm. I stayed at home with our elder son and put him to bed.

I knew the rule at casualty departments was that small children jumped the queue, so I wasn’t expecting to have to wait long before hearing how things were. It was a nerve-wracking time and, as the hours passed, I became more and more concerned.

It never occurred to me that Johnnie had a physical injury. I feared he had some sort of brain disease, and was deeply worried.

It was nearly 1am when my wife rang. Johnnie was going to be kept in for observation overnight — and she was staying with him — but would be released the next day. 

We were horrified to hear he had a three-and-a-half-inch hairline fracture of the skull, running from about the middle of the back of his head round over his left ear almost to his temple.  And my wife, completely innocent, found herself under suspicion.

Once the nature of Johnnie’s injury had been established, the tone of the medical staff changed dramatically.

She was regarded as, if not the perpetrator of the injury, then an accomplice to whoever was. She was kept at a distance from the child, except when asked to undress him completely — so doctors could examine him for wider signs of abuse — of which, of course, there were none.

To this day she remembers the coldness of the doctor and medical staff towards her, as if a decision had already been made about her guilt in the matter. Alarmingly for her, they would at first tell her nothing about Johnnie’s condition.

Only when she became distressed and insistent and asked them straight out ‘Is he going to die?’ did they eventually admit that he wasn’t. Neither was she informed about the procedures in place to alert social services.

Sure enough, the next thing she knew, social workers had been alerted. Having obviously debriefed the hospital medical staff about Johnnie’s condition and the nature of his mother, they set a condition for his being allowed home with his parents: the family’s GP had to agree that, in his opinion, we were not a pair of child beaters. That was the final indignity.

My wife came home to get an overnight bag and, in a shared state of shock, we discussed this revolting inference the medical staff had drawn about Johnnie’s injury. We also discussed how it might have happened.

That morning, while my wife had been out, Johnnie had been left with my mother at her house. She was then in her early 70s and, like my wife, as far from being one of nature’s Myra Hindleys as it is possible to imagine.

Johnnie, as I have said, was only just becoming independently mobile — like many second children, he had relied on his older sibling to fetch and carry for him.

But suddenly he had acquired the adventurous spirit, and was wandering, climbing and tumbling all over the place.

My mother had various pieces of heavy furniture that he could have banged his head on — but why had she not heard him cry out?

A doctor answered this: if a child is absorbed in some activity when sustaining such a knock, it can pass almost unnoticed — and Johnnie  was always busy with something, whether a toy, a picture book or (as we suspected in this case) watching  the Teletubbies.

This seemed to be the most likely explanation, but for all that it was not until our GP had been found and questioned — presumably by social services — the next day, that we were allowed to bring Johnnie home. Two weeks later he was right as rain.

I am, I repeat, very keen for people who do abuse their children to be detected swiftly, and to face the full force of the law when and if they are convicted. But how would we, as the parents of young children, have reacted if the proposed register had been in place when our boys were small?

Happily, we never had to take Johnnie to A&E again. But what if we had?

What if, being an adventurous sort of lad, he had come off his bike and hit his head again, or fallen off the swing we put up for him in the garden, or tumbled out of one of our many trees or from his climbing frame?

We are always being told, quite rightly, that the development of children is being stunted by their being over-protected, and by their not being allowed to take risks.

But I must admit I would have brought Johnnie up differently if I had been told his name had been placed on a register, and that another visit by him to any other A&E would result in suspicions being raised about his mother and me. For those suspicions would, quite possibly, lead to us being questioning by the police or social workers.

Anything that might possibly have led to him ending up in A&E would have been contemplated only very, very reluctantly.

Of course, if a child is hurt you take him to A&E. But how many parents would hesitate, after a second innocent and genuine accident, if suddenly they were going to come to the attention of the social services?

The Government may mean well in trying to prevent child abuse by stopping ‘devious’ parents taking abused children to several different A&E departments to avoid alerting the authorities.

However, this treats a symptom of the cancer of abuse rather than its cause — and carries with it a danger of incriminating parents who are loving and decent towards their children.

I can’t help feeling this proposal is a sticking-plaster for the inadequacy of so many of our social services departments. Ideally, they would spot problem families long before a second or third visit to A&E — and their intelligence gathering should start at antenatal classes.

The new register is supposed to make the jobs of social workers easier. However, it is just as likely to make ruthless child abusers forget A&E altogether, so serious injuries go untreated, with possibly terrible consequences.

And it will cause decent families to live in dread of a visit to A&E and — as my wife felt she was when Johnnie was hurt — to be treated as guilty until proven innocent.

The Government has a role in protecting our children from cruelty.   But this register will, in my view, harm decent families — fuelling the distrust and loathing that law-abiding Britons feel towards an ever-more intrusive and unaccountable state, while the guilty go on getting away with their crimes.


The RSPCA has lost the plot

By Ruth Dudley Edwards

Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for the Environment, regrets that there’s no chance of repealing the hunting ban in this parliament. So do I, although nothing would persuade me to hunt, and, like him, I’m an animal-lover.

As I child, I hated hunting and hunters. As a young woman, I agreed with my fiancé that we would become rich in order to buy up key pieces of land to wreck hunts. (We became neither rich nor stayed married.) Yet as an adult, I set one of my crime novels in the hunting world (Ten Lords A-Leaping) and had my protagonists passionately opposing a ban.

What happened? I grew up, I read the arguments, I became better informed about rural life and I realised that most of those excited about banning fox-hunting were bigots, class warriors or too sentimental to look properly at the evidence. And the evidence was that the fox population has to be controlled, that on balance, shooting them is less humane than hunting, and that those involved in hunting tend to be keen conservationists.

In A Journey, Tony Blair recalls that having committed himself to banning hunting, he began, too late, to educate himself about it. "The more I learned, the more uneasy I became. I started to realise this wasn’t a small clique of weirdo inbreeds delighting in cruelty, but a tradition, embedded by history and profound community and social liens, that was integral to a way of life."  Unfortunately, by then it was too late and all he could hope was that the flawed legislation would not be enthusiastically policed.

In fact on the whole the cops have been reasonably sensible, but the zealots are again massing and they don’t seem much interested in the issue of cruelty. For the RSPCA to waste £326,000 on bringing a private prosecution against members of the Heythrop Hunt in Oxfordshire is an obscenity and I hope the Charity Commission penalises them for breaching their ‘duty of prudence’.

Gavin Grant, the RSPCA Chief Executive, seems to have it in for country people. He’s now threatening to name and shame those involved in legal badger-culling. And the League Against Cruel Sports has spent £1,000,000 spying on Boxing Day hunts.

Over the past decade, under an ex-MP, the Lib Dem Jackie Ballard, and now Grant, the RSPCA seems to have forgotten that its job is to work in the interests of the greatest happiness of the greatest number of animals. I’d recommend anyone anxious to help animals to donate to Compassion in World Farming or Blue Cross or other charities focused on combating cruelty rather than to those obsessed with the fate of a few furry vermin


Should it be mandatory to employ attractive women in the workplace?

What rights does an employer have over whom he employs and whom he doesn’t employ? What classes should be protected from discrimination? There are many interesting questions tied up in the case of Dr. James Knight, who fired his assistant, Melissa Nelson, because he found himself tempted by her.

