Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Don't legalise gay marriage, Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu warns David Cameron

Marriage must remain a union between a man and a woman, says the Archbishop of York, and David Cameron will be acting like a “dictator” if he allows homosexual couples to wed.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Dr John Sentamu, the second most senior cleric in the Church of England, tells ministers they should not overrule the Bible and tradition by allowing same-sex marriage.

The Government will open a consultation on the issue in March and the Prime Minister has indicated that he wants it to be a defining part of his premiership. But the Archbishop says it is not the role of the state to redefine marriage, threatening a new row between the Church and state just days after bishops in the House of Lords led a successful rebellion over plans to cap benefits.

“Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” says Dr Sentamu. “I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are.

“We’ve seen dictators do it in different contexts and I don’t want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.

“It’s almost like somebody telling you that the Church, whose job is to worship God [will be] an arm of the Armed Forces. They must take arms and fight. You’re completely changing tradition.”

It was widely assumed that the Church would have to accept same-sex marriage for fear of appearing out of touch. Dr Sentamu says the bishops in the House of Lords did not try to stop Labour introducing civil partnerships in 2004, giving homosexual couples improved legal rights.

The Church tolerates clergy who are in civil relationships but expects them to be celibate. The Archbishop says the Church was also content with last year’s move to allow civil partnership ceremonies in places of worship, as long as it is voluntary and agreed by the governing body of any particular denomination.

But Dr Sentamu is opposed to the homosexual civil marriage proposal, and says the Government would face a rebellion on any changes in legislation. His intervention may serve as a rallying cry for traditionalist Tories who oppose Mr Cameron’s plan.

“The rebellion is going to come not only from the bishops,” he says. “You’re going to get it from across the benches and in the Commons.

“If you genuinely would like the registration of civil partnerships to happen in a more general way, most people will say they can see the drift. But if you begin to call those 'marriage’, you’re trying to change the English language.”

“That does not mean you diminish, condemn, criticise, patronise any same-sex relationships because that is not what the debate is about.

“The Church has always stood out – Jesus actually was the odd man out. I’d rather stick with Jesus than be popular because it looks odd.”

Dr Sentamu, in Jamaica to mark its 50 years of independence, also says the Church’s leadership needs to become less middle class.


Lord Carey backs Christian psychotherapist in 'gay conversion' row

Leading church figures including the former Archbishop of Canterbury have sparked controversy by championing a psychotherapist who believes gay men can be 'cured' of their homosexuality.

Lesley Pilkington was effectively barred from her professional register after attempting to convert a homosexual man in a therapy session at her home.

Her patient turned out to be a gay rights journalist, who had secretly recorded the sessions and then reported her to her professional body. Mrs Pilkington, a committed Christian, was subsequently found guilty of professional misconduct.

The therapy practised by Mrs Pilkington had been described as "absurd" by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and roundly condemned by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

But ahead of her appeal against the BACP ruling, Mrs Pilkington has received backing from the Rt Rev Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

In a letter to her professional body, Lord Carey – along with a number of senior figures – suggests Mrs Pilkington is herself a victim of entrapment whose therapy should be supported.

His comments – in a letter co-signed by, among others, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester and the Rt Rev Wallace Benn, the Bishop of Lewes – will cause controversy in the gay community and beyond.

The joint letter states: "Psychological care for those who are distressed by unwanted homosexual attractions has been shown to yield a range of beneficial client outcomes, especially in motivated clients ... Such therapy does not produce harm despite the Royal College of Psychiatrists and others maintaining the contrary."

It concludes: "Competent practitioners, including those working with biblical Judeo-Christian values, should be free to assist those seeking help."

Lawyers acting for Mrs Pilkington will argue at the appeal hearing on Wednesday that the counsellor did not get a fair hearing.

The case against Mrs Pilkington – first reported in The Sunday Telegraph a year ago – was brought by Patrick Strudwick, a journalist, who approached her at a largely Christian conference and asked her to treat him.

In May 2009, Mr Strudwick attended a therapy session at Mrs Pilkington's private practice, based at her home in Chorleywood, Herts, and recorded the session on a tape machine strapped to his stomach.

On the tape, Mr Strudwick asks Mrs Pilkington if she views homosexuality as "a mental illness, an addiction or an anti religious phenomenon". She replies: "It is all of that."

Last year, Mr Strudwick said: "Entering into therapy with somebody who thinks I am sick … is the singularly most chilling experience of my life.

"If a black person goes to a GP and says I want skin bleaching treatment, that does not put the onus on the practitioner to deliver the demands of the patient. It puts the onus on the health care practitioner to behave responsibly."

Mrs Pilkington said her method of therapy – Sexual Orientation Change Efforts – is legitimate and effective.

The therapy is practised by a handful of psychotherapists in Britain. The method involves behavioural, psychoanalytical and religious techniques.

Homosexual men are sent on weekends away with heterosexual men to "encourage their masculinity" and "in time to develop healthy relationships with women", said Mrs Pilkington.

Her legal defence is being funded by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which has instructed Paul Diamond, a leading human rights barrister, to fight the case.


A Missed Opportunity

The official Republican response to the President’s State of the Union Address was fine—as far as it went. But Gov. Mitch Daniels missed a golden opportunity to put before the American people a better vision of family, faith, and freedom.

Interestingly, the only mention of family in Gov. Daniels’ response was his praise for President Obama’s own family. Let me stipulate: The Obama family is a model family, apparently devoted to one another. The president even lives happily under the same roof with his mother-in-law. Now, that’s devotion.

But Gov. Daniels could have noted that the policies of the Obama administration are the most antagonistic to the family of any administration in history. This is a fact. With 42% of American children born out-of-wedlock, a tragedy of fatherlessness is being visited on millions of homes. Bill Bennett rightly calls this “the broken hearth.” And broken hearths lead to broken hearts.

Does the president address this in his budget? No. Instead, he gives hundreds of millions to Planned Parenthood, the world’s leading trafficker in abortion. We know that the more sexual contacts young people have prior to marriage, the more likely they are never to marry, or to divorce after marriage. You cannot be pro-family and shovel money at this evil enterprise. This is one shovel-ready project we should reject.

Yet, President Obama has told Speaker Boehner that any cut in federal funds for Planned Parenthood is “a non-starter.” President Obama has relentlessly pushed abortion at home and abroad. Obamacare is the most massive expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade. Under Obamacare, health care coverage will include abortion. Thus, we will all be forced to pay for the killing of unborn children.

The president is concerned, he tells us, about education. We must all share that concern. But he has taken over college loans, an unprecedented power grab. He does this even as his administration is menacing the liberty of every private and religious college in America. If your college does not want to push condoms in the dorms or dispense abortion-producing drugs at Student Health, the Obama administration threatens you with action.

Dr. Larry Arnn is president of Hillsdale College, a proud independent college founded by abolitionists in the 1850s. Hillsdale takes no federal funds. Dr. Arnn recently spoke of how the intact family undergirds limited government:

The principles of our country stem from the laws of Nature and Nature’s God. This word “Nature” is full of rich meaning. It comes from the Latin word for birth, so of course the nature of man, and natural rights must be understood to include the process of begetting and growth by which human beings come to be…If families do not raise children, then the government will. What then becomes of limited government?

I offer Dr. Arnn’s eloquent analysis to President Obama. That terrible figure of 42% out-of-wedlock births shows up the false promises of those who said that abortion-on-demand would end welfare and poverty. When they said that, the out-of-wedlock birthrate was less than half what it is today.

Social scientist Charles Murray has written a new book, Coming Apart, in which he shows that the dream of upward mobility for millions is being lost. In this important work, he shows that marriage and religion are central to the economic well-being of millions of Americans.

The Obama administration is actively hostile to marriage, refusing even to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. That law was passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by a Democratic president. And Mr. Obama’s administration is seeking suppress the conscience rights of millions—including Catholics, Evangelicals, Lutherans, and Orthodox Jews. His radical demand that every federally-supported institution in the country dispense abortifacients is a grave threat to religious liberty.

To the fires of social discord this administration is adding fuel. To those on the lower rungs of life’s ladder, asserting their God-given right to rise, this administration is breaking the first rungs. These are the issues I’d like to see both of our major parties address in 2012.


Church-Burning Video Used to Promote Atheist Event at Ft. Bragg

Atheists are using a music video that celebrates the burning of churches and synagogues to promote an upcoming atheist-themed festival at Fort Bragg.

