Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Marilyn Mosby Guilty of What She Seeks to Condemn

Blacks in government have an appalling record -- even before Obama came along

I ask you quite sincerely, What is the moral difference between racially motivated abuses of power by rogue municipal police officers and those by prosecuting attorneys?

People should be concerned by Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby's behavior, but it is especially alarming when you consider that she is engaging in the same type of behavior that she is using her state power to criminalize.

We can now see why Mosby played hide the ball with the autopsy report on Freddie Gray's death, and it certainly wasn't to protect anyone's privacy — except, perhaps, her own, because it is objectively damning to her politically driven prosecution.

I have always been a law-and-order type of person and a strong supporter of law enforcement officials. In my book, cops don't receive nearly the credit and respect they deserve for helping to keep the peace, protect the citizenry and preserve ordered liberty. Over the years, I have observed how the political left has frequently abused, undermined and denigrated law enforcement, presumably because to many leftists, cops symbolize the Man — the existing power structure that represents the form of government they resent. It's ironic that these same leftists still target law enforcement when they are now largely in control of government and have managed to fundamentally change so much about our government that it ought to be to their liking.

Despite my respect for law enforcement, I must also point out that I am equally passionate against those situations in which cops — or any other governmental officials — go rogue and abuse their authority. It is horrifying when people vested with official authority abuse their authority under color of law. And when cops cross that line, they must be brought to justice, without question.

But it's wrong to evaluate allegations of abuse through biased lenses. You don't assume cops are acting improperly just because you are prejudiced against cops or authority. You must assess each individual case on its own merits.

It was obvious at the time Mosby threw the book at these six officers that she had rushed to judgment and that she was primarily motivated not by justice but by political and emotional considerations, including a desire to punish cops for what she apparently believes are institutional wrongs. Why else would she attend anti-cop events? Why else would she appeal to the protesters and promise them justice?

As a state's attorney, Mosby doesn't have the luxury of viewing these incidents through a racial prism because of her own feelings or her desire to satiate a lynch mob. She has a fiduciary duty to weigh the evidence impartially. For her to use her power to overcharge these law enforcement officials was to extend the mob violence and mayhem of the protesters from the streets into the halls of justice, and it is despicable.

The just-leaked autopsy report reveals just how improper Mosby's charging decisions were. She already had to dismiss her absurd false imprisonment counts when the defense exposed that the knife Gray was carrying was not legal under Baltimore's city code as Mosby initially claimed and thus he was not arrested under false pretenses.

The report shows that Gray tested positive for "opiates and cannabinoid." Gray was out of control, verbally and physically active, yelling, banging and disorderly enough to cause the van to rock from the inside. His ultimately fatal injury is believed to have been caused by his crashing into the inside wall of the van when the vehicle rapidly reduced its speed at some point. This apparently led to paralysis in his arms and impeded his ability to breathe.

But here's the kicker. Had Gray remained in the prone position that officers had placed him in, he probably wouldn't have sustained the type of injury he did. Gray's standing up on his own, according to George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf, presented "a new and unexpected danger" that the police "could not have reasonably anticipated."

Banzhaf said it will be "very, very hard" for the state to prove the police officers had the state of mind required to prove the criminal charges against them. Let's just look at the most serious charge filed — that of depraved-heart murder in the second degree against Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the driver of the van. Having a depraved heart means having a wanton indifference to the potential harm that could be caused, to the extent that the accused might as well have intended to kill the victim.

Who can look at the facts of the case that have come out so far and not conclude that this particular charge is over-the-top and unwarranted?

All the evidence will eventually come out, but from what we already know, Mosby's decision to file such serious charges, especially this one against Goodson, ought to give us all pause. With the stroke of a pen, she has gone a long way toward ruining this individual's life — even if he is eventually acquitted — not so that justice can be served but so the mob can be satisfied.

How is that any different from the alleged abuses she appears to be abusing her own power to pursue?


Library of Congress Promotes Gay Erotica Literature at Pride Month Event

The federally funded Library of Congress held an event to mark Gay Pride Month on Thursday to showcase the publication of literature focused on the homosexual lifestyle, including a gay man’s photography of nude male subjects and poetry by gays and lesbians about their homosexuality.

“We believe that GLBTQ literature is fundamental to the preservation of our culture and that LGBT lives are confirmed when our stories are written, published and read,” William Johnson, managing editor at the homosexual publishing company Lambda Literacy, said at the event.

A one-hour lecture was presented by Stathis Orphanos, a homosexual photographer whose “work celebrates the male body,” including nude photos of men and photo essays of military men in various states of dress, according to Orphanos and to a description of his work on a website that includes biographical information about gay and lesbian celebrity figures.