But my thoughts on this issue regarded the moral matters tied up with Dr. Knight’s behavior towards Nelson in the workplace, and then his decision to fire her. Thankfully, Jonathan Turley brings the moral issues into focus by being 180 degrees from correct.

Turley writes:

"Knight is described as a deeply religious man, though his communications to Nelson do not speak of religiosity or restraint in a pious man. Indeed, he comes across as pretty creepy. I always thought that religion taught the pious to resist temptation not eradicate its sources. Yet, Knight actually fired Nelson with a pastor present…."

Yes, Knight behaved inappropriately, even creepy. What religion does is not to make us magically uncreepy and always appropriate, but to teach us more reasons why it’s bad when we are creepy and inappropriate. Also, my faith — Catholicism — and most of Christianity, as far as I know, teaches the opposite of what Turley has always thought it teaches.

Man is a fallen creature, born in sin. Throughout our lives, we continue to sin, whether we are Christians or not — whether we are Saints or not.

When a Catholic goes to confession, he confesses his sins, and then, after receiving absolution, resolves to “sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin.” Often, when we do bad things, if we examine our conscience, we find that moment of greatest culpability was not when we gave into temptation, but when we entered into the circumstance where we knew there would be temptation that might overwhelm us.

Dr. Knight behaved badly. He wanted to stop behaving badly. Jonathan Turley thinks that Knight’s faith should have been sufficient to cure him of being attracted to this other woman. That’s silly. Knight, his wife, and pastor concluded that the best thing to do was to let her go. That seems prudent.

It also is completely unfair to Nelson. She is being “punished” for her boss’s sins and weaknesses. She should be angry. But would it be fair for the state government to tell Knight that he must remain in this near occasion of sin?


The Myth That Kills

Some comments by a woman who is impatient of feminism

I’m very afraid this is another of those posts that will get me accused of being a “gender traitor.”

That’s just fine.  If you think a gender – the fact that you were born with one piece of physical equipment – demands your loyalty and forces your opinions to be the same as those people with the same piece of equipment, call me a traitor.  Guilty as charged.

You see, I tend to think of people as people.  This has largely been a handicap in writing fiction in the current age, because I’m expected to view women as saints-and-martyrs and men as oppressors-and-satyrs.

Have I met some examples of those?  Oh, heck yes.  Hasn’t everyone?  But I’ve met the opposite too.  Hasn’t everyone?  So why is only one of those the “correct” thing to put in a novel?

Ah, but you’re going to tell me that pushing women as victims, as saints, as nurturers is the way to go, so we can carry on with the feminist victory and equality of the sexes.

(Looks across the computer at you)  I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

Equality means, in this as in anything else, equality before the law not equality of results.  This is something that we keep forgetting.  Look, that was the ultimate difference between the American and the French revolutions.  Americans wanted equality before the law.  The French wanted equality of results.

They had justifications, too. They were dealing with an historically beaten-down peasantry, starved, uneducated (though not nearly so much – the revolution happened because education had started to spread.  Never mind. We’re going with how they viewed themselves) used to being deferential.  They needed more than just equality before the law, they said.  They needed to redistribute some of those advantages, to enforce equality of results for a while.

We all know how that ended up, right?

It always ends up that way.  Humans are individuals, not groups.  When you empower the groups, you empower the worst in any group. The power-thirsty, the aggrieved, those who want to manipulate group-outrage for their own purposes.

It is the same with women.  It’s lots of fun to read the more sentimental writers of centuries past (and the not so sentimental and totally un-ironic feminists of the last century) go on until your eyes bleed about women being kinder, gentler, softer, nicer.

Poppycock.  Poppycock with powdered speciousness.  Yes, women presented that way.  This was the result of centuries where women had the subservient position.

The first one of you to open her mouth about how this is the injustice feminism needed to correct is going to go to the corner with the dunce cap, so help me bog.

The reason women were “oppressed” for six thousand years (longer, for certain values of women) had NOTHING to do with men dethroning the goddess myth and destroying the perfect matriarchal society because they’re evil or any other re-writings of the Judeo-Christian myth of Eden.  Marija Gymbutas was – yes, I’m crossing Godwin, and I have a reason – as much of a fabulist as Hitler, and about as good a scientist.  She didn’t have armies at her disposal, but those who believe in her might in the end bring down civilization as effectively as the Nazis would have done, so I do not apologize for using the analogy.  (If you don’t think convincing women that all men are their enemies, handicapping boys in school, running men out of the teaching profession, and generally making men guilty-until-proven-innocent is a civilization-killing meme, you need to go out and meet some real men and some real women.)

Women were subservient in society due to that horrible oppressor: biology.  When you were going to have to be a celibate or spend half of your life pregnant, you missed out on other aspects of life.  Yes, I love those of you who had no problems in pregnancy.  I had to diametrically opposite experiences: the first pregnancy would have killed me without strict bed rest, for the second I kept forgetting I was pregnant.  HOWEVER in both of them in retrospect, not at the time, I missed vast chunks of intellectual function.  There is an hormone cocktail that is supposed to make you fat, happy and dumb during pregnancy.  It is what it is.

Worse, even for women who never get pregnant, until modern hormonal treatment, we women were prisoners of our hormones.  Even now I have more than a friend who hit menopause and… became someone else.  In very rare instances, the change is for the best.  Most of the time it’s a “What on Earth happened to your brain?”

I thought I had dementia for a long while – I literally couldn’t remember the names of my characters or what had happened from a chapter to the next.  And if I wrote it down, I’d have to go look at the notes, and then when I came back to the book I’d forgotten what I’d looked up.  For a while (most notably the last Musketeers mystery) I had to have a friend check my work because I’d forget what I was doing and had tons of internal inconsistencies.

Turned out it was an hormonal problem, not dementia and not menopause, as I thought.

Now, that’s an extreme case, mind you.  But it’s not unusual.  And though men, too, can have this type of issue, it is considerably more common in women.  What makes us women — the ability to generate new life – also makes us cyclical creatures, both in the monthly sense and in the life-cycle sense.  And if you think your hormones don’t affect the way you think, let me tell you the only reason you think that is that you’re inside your skull and being affected.  Until my experiences with hormonal insanity I too thought I was impervious.

Anyway, the point is until modern medicine with contraception and hormonal supplements, women were swimming with an iron vest strapped on.  Add to that that only women can be sure that their children are theirs.  This made men – of course – wish to make sure women were controlled, to make sure the kids they were providing for were their own.  It made for a society where women were somewhere between children and chattels and men had all the responsible positions. (Though even then some women managed to break through.  Individuals are… individual.  It’s one of their characteristics.)

Does any of that still apply?  No.  Thanks to modern medicine, we even can figure out whose daddy is whose without keeping women in purdah.

And though it took a little while, society changed. Women started taking the place of equals in society.  Like the French peasantry, which would have come along once barriers to their equality under the law were removed, we have started taking intellectual callings and sometimes physically intensive callings.

We are now, if we want to be, equals.

The problem is that most of us don’t want to be equals.  And the reason for that is that most of us have been sold on the feminist creation myth of the great mother and the perfect society with men as the spoiler of paradise and the villain.  And most of us are stupid enough to buy it.  (Yes, I know men worshipped goddesses.  If you think that made the society feminist, you have birds in your brain and you probably also believe there’s some magical herbs that are as effective as the pill and have no bad side effects.  (No.  There aren’t.  There was a bush that had similar properties, but it went extinct in Roman times).  Societies that worshipped goddesses often demanded the most control over women and engaged in temple prostitution.  They also had a marked tendency to child sacrifice.  On the other hand, most societies worshipped both.)