“Rock Beyond Belief” is scheduled to be held on the parade field at Fort Bragg in March. The event was created in part as a response to a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association event that was held last year.

Justin Griffith, who organized “Rock Beyond Belief,” said he was personally offended that a Christian evangelical event like “Rock the Fort” was held on the base.

“We felt it was entirely inappropriate for anyone to say your current religion is wrong,” Griffith told Fox News& Commentary. “We view all soldiers as already spiritually complete. Whatever their current religious preference is has no bearing on how fit they are as a soldier or anything related to military business.”

Griffith confirmed the lineup includes atheist speakers, a rapper who raps about evolution and a “kiddy pool” where boys and girls will be able to scientifically walk on water.

There will also be a number of bands performing – the most famous of which is Aiden. They are featured in a video on the “Rocky Beyond Belief” website that includes images of burning churches and bloody crosses.

Among the lyrics: “Love how the burn your synagogues, love how they torch your holy books.”

The group is no stranger to strong lyrics. Another of their songs says, “F*** your God, F*** your faith in the end. There’s no religion.”

Griffith said that particular song would not be performed at the festival, but defended the video of burning churches.

“You can buy their albums in Wal-Mart, a Christian-friendly store,” Griffith said. “If you have issues with bands that sometimes have swear words, or naughty words, or shocking imagery, that’s a part of the First Amendment.”

Benjamin Abel, a spokesman for Fort Bragg told Fox News & Commentary that they were launching a review of the bands scheduled to perform along with their content.

“This is a family-friendly event and we expect the entertainment will meet the standards of decency that would be typical on a top-40 music station,” Abel said. “We owe it to our soldiers and families on post to make sure it is.”

As for the graphic, anti-Christian lyrics – Abel said “I would have to think we would have to take a very close look at that kind of lyric.” “I don’t know how family-friendly that is,” he said.

Griffith said there is absolutely no controversy about Aiden’s upcoming performance.

“It’s a little shocking to hear some of this stuff,” he said. “I’m sure you understand that these types of shocking things are not going to be front and center for a rock concert that is on a military base. This is not controversy. This is not a real story.”

But if that’s the case, why is there a video of the band performing in front of burning churches on the “Rock Beyond Belief” website?

The military could not answer that question. “I can’t speak to somebody’s website,” Abel said. “We are reviewing the material and will ensure that event organizers understand that we will have to hold them to a certain level of decency.”



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

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

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


Monday, January 30, 2012

Paedophile of 'the most sickening order' was able to film himself abusing girls in primary school classrooms because bosses did NOTHING despite 30 warnings

Behold the attitudes engendered by being a British public servant. They are an especially protected class who can be fired only under the most exceptional circumstances so they often just go through the motions of doing their jobs -- with the only important thing to them being what cake to have with their morning tea. This case was so extreme, however, that the most guilty party was fired. He should have been prosecuted for criminal negligence or as an accessory after the fact

A paedophile teacher filmed himself abusing girls in the classroom after school bosses failed over 14 years to act on 30 warnings about his behaviour. Nigel Leat, 51, was described by a judge as a ‘paedophile of the most sickening order’ when he was jailed indefinitely last year for abusing five girls, some as young as six.

Yesterday a damning report showed that the primary school where he worked had catastrophically failed to protect the children in his care. Over 14 years, concerns had been raised repeatedly about Leat’s behaviour with pupils, but his conduct was never investigated. He had abused children in the school’s computer room, resource room, staff room and even during lessons with other pupils present.

Leat also regularly filmed the pupils’ harrowing ordeals using a camera provided by the school, storing hundreds of films on more than 20 memory sticks labelled with his victims’ names.

Staff at Hillside First School in Worle, Somerset, first noticed Leat selecting girls who were ‘less academically able, emotionally needy or pretty’ as his ‘favourites’ a year after he started teaching there in 1996.

His inappropriate behaviour was so well known that staff tried to prevent children likely to become his ‘star pupils’ from being put into his Year Two and Year Three classes.

In 2004, a mother claimed Leat had been taking pictures of her daughter with a mobile phone but he denied the accusation and no action was taken. Four years later, two children told staff that Leat, a married father of two, had been touching their legs and kissing one of them – causing her to be sick – and a teacher twice reported him to the head. Another member of staff saw Leat projecting an indecent image of an adult on to a wall during a lesson.

Leat was also seen lifting up and groping young girls in the playground, tickling and cuddling pupils in class and sitting on cushions with a schoolgirl while visibly aroused.

But those staff members who reported Leat’s behaviour were told they should not ‘insinuate things’ and were bullied into silence, a report said yesterday.

It was later discovered that Leat would routinely hide a camera under his desk and then summon his victims, recording the subsequent horrifying images of the abuse. In many of the videos, which are up to ten minutes in length, other children can be seen or heard in the background.

When police finally became involved, Leat first denied wrongdoing but later admitted 36 sexual offences including rape, assault and voyeurism.

Yesterday a review by the North Somerset Safeguarding Children Board concluded that his appalling crimes could have been stopped much earlier if the school had not failed to act on the warnings. Instead, out of 30 disturbing incidents noted, only 11 were mentioned to the school’s headmaster, Chris Hood, and none was passed on to an agency outside the school.

Leat was only arrested in December 2010, when a schoolgirl told her mother he abused her ‘every day apart from when the teaching assistant was in the classroom’.

Police who raided the home he shared with his wife, also a teacher, found more than 30,000 images, including 61 pictures and 21 movies at level five, the most serious level. At least 20 children were victims of Leat’s abuse or witnessed it at the school, which caters for 128 children aged between four and eight.

Three Ofsted inspections undertaken during the time Leat was abusing his students graded it as ‘good’ and a report in 2009 noted: ‘Pupils feel exceptionally safe and secure because they know that staff have their well-being at heart.’

Tony Oliver, who chaired the serious case review, said: ‘There was a failure at every level within the school.

‘There was a culture which just did not empower people to voice their concerns. It could be interpreted as a culture of bullying.’ He said the headmaster had been sacked following a disciplinary process.


Ban on spanking behind London riots?

The ban on smacking children must be overturned to help prevent a repeat of last summer’s riots, according to a senior Labour MP.

Former Education Minister David Lammy, who represents the Tottenham area of North London where the disturbances started, says working-class parents need to be able to discipline their children physically to deter them from joining gangs and getting involved in knife crime.

Calling for a return to the Victorian laws on discipline, Mr Lammy said parents were ‘no longer sovereign in their own homes’ and lived under constant fear that social workers would take away their children if they chastised them.

The MP said it was easier for middle-class parents to control their children as they could afford to pay for private schools, which have tougher discipline than state schools, as well as activities such as tennis lessons.

Mr Lammy, 39, said he was smacked as a child and it taught him self-discipline and respect, adding that he had smacked his own sons, aged three and five – mainly to protect them from danger.

He called for a reversal of Labour’s 2004 decision to tighten up the smacking law. Previously parents could use ‘reasonable chastisement’, while the new definition prohibits any force that causes ‘reddening of the skin’. Mr Lammy poured scorn on that description, saying it was irrelevant to black children.

He said: ‘Many of my constituents came up to me after the riots and blamed the Labour Government, saying, “You guys stopped us being able to smack our children.”

‘When this was first raised with me I was pretty disparaging. But I started to listen. These parents are scared to smack their children and paranoid that social workers will get involved and take their children away.

‘The law used to allow “reasonable chastisement”, but current legislation stops actions that lead to a reddening of the skin – which for a lot of my non-white residents isn’t really an issue.’

Mr Lammy – who is married to portrait artist Nicola Green, the daughter of the founder of the British Lung Foundation, Professor Sir Malcolm Green – said the law was designed for middle-class families, not those who lived with ‘fear outside their windows’.

‘Middle-class families can find all sorts of ways to handle children, by putting them in tennis classes or using traditional private schools,’ he said.

Asked if he had smacked his own children he confessed: ‘I have smacked my kids, but it doesn’t happen very often – usually when they are in danger.’ The MP was pressed on the issue in an interview with Iain Dale on LBC Radio, after he had made a call on the Mumsnet website for smacking to be legalised.

Parents in his area had to ‘raise children on the 15th floor of a tower block with knives, gangs and the dangers of violent crime just outside the window’, he said.

‘They no longer feel sovereign in their own homes. And the ability to exercise their own judgment in relation to discipline and reasonable chastisement has been taken away.’