Three other publishers of homosexual literature were featured in a panel discussion, including Bryan Borland, who explained how he started his publishing house, which produces “Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry.”

Borland explained that he started his journal after a homosexual mentor published some of his poetry in a journal called Ganymede, named for a mythical Greek figure. When John Stahle died, Borland said he wanted to continue his work but under a different title.

“My research showed me that in Greek mythology Ganymede had a bother Assaracus – his earthbound brother,” Borland said. “While Ganymede was swept up by Zeus’s eagle to serve at Zeus’ feet, there was Assaracus, and I thought what a perfect name for a journal of gay poetry.

“But I flipped it around a little bit -- I put an emphasis on the first syllable and changed the name to Assaracus, because I really wanted librarians across the country to have to say Assaracus, emphasize on a--,” said Borland, who publishes the journal and other gay literature with his homosexual partner through Sibling Rivalry Press. “You’ve got to make a little splash,” Borland said.

Another panelist was Lisa C. Moore, a lesbian who named her publishing company Redbone Press after the expression blacks use to describe her skin tone.

Included in the display set up at the event featuring Orphanos’ nude photography and Borland’s Assaracus was Moore’s anthology of stories by black lesbians “coming out.”

Moore’s book is dedicated Terri Jewell, “who lit a fire in my heart and under my butt and kept me going.”

“Actually, my mother realized I was a lesbian first and told my father, who told me,” Moore writes in the book’s introduction.

Moore said she first saw women acting like men when she moved to Atlanta.  “I saw young black women passing as boys -- breasts bound, cigarettes in shirt pockets and pants hanging off their butts b-boy style,” Moore wrote. “It blew my mind.”

According the Congressional Budget Office, the Library of Congress’ mission is “to support the Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people.”

The Library of Congress budget for fiscal year 2014 was $618.8 million, according to its website.


Brainwashed into racism by the Left

Ali Michael is a young writer for the Huffington Post. That’s bad enough in itself, but it gets even worse. You see, she’s a white lady who hates… whites. Herself included. As she explains in a recent piece about her views on race:

I definitely experienced this. There was a time in my 20s when everything I learned about the history of racism made me hate myself, my Whiteness, my ancestors… and my descendants. I remember deciding that I couldn’t have biological children because I didn’t want to propagate my privilege biologically.

If I was going to pass on my privilege, I wanted to pass it on to someone who doesn’t have racial privilege; so I planned to adopt. I disliked my Whiteness, but I disliked the Whiteness of other White people more. I felt like the way to really end racism was to feel guilty for it, and to make other White people feel guilty for it too. And then, like Dolezal, I wanted to take on Africanness. Living in South Africa during my junior year abroad, I lived with a Black family, wore my hair in head wraps, shaved my head. I didn’t want to be White, but if I had to be, I wanted to be White in a way that was different from other White people I knew. I wanted to be a special, different White person.

The nut extraordinaire goes on to explain that, after this period of intense hate, she concluded that it’s OK to be white… as long as you’re “the right sort of white.” What this means exactly isn’t clear, but it probably means you have to be a self-hating liberal WASP who feels guilty all day long about everything your ancestors may have done wrong — or not, since the majority of whites didn’t own slaves, of course, only a very small minority did. But hey, they could have had slaves, so that’s enough for little miss Ali.

Of course she conveniently forgets that many African slaves were sold to white slavers by their fellow Africans, but, you know, who cares about cold hard facts like that? Whiteness = evil. Black = good. Pure and simple.

All of that having been said, I won’t argue with her on her unwillingness to have children. One Ali Michael and one Rachel Dolezal are enough for the whole of mankind — whether they’d be black, yellow, red, or white.


Hypocrisy Alert: Female Marine Discharged for Bible Verse, but This Sikh Fella…


I'm a simple fella who doesn't like hypocrisy - especially when it's so very blatant. And when it happens, it's my duty to call it out, and so here we go once again. After all, I thought the liberal progressives were all about "fairness." So I just want someone to explain to me the fairness in this situation.

As reported by the Christian Science Monitor, "A US District Court judge ruled in favor of a Sikh student who sued the Army after being forced to choose between joining the ROTC and keeping his traditional turban, uncut hair, and beard. A federal court has ruled that Iknoor Singh, a Sikh college student at Hofstra University, will be permitted to enroll in the U.S. Army's Reserve Officer Training Corps without cutting his hair, shaving his beard, or removing his turban. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued the ruling in Washington, D.C. on Friday, determining that Mr. Singh's adherence to his religion would not affect his ability to serve.

As a disclaimer, during my first duty assignment as a young lieutenant in Vicenza, Italy I had a mustache. That was 1984 and y'all remember there was an unwritten rule that officers didn't' have lip hair. I had it for that first assignment for a little while, but shaved it off because it was more important to comply with a standard - even an unwritten one. That's what service and individual sacrifice was all about.