Also, most men are of course bigger than us.  Stronger. And there’s the whole historical inequity.  Just like the French peasants.  So we demand laws that favor us and more importantly we demand the blood of our enemies.  And we demand to be treated with a respect and a care that would have scared Victorian maidens.  We use the slightest thing as a weapon.  Because only when the oppressors are gone, will we be free.

This was bad enough when it was the French peasantry.  But men are not some aliens dropped on the Earth from afar – they’re our fathers, brothers, sons and husbands.  They’re an integral part of what makes humans humans.  They’re not a monolithic group, just like women aren’t, but statistically they’re better abstract-and-visual thinkers and the people who are more likely to think outside the box, just like statistically we’re the socially-oriented people, more detail-specialized and better at cooperating.

Society – a civilized society – needs both to survive and go forward.

But women have been sold on males-as-the-boogeyman and therefore they see evil intention and coordination and conspiracy behind males’ being people.  Meet one abusive male, and you’ll go through life convinced that all men are like that.  Does anyone do the same when meeting an abusive woman?  I don’t know about you, but I’ve had bosses from hell in both genders.  So, why is only one accused of being “oppressive”?

Because it’s the myth.  And it’s a myth the power-hungry people who took charge of the feminist movement (one that initially only wanted equality under the law) are happy to perpetuate.  It’s a myth every college, every entertainment gatekeeper cherishes.

It’s a poisonous myth.  It’s also a stupid one.  No one in their right mind would talk about “War on women” for instance.  Are you insane?  Why would normal men – yes, your husband, your brother, your son – want to make war on women?  And yes, that means you, your sister, your mother.  Hell, even my gay male friends like women and have mothers and women friends.  And yes, for those of you about to be stupid, even males on the opposite side in politics have all of those, and no, none of them hate women.  (Except perhaps the occasional pathological case.)

(If you bought that wanting to not pay for contraceptives out of the public purse and at the expense of other people’s religious conscience is a “War on women” you might want to inform yourself.  Not giving you something for free is NOT restricting access.  Otherwise, people are restricting your access to food, housing and entertainment.  Is that a war on humans?)

I’ve watched the rise of this myth with slack-jawed amazement.  HOW can you even think that.  Guys, my men – and I live with three of them, husband and two sons – couldn’t “conspire” to keep chocolate hidden from me (they’ve tried.) And they’re all three of them brighter than the average bear.  WHY would you think men in general would want to conspire to keep you in submission?  Most modern guys wouldn’t know what to do with a truly submissive woman.

Oh, I know.  It’s the myth you heard, from Gimbutas and her sisters in school all the way to the latest movie you watched.  Males want power over you.

Well, some males maybe.  Those who belong to a religion that dresses women like upholstered furniture.  But it’s just one culture and there’s reasons for that (including but not limited to a culture of scarcity and a tradition of bride kidnapping.)  It’s not all men, and it’s certainly not MOST men men of the western world.

Like the women who no longer remember why women were “historically oppressed” the men alive now were never in a society where men had the upper hand.

I have a friend who believes that it’s a pendulum.  Men had the upper hand, now women do, then it will swing back.

Unless science has some sort of pendulum too, I don’t see where she’s right.

What I see is women who were freed by tech advances and who THINK they were freed by marching shoulder to shoulder and taking permanent offense.  These women live in a state of paranoia, dreaming up male privilege that is invisible to anyone but them, and taking offense at ever more ridiculous things – even things that have nothing to do with gender – because they’re so terrified of men taking the upper hand again.

I look at them going to war with spelling: Womyn, Herstory.  I look at them dancing around dressed as vaginas (!) because apparently the most important thing in these women’s lives is their sexual organs. I look at them acting as a pack and attacking whoever they’re told to attack because “so and so is anti-woman” and I think… these are humans?  These are civilized people?  Don’t they see they’re being tools of the Marxist divide-and-conquer strategy?  Don’t they see the end of this is either societal destruction or TRUE backlash for the sake of saving civilization?

Apparently not.  So… carry on.  Dance around in your little fabric vaginas.  Think that all men are out to get you.  Refuse to have children, because some of them might be male.  And scream, scream, scream about made-up outrage.

That’s the way to bring civilization down and destroy the technological advances that brought us equality.  If that’s what you want, DO carry on.

Apres nous, le deluge.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Friday, December 28, 2012

A satirical comment on Eurabia from Israel


A miracle of political correctness

Tally ho! Let the hunt remind us who we are

Hound, horse and human come together today in an activity as vital as our heartbeats, says Roger Scruton

 This morning hundreds of hunts across the Kingdom will be assembling for the Boxing Day meet. My family and I will appear in our polished uniforms on polished horses to stand ceremonially among our neighbours in Cirencester Park. With us will be a crowd of thousands who have come to enjoy the spectacle. For an hour, three species – hound, horse and human; carnivore, herbivore and omnivore – will stand peacefully side by side in a little patch of meadowland, radiating tranquillity. One of the local bands will be playing. The Royal Agricultural College Beagles will be there, along with people from every walk of life, who have come to gladden their eyes on the spectacle before going for lunch in the town.

 Hunting with hounds is ostensibly a crime. It continues, not because hunting people wish to defy the law, but because an activity so central to their lives can no more be stopped than their heartbeats. They have had to adjust. But they cannot live in the countryside without also sharing it with their animals.

 I first encountered hunting in my early forties. It was quite by chance that I should be trotting down a Cotswold lane on a friend’s old pony when the uniformed centaurs came galloping past. One minute I was lost in solitary thoughts, the next I was in a world transfigured by collective energy. Imagine opening your front door one morning to put out the milk bottles, and finding yourself in a vast cathedral in ancient Byzantium, the voices of the choir resounding in the dome above you and the congregation gorgeous in their holiday robes. My experience was comparable. The energy that swept me away was neither human nor canine nor equine, but a peculiar synthesis of the three: a tribute to centuries of mutual dependence, revived for this moment in ritual form.

 There is a singular and indescribable joy that comes from the co-operation between species. We go out together, a tribe, a herd and a pack, and move together in mutual understanding. We share dangers and triumphs, we are exhilarated and downcast simultaneously, and there grows between us a kind of unsentimental attachment that is stronger and deeper than any day-to-day companionship. This experience has been celebrated since ancient times. From the boar hunt that begins at line 428 of Homer’s Odyssey to the fox hunt that forms the climax of Trollope’s The Eustace Diamonds, hunting has been used to lift characters from their daily circumstances, and to place them in another predicament, which rouses their animal spirits and puts them to a very special kind of test. The wall of domesticity has been broken down, and we cross it to “the other side of Eden”, as the anthropologist Hugh Brody describes the world of the hunter-gatherer.

 In that world, animals are not the tamed and subservient creatures of the farmyard or the family house; they are our equals, with whom we are joined in a contest that may prove as dangerous to the hunter as it is to his quarry. In the paintings that adorn the caves of Lascaux, we see the beasts of the wilderness portrayed by people who lived in awe of them, who conjured them into their own human dwelling place. The aura that emanates from these images emanates also from our hunting literature, reminding us that we too are animals, and we live with an unpaid debt towards the creatures from whom we have stolen the Earth.