He added that ‘middle-class’ MPs and Ministers had no idea of the ‘realities of the single mum struggling with these issues. We should return to the law as it existed for 150 years before it was changed in 2004’.

The Children Act of 2004, introduced by Tony Blair’s Government, removed the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’, meaning injuries as slight as a bruise can result in an assault charge. Guilty parents can be jailed for up to five years.

Mr Lammy told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Parents in my constituency are frightened that if they smack their children, a social worker will come knocking at the door.

‘When the law changed in 2004, it was to deal with people who abused their children. The law at that time left judges to determine if a parent had used reasonable chastisement. Under the new arrangements it is left to social workers.

‘Single mums raising boys feel there are things that happen outside their front door – drugs, gangs or knife crime – where smacking is one of the things they should be able to do. They are confused about the law. We should allow 99 per cent of parents to determine how to help their children understand boundaries and learn right from wrong.

‘We have to distinguish between that and child abuse. No normal parent enjoys smacking their child. A lot do it from time to time and as children get older it stops. ‘I was smacked as a child. And I am hugely grateful for the role my mother played in my life. I wouldn’t be an MP if it were not for her.’

Mr Lammy was brought up in Tottenham by a single mother, Rose, and has previously spoken of his sense of ‘betrayal’ after his father walked out on the family when he was 11 years old.

Mr Lammy set out his support for scrapping the smacking ban in his book Out Of The Ashes: After The Riots.

He said that last year’s summer riots, which started after a man was shot dead by police in Tottenham, were ‘an explosion of hedonism and nihilism’, fuelled by police blunders – and not caused by Government cuts or joblessness.

His predecessor as Tottenham MP, Bernie Grant, famously said police got a ‘bloody good hiding’ in the 1985 Broadwater Farm riot, when PC Keith Blakelock was killed.

Mr Lammy’s constituency in the London borough of Haringey has witnessed two terrible child abuse scandals. In 2009, the mother of ‘Baby P’, Peter Connelly, and two others were jailed after he died, despite being seen by Haringey’s authorities 60 times. The council was also criticised after eight-year-old Victoria Climbie was starved to death in Tottenham in 2000.


Veterans Group Calls on West Point to Pull Speaking Invite for Anti-Islamist Retired Officer

A group of veterans is calling on the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to retract its speaking invitation to a retired Army officer known for his controversial views about Islam.

Retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin was the Pentagon’s senior military intelligence official until 2004, when he was reprimanded for remarks comparing the war against radical Islam to a Christian struggle against Satan and for saying Muslims worship idols and not “a real God,” according to the Washington Post. He has also said he believes no mosques should be built in America and has called Islam “a totalitarian way of life.”

Boykin, an ordained minister who speaks around the country, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a West Point prayer breakfast Feb. 8.

On Thursday, VoteVets.org, the self-described “largest progressive organization of veterans in America,” released a letter to West Point‘s superintendent asking for Boykin’s invitation to be rescinded.

“[Statements similar to Boykin's] remarks threaten our relationships with Muslims around the world, and thereby, our troops serving in harm’s way,” the letter stated.

Calling Boykin’s values “inconsistent even with current Army doctrine,“ the organization said it would be ”counterproductive for our future Army leaders to hear the views of Lt. Gen. Boykin.”

VoteVets.org has been joined by the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, a “community support network” that “responds to insensitive practices that illegally promote religion over non-religion within the military or unethically discriminate against minority religions or differing beliefs,” according to their website.


Australian tennis ace critical of homosexuality

TENNIS great Margaret Court claims homosexuality is often the result of sexual abuse. Amid a growing backlash over her opposition to same-sex marriage, the three-time Wimbledon champion told The Sunday Mail "many, many" gay and lesbian people she knew of had "been abused" and this had led to their sexual orientation.

Court, a senior minister at Perth's Victory Life Centre, has already sparked fury among gay and equal rights activists for recent comments, including that the push for gay marriage was trying "to legitimise what God calls abominable sexual practices".

Mental health advocate Chris Tanti accused her of "spreading misery" and putting young gay people at risk of suicide with what he called her anti-gay comments, amid calls for her name to be removed from centre court at Melbourne Park.

But Court said: "We get them (homosexuals) in (at church) and you'll find that many, many of them have been abused". When asked if she felt such abuse led people to homosexuality, Court said: "Yes. You look at a lot of them, that's happened."

She would not be drawn on whether she felt same-sex abuse was specifically to blame, saying, "We'll start another can of worms if I start talking on all this."

Peter Rosengren, editor of the Catholic Church's The Record newspaper, batted away her claims, saying he had "never heard of any scientific study" linking abuse and homosexuality, and that "everyone has to be respected".

In a wide-ranging interview, Court also said:

"The word of God is our TV guide to life. It's not the fear book, it's a love book and it tells us how to live our lives."

"I would have won six Wimbledons not three . . . if I'd known what I know now from the scriptures, on the area of the mind."

Many migrants expected Australians "to change our laws to embrace what they have and I don't feel that's right".

"Christianity is a way forward" for Aboriginal people.

Court also said she did not regret speaking out against same-sex marriage. "I say what God says and that's why I've spoken out," she said. "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. "I have a right as a minister to say that. You look at the decline in the world today. I think it's so important for values and morals and righteousness to come forth like never before."



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

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

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


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Heavy criticism for an academic who said those who display the Australian flag are likely to be racist

I think criticism of her is justified. She did apparently use the term "racist", which is very inflammatory. Many people would see it as including Hitler-type behaviour and she had no evidence that the people she described would endorse such behaviour.

There are many possible gradations of opinion about race-related matters. It may be noted, for instance, that the man who declared war on Hitler (Neville Chamberlain) was himself an antisemite of sorts -- so any implicit or explicit claim that there is such a thing as a monolithic entity called racism is unscholarly.

And any social scientist making or implying such a claim is ipso facto a very low-grade intellect. Though it might be noted that mean minds are common among sociologists. Many of them are still devoted to the writings of an obsolete economist and proven stimulator of hate named Karl Marx. The term "racist" of no use for anything except abuse. I use the term only in mockery of Leftist abuse.

I made some technical remarks about her research on 24th. but readers may also be interested in an alternative to her kneejerk reaction to the old "white Australia policy". See here for a more philosophically sophisticated look at the issues involved

A PERTH professor whose study found people who fly Australian flags on their cars are more racist than those who don't, says she has received over 70 critical emails which include demands that she go back to her "own country".

Brunei-born University of WA Professor Farida Fozdar [Judging by the name she is ethnically an Indian Muslim], who moved to Australia when she was seven, said she was shocked by the national reaction to her study which also spread as far India and the United States.

“Some emails have been quite polite and I’ve been able to reply and we’ve actually had quite a positive interaction out of it which, I really really value," Professor Fozdar said.

"But some are straight out lots of swear words and suggesting that I should go back to where I came from.

“I’ve also had a couple of emails from people implying that I’m the Grinch that killed Christmas and that now nobody is going to fly a flag because they think it shows that they’re racist.”

Professor Fozdar, a sociologist and anthropologist, said that although the study was reported “relatively accurately” in the media, some people have misinterpreted its findings.

“What has struck me most is that the media has reported the research relatively accurately in most cases, perhaps apart from some headlines, but people have taken it up in the wrong way,” Professor Fozdar said.

“People have taken it as though I was saying that anyone who flies a flag on their car for Australia Day is racist and that flying the flag generally is a racist thing to do and that certainly wasn’t what I was saying.”

Professor Fozdar said the study revealed flag-flyers were significantly less positive about Australia’s ethnic diversity than “non-flag flyers” but that the attitude is not shared by all Australians.

“The fact that there were significant differences doesn’t mean that everybody who flys the flag feel negative towards minorities but it means that a larger proportion of them did compared with people that weren’t flying flags,” she said.

Professor Fozdar said many people ignored her findings that the majority of both flag-flyers and non-flag flyers, interviewed by her research team, felt positive about Australia’s ethnic diversity.

“But that’s not what gets picked up by people,” she said. “That statistic was there, in a lot of media reports, but people took out of it that I’m saying they shouldn’t fly a flag for Australia Day because it’s racist and that we shouldn’t celebrate Australia Day. “That was just nowhere in the research and so that is what has surprised me.”


Hysteria and the moral battle to end welfare dependency in Britain

By Simon Heffer

This week’s row about welfare reform threw up several shocking facts. First, the £26,000-per-household cap on benefits that the Government seeks to impose is equivalent to a £35,000 pre–tax salary of someone in work.