Ok, hypocrisy alert! We recently shared with you all the story of a young black female Marine sergeant who was given a bad conduct discharge because she displayed "No weapon formed against me shall prosper" on her computer screen.

Her supervisor deemed the display of that piece of scripture from Isaiah 54:17 as being potentially offensive. And the U.S. Marine Corps stated she wasn't protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Yo, wazzup wit dat? Sorry, just having fun with a little Ebonics. So are we all so stupid not to see the hypocrisy of letting young Mr. Singh's religious beliefs supersede the Army's standards for appearance, yet the display of seven words from the Old Testament of the Bible be ruled offensive? I appreciate Mr. Singh's desire to serve our nation, but the objective of the U.S. military is that individuals conform to a unified standard of appearance - but perhaps that's no longer important.

Or could it be that everything is ok for other religious beliefs, just not for Christians?

Remember U.S. Air Force Major General Craig Olson who was attacked by little Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation for speaking of his Christian faith and belief in God in uniform on the National Prayer Day? And we reported to y'all here about Weinstein forcing a nativity scene at GITMO in the chow hall to be taken down. But wearing a beard and turban due to one's religion is ok? So where is the fairness there, and why did the ACLU not step in to assist the Marine Sergeant? Ahh, she has the wrong religion it would seem. How many more instances are there of this blatant hypocrisy? Share with us those you've experienced.

I stay in touch with several Christian chaplains in the military and guess what, they must refrain from praying in the "name of Jesus." So in other words, a Christian chaplain cannot offer prayer in the name of the One for whom his faith is based. But Mr. Singh can have a turban and a beard because it's part of his religion.

Our troops are deployed to Islamic countries and even on our combat posts over there they're told not to openly display articles of the Christian faith - after all, we don't want to offend the folks we are over there to save from Islamic terrorists. So, Christian troops are encouraged not to display crosses and Bibles - but Mr. Singh can wear a turban and beard because it's part of his religion.

"Singh first requested a religious exemption from the military's grooming policies to enlist as an ROTC cadet in April 2013. His request was denied on the grounds that his exemption would have "an adverse impact on the Army's readiness, unit cohesion, standards, health, safety, or discipline." The Army then modified its decision, telling Singh he could seek an exemption but only after he was enlisted as a cadet. This meant he would have to go against his faith in order to be able to apply for an exemption. "I couldn't believe the military was asking me to make the impossible decision of choosing between the country I love and my faith," writes Singh in an ACLU blog post."

The hypocrisy is laughable because Mr. Singh, sadly, that's exactly what Christian men and women in our military are being TOLD to do. I guess being a Sikh makes you a protected class, good for you. We all know about the Air Force CMSGTwho was forced by his openly lesbian commander out of his duty position because due to his religious belief he did not belief in gay marriage. I suppose his Christian faith wasn't worth defending by the ACLU from undue command influence. Then again, believing that marriage is defined as a relationship between one man and one woman has somehow become a hate crime. It's sad, I guess some must make that hard decision of which Mr. Singh spoke Funny thing - we hear little from the liberal progressive socialist left about the religion that condemns gays and lesbians to death. I guess they're protected as well.

At some point in time this hypocrisy has to end and I don't care if I'm hated for pointing it out. Because if I am confronted with making a choice, well, I choose as Joshua did, per Joshua 24:14-15, (NIV):

"Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."

Sadly, there is a focused movement by the secular humanist liberal leftists to punish those who make the choice of Joshua - then again, "No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me," declares the LORD" - Isaiah 54:17 (NIV).



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 POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Monday, June 29, 2015

Britain's shame

Particularly at the shipyards on the Clyde in Scotland, Britain once built around half of the world's ships.  But with the coming of the welfare state, it got harder and harder to get the Scots unionists to work. So all that is built on the Clyde now are a few warships for the Royal Navy.

So when a British businessman decided to build three big new cruise liners, whom did he give the order to?  To a company in Italy:  The very experienced Fincantieri.  No good blaming the order on low-wage Asian countries.  Italy's standard of living is similar to Britain's. 

Italian workers don't have a very good reputation for diligence but they are apparently way ahead of the perpetually  aggrieved Scots

Virgin Cruises will launch its first luxury liner in 2020 from Miami, U.S, British tycoon Richard Branson has announced.

In typically flamboyant style, Branson arrived amid fireworks at the Perez Art Museum in Miami, descending from a helicopter dressed in a captain's uniform and shorts.

Branson promised 'a world-class cruise line that will redefine the cruising experience for good'.