 In a sense we know much about the experience of the hunter-gatherer, since it is the experience that shaped us, and which lies interred like an archaeological stratum beneath the polished consciousness of civilised man. At its greatest, the art and literature of hunting aims to retrieve that experience, to re-acquaint us with mysterious and sacred things which are the true balm to our suburban anxieties, but which can be recuperated now only by returning, in imagination, to a world that we have lost.

 In hunting you are following, and the thing you follow is a pack of hounds, which in turn follows a scent. Some follow on horseback and are part of the action; others follow by foot, bicycle or car. All are returning, to a certain extent, to a pre-agrarian condition. The landscape is being “thrown open” to its pre-historical use, and although the freedom taken by the hunt is at the same time a freedom offered by those with the power to forbid it, both parties to the deal are recapturing freedom of another and more deeply implanted kind. Hunting, which dissolves the boundaries between species, dissolves the boundaries between people too.

 The thrill of jumping comes from this: you are abolishing the boundary that had vainly tried to exclude you. For a brief moment you are laying aside the demands of farming, and the man-centred individualism that farming engenders, and roaming across a landscape that has not yet been parcelled out and owned. The fields that I see from my window do not, for me, end at my boundary but stretch beyond it, to the place where the hounds of the Vale of White Horse hunt must be called off from the territory of the Old Berkshire, where “ours” becomes “theirs”, and the riot of followers must turn back.

 That feeling of “ours” is expressed in many social events besides hunting: in fun rides, farmers’ breakfasts, hunt balls and point-to-points. Those events form part of an intricate web of social relations through which we join in the collective possession of our whole locality, and override our separate private claims. It is this sense of community that will bring us all together today, in order to renew our commitment to the place where we are.


Mother wins apology after council tries to take her disabled children away

A mother who spent a year fighting to stop social services taking her disabled twins into care after she was accused of making up a condition which made them unable to walk has won an apology from her local council.

Thomas and Daniel Bristow, both now three, are unable to walk because of a rare muscle disorder called hypotonia.   But their mother Victoria Bristow said the council had never provided the help that she needed to look after them and after she asked for it repeatedly they tried to take the children away.

She said she was accused of making up their condition in order to obtain help with looking after them, and it was only after a year-long legal battle that the local authority backed down, in October this year.

Mrs Bristow said doctors had confirmed the boys were "permanently functionally disabled" but the council believed they would get better with a course of physiotherapy.

The 36-year-old, from Norwich, has now received an apology from Norfolk County Council but she said it was still failing to provide enough help for them.  The former care worker said she was struggling after the birth of the boys in 2009, being poorly after suffering two major haemorrhages, and that the council were unable to provide any help.

When the twins were 14 months old and unable to stand up or even bear weight on their legs, Mrs Bristow and her husband Paul, who works in Norfolk council’s HR department, became concerned and saw doctors about their condition.   “They have got low muscle tone which kind of means they are a bit like rag dolls,” she said. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital said it was “a rare form of spinal muscular atrophy”.

She and her husband, 34, who suffers from arthritis, were struggling increasingly to carry them up and down the stairs. But she said the council had doubts about the condition.

“There was the thought that the boys’ disability was down to our parenting style somehow,” she said, explaining that they had been criticised for withdrawing the children from physiotherapy which was not helping.

Mrs Bristow said when an assessment finally took place social workers expressed concern that the children might be at risk, partly due to her mental health. She said she suffers from a mild form of depression.   “The assessment concluded that due to my mental health and because they didn’t understand why the boys were disabled, they felt they were at risk of neglect, and needed to be taken into immediate foster care, with no plans for reuniting with us.”

The Bristows learnt of the conclusion in a letter delivered in October last year, and for a year lived with the fear that the boys would be taken away if the council obtained a court order.   Mrs Bristow said she “was accused of trying to use their disabilities to gain services’ attention”.

“The idea is the parent makes up an injury to gain attention. They were accusing me of making up the boys’ disabilities. Actually, we hadn’t recognised the extent of their disabilities. They are very disabled little boys.”

She added: “I couldn’t bear the thought of losing my children so I researched the law and I fought like crazy.”

After months of delay, the case was concluded in her favour.

Mrs Bristow said: “We have never ever deliberately harmed them in any way at all.”

She said she now planned to support other families in similar situations.

Lisa Christensen, director of children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said it was not possible to “comment in detail” on cases involving children as the information was confidential.   But she added: “I can say in general terms that social workers have a very difficult job to do and can justifiably be criticised if they fail to respond in cases where concerns have been raised.”

She also said that the council provided a “range of support” to disabled children but that in some cases there was a “difference of opinion between the parents and the agencies involved about the level and nature of services provided”.   “In this case we have acknowledged and apologised for mistakes made and are anxious to work with the family in the interests of the children.”


Prof Dawkins should have a little faith in my guardian angel

Bringing up a child Catholic is worse than abusing it, according to Richard Dawkins - but where's his evidence, asks Mary Kenny

A man is entitled to hold any opinion he chooses, and when Richard Dawkins states that being raised a Catholic is worse than child abuse he is free to say so. “Horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was,” he said the other day, “the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place.”

But atheistic scientists such as Prof Dawkins are usually keen on asking for “evidence-based” data to back up opinions. There are more than a billion Roman Catholics globally, but Prof Dawkins rested his thesis on the experience of one person: a Protestant friend was told she would “roast in Hell” by some daft priest in America.

I dare say several events inflicted psychological damage in my childhood – being made to give away my doll’s house by an insistent aunt, not being able to afford a pony, not being sent to ballet school after reading Noel Streatfeild – all linger in the memory as childhood scars. Yet the form of Catholicism in which I was raised was basically warm-hearted; and I adored the rituals of our lovely Maytime processions, the sweet hymns to Our Lady and the general reassurance that my guardian angel would watch over me and I shouldn’t do anything to shame him.

Far from thinking Protestants would roast in Hell, we believed Protestants were often better than we were. They had a reputation for being honest in business and were charitable. We did pity them for one thing: Irish Protestants weren’t allowed to go to the pictures on Sunday.

There were abiding rules, based on the Ten Commandments, but there was also tolerance for “the sinner”, as the just man falls 77 times a day. You were told “judge not, that ye be not judged”; but if you steal, you must make restitution. You should never let the sun go down on your anger and if you’re having a rotten time, Offer it Up. None of this had a psychologically damaging effect on me, and I trust that Prof Dawkins will factor my witness, too, into any “evidence-based” future pronouncements.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Britain's 'crazy' health and safety rulings attacked

 "Jobsworth" officials are wrongly applying health and safety rules to prevent people undertaking everyday activities, a minister says today.

 Mark Hoban, the minister for employment, said that the “crazy” interpretation of health and safety rules must stop.  “It's time for authorities, businesses and other organisations to stop hiding behind the catch-all, cop-out term “health and safety” and come clean on the real reasons for these crazy decisions,” he said.

 “The jobsworths can’t be allowed to get away with it.”

 Writing for, the minister recalled a recent incident when he went to buy a Christmas tree and was told that health and safety rules meant that the sellers could not trim the trunk for him.

 He also described an employer in his constituency who refused to let work placement students make tea and coffee in case they injured themselves.   “That's just nonsense - and it drives me mad,” Mr Hoban said.