Then there was the case of a parish priest who said he worked six days a week and earned £22,000 a year. Since he is in employment he does not qualify for any of the hand-outs (such as free public transport) given to some full-time welfare benefits claimants.

In a letter to a newspaper he rebuked the bishops of his own church who had voted in the Lords against the Government’s benefits cap, which would be set at £4,000 a year more than he earns.

To say that welfare is a perennially toxic subject is one of the great political understatements of our times. However unmerited some people’s financial support from the State is, the threat of its reduction or withdrawal always triggers hysteria from those unthinking elements on the Left — whether in the Labour Party, the Anglican Church or the BBC.

The truth is that, as a country, we have lost sight of the importance of every citizen striving to contribute to society, however modestly, as opposed to making a claim upon it.

As a result, perversely, those who won’t contribute are treated the same as those who do. This injustice means that they are given the right to live handsomely off the labour of the rest of us.

To sustain this grotesque state of affairs, which is an abnegation of society’s most fundamental values, would be unacceptable even in times of plenty. But in a time of economic crisis, it is simply outrageous.

Following this week’s Lords rebellion against the Coalition’s plans to cap the cost of benefit payments, the Mail has highlighted families living on small incomes who are determined to be self-reliant and to avoid becoming trapped in a cycle of welfare dependency.

Sadly, it has also been easy to find examples at the opposite end of the moral scale — people who are perfectly capable of work, but refuse to take or even look for it.

Indeed, earlier this month the media reported that some unemployed people were so idle that they couldn’t even bother to get out of bed in the morning to sign for their welfare benefits.

The fact that such behaviour is now tolerated without retribution is a shameful reflection of the attitudes of those who have governed this country over recent years.

Mercifully, there are influential figures such as Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey who are determined to end this State-sponsored moral degeneracy.

This week, Lord Carey wrote an article for the Mail in which he said the scale of Britain’s public debt was the ‘greatest moral scandal’ facing the country and warned that the welfare system is rewarding ‘fecklessness and irresponsibility’.

He criticised the bishops who led the Lords rebellion, saying the senior churchmen were encouraging the culture of welfare dependency that led to ‘poverty of aspiration’. He said that they could lay no claim to the ‘moral high ground’.

Meanwhile, Mr Duncan Smith is wrestling to cut the £100 billion annual welfare bill. His initial proposals are modest, not because he lacks radicalism (for he understands exactly what must be done to wean Britain off dependency) but because his party’s Lib Dem coalition partners refuse to concede that the drastic reforms are necessary.

However, Mr Duncan Smith has two advantages that ought to help him carry through his proposals.

First, he has spent years studying the problems of poverty and he knows what he is talking about; what is more, the public trusts him because of that expertise.

Second, the dire economic state of the country means welfare reform is not being embarked upon purely as an ideological exercise. It is an urgent necessity because we have a crippling £1 trillion debt, caused by the last Labour administration, and the Government must make huge savings.

The public understands this and supports attempts to reduce the debt. The Tory Party, which is driving the reforms, is ahead in the opinion polls. This means there has never been a better time to break the culture that makes welfare dependency, for some people, a lifetime career.

Mr Duncan Smith deserves the unqualified support of all taxpayers in his attempts to start the process. The tragedy is that he appears to be fighting an almost lone battle in Westminster.

It is time his fellow Tories gave their public support to his reforms and highlighted the scandal of the way those who refuse to work (being given lavish welfare hand-outs) are treated in comparison with those who do.

Meanwhile, one has only to read the Left-wing media’s coverage of the debate about welfare to see that blackmail is being attempted to get reformers to halt their programme.

First, their opponents argue that any restriction on benefits given to the workshy will inevitably harm the claimants’ children. Also, they warn that some claimants may turn to crime if they lose their benefits.

The way to defeat such specious arguments is to make clear the distinction between the deserving and the undeserving poor. Although this is often considered to be a Victorian concept, it was, in fact, first properly defined in 1563, when magistrates were told to differentiate between various types of poor in their parishes.

The deserving were deemed to be those who wished to work but couldn’t find employment. A ‘poor rate’ was levied to raise money to provide them with clothes and food.

Also deemed to be deserving were those too old, young or ill to work. They would be supported in alms houses or orphanages, and children would be offered apprenticeships to ensure that their adult lives were not blighted by poverty.

On the other hand, the undeserving poor were those — such as sturdy beggars — who avoided work. A remedy was found in 1563 when it was agreed that these idlers should be whipped until they saw the error of their ways, or moved on to another parish.

This distinction between deserving and undeserving poor was enshrined in the Poor Law of 1601, which remained until it was revised in the 19th century.

Of course, today’s undeserving poor are no longer whipped. Instead, they are kept in idleness by a state welfare system that gives them little or no incentive to work. Their weekly benefit cheques relieve them of the necessity of begging. Their children, produced regardless of their parents’ ability to provide food and clothing, are used as human shields in the fight against any cuts in welfare.

Surely the Government can devise a proper system that ensures that widows, orphans, disabled and elderly receive the full compassion of the State, while those who live off taxpayers have their life of idleness halted.

There has often been talk of ‘workfare’, a scheme used successfully in America where benefits are paid in return for state-sponsored work. The main obstacle to such a system in Britain has been the trades unions, who feared work would be found at the expense of their members.

The truth is that there are plenty of socially useful and productive tasks that could be done as a condition of receiving benefits.

For some of these people, though, this may require a major change in attitude. For example, people such as the university graduate who recently claimed her human rights had been infringed because she’d been made to work for her jobless benefits as a shelf stacker in Poundland must be made to realise how lucky they are to have gainful employment.

As for the argument that children will come to harm because their parents might lose benefits, that is not true. They would not lose out financially. Their hand-outs would simply be replaced by payments from the workfare scheme. Neither would there be a rise in crime, for the same reason.

Politicians have talked for nearly 20 years, since the time when fellow Tory Peter Lilley did Mr Duncan Smith’s job in the mid-Nineties, of ending the something-for-nothing society.

Even if a few bishops support it, the rest of the country is fed up being taken for a ride. We cannot afford it, literally or morally. Now is the time to deliver on the promise.


Vilified for telling the truth: The Christian GP whose life was made hell after he questioned the legalise drugs campaign

Dr Hans-Christian Raabe is a man of gentle demeanour and firm principle who cares deeply about his patients in the deprived area of Manchester where he works as a GP. Indeed, he chose to serve a community where unemployment is high, drug problems endemic and gang warfare rife because he wanted to make a difference.

‘I wanted to care for people in areas of most need, so I opted to work in a disadvantaged community with a high prevalence of social problems,’ he says. ‘And at the root of many of these problems are drugs.’

‘Every day I see the devastation substance abuse causes to individuals, families and communities. I see huge numbers of patients whose lives — whether directly or indirectly — have been ruined by the misuse of drugs.’

As a result of this first-hand experience — and because he felt a public-spirited compulsion to help tackle a national crisis — Dr Raabe volunteered for an unpaid post on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

However, he had barely taken up the three-year voluntary position as a Government adviser when a witch hunt against him began.

Disseminated by internet, the campaign swiftly gathered speed. Then the Home Office weighed in: in February 2011, Dr Raabe was dismissed before he had even had a chance to attend an ACMD meeting. He was given no right of appeal.

What happened? Had he committed a crime so heinous that no amount of self‑justification could exonerate him? Actually, he had not. Dr Raabe, 47, was merely guilty of holding unfashionably uncompromising anti-drugs views — namely that legalising drugs merely normalises their usage, and that we should instead try to create a drug-free society by focusing on drug prevention.

Incredibly, Dr Raabe was also criticised for being a Christian. He was stunned: ‘I was called a bigot, scum and a mad ba****d. I was accused of being a waste of space and of having no qualification to talk about substance abuse.

‘All I’d done was to offer a day or more of my time every week for three years to help improve the drug problem in the UK, and I was subjected to a vile stream of abuse and defamation. The Home Office caved in to pressure from the politically correct brigade. I believe it was spineless of them.

‘When they revoked my appointment I was not given a chance to refute any of the allegations against me. I began to feel as if I was living in a totalitarian regime — in Stalinist Russia or Ahmadinejad’s Iran — not in Britain in 2011.’

For months Dr Raabe, reeling from the shock of the onslaught, considered his position. And then he decided to fight back.

The German-born doctor has been granted permission for a judicial review against Home Secretary Theresa May, which is set to commence later this year, and is being represented by leading human rights lawyer James Dingemans QC.