Branson arrived amid fireworks at the Perez Art Museum in Miami, descending from a helicopter dressed in a captain's uniform and shorts

'Virgin Cruises plans to make some waves with an original and intimate experience,' he said at a news conference.

A joint venture with Bain Capital, the cruise line will be the latest addition to 64-year-old Branson's Virgin Group, which includes an airline, railroad, bank and cable operator among its more than 400 holdings.

Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri will construct three mid-size vessels to be delivered in 2020, 2021 and 2022, with 1,430 cabins to accommodate more than 2,800 guests.

'We made the decision to sail against the current trend of building these big megaships,' Virgin Cruises president and CEO Tom McAlpin said. 'We are going to be constructing smaller, more boutique vessels.

'We have deliberately chosen a size of ship that allows us to offer an excellent variety of experiences but in a more intimate environment,' he said.

McAlpin said the ships will weigh about 110,000 tonnes each, and have the capacity to carry some 2,800 passengers and a crew of 1,150.

'These are highly technological machines,' said Fincantieri chairman Vincenzo Petrone.  'The level of the entertainment... envisioned is extremely complex with technological challenges. But we are sure we can together develop a very special type of platform.'


Another of those charming multiculturalists that Britain welcomes and supports

Unemployed Damien Dinobewei, 34, killed tragic Tia Kounota, 27, when he was in a 'florid' state after he stopped taking medication for his paranoid schizophrenia.

A court heard he punched and strangled his lover before driving her corpse around in her pink Audi which he eventually set fire to.

Dinobewei, of Stirchley, Birmingham, admitted a charge of manslaughter at an earlier hearing.  And he was sent to a secure hospital indefinitely when he was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday.

Judge James Burbidge QC said: 'Whatever was the spark or cause of the disagreement ultimately does not matter.  'You launched an attack upon her, albeit that no bones were broken, with sufficient ferocity to render her unconscious.  'Mercifully it appears, because of the lack of carbon monoxide in her lungs, she was dead before you carried out this dreadful act.

'The most significant aggravating feature is you attempt to dispose of the body as you did. 'This was a gross defilement.'

Friends of Miss Kounota, who had a seven-year-old daughter and was training to be a social worker at Birmingham City University, reacted with anger at the sentence.

The court heard Miss Kounota had been in a relationship with Dinobewei for several years but he could be 'volatile and controlling towards her'.

She was living at a friend's house in Halesowen, West Midlands, when she arranged to meet her lover on July 22 last year.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood told the court neighbours heard screams and saw Dinobewei pushing Miss Kounota into her pink Audi.  He added: 'She saw a muscular man dragging a woman by her hair and punching her repeatedly.  'Tia was screaming very loudly and appeared really distressed.'

The court heard Dinobewei sped off and was spotted at a number of locations as he bought petrol at a garage and drove towards the city centre.

He finally parked the Audi in Erdington, Birmingham, where witnesses saw him get out carrying a petrol can.

'Moments later the car burst into flames and the defendant made his way off.'

He said the likely cause of death was blunt force trauma, with compression of the neck, but she may have survived for up to 30 minutes before she died.


Being a parent beats everything you have ever done or will ever do

Angela Mollard

MY friend tells me she’s thinking of having a baby. She’s hoped for nearly a decade there’d be a man to do it with her but here she is, hurtling towards fertility’s finish line, alone and wondering.

In the weak winter sunshine we thrash out the issues: her fears of doing it on her own; the loveless transaction of donor sperm; whether children need fathers; whether she can afford it; who would raise the child if something happened to her.

She’s thoughtful and logical and talking helps her index her thoughts. Of all life’s decisions it’s got to be one of the hardest and yet …

And yet all I can see is my 14-year-old daughter sitting between us. A girl she adores. A girl upon whom my own life turns. As my daughter listens to the woes of womanhood that will envelop her all too soon, suddenly everything rational, everything considered falls away and I know I have to tell my friend this one true thing. Perhaps the only true thing.

If you even remotely want to have a child, if the thought is just a seed buried in the darkness, then you should endeavour to have one. Why? Because beyond all reasoning, all pragmatism, is a single inarguable and under-publicised truth: loving a child is a joy.

It’s a joy you can’t measure, a joy that defies best-laid plans, a joy so complete, unconditional, infinite, and ever-unfolding that the simple act of watching them breathe takes yours away.

Somehow in the hurly burly of modern parenting, when every conversation about kids includes the words “juggling”, “discipline”, “expensive” “challenges” and “problems”, we’ve stopped talking about the delight of raising a child. Of the fun, silliness and affection. Of seeing your hard work, care and thought made whole in this little person finding their way in the world.

We need to tell women — and men — the good stuff and encourage them to have a conversation with themselves about whether that’s something they want.