 Mr Hoban’s remarks come after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the rules are often being wrongly applied or used an excuse.

 The HSE looked at 100 cases, and found that in 38, health and safety rules were simply being used as an excuse for unpopular decisions. In more than a quarter of cases, the rules had simply been wrongly applied.

 To highlight mistaken uses of the rules, the HSE has published a list of the worst misuses.   Among the worst examples:

 <> A bus driver refused to allow a customer to board while carrying a hot drink in case it spilled.

 <>A Bar refused to let a customer carry tray of drinks because they had not been 'health and safety trained'

 <>A charity shop said that it cannot sell knitting needles because they could be dangerous.

 <>A school banned yo-yos because children might injure themselves with the toys.

 Judith Hackitt of the HSE said that such “stupid” decisions are undermining rules that, properly enforced, can prevent death and injury.

 She said: “It’s really important that we are all ready to challenge stupid decisions made in the name of health and safety, and that we as the regulator give the public the confidence to do so.

 “Not only do the jobsworths who make these ridiculous edicts waste time and money, and interfere needlessly with harmless activities, they also undermine our efforts to reduce the number of people made ill, injured or killed by their work.”


Forget the sympathy and counselling. Just lock up my burglar!

Rachel Johnson encounters the useless British police

The last time I wrote about a crime in the family – after my younger son was relieved of his BlackBerry in London’s Holland Park in broad daylight – a certain local politician complained of me putting it about that the capital’s streets were in the grip of a ‘middle-class mugging epidemic’ ahead of an important election.

Well, even as Plebgate turns to Plodgate, I have another crime to report. On the heartbreak scale, nothing like Robert Peston’s recent loss of jewellery belonging to his late wife, Sian Busby. But unpleasant enough.

I got home after a festive gathering and my older son rushed to greet me at the front door, his face stricken. He’d been sitting watching TV downstairs and heard a noise. He thought nothing of it, but when he went into the kitchen he discovered we’d been burgled.
Cut the sympathy: The Johnson family have received a house call and phone call from victim support offering counselling as well as two letters from the police since the MacBook was stolen

Cut the sympathy: The Johnson family have received a house call and phone call from victim support offering counselling as well as two letters from the police since the MacBook was stolen

I admit, officer, that the back door to the house was unlocked at the time. Unlocked by me. We’d been burgled, and my son’s new MacBook stolen.

Now the MacBook was replaceable, of course, unlike treasured family jewels, let alone a beloved wife. But still: it was a laptop a teenager had worked for weeks in a restaurant kitchen over his summer to buy.

‘Did you insure it, like I said?’ I asked. ‘No,’ he said shortly, working away on my laptop. ‘But I’ve got tracking.’ ‘Oh good,’ I said, not knowing what he meant.

The police turned up, then left, saying they’d be in touch, which they most certainly were. Since the ‘incident’, we’ve had a house call from Victim Support, a call asking us whether we needed counselling, a letter expressing sympathy, and a letter asking if we wanted more counselling.

Something astonishing happened three days later. While nothing seemed to be occurring on the crime-solving front, the tracking was working like something out of Spooks. Prey Project software sent us a three-pronged report, generated from the nicked laptop. And very interesting it was, too.

The first part was a photo taken by the stolen MacBook of the first person who’d gone online since the theft. It showed the large face of a bald gentleman.

he second showed the home screen of the missing laptop, where our gent was logged into Facebook. The third was a map, which zoomed in on the current location of the missing item, to a radius of 110 yards.

Now, you would have thought that when we excitedly told our detective constable that we had a visual, the Facebook profile, and almost exact location of the current ‘owner’ of the stolen item on the mean streets of Ealing, as well as the laptop’s serial number and IP address, he would have hopped in a panda car, and gone all Life On Mars. But he didn’t.

Explaining why would take ages: essentially, all the information generated and given was still insufficient to execute a search warrant. So this is where we are. Nowhere.

Now, I presume that the local constabulary feel it’s ‘job done’ because they turned up, fingerprinted, gave us a crime number, and offered counselling. But it’s not. The one important box remains unticked: they have not solved the crime or, in my view, really tried to. There has been no – in the jargon – ‘justice outcome’.

After we’d stopped even getting letters offering tea and sympathy,  I called them. ‘How about I go to Ealing and do a Mummy Stakeout followed by a citizen’s arrest myself?’  I suggested. There was a pause. ‘I advise against attending an unknown location due to obvious risk,’ the DC replied.

Then he said, as if I’d be pleased: ‘The image of the man in possession of the computer has been fed through the Met’s facial-recognition software without result and has been circulated to Ealing’s safer neighbourhood team.’

I can’t help feeling we’re on our own here, and this is also why a desperate Peston, I presume, has taken to Twitter, and published photographs of the missing rings, and appealed for their return.

It’s as if Plod is now devoting more resources to aftercare than investigation when it comes to theft.

As I’ve learnt, while apps and spy software may reveal where your electronic babies are, they won’t help you get them back. Even if the cops had kicked down doors in Ealing, they say my son would only get into a protracted civil dispute over who had legal claim on the item, which had doubtless been fenced on within hours for £50 or so on the Uxbridge Road.

So if you have splashed out on anything expensive and electronic, do remember: if you don’t buy insurance (and check your household insurance, too – it turned out we didn’t have any, which was happily my husband’s fault), Father Christmas will be giving the present to some light-fingered footpad, who will flog it on within hours, making it virtually irrecoverable.

Not that insurance, of course, would help when it comes to Sian Busby’s rings, or the necklace  saying ‘Mum’, given to her by their teenage son, Max.

No tracking can ever find them;  no amount of compensation can  ever replace them. When the police appear to care as little for our possessions as those who have stolen them do, then we are all robbed – of our faith in the force.


British judge criticises Government for focus on 'minority issue' of gay marriage

A High Court judge has criticised the Government for focusing on the "minority issue" of gay marriage during a time in which society was facing a "crisis of family breakdown".

Sir Paul Coleridge questioned the decision to concentrate on an issue that affects "0.1%" of the population at a time when break-ups were leaving millions of children caught up in the famiy justice system.

The comments by the judge - who started a charity to try to stem the "destructive scourge" of divorce - come after plans for gay marriage were criticised by the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales as undemocratic and totalitarian.

Sir Paul said that his charity, the Marriage Foundation, did not take a stance on same-sex marriage.

But he told a newspaper: "So much energy and time has been put into this debate for 0.1 per cent of the population, when we have a crisis of family breakdown.

"It's gratifying that marriage in any context is centre stage... but it [gay marriage] is a minority issue. We need a much more focused position by the Government on the importance of marriage."

Sir Paul added: "The breakdown of marriage and its impact on society affects 99.9% of the population. That is where the investment of time and money should be, where we really do need resources."

The overall divorce rate remained "miles too high", he said, resulting in 3.8 million children in the family justice system.   "This is an obscene level of family breakdown," said the judge.

It comes after Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, used his sermon at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve to accuse ministers of acting to legalise same-sex marriage in defiance of public opinion.

The Coalition has said it will change the law to allow homosexual couples to marry. It says churches that do not wish to hold same sex marriages will not have to, and the Church of England will be excluded from the legislation.