He hopes to win back his committee post and, in so doing, stand up for Christians, who he believes are becoming increasingly marginalised and excluded from public office. ‘The attack on me was a confirmation that I was doing something right,’ he says. ‘The way I was treated strengthened my resolve to fight my corner.’

His determination was further bolstered this week when the Sentencing Council announced new rules under which heroin and cocaine dealers can be spared prison — serving community sentences instead. This week also saw Sir Richard Branson calling for the liberalisation of drugs laws, claiming three-quarters of young adults had tried cannabis.

The Virgin boss, who has admitted smoking the drug and using cocaine and ecstasy, said it was wrong to criminalise those with drug problems and argued that addicts should be given treatment, not sent to jail.

Dr Raabe fiercely contests this approach. ‘If you legalise drugs, you normalise their use,’ he says. ‘Do we really want to normalise the use of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and all the synthetic drugs?

‘Those who suggest legalisation is the answer have not learnt from history. It has been tried before and failed disastrously. Sweden and Japan have had painful experiences with legal drugs and, as a result, they have chosen instead to focus on drug prevention. They now have very low rates of misuse.’

Such uncompromising views have earned Dr Raabe enemies, who, he believes, sought to dredge up reasons why he should be sacked from the ACMD.

From the maelstrom of accusations and insults whipped up when he was appointed to the council in January last year, another grievance against him emerged. His opponents exhumed an academic report he co‑authored in 2005, while he was living in Canada, linking homosexuality to paedophilia.

The report, a collaboration between several doctors, was written when the Canadian Parliament was debating whether or not to legalise same-sex marriage, to which Dr Raabe — while he is not against civil partnerships — is opposed.

‘The paper summarised scientific evidence, which was in the public domain, and it was one paragraph, mentioning homosexuality and paedophilia together, which — so the Home Office tells me — caused them “embarrassment”,’ says Dr Raabe.

The offending paragraph states: ‘While the majority of homosexuals are not involved in paedophilia, it is of grave concern that there are a disproportionately greater number of homosexuals among paedophiles.’

However, the Home Office also made essentially the same point in a document it published, which states: ‘Twenty to 33 per cent of child sexual abuse is homosexual in nature and about 10 per cent mixed.’

The irony of this is not lost on Dr Raabe. Even so, it was a Home Office civil servant who phoned him a couple of weeks after his ACMD appointment to question him about the report. ‘Three days later I received a letter from the Home Office saying it was “minded to reconsider” my appointment and asking for my response. I sent a detailed letter back and within two days my appointment was revoked.

‘I was told it was because I could potentially discriminate against gay people; something I have never done either in my professional or private life. I’m not anti-gay.’

There were other complaints against him. He had, it seems, compounded his ‘crime’ by holding firm opinions against legalising of drugs such as cannabis; views which set him at odds with former ACMD chairman Professor David Nutt, who believes that prohibition has failed and advocates a new approach based on teaching young people how to use prohibited drugs more safely.

Professor Nutt was sacked from the ACMD after claiming that ecstasy, LSD and cannabis were less dangerous than alcohol.

Dr Raabe, who has consistently opposed moves to reclassify cannabis from class B to C, holds the opposite view from Professor Nutt. He refuses to take the defeatist stance traditionally espoused by the ACMD — and echoed by the 30 celebrities who last year wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister asking him to consider decriminalising the possession of drugs — that the war against drugs is lost, and that children should be educated in the safest way to use them.

Instead, his aim is to try to create a drug-free society by teaching young people to say ‘no’. He is a member of an evangelical free church and his beliefs and opinions are in line with those of many of the Christian churches, which also seems to have raised hackles.

‘I take a very different view from the ones that have shaped the disastrously unsuccessful drugs policy in Britain,’ he says.

‘I’m a great fan of prevention, which is the approach used in Sweden, where the incidence of drug misuse is among the lowest in Europe. In contrast, Britain has among the highest rates of drug misuse, so current policies are patently not working.

Meanwhile, as an internet furore against Dr Raabe gathered pace, his own staff and patients — the people who use his surgery in the deprived Greater Manchester suburb of Partington and who know him best — rallied in support of him. ‘I’ve had not one negative comment, and many positive, encouraging messages,’ he says.

Meanwhile, the flurry of gratuitous insults from the legalise cannabis lobby continue. ‘It has upset me, but what worries me more is the fact that because I challenged the liberal Establishment, I was seen as a threat and had to be removed. ‘I was sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and have been discriminated against on the basis of my opinion and my faith.

‘However, something similar could happen to anyone of any faith or none if he or she dares to hold views that are not deemed to be politically correct.

The Christian Institute, which is supporting Dr Raabe’s High Court challenge to the ACMD, has called his removal from his post, ‘worryingly like some sort of anti-Christian McCarthyism.’

The Home Office meanwhile, has urged him to retract the views he expressed in the report on homosexuality that caused such uproar.
Should he not have done so?

‘I cannot retract scientific evidence,’ he says simply. ‘And if I did so, I would have to ask the Home Office to retract its own paper, too.’


The War on Political Free Speech in the USA

Two years after the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, the campaign to silence opponents is becoming more censorious.

Two years ago the Supreme Court upheld the right of an incorporated nonprofit organization to distribute, air and advertise a turgid documentary about Hillary Clinton called, appropriately enough, "Hillary: The Movie." From this seemingly innocuous and obvious First Amendment decision has sprung a campaign of disinformation and alarmism rarely seen in American politics.

From the start, reaction to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has bordered on the hysterical. Rep. Alan Grayson (D., Fla.) called it the "worst decision since Dred Scott"—the 1857 decision holding that slaves could never become citizens. In his State of the Union message, within days of the ruling, President Obama lectured Supreme Court justices in attendance that they had "reversed a century of law" to allow "foreign companies to spend without limit in our elections." Neither statement was true.

In 1907, Congress passed a law—the Tillman Act, named for segregationist South Carolina Sen. "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman—prohibiting corporations from contributing to political campaigns. This law was extended to unions in 1943, and in 1947 a provision of the Taft-Hartley Act extended the prohibition to cover spending done independently of campaigns.

Citizens United overturned only the 1947 independent-spending restriction, not the earlier prohibition on corporate contributions to campaigns. Not until 1990 did the Supreme Court uphold a prohibition on corporate political expenditures independent of campaigns. Citizens United, therefore, overturned not "a century of law," but a precedent 20 years old.

Moreover, the court specifically noted that it was not ruling on the viability of the prohibition on foreign political spending—and earlier this month it summarily upheld a lower-court ruling finding that the prohibition on foreign political expenditures was constitutional.

Meanwhile, regardless of the 1947 federal law, the majority of states—including many of the best governed, scandal-free states such as Virginia, Utah, Oregon, Florida and Washington—have long allowed unlimited corporate spending in state elections.

None of this has slowed the decision's critics. Then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) began a committee hearing in September 2010 by arguing that in his small state, "it's easy to imagine corporate interests flooding the airwaves. . . . The rights of Vermonters . . . to be heard should not be undercut by corporate spending." Vermont has never prohibited corporate spending in state elections, yet it survived with its citizens' rights intact.

Mr. Leahy, at least, limited himself to foolish remarks. His junior colleague, Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), proposed a constitutional amendment last month that would not only prohibit corporations from speaking on political elections, but would prohibit any group of citizens organized "to promote business interests" from speaking about elections. Presumably, this could extend to everyone from the Heritage Foundation and the National Federation of Independent Business to the Republican National Committee and local citizens organizing against a sales-tax referendum.

Because most newspapers are incorporated, UCLA law Prof. Eugene Volokh believes that the Sanders Amendment and a companion bill in the House would even authorize the government to prohibit newspaper editorials about elections.

A national coalition, Move to Amend, seeks a constitutional amendment providing that "artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities . . . shall have no rights." The coalition seems oblivious to the fact that this would apply to campaign committees and nonprofits such as the NAACP and the Sierra Club, and would allow legislatures to make the advocacy of Move to Amend's goals illegal for most of the coalition's "endorsing organizations" (which are themselves corporations).

These amendments are based on the leftist cry that "corporations aren't people," but the Supreme Court has never said that they are. "Corporate personhood" is a legal fiction that allows natural people to sue and to be sued, to own and transfer property, and to carry on their affairs as a group. Corporations have rights because the people who own them have rights.