Forget patronising them with warnings about their biological clocks — for goodness sake, they know. Stop hassling them to find a partner — they would if they could? Refrain from positioning them as heartless careerists who’ve left motherhood too late — no woman sobs into her hands “I can’t believe I forgot to have children”.

Instead they need to hold a personal child summit. It could be on their own or with a friend or counsellor. It might involve going away solo for a weekend.

Whatever — it should occur between the age of 25 and 35 and be as rigorous as any job interview.

Do I want children?

What lengths am I prepared to go to in having a child?

How might I feel if I never have a child?

Would I consider having a child alone?

In life we set goals — career, sporting, weight-loss, travel, finance — and yet so often this most critical of human experiences is left to circumstance and chance. Many delay the conversation until “I meet the right person”. But the first step should be a thorough examination of your own yearnings.

If you’re not keen or you’re ambivalent about kids, that’s great. Own that decision. If it’s something you’ve always wanted then plan a life that gives you the best possible chance of achieving that goal. Not sure? Diary to check in with yourself every six months. And talk to others who’ve missed out. Ask them their regrets? What they might’ve done differently. That seed in the darkness can grow over time into a thick vine of longing. For some such loss will be unavoidable; for others childlessness might be averted by thorough self-examination and different choices.

In my late 20s a good friend, Sandra, discovered she was pregnant shortly before the relationship ended. She had a brilliant career as a television reporter but gave it up to move home to a provincial seaside town so she could raise her child closer to family. When word of her pregnancy reached colleagues one put her arms around her and said: “This will be the best mistake you’ve ever made.

For the past 16 years I’ve watched this little family — a tight-knit unit of two — throw themselves at life.

For two years Sandra moved them to Rarotonga where she picked lettuces and her daughter enjoyed the freedom of island life. Over the years their photographs have not been the boast of so many perfect Facebook families but scenes of genuine happiness. There’s pictures of them collecting shells, making angel wings out of autumn leaves, camping so they can rent out their home through the busy summer months. As she says: “I often tell women who are pregnant in less than fairy-tale circumstances, ‘I can’t tell you just how much you are going to LOVE this baby’. It’s the purest, most soul-stretching love of all; unconditional in a way couple-love can never be; irrational almost.”

It can’t have been easy but my friend knew she wanted her baby. If she’d waited until all the elements of her life had aligned she fears she may have missed out. “Having and raising a child beats everything else I have ever done or ever will do,” she tells me. “I wish more younger women knew that.”


Authoritarianism in devolved British governments

Wales recently became the first region in the UK to ban the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public places. Welsh Assembly ministers justified the ban by saying it would prevent the ‘normalisation of smoking’, whatever that means. The ban is likely to come into force in 2017. Surprisingly, there has been opposition to the new law from anti-smoking campaigners. They correctly point out that e-cigarettes are not harmful in the way smoking tobacco is and that they have helped heavyweight smokers kick the habit. Far from being a health risk, e-cigarettes are a harmless way for individuals to enjoy nicotine. Even from the killjoy perspective of health zealots, the e-cig ban appears an irrational and needlessly authoritarian policy.

The creation of petty new laws has become a speciality of the devolved assemblies in the UK. The Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the London Assembly often go much further than the UK parliament in controlling and criminalising day-to-day behaviour. Given parliament’s track record in this regard, that’s saying an awful lot. Earlier this month, for instance, the Welsh Assembly made smoking in cars with a child present illegal. In its short existence, the Welsh Assembly has introduced measures that have ranged from enforcing healthy eating in schools to ensuring that local authorities are ‘supporting’ (that is, intervening in) family life.

The picture is much the same in London. When Boris Johnson was elected mayor of London in 2008, his first measure, passed within a few days of his being elected, was to ban drinking alcohol on the Tube. Across London, local authorities are currently killing off the city’s vibrant nighttime economy with endless health-and-safety regulations.

Such petty measures don’t tackle any major problems. In fact, the problems they claim to address are often invented. But they do create a more restrictive and authoritarian society. However, the intolerant measures introduced by the Welsh and London assemblies are positively libertarian when compared with what’s happening north of the border in the Scottish Parliament.

In March this year, a 24-year-old fan of Rangers, the largely Protestant-supported Glasgow football team, was jailed for four months for singing ‘The Billy Boys’, an old anti-Catholic ditty that Rangers fans have been singing for years to wind up fans of Celtic, their largely Catholic-supported rivals. He was arrested, found guilty of songcrimes and sent down. It’s all down to the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act. Introduced in 2012 by the largest party in Scotland, the Scottish National Party (SNP), the act outlaws ‘behaviour of any kind’ at or around football matches that is ‘threatening’ or which a ‘reasonable person would be likely to consider offensive’. The law has led to Celtic fans being arrested in dawn raids for the crime of singing pro-IRA songs, while Rangers fans have been hauled to court for chanting unsavoury things about Catholics.