The plans have been criticised by dozens of Conservative MPs, and campaigners opposed to the new law say there is no public support for the change. Roman Catholic leaders have been among the fiercest critics if the plan.


Capitalism With a Human Face: A Golden Age

Ralph Benko

There’s an urban legend besetting the urbane that capitalism is a system of privilege designed for the Ebenezer Scrooges of the world. Not so. Capitalism works at least as well for us Bob Cratchits as it does for misers, probably better. Capitalism is the only proven mechanism by which the workers of the world may unite to lose their chains.

The big picture is set out in a recent article in the UK’s The Spectator:  “It may not feel like it, but 2012 has been the greatest year in the history of the world. That sounds like an extravagant claim, but it is borne out by evidence. Never has there been less hunger, less disease or more prosperity. The West remains in the economic doldrums, but most developing countries are charging ahead, and people are being lifted out of poverty at the fastest rate ever recorded. The death toll inflicted by war and natural disasters is also mercifully low. We are living in a golden age.”

This world scoop lays out paragraph after paragraph of impressive evidence for its thesis. One of the most compelling points:

"In 1990, the UN announced Millennium Development Goals, the first of which was to halve the number of people in extreme poverty by 2015. It emerged this year that the target was met in 2008. Yet the achievement did not merit an official announcement, presumably because it was not achieved by any government scheme but by the pace of global capitalism. Buying cheap plastic toys made in China really is helping to make poverty history. And global inequality? This, too, is lower now than any point in modern times. Globalisation means the world’s not just getting richer, but fairer too."

As this columnist has pointed out here before, in The End of Politics, World Peace is breaking out. This is obscured by media reportage focusing on carnage. And yet the peace, which is real, represents a brisk tailwind for the forces of small “l” liberal small “r” republican governance — and a headwind for the Big Government/Dark Side of the Force crowd. As The Spectator puts it, bringing billions of souls out of extreme poverty “did not merit an official announcement, presumably because it was not achieved by any government scheme but by the pace of global capitalism.” World Prosperity, as well as Peace, is emerging: “a golden age.”

Real capitalism is a humanitarian force. Making capitalism synonymous with miserliness is what Marxists call false consciousness. A great example of capitalism with a human face — with a beard, even! — is Garry Kvistad, founder and proprietor of Woodstock Chimes®.

Whenever you hear a wind chime, or see one in a gift shop, chances are that it’s a Woodstock Chime. Woodstock is — by far — the market leader. It earned its market leadership by providing a superb quality product at a competitive price, reliable service, and good management. It began, as so many companies do, with its founder’s passion. From

“Being a recent college graduate, Garry found the materials for his metallophone at the local landfill – it was made from the aluminum tubes of discarded lawn chairs! Garry was fascinated by the Scales of Olympos, a 7th century Greek pentatonic scale that can’t be played on a modern piano. His metallophone experiment was so successful that he had the idea to cut and tune lawn chair tubes to the exact frequency of the scale and create a windchime from the tubes. … The Chime of Olympos® was the first Woodstock Chime….”

Kvistad, a Grammy® Award winning musician, also is a founder and participant of the most highly regarded percussion ensemble working today, NEXUS. And as he said, over craft beer, to this columnist, “It’s clear that if you wish to pursue a career in New Music — performing works by extraordinary composers such as Steve Reich and John Cage — you’d better have a supplementary source of income.”

In addition to freeing Garry to play the music that delights him (and audiences worldwide) the Kvistads have distributed millions of dollars of profits philanthropically. Many who have earned wealth are generous givers. (Actually… Republicans, very well advertised as, to a man, rich, mean, and miserly, have a well-documented track record, as noted by George Will, of charitableness consistently far in excess of that of the equally well advertised sweet, generous, wealthy Democrats. Go figure. No implication intended that the Kvistads might be sinister Republicans. Perish the thought.)

Let it not be thought, however, that the laws governing Hippie Capitalism are somehow kinder, gentler, or more renewable, than that of Republican Square Capitalism. To most everyone’s surprise it turns out that the laws of economics, being laws of nature, apply to all equally. The law of supply and demand, like the law of gravity, applies to Progressives as well as conservatives. (This is a fact mostly unnoticed, or at least unforgiven, by Progressive policy makers.)

Some years ago, Kvistad noticed that international suppliers were beginning to sell chimes almost as good as Woodstock’s, and more cheaply. The necessary response, as it turned out, did not involve redeploying to the city dump in search of more discarded lawn chairs. “We had always manufactured our chimes right here, near Woodstock,” Kvistad told me. “It was very gratifying to be able to provide work to skilled artisans here in my home town. Yet it was clear to me that if we continued to make them here we soon would be out of business and providing no jobs at all. So I sought out and found reliable, high quality, ethical suppliers — in China and Indonesia — and… between natural workforce attrition, people moving on or moving away, and retraining my team to handle the complexities of managing an inventory built abroad, I was able not only to keep jobs here in America but to generate more highly skilled, better paying, jobs right here. It was a positive, not a negative, sum game.  We also sell in Europe, Canada, and are opening up a distribution center in the UK. All of that goes to create more American jobs.”

Kvistad’s action provides empirical proof, as if more were needed, of Tamny’s Law (named for the editor of Opinion who has reiterated this observation ad infinitum, and, one hopes, will continue to do so until the policy elites come to grips with reality): “Technology erases unnecessary work so that we can constantly migrate toward more productive pursuits. We destroy jobs to create better ones.”

It begins to appear that the world is entering, as The Spectator noted in emulation of this columnist, “a golden age.” (“A Golden Age” has been this column’s categorical title for over two years. Memo to The Spectator: Forbes scooped you.) A golden age may prove precursor, rather than the predicate, of a return to the classical gold standard. As the rest of the world honors, rather than attempts to override, the natural laws governing the production of goods and services the rest of the world becomes more prosperous … and fair. Will the political elites of the developed world continue to adopt policies calculated to induce “economic doldrums”? Perhaps the sight of equitable prosperity blossoming all around us will inspire our own policy makers toward capitalism.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bentley axes its company chaplain in case he upsets non-Christian workers: Employees start campaign to have him reinstated

Any chaplain worth his salt is well used to dealing with people who are not committed Christians.  This is an appalling way to treat an elderly vicar.  It is just anti-Christian bigotry

Every week for ten years the Rev Francis Cooke visited the shop floor at Bentley, offering counselling and advice to the luxury car maker's workers.  But only days before Christmas he has been made redundant because the company says he might offend non-Christians.

It said there were too many religions represented among the 4,000-strong workforce at its factory to warrant a Christian chaplain.

Mr Cooke called the decision 'ridiculous' and said he spoke to workers of all faiths.

Staff have started a campaign to reinstate the vicar, who they said was an 'important figure' who had even helped one employee who had been on the brink of suicide.

Mr Cooke was directly employed by Bentley – it would pay the Diocese of Chester, which would then transfer the funds to the chaplain.  He had outside roles, but this was his only paid work.

He said: 'It is just beyond belief. The reason I have been given is that there are too many people of different faiths to warrant a Christian chaplain. Everyone thinks it is quite ridiculous. There have been no complaints against me and my position is to help people and not just those who are Christians.'

He said he had been told to leave immediately after bosses said they needed to take a 'multi-faith outlook'.

He would visit the factory in Crewe, Cheshire, once a week for six hours, and also ran Christian courses and wrote a message in the firm's newsletters.