As Chief Justice John Marshall explained nearly 200 years ago in Dartmouth College v. Woodward, corporations allow "a perpetual succession of many persons . . . to manage [their] affairs and to hold property without the perplexing intricacies, the hazardous and endless necessity, of perpetual conveyances for the purpose of transmitting it from hand to hand." The legal concept of a corporate "person" has been with the United States since its founding, recognized in literally hundreds of Supreme Court decisions.

If Move to Amend got its way, police could search businesses, unions, clubs and nonprofits at will, without a warrant. The state could seize business property without due process or just compensation, leaving pension funds and individual shareholders holding worthless stock. Partnerships and corporations would have no legal rights in court. Incorporated churches would have no right of worship.

The absurdity should be obvious. Yet city councils around the country, including New York and Los Angeles, have passed resolutions calling for such an amendment.

Super PACs have become the latest villain du jour of the anti-speech crowd, which plays off the general public distaste for the political rancor that surfaces every election year. Critics including Mr. Sanders say that Super PACs don't disclose their donors and rely on "secret" money. This is simply not true. Super PACs, like the traditional political action committees that have existed for decades, disclose all expenditures and all donors over $200.

There are organizations that spend on politics but don't disclose their donors: traditional nonprofits such as the NAACP, the NRA and Public Citizen. These groups have never had to disclose their donors—and the Supreme Court, over 50 years ago, upheld their right to keep supporters anonymous. But reformers intentionally seek to blur the lines between these traditional groups and Super PACs in order to whip up criticism of Citizens United.

The goal of this misinformation is clear. Reformers, who sit mainly on the political left, and their Democratic Party allies hope to silence voices that they perceive to be hostile to their political interests.

Two years after Citizens United, American democracy seems as robust as ever. This may be what its critics fear most—a vibrant debate that they cannot control and fear they will lose.

The U.S. government argued in Citizens United that it had the right to ban the publication of books, pamphlets and movies that advocated the election or defeat of a candidate if they were produced or distributed by unions or corporations, such as Random House, Barnes & Noble and DreamWorks. That position is the one that deserves scorn. Fortunately, no new amendment was needed to defeat it—only the First Amendment and a Supreme Court willing to uphold it.



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

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

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


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Stepmothers can be MORE loving than a real mum (that's why my stepson chose to live with me)

As a stepfather to three great kids, I can relate to this story. Luckily, I had no stresses like the ones reported below. All the people involved were kind and unaggressive people. And one result is that my stepson (now a man in his 30s) has always got on far better with me than with his own father -- even though his father is a perfectly nice man in my experience of him -- JR

Every woman knows, deep down, that the much-vaunted maternal instinct isn't nearly as 'natural' as society makes it out to be.

In fact in my experience - and I know I will be roundly condemned for this view - this means that some women can even be better at taking care of and understanding a child than his or her own mother.

I am a stepmother - one of a band of much-maligned women who have suffered a bad rap right through history, from the wicked stepmothers of countless fairy tales to TV presenter Christine Bleakley, who is currently wrestling with damned-if-she-does, damned-if-she-doesn’t attempts to integrate herself into the lives of her fiancĂ© Frank Lampard’s daughters.

The latest anti-stepmother brickbat came in last week's Femail, when Kelly Rose Bradford explained that she will never let her son meet his father’s new girlfriend. Kelly wrote acidly about how the thought of another woman ever being a 'parent' to her eight-year-old son left a bitter taste in her mouth.

Her controversial views sparked a phenomenal online response from hundreds of readers condemning her as 'selfish' and 'manipulative' and, in at least one post, suggesting Kelly's child should be removed from her care.

Now, I'm sure Kelly would like me if we met. Beyond the vitriol she directs at her ex's new girlfriend, Kelly seems loyal, smart and kind - attributes many of my friends would also ascribe to me.

And yet, I am Kelly’s worst nightmare, because for seven days a week I am 'mummy' to a child I did not give birth to.

For the last two years, my 15-year-old stepson John has lived full-time with his father Stephen and me. Stephen is a carpenter with his own business, typically working ten hours a day, six days a week.

I run our household and I am raising Stephen's child. John’s mother is allowed access to her son for two weekends each month. There was no fraught custody battle between John's parents - it was all very simple: John just decided he wanted to live with his father and me.

He was seven when his parents separated: it was more than 18 months later that Stephen and I met.

Our early days were full of challenges. For a start, my relationship with John wasn’t always easy. I met him for the first time when he was nine, and remember him playing with his Game Boy throughout my attempts to bond with him over a Coke.

His father, who had made the initial awkward introductions, peered anxiously at us as I tried to make small talk. It was excruciating, so I was lucky that my sister - who is a mother - was there to help make conversation.

If my relationship with Stephen was to go the distance, I had to find a way to get on with John, particularly since Stephen had joint custody then, which meant his son lived with us for one week in two.

Faced with the frightening reality of my new role, I bought virtually every manual published on how to be the ideal stepmum. Do so-called 'natural' mums buy manuals on how to be a good mother, I wonder? I made plenty of mistakes at first. As a TV producer earning a good salary, for example, I showered John with expensive gifts - most of which John told me his mum threw in the bin. Extravagant on my part? Maybe. Unfair to John? Without a doubt.

It was around this time that John developed stress-related problems. During his many days off school - by this time I had gone freelance and spent more time at home - John and I grew closer.

'At times I wasn't sure if his biological mother's behaviour was rooted in genuine concern for her child’s welfare, or was merely an act of jealous spite'

Then Stephen and I got married when John was 11. We were in love - and still are - and beyond happy. The only blight on our relationship was John’s mother.

From the moment I moved in with Stephen and we became a family, I felt she wanted me out of her son's life.

At times I wasn't sure if her behaviour was rooted in genuine concern for her child’s welfare, or was merely an act of jealous spite. Sadly, John witnessed harsh telephone conversations between his parents, hot-headed reactions to emotionally fuelled text messages, and angry scenes at the door during hand-over each week.

As my stepson observed the dubious actions of his mother, he was also developing his own opinions about the situation.

He always turned to me for solace. I mopped his tears, cuddled him until he fell asleep and made his favourite hot chocolate.

The stress of the situation also had a devastating impact on my husband, who visibly aged as he was bombarded with insulting name-calling on change-over day.

My attempts to make peace proved futile. My husband's ex wouldn’t accept me, and refused even to refer to me by my name. Instead she called me 'the tart' - and still does.

We live in France, where the courts deem that, at 13, a child whose parents are separated or divorced is old enough to decide which parent they want to live with. A month before his 13th birthday, John said he wanted to live with us. We helped him engage a lawyer - my husband, his ex and I were not allowed to be party to their discussions - then he had his day in court.

He'd had enough of his mother bad-mouthing his father and interfering in our lives. Perhaps most poignantly of all, John said in his witness statement to the judge that he’d had enough of his mum’s spiteful remarks about me.

The court judgement ruled that John should live with his father and me.

It seems unjust that society regards stepmothers like me with fear and suspicion - especially since we’re on the increase, with nearly one in three households in the UK now a stepfamily.

Biological mothers complain about sacrosanct boundaries being crossed by stepmothers who, they argue, overstep the mark when caring for their children.

But I think they’re just picking a fight out of jealousy. It is ridiculous for biological mothers to claim they're the only ones with the know-how to love and mother their offspring.

In my own family, we've always lived by the belief that it takes a community to raise a child.

I had a happy upbringing: both my parents worked full-time, so I regularly stayed with aunts, neighbours, my uncle and grandmother. Things didn’t change when my parents divorced.

'It is ridiculous for biological mothers to claim they're the only ones with the know-how to love and mother their offspring'

My stepmother and stepfather are, and always have been, two of my biggest allies in life, and my parents wouldn’t have dreamt of imposing draconian restrictions on my relationships with them.

Step-parenting expert Dr Lisa Doodson has some simple advice. She says: 'Stepmums can be hugely beneficial to children, but biological mums can sometimes feel threatened by having someone so close to their children.

'My advice is to stop worrying. Stepmums can be an extra source of support to the children.

'We all have different skills, and children can benefit from having additional adults to guide and support them. Sometimes it can be an advantage for children to have an adult who isn't Mum or Dad, but who they can talk to.'

Don't think I’m gloating or sitting pretty with my ready-made family. I am 40, but for the last five years I’ve had to delay my desire for a family of my own because the situation with John’s mother has been so volatile.

I take my maternal role in John’s daily life seriously and, for me, his welfare and happiness comes first.