The SNP has also taken to policing Scots’ eating, drinking and smoking habits. It was the first part of the UK to introduce the smoking ban. Earlier this year, it announced a ban on smoking in cars when children are present. The SNP is now considering a ban on smoking in parks and plans to hike up the tax on booze – as if alcohol wasn’t expensive enough in pubs and bars. But it is in the Children and Young People Act where the irrational but deeply authoritarian instinct of the devolved assemblies reaches its zenith.

Due to come into force in August 2016, this act plans to assign a ‘named person’, a state-approved guardian, to every baby born in Scotland, in order to monitor people from birth up to the age of 18. It is, in essence, a form of shadow parenting and effectively makes all Scottish children wards of the state. As Brendan O’Neill has pointed out, the Scottish Parliament is ‘creating a truly cradle-to-grave system of state meddling in people’s lives, where from birth to adulthood, and everywhere from football games to the pub, from the CCTV-saturated streets to your local restaurant, you’re being watched, finger-wagged at, told what you can and can’t say’. One writer declared that crossing the border into Scotland now means ‘crossing into what is becoming a foreign land, in which the dominant political mindset is separatist, statist and bossy’.

What’s going on? How did the creation of new forms of representative democracy in the UK lead to such a stifling, illiberal and miserable state of affairs? When Tony Blair’s New Labour government introduced devolved legislatures in 1997, with parliament voting in favour of new representative assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the following year, it was hailed as a way of extending and revitalising UK democracy. Citizens in regional areas would have a ‘greater say’ on what happens to issues that supposedly affect them directly. And through the use of proportional-representation systems, the devolved assemblies would be more representative of the popular vote than in Westminster. A shift from the unitary state of Old Britain to the quasi-federalism of New Britain would help to create a more dynamic, responsive and, above all, representative system of government. Or, at least, that’s the story that was being sold.

There’s no doubt, of course, that electoral reform can have an impact on political life. The use of PR systems can facilitate the rise of multi-party contests and, in theory at least, create more choice at the ballot box. The phenomenal rise of the SNP in Scotland, which took 56 out of the 59 Scottish seats in the recent General Election, is partially a consequence of the Scottish Parliament, in which the SNP has held a majority since 2007. The party’s success in the Scottish Parliament has paved the way for an increase in support for Scottish independence. According to many commentators, the introduction of some devolved powers in Scotland has engaged Scottish citizens in ways that appear alien and unnerving to the Westminster village.

Behind all the constitutional hyperbole, though, the devolved assemblies don’t quite enjoy as much legitimacy as electoral reformers and Scottish nationalists like to make out. Apart from 1999, the first year that Scots could vote in Scottish Parliament elections, voter turnout has hovered between 49 and 51 per cent. It’s hardly a ringing endorsement. Voter turnout for the elections in the Welsh Assembly is even lower – a paltry 38 per cent in the 2003 election and 42 per cent in the 2011 election. For the majority of ordinary citizens in Scotland and Wales, the new assemblies are seen as having no real power to improve people’s lives. They are often likened to glorified church parishes whose only purpose is to create a new layer of bureaucracy and a new set of professional politicians.

The trouble here, though, is that ministers in the Welsh Assembly or the Scottish Parliament instinctively understand that the devolved assemblies aren’t powerhouses of decision-making. Local assemblies may be able to make decisions on collecting the bins, sorting out street lighting or tinkering with transport, but they’re not in a position to make a substantial difference to a region’s economy. They’re not in a position to implement changes that can improve infrastructure or affect the lives of people in any meaningful way. Instead, they have the power to meddle, interfere and restrict ordinary people’s day-to-day behaviour. They’re meaningless institutions desperately in search of meaning. So, in order to create a sense of purpose, to show they’re more than just talking shops, the devolved assemblies introduce fresh bans, new laws and more red tape. Yes, banning e-cigarettes in public places or placing all children under state surveillance doesn’t make much rational sense. But for a minister seeking to justify their existence, such policies make perfect sense.

The other malign impact of the devolved assemblies is that they have encouraged activists to embrace regional identities at the expense of national or traditional class identities. Rather than seeking common solutions to problems that affect the majority of people in the UK, short-term regional gains are becoming more appealing. It creates a new dynamic whereby activists are more likely to defend all sorts of authoritarian measures that they would object to if Westminster had introduced them. The SNP congratulates itself for demolishing the Labour Party’s support in Scotland, only to introduce controls and bans that make New Labour appear like a collection of commune-dwelling anarchists. As anyone who has argued with SNP members will know, they’re bizarrely incapable of making any critical judgements about their party’s poisonous authoritarianism. The centrality of Scottish identity is a way through which politics is now suspended north of the border. All of these developments show that the UK is heading the same way as Spain, whereby regional loyalties trump the interests of a national centre.