'It is not just about offering religious services,' he said. 'I provide counselling to workers who have stresses at home such as broken marriages. I would spend a few minutes with each person which would be enough to help them feel better.

'I feel that there is something else behind this.'

Mr Cooke said there had been a change since the appointment of new personnel by German firm Volkswagen, which took over the British brand in 1998.

'There have been many new faces around recently and I noticed I was being watched when I was talking to some of the staff even if it was just for a matter of seconds or minutes. I knew something was going on and that there was trouble ahead.'

Yesterday one worker said: 'We have started a petition as we want him back. Everyone is really angry about it.'

Retired employee John Austin, 67, said: 'He was there for a lot of people. I know one individual who was feeling suicidal, but Francis turned him around.  He was a very important man at the factory.'

A Bentley Motors spokesman said: 'We have a wide range of faiths and want to take a multi-faith outlook. It would be very difficult to have somebody from each faith.

'This now gives us the opportunity to look at this and recognise the range of faiths we have here.'


Britain spending more on welfare payments than Scandinavians with 7 out of 10 children living in a home receiving handouts

Britain pays out more on welfare than high spending social democratic nations in Scandinavia, according to a think-tank.

Nearly seven out of ten children now live in a home that receives at least one cash handout other than child benefit, says the hard-hitting study by the Institute for Economic Affairs.

And some 17 per cent of children – around 2.1 million – live in a home where no adult is working ‘easily the highest rate in Europe’.

The think-tank’s report, Redefining the Poverty Debate, spells out how a generation of the less well-off have become enslaved to state benefits that have done little to cure the problem of poverty.  It says: ‘Social expenditure in the UK stands at one of the highest levels in the world.

‘In terms of overall social spending, the UK has overtaken traditionally social democratic nations such as the Netherlands, Norway and Finland.

‘In terms of family benefits (spending on items such as child tax credit, child benefit, childcare subsidies) the UK has overtaken all of the Nordic countries.’

Figures published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development last year show that Britain spends 3.6 per cent of national income on benefits for families.

That compares with 3.4 per cent in Sweden, 3.3 per cent in Denmark, 2.9 per cent in Norway and 2.8 per cent in the Netherlands.

Kristian Niemietz of the IEA writes: ‘The conventional textbook distinction between a high-spending Nordic model and a lowspending Anglo-Saxon model has become completely obsolete.

‘The state has become a major income provider for well over half the population.’

For households in the bottom 20 per cent of the income scale ‘the government is the main breadwinner, with cash benefits representing by far the most important income source’.

Mr Niemietz added: ‘What is more remarkable is that, in the second quintile, cash transfers also contribute almost as much to total income as market earnings.

Even households in the middle quintile receive a quarter of their income directly from the state.’

The report also calls for radical reforms to welfare spending to end penalties in the system that makes families ‘financially better off’ to split up.

The report found that a couple with two children both working 16 hours a week would receive £11,545 in tax credits and child benefit, while a single parent with one child working would receive £8,160, meaning the same couple could earn more than £16,000 if they separated.

The report warns that even the government’s new universal credit system will do little to iron out the problems.

It argues that the average family could be £745 better off if ministers backed more planning reforms to reduce house prices, reformed the Common Agricultural Policy to slash food costs, reduced sin taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, removed subsidies for green energy and deregulated childcare services.

Calling for a radical rethink of how to tackle poverty, the report found that sin taxes eat up 10 per cent of the disposable income of the poorest families.


Free Speech, The Disfavored Stepchild Of U.S. Law

In a recent column, George Will discussed how college students have been disciplined for racial or discriminatory "harassment" for constitutionally protected expression, such as reading a history book about ugly past racial events, or discussing unpleasant truths about racial or religious matters:
In 2007, Keith John Sampson, a middle-aged student working his way through Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as a janitor, was declared guilty of racial harassment. Without granting Sampson a hearing, the university administration - acting as prosecutor, judge and jury - convicted him of "openly reading (a) book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject." . . .

The book, "Notre Dame vs. the Klan," celebrated the 1924 defeat of the Ku Klux Klan in a fight with Notre Dame students. But some of Sampson's co-workers disliked the book's cover, which featured a black-and-white photograph of a Klan rally. Someone was offended, therefore someone else must be guilty of harassment. . .

At Tufts, a conservative newspaper committed "harassment" by printing accurate quotations from the Quran and a verified fact about the status of women in Saudi Arabia. . . .

In 2007, Donald Hindley, a politics professor at Brandeis, was found guilty of harassment because when teaching Latin American politics he explained the origin of the word "wetbacks," which refers to immigrants crossing the Rio Grande. Without a hearing, the university provost sent Hindley a letter stating that the university "will not tolerate inappropriate, racial and discriminatory conduct." The assistant provost was assigned to monitor Hindley's classes "to ensure that you do not engage in further violations of the nondiscrimination and harassment policy." Hindley was required to attend "anti-discrimination training."

Why does this sort of nonsense persist? One reason is that college administrators don't fear First Amendment lawsuits very much. If a state university violates the First Amendment, often it pays nothing for the violation. The Eleventh Amendment protects a state university from having to pay any monetary damages for such a violation. (The Supreme Court has said that Congress can waive Eleventh Amendment immunities to protect civil rights, but Congress has only done so for discrimination cases, not First Amendment cases.) State university officials - as opposed to the university itself - can be individually sued for First Amendment violations under 42 U.S.C. 1983, but they are protected by the defense of qualified immunity from having to pay any monetary damages at all, unless the court finds that they not only violated the First Amendment, but did so in a very clear way that was obviously unconstitutional under an appeals court's own past rulings, or past rulings by the Supreme Court - any legal ambiguity, and they are protected against damages. (See, e.g., Reichle v. Howards, 132 S.Ct. 2088, 2094 (2012) (the right "violated must be established, not as a general proposition, but in a particularized sense"); Harrell v. Southern Oregon University, 474 Fed. Appx. 665 (9th Cir. July 20, 2012) (circuit court of appeals granted qualified immunity because "the appropriate speech standard for college and graduate students' speech remains an open question in this circuit"; First Amendment violation must be "sufficiently clear that every reasonable official would have understood" that it was illegal)(emphasis added).)

And the university sometimes manages to avoid any injunction or attorneys fees being awarded against it by dropping the challenged speech restriction or discipline at the last minute, before trial, thus mooting out the lawsuit on the eve of what would otherwise be a defeat for the school. Free speech may be priceless, but for a school's bottom line, First Amendment violations are cheap.