Now we have become a solid family. John finally feels secure, and is doing well at school.

It's only now that Stephen and I can think about adding to our family and, fingers crossed, bringing another life into the world.

Meanwhile, I am busy with John. Last year I counselled him through his first romance. If John's mum could find it in her heart to forge a relationship with me, I could share these precious memories with her.

What I probably wouldn't share with her is that it's me who ensures he buys his mother presents at Christmas, and who reminds him to call her on her birthday.

Now and again John has called me Mum, but I don't make a big deal of it. I don't correct him, or tell him not to.

I know he's not my child, but that doesn’t stop me loving and caring for him. A child has one set of biological parents, but I’d argue that I, and many stepmothers like me, bring something very special indeed to the lives of the children we 'inherit'.

And many of us make better mothers than the women who actually go by that name.


The Leftist gospel constantly preached in the schools and elsewhere ("There is no such thing as right and wrong") bears fruit

The other morning I woke to find a voicemail message on my mobile phone, beginning with the words: ‘This is the police station at Charing Cross. As it turned out, the message was to inform me that some honest soul had handed in my sister’s wallet, which she had dropped at Embankment Underground station on her way to her early shift at the BBC World Service that morning.

The police had looked diligently through her business cards, finding mine among them, and since my surname matched the one on Catherine’s credit cards, they guessed rightly that I would know how to get in touch with her.

My faith in human nature was instantly restored, and I felt a stab of guilt at having suspected our blameless boys of having got into trouble.

All the parties concerned had come out of the incident well — from the kind stranger, probably on his way to work, who had gone to the trouble of handing the wallet in, to the police who took such care to see it returned to its rightful owner.

As the cynics (or realists) among you may guess, there’s a depressing sequel to this story. But I’ll keep that until the end.

For now, I’ll just say that after my initial amazement that someone in central London had been honest enough to hand in a bulging wallet, I began to wonder why I should really have been surprised at all. After all, I know that if I found somebody’s wallet, I would certainly take it to the nearest police station.

I would have done so even before my own was stolen by a sharp-suited pickpocket in Rome this summer — when it came home to me what a devastating loss a wallet can be in this high-tech age, when our whole lives are encoded in electronic strips on plastic cards.

What’s more, I’d be 100 per cent happy to bet the entire contents of my new one — restocked with cash and plastic after days spent cancelling and reapplying for everything — that the enormous majority of people reading this article would do the same good turn for their fellow man, without so much as a passing thought to pocketing his property. (Well, perhaps just a nanosecond’s thought before our innate honesty kicked in.)

But it seems that we’re in a shrinking minority, you and I. For a disturbing report from the newly established Centre for the Study of Integrity at Essex University finds that honesty is going out of fashion in modern Britain, as increasing numbers of our fellow subjects think it acceptable to lie and cheat.

In my book, the two most striking findings of the survey are that the under-25s are twice as likely to condone dishonesty as the over-65s — and that while women are slightly more honest than men, integrity in both sexes bears no relation to social class, education or income.

I hope I’m not being too hard on my sons’ middle-class friends when I say that neither discovery surprises me in the least (while the second one should explode once and for all the patronising libel that the poor are more likely to be dishonest than the better off).

To illustrate what I mean, I remember one occasion when several of one of my son’s teenage friends came round to take him off to town for a party. I asked my boy if he had enough money for his train fare and one of his friends told me: ‘It’s OK. They leave the station gates open at this time of night and there’s never anyone around to check.’ He said this in a matter-of-fact way, to a stuffy middle-aged man he hardly knew, as if he was just passing on a helpful tip.

It didn’t seem to occur to him that he was proposing that my son should join him and the others in committing the crime of defrauding the Southern Railway Company of about £25. Or if it did, it simply didn’t occur to him that this was wrong. As far as he was concerned, it was a morally neutral matter — and if there was no chance of getting caught, it would be downright silly to pay.

It’s the same with internet piracy. God knows how many people are at it, each carrying around stolen albums worth hundreds or even thousands of pounds on their iPhones.

To them, it’s a victimless crime — and no doubt countless teenagers will tell you, with a look of insufferable piety, that they support Wikipedia’s protest against U.S. plans to crack down on ‘free information’.

But to those of us, musicians and others, who rely on our intellectual property to feed our families, it doesn’t feel victimless at all. Heaven knows, however, it’s not only the young who seem increasingly unable to spot the difference between right and wrong, between behaving with integrity and not-getting-caught.

Think of the legions of Incapacity Benefit claimants who are miraculously cured as soon as the summons to a medical check drops on to the doormat. Or the swelling numbers of motorists, encouraged by shyster lawyers, who claim for undetectable whiplash injuries after minor car crashes — so pushing up premiums for the rest of us.

As for why the nation seems to be losing its moral compass, I imagine the decline of religion — and with it, the fear of eternal damnation — must have something to do with it. So, too, must the increasing leniency of earthly punishments for dishonesty.

But shouldn’t we also lay much of the blame for its spread on the collapse of integrity in public life? I’m thinking, of course, of the orgy of larceny that was the MPs’ expenses scandal.

I’m thinking, too, of the vast rewards reaped by unpunished bankers for parcelling up bad debts and selling them on to the unsuspecting.

And I’m thinking of the endless lies — from the monstrous whoppers told by Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell when they took us to war against Iraq, to the knee-jerk fibs told by so many MPs, whose first instinct when they find themselves in a hole is to try to lie their way out of it.

But I’m in danger of sounding hideously priggish. Like most of us, I’ve told many a lie in my time, ranging from the white (‘I absolutely love the jumper you gave me’), to the off-white nod to the boss suggesting that, yes, I paid close attention to the Foreign Secretary’s interview on the Today programme this morning.

To be honest, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even bother to hand in a sum of less than £20 if I saw it lying the street. I’d probably just leave it there — and let someone else wrestle with his conscience. But a wallet .... now, that’s different.

Which brings me at last to the sequel to my sister’s tale. When she lost her wallet at Embankment station, it contained just over £40 cash. When she collected it from the police station — you guessed it — the money had gone. I told you it was depressing.


Why I let my son dress like a girl for five years...and why for his sake I put a stop to it

By Lorraine Candy (Editor-in-chief of British Elle magazine)

As a toddler, my son Henry used to sleep in a nightie, after I gave up on trying to wrestle him into pyjamas. Later, he took to calling himself Stephanie, Jean, Olive or, most frequently, Miss Argentina.

His favourite game was wearing his elder sisters’ sequin party dresses while running his imaginary boutique ‘Slinx’ or greeting customers in his hairdressing salon ‘Slapchicks’ (God knows where he got that name from).

Once, aged three, his penchant for dressing as a girl even landed us in A&E, where a patient doctor had to remove Barbie’s earring from inside Henry’s ear canal. ‘Which one is it?’ asked the doctor, meaning which ear. ‘The pink one with gold round the outside,’ he replied.

Visitors to our house assumed I had three girls because he rarely wore boys’ clothing at home. He said he preferred to wear something ‘more comfortable’: dresses, skirts, tights or princess costumes.

At first I let him get on with it, because it seemed to make him happy. My husband rolled his eyes at the sight of his chubby, short-haired boy squeezed into a tutu. ‘He’s just in touch with his feminine side,’ I told him.

But essentially we were in agreement —‘banning’ anything in the early years is the route to rebellion later. So we let him dress as he pleased, and indulge his ‘feminine’ side.

And his love of all things girly started to colour other aspects of Henry’s life too. He refused to go to football club because he didn’t like the uniforms, despite my explanation that even the girls wore the club’s outfit. ‘Shorts are for boys,’ he would protest.

You may assume, from all this, that I’d be in favour of what has been termed ‘gender neutral parenting’ — raising a child as neither boy nor girl, but giving it free rein to express itself in whatever way he or she chooses.

That was the approach taken by Beck Laxton and Kieran Cooper. They’re the couple who made headlines last week for raising their five-year-old son, Sasha, as ‘gender neutral’. Like me, they allowed their little boy to dress in girls’ clothes and play with girls’ toys.

But unlike me, it seems Sasha’s parents’ ‘experiment’ formed part of their wider ideology, using it to examine whether ‘boy/girl’ stereotyping could be bypassed altogether.