Far from revitalising democracy and representation, the devolved assemblies have amplified the illiberal impulses of 21st-century politics. In their quest for a reason to exist, devolved assemblies have had to devise new ways in which to surveil, control and restrict people’s day-to-day lives. The devolved assemblies were founded as part of a window-dressing attempt to sharpen up UK politics, but they’ve become another blunt instrument of authoritarian bureaucracy. In the interests of safeguarding liberties and rights, we should do the decent thing and abolish the lot of them.



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 POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Sunday, June 28, 2015

It takes a woman...

The feminist claim that there is a sisterhood always amuses me.  Women can certainly be very supportive towards their friends and, as good persons,  be nice to many others, male or female.  But the other side is female rivalry and it takes a woman to tear another woman to shreds verbally.

So I was amused to read the article below under the heading: "As scary as she is sexy: Maria Sharapova has all the warmth of her Siberian homeland" by Jane Fryer. It is incredibly bitchy in an only slightly guarded way.  Just part of it below

Teetering about in five-inch black heels and a teeny sleeveless skater dress, Maria Sharapova looks like a giantess dressed up as a doll. Her enormous shoulders jut out either side. Her thighs are rippling, surprisingly chunky and ever so slightly veiny. Her beautiful face is expressionless.

And her eyes . . . her eyes are green, sleepy, incredibly sexy but also rather scary. Like a tiger that could turn any moment, and take out her entire (very extensive) entourage with one arm and then gobble us all up.

She is being photographed in the new Porsche Boxster Spyder, being driven round and round a block in London’s Mayfair.

She appears bored and beautiful, very Russian and very, very tall (6 ft 7 in in her heels) — as if she’s somehow been enlarged by a computer program, or we’ve all shrunk. The driver is very pink. And we are all agog and a little bit afraid.

She is a daunting woman — ranked No 4 in women’s tennis, winner of five Grand Slams, including Wimbledon when she was just 17, beating defending champion Serena Williams to shock and awe. Accompanied, who can forget, by extremely loud grunts every time she served or over-exerted herself. They measured more than 101 decibels, for goodness sake — just nine less than a lion’s roar.

She is also the world’s most highly paid female athlete and has been for more than a decade. She earns more than $20 million a year from endorsements and sponsorship deals ranging from Nike to Tag Heuer, Evian to Porsche.

On top of that, she has her own range of sweets, Sugarpova; a Maria Sharapova Foundation through which she helps victims of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion; and a Pomeranian dog called Dolce, who stays at home in her mansion in Florida where, apparently, the air better suits his flyaway furry coat.

Maria controls everything in microscopic detail. So while, of course, she is delighted to chat, I am warned — very firmly — that she must not be asked any questions about grunting. Or her boyfriend. And particularly no questions connecting the two.

Which is a shame, because for the past three years she has been dating Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov, who is No 11 in the world and the hottest man in tennis — in looks, potential, and temper — though he insists he’s made great strides in controlling it better these days, and last year only smashed 200 racquets.

He is utterly gorgeous, silly, fun-loving and a terrible show-off. Last week he tweeted a picture of himself hanging upside down on the London Underground with the caption ‘feeling silly’. If I were dating him, I’d never stop talking about him.

She was also, I’m told, extremely upset about reports in the Mail that the confectionery in her sweetie range are full of sugar.

So I start with an apology for any thoughtless comments and she looks me very hard in the eye and says, ‘no problem, I have a short memory’ — clearly meaning the opposite.

And we move swiftly to permitted topics, such as how much she loves Wimbledon, which, obviously, she wants to win again. ‘It’s a dream of mine and something I work towards every single day,’ she says........

A colleague of mine (male, obviously), who once spent a day with her for an interview and claims he even saw her in a thong during the photoshoot, said that despite her extraordinary looks, he found her utterly unsexy.

I disagree. Maria Sharapova is astonishingly sexy, but you’d have to have a death wish, or be a kamikaze Bulgarian tennis star, to try your luck with her.


A very deceptive multiculturalist in Britain

Another "affirmative action" beneficiary, it would seem

On Monday, June 8, a British academic called Connie St Louis uploaded a sensational document to her Twitter feed. Beginning with the question ‘Why are the British so embarrassing abroad?’, it offered an account of bizarre remarks that a Nobel Prize-winning biologist by the name of Sir Tim Hunt had made earlier that day at a conference in Seoul, the capital of South Korea.

His audience was comprised of roughly 100 science journalists, most of them female, who were being treated to a free lunch by a local trade body representing Women’s Science & Technology Associations.

According to St Louis, who was in the crowd, their meal was ‘utterly ruined’ by the ‘sexist speaker’. She claimed that Sir Tim, having been asked to deliver a toast, embarked on a surreal rant in which he boasted of being a ‘male chauvinist’.....

Then, early this week, the simmering dispute took a further, seismic twist.

It came courtesy of The Times newspaper, which revealed the contents of a leaked report into Sir Tim’s fall from grace compiled by an EU official who had accompanied him to the Seoul conference.

This individual, who has not been named, sat with him at the lunch and provided a transcript of what Sir Tim ‘really said’.

Crucially, it presented a very different take to the one which had been so energetically circulated by Connie St Louis.

The report began by confirming that Sir Tim had joked about falling in love with women in laboratories and ‘making them cry’.

However, it said he’d prefaced those comments with an ironic introduction, joking that they would illustrate what a ‘chauvinist monster’ he was.

The report then revealed the existence of an entire second half of the controversial toast.  In it, Sir Tim was said to have told his audience that his remark about ‘making them cry’ was, indeed, an ironic joke.

He purportedly said, ‘now seriously . . .’ before going on to speak enthusiastically about the ‘important role’ women scientists play. He ended by joking that his largely female audience should pursue their trade, ‘despite monsters like me’.

The report’s author added: ‘I didn’t notice any uncomfortable silence or any awkwardness in the room as reported on social and then mainstream media,’ going on to describe the speech as ‘warm and funny’.

However, Sir Tim’s critics remained unmoved and disputed the EU report’s contents. Importantly, given how the scandal had originally emerged, they were led by Connie St Louis.

She stood by her remarks and told the Mail that she explicitly denied that the scientist’s toast ever contained the words ‘now seriously’.

As a result, this explosive controversy now rests on a single, straightforward question: which of these two, first-hand versions of events is true? Either the anonymous EU official is telling the truth, in which case Sir Tim is a hapless victim, guilty of nothing more than telling a misjudged joke. Or Connie St Louis, the architect of the witch-hunt against him, is in the right. In that case, many will continue to argue that he got what he deserved.

So, who are we to believe?

The EU report appears to dovetail with Sir Tim’s own version of events. Meanwhile, Connie St Louis’s account is shared by two fellow witnesses: Deborah Blum, an academic from Wisconsin, and Ivan Oransky, co-founder of a science website called Retraction Watch. Although, following the leaked report, Blum and Oransky told The Times that they could not recall enough to confirm or deny the additional quotes from Sir Tim.

Strangely, given that there were more than 90 other journalists present at the fateful lunch in Seoul, no other detailed accounts of the toast have emerged.  St Louis did not make a shorthand transcript of it. And, again very strangely, no tape-recording appears to exist.

Perhaps, therefore, we should ask two other related questions: who exactly is Connie St Louis? And why, exactly, should we trust her word over that of a Nobel laureate?

A good place to start is the website of London’s City University, where St Louis has, for more than a decade, been employed to run a postgraduate course in science journalism.

Here, on a page outlining her CV, she is described as follows:

‘Connie St Louis . . . is an award-winning freelance broadcaster, journalist, writer and scientist.

‘She presents and produces a range of programmes for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service . . . She writes for numerous outlets, including The Independent, Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, BBC On Air magazine and BBC Online.’

All very prestigious. Comforting, no doubt, for potential students considering whether to devote a year of their lives (and money) to completing an MA course under her stewardship. Except, that is for one small detail: almost all of these supposed ‘facts’ appear to be untrue.

For one thing, Connie St Louis does not ‘present and produce’ a range of programmes for Radio 4.

Her most recent work for the station, a documentary about pharmaceuticals called The Magic Bullet, was broadcast in October 2007.

For another, it’s demonstrably false to say she ‘writes’ for The Independent, Daily Mail and The Sunday Times.

Digital archives for all three newspapers, which stretch back at least 20 years, contain no by-lined articles that she has written for any of these titles, either in their print or online editions. The Mail’s accounts department has no record of ever paying her for a contribution.

Her work for The Guardian appears to consist of two online articles: one published in 2013; the other, about the Sir Tim Hunt affair, went live (online) this week.

Curiously, that 1,000-word piece, in which St Louis recalled the scandal, was heavily edited after publication. Around 30 changes, some of them significant, were made to it. In an apparent contradiction of usual Guardian policy, the version now running online contains no disclaimer detailing this fact.

Elsewhere on the City University web page, readers are led to believe that St Louis has either become, or is soon to become, a published author.

‘She is a recipient of the prestigious Joseph Rowntree Journalist Fellowship