Colleges fear many other kinds of lawsuits much more. For example, colleges live in fear of even the remote possibility of a discrimination or harassment suit, which can lead to lottery-sized damage awards against the college - and in some cases, individual college administrators - even if the harassment was by a student, not school staff, and the school itself tried (imperfectly) to stop it. Neither qualified immunity nor the Eleventh Amendment shield against suits brought under laws like the Rehabilitation Act, Title VI, or Title IX. Recently, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a million-dollar damage award against a school district under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, for racial harassment committed against a student by his classmates, since it said the school district's efforts to stop the harassment were "half-hearted" and thus insufficient to avoid liability. The school district in Zeno v. Pine Plains Central School District should have prevailed under the governing legal standard laid down by the Supreme Court - which requires the plaintiff to show "deliberate indifference," not mere negligence, by school officials, in order to qualify for monetary damages - but the appeals court ignored the obvious difference between indifference and negligence, and upheld the massive damage award after finding the school district failed to respond as required by Education Department guidance and court rulings - even though that guidance and those court rulings predated the Supreme Court's Gebser and Davis decisions requiring a showing of deliberate indifference, rather than mere negligence, and thus could not justify holding the school district liable. (Universities' liability for harassment is sometimes even broader under state law, since state sexual- and racial-harassment laws in states like New Jersey only require a showing of negligence by the school district for liability, unlike the federal laws, Title VI and Title IX, which require a showing of "deliberate indifference"; and since punitive damages against a school are sometimes available under state law, unlike their federal counterparts, Title VI and Title IX.) Damages in other types of discrimination cases can also be massive, such as the case discussed at this link, in which a dental student obtained a $1.7 million award over  her disabilities-rights claim, including a $1 million punitive damages award against an individual associate dean who allegedly failed to accommodate her attention-deficit disorder.

Partly to avoid potentially massive liability for harassment and discrimination under state and federal law, colleges have created intricate civil-rights and human resource bureaucracies. For example, in 2011, the University of California at San Diego created a new full-time "vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion." As Heather Mac Donald notes, this position augmented "UC San Diego's already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor's Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women's Center."

By contrast, there is no institutional apparatus on campus designed to protect free speech or avoid First Amendment violations. Thus, perhaps it should not be too surprising when a college's racial harassment bureaucracy convicts a student of racial harassment for First Amendment activity like "openly reading a book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject." Colleges have created a large, overzealous, hair-trigger bureaucracy to deal with allegations of real or imagined harassment, which inevitably results in some cases of non-harassing speech or innocent activity being erroneously treated as harassment. Colleges view it as better to avoid any risk of a racial-harassment lawsuit that could cost a college a bundle (even at the risk of some false convictions), rather than guarding against a First Amendment violation that will cost a college very little. Thus, students have been disciplined for racial or sexual harassment for expressing commonplace views on subjects such as affirmative action, feminism, and the death penalty. See Brief Amici Curiae of Students for Individual Liberty et al., in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 1998 WL 847365 (filed Dec. 8, 1998) (No. 97-843). A costly racial-harassment lawsuit was brought against a college and a professor over the professor's emails on racially charged immigration topics; a federal trial judge in Arizona refused to dismiss the lawsuit against them, saying that the emails constituted illegal racial harassment; the harassment lawsuit was later dismissed on appeal by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on First Amendment grounds; the appeals court cited the fact that the emails were not aimed at any of the specific Hispanic plaintiffs who sued over them, and thus were protected even if they were viewed as a "racially hostile work environment." (See Rodriguez v. Maricopa Community College, 605 F.3d 703 (9th Cir. 2010).)

Once upon a time, the Supreme Court spoke of free speech as having a preferred position among legal rights, saying that "freedom of speech" and "freedom of religion are in a preferred position," and that a "preferred place" and "priority" are "given in our" constitutional "scheme to the great, the indispensable democratic freedoms secured by the First Amendment." (See Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, 115 (1943), West Virginia State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 639 (1943), and Thomas v. Collins, 323 U.S. 516, 529 -30 (1945).)

Sadly, the legal community no longer feels the same way today. Free speech is the disfavored stepchild of the law.


Leftist bias at Australia's main public broadcaster

THE response by the managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corp, Mark Scott, to Janet Albrechtsen's piece on ABC bias, almost defies belief. It is not the first time he has argued this case, even as he presented figures to a senate inquiry on the biased make-up of the panellists on Insiders.

Somehow, Scott trusts his "outstanding" commentators, by claiming that they are "carrying no ideological badge and pushing no line". Well that settles it, doesn't it?

There has been a very long tradition of accusations of bias in our national broadcaster. In 1981, the Dix report, a committee of review of the ABC, strongly recommended that current affairs programs would be "most arresting, informative and effective, and attract wider audience patronage, if more efforts were made to open the programs to a wider range of viewpoints".

Following the Dix report, the Institute of Public Affairs published a first attempt at media analysis. It looked "at the range of ideas being discussed in selected ABC programs over a period of time to see whether they appear to favour any particular political philosophy".

To his credit, author Ken Baker understood the "range of issues" should be related to "the views of the community". Thirty years on, the ABC is still resisting accusations it is completely out of touch with the community.

That the managing director doesn't see this defies well established perceptions from journalists themselves. In groundbreaking research in 1995 and 1998, John Henningham, a professor at Queensland University published a couple of papers on journalists' perceptions of bias and the ideological differences between them and their public.

What is striking about the research is that the journalists clearly rated the ABC as pro-Labor, indeed as the most pro-Labor of the major media outlets. In this light, indignant protests that the ABC is balanced become plain silly.

Similarly, to deny that there is a large gap between ABC presenters and their audience is simply unsustainable after Henningham surveyed 173 journalists and 262 members of the public in metropolitan Australia. He found an enormous difference between these two groups, with journalists consistently having a much more "progressive" views than the general public. The denial in the ABC has reached a point it does even bother to attempt balance. Albrechtsen has clearly outlined the major offenders. With the polls suggesting a Gillard wipeout, there is a feeling of "end of days" denial in the ABC and they, like Gillard, are going for broke.

A timely book by Californian academic Tim Groseclose, Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind is at pains to point out that political bias "does not mean not being truthful, or reporting facts honestly or even objectively". If there is one lesson to be learned and many of us in Australia have been saying it for years it is about the selectivity of issues, the bias that is formed by the things that are not reported, and in interviews, by the people who are not interviewed.

This is an exquisitely refined technique on the ABC. Presenters tend to interview only those experts who agree with their own opinions, thus transforming news from factual content into a point of view without appearing to express the view of the presenter. On a panel on Insiders or Q&A, one simply gets the false impression that there is a consensus.

Given this reality, Groseclose's most innovative and remarkable analysis comes from asking the question: what would the public really think if we could magically get rid of the biased media?

Left Turn's rigorous, objective methodology was able to measure the filtering that distorts the way we see the world and shows that it does indeed change the way we think. In particular, Groseclose has scrupulously used measures based on criteria selected by the Left itself as a hedge against potential criticism. His research indicates the views we hear expressed by people are not their natural views, but are distorted views of what they really think. Worse, he warns, "media bias feeds on itself".

As a result, in the US the population would, without the omnipresent media bias, score fully 20 percentage points further to the Right. If correct, this is very troubling and begs the intriguing question about the effects of the slant bias in Australia.

It also would explain why so many educated, generally mildly apolitical, well thinking middle class people with a regular diet of the ABC and Fairfax, simply are not aware that, for instance, the world has stopped warming for the past 16 years, that hurricanes and extreme weather events have declined and are not related to global warming, that Doha was a dismal failure, that the NBN has never had a cost benefit analysis, that Green jobs cost money ... and jobs, that growing the economic pie is not the same as redistributing tax revenue Bravo Tony Jones or that the Great Barrier Reef is not being destroyed.

As I explained 10 years ago on a panel at an ABC national staff conference in Melbourne; there is nothing more boring than a one-sided football match. Why doesn't the ABC be brave and challenge itself with controversial, mainstream ideas? It would be "most arresting, informative and effective", as the Dix report concluded more than 30 years ago.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here