I know, from my own experience, that some children do not conform to the conventional behaviour expected of their gender anyway. But I know also that there came a time when I had to put a stop to my boy’s ‘girlish’ instincts. I knew it was my duty as a parent to make it stop — for reasons I will come to later.
Little angel? Unlike Lorraine's son, five-year-old Sasha is being raised as 'gender neutral'

Little angel? Unlike Lorraine's son, five-year-old Sasha is being raised as 'gender neutral'

So where had my Henry’s love of girls’ clothes come from? To start with, my husband and I found it hard to understand. I turned to parenting books, they indicated that it was probably because Henry worshipped his two older sisters (now aged eight and nine) and wanted to be ‘in their club’.

Apparently, all children need to ‘belong’; they crave positive recognition as they develop between the ages of three and seven. They seek the approval of their peer group to make them feel secure so they can develop with confidence.

Before he started school, Henry’s sisters were his peer group. Dressing like them was his way into their world, where he felt safe. They wore nighties, so he wanted one too.

When he was a toddler, this was fine. Other toddlers pay no heed to what fellow miniatures wear. But older children do. When Henry was four, I noticed that the older children of some of my friends would laugh at his feminine attire.

I couldn’t bear to watch him run off red-faced to change. Of course, he didn’t fully understand why people laughed at him. But I did. And I began realise how, as he grew older, his cross-dressing would become a habit which enabled others to hurt him. I had to stop that happening.

My husband and I decided to wait until Henry’s fifth birthday in November to break the news to him that there would be no more sequins, no more Slapchicks or Miss Argentina. We tried building up to it gently, mentioning it every now and then so he would know what was coming.

Then one night last November, we packed away his nightie and the dresses for good. ‘From now on, you need to wear boys’ clothes and sleep in boys’ pyjamas,’ I told him.

He was mildly upset but not unduly worried. He didn’t fully understand why he could no longer dress in the clothes he loved, but since starting school in September, he had become more aware of the difference between boys and girls anyway.

‘Can I still do it on special occasions?’ he asked. We said he could — but he hasn’t asked since.

The fact he had a new baby sister helped. ‘These are Mabel’s things now,’ we told him.

Actually, it was me who grieved most. I was sad to say goodbye to the alter ego he’d created (and accessorised so stylishly) with such joy. I think my husband was relieved — and Henry’s two older sisters were pleased that he’d stop ferreting through their jewellery boxes.

Some may see my decision as pandering to convention. But I didn’t make this decision because I was scared of what the future holds for a boy happy in his feminine skin or because I believe cross-dressing is wrong. Remember, I work in fashion.

No, I made this decision because although I truly wish fashion’s liberal and inclusive attitude extended to all other industries, it just doesn’t. Allowing my son to continue down his feminine path would only incur ridicule and hurt.
A video of Sasha Laxton talking about how 'silly' it is to have girls' and boys' colours was put on You Tube by his mother

A video of Sasha Laxton talking about how 'silly' it is to have girls' and boys' colours was put on You Tube by his mother

This is what confuses me about parents like Sasha’s. He has been hailed as an experiment in breaking stereotypes, but who would want to expose their child to possible derision for the sake of their political beliefs?

Yet, they are by no means alone. Last year, the US parents of a five-year-old boy called Dyson wrote a book called My Princess Boy and appeared on live TV with him in a ballet outfit.

He was to be the poster boy for a radical change in gender thinking, they said — as he sat there supremely uninterested in the discussion. Meanwhile in Canada, another five-year-old called Storm is being raised gender neutral. In Sweden they have two-year-old Pop, while one Swedish nursery has instigated a ‘gender neutral’ policy referring to the children as ‘friends’ rather than him or her.

Of course, a more open-minded attitude to gender can be a positive thing — whether in childhood, to counteract Disney’s ridiculous glorification of Cinderella (a world where blondes are good, brunettes are bad and falling in love makes everything better), or in adulthood, to help challenge the ‘gender gap’ between male and female rates of pay in the workplace.

I would happily ban all those wretched pink-frilled dolls that fill the shelves of supermarkets across the land, mini ironing boards and kitchen utensils (who wants to be a indoctrinated into domestic drudgery that early, boy or girl?).

Perhaps if there were gender- neutral schools in every borough then Sasha, Dyson, Storm and Pop would be welcome trailblazers for a new way of thinking. But in the real world, schools separate boys and girls for many sensible reasons.

It’s a huge responsibility for children as young as five to be expected to change this thinking. And a little arrogant of parents, who don’t work in the field of child care or child psychology to assume they can do this through a lone child.

But perhaps the most important point is that many of these attempts to unburden children from the constraints of gender are misguided. Dressing up is what pre-schoolers do. You may think your toddler is striking a blow for feminism or his future right to wear women’s clothing in public but he’s not — he’s just playing a game.

You may think you are giving him the rare freedom of ignoring society’s expectations of his gender but actually he’s just thinking: ‘Whoa, sequins! They look cool’.

No child expert has advocated this as a resolution to gender stereotyping and its consequent inequalities. While they say it’s unlikely to be damaging (as long as the child is not forced to dress a certain way), it probably won’t have the effect these parents desire either.

But we should also remember that in today’s world of rapid, global information, these images of Sasha and all those YouTube videos of Dyson will live for some time. They’ll be there for all to see whether these boys like it or not. They have had no choice in the matter — is that really fair?

Wouldn’t it be better for parents to encourage schools and nurseries to talk more about gender and how it affects their charges as they grow rather than to put such a burden on very young children.

And perhaps more importantly, parents like Sasha’s should remember these precious early years belong to their children, not to them.


Israel's shameless Arabs

Arab parliamentarians endorse tyrants, terrorists while slamming 'undemocratic' Israel

“The shahid is honored throughout the history of nations. He is the one who blazed the trail for us. No value is more noble than martyrdom," Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi waxed poetic a few days ago on the occasion of “Palestinian Martyr Day.” Of course, he did not forget to present the obvious flip-side, whereby in Israel “the real terrorist murderer is considered a hero or a minister.”

Immediately after that, Tibi made sure to make it clear to all his fans that "Israelis are ignorant with regards to the term 'shahid' and misunderstand it. It refers to anyone who was killed by the occupation for the homeland or died for a national cause." That is, there is the active, bogus type of martyr, who seeks to slaughter as many Jews as he can. Then there is the real martyr, the passive, noble type, the most amazing and glorious of all human beings, which only incurable Israeli ignorance fails to appreciate.

Former Palestinian leader Arafat apparently only referred to them, the passive martyrs, when he spoke of Shahids, just like his former advisor Tibi, who did the same while serving in Israel’s Knesset.

The Talmud says that when a person keeps repeating an offence, it’s as though he receives permission to keep doing it. And so, Mr. Tibi can praise the qualities of the martyr while at most prompting weak journalistic protest, and then go back to that same Israeli media in the role of Dr. Tibi and express his amazement about the very question regarding his right to endorse Shahids.

Tibi can also slam others as if he was the lowliest chauvinist, while hurling crude sexual hints at MK Anastasia Michaeli, and at the best prompt a minor reprimand from the media and from various women’s rights groups, which on normal days would harshly slam any harm done to women, by certain men that is.

Gaddafi's friends

Similarly, Hanin Zoabi and other Arab parliamentarians can put their trust in the guardians of Israeli democracy in the media, High Court, academia and the cultural world every time they write a forward to venomous anti-Semitic books, as Zoabi just did in her forward to anti-Semitic British writer Ben White’s book. These Arab MKs also board various Gaza-bound ships or visit Hamas leaders or enlightened Arab rulers such as Gaddafi, may he rest in peace.

Indeed, Arab MKs use these opportunities to talk about Israeli injustice, the apartheid regime adopted there, and the racism that has spread everywhere. Mostly, they explain in their visits to such models of democracy like Hamas or Libya how un-democratic Israel is.

Yet nonetheless, even if only a handful of Israel’s Arabs crossed the lines (for example, “only” some 200 Arab Israelis were involved in terror attacks in the years 2001-2004 that claimed the lives of 136 Israelis,) the vast majority of the Arab sector regularly votes for the same representatives, who view the eradication of the Zionist enterprise and Jewish State as their utmost mission, while serving as members in the Jewish State’s parliament.

Still, we’ll always find the good Jews among us who will keep explaining to us that the involvement of Arab Israelis in terror, their hugely disproportionate share of crimes (in 2011, Arabs were involved in 67% of murders in Israel,) illegal construction or road accidents is all our doing. We are the ones who sinned and mistreated the Arabs. We are the ones at fault, rather than Tibi, Zoabi, or any other Arab victim.



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

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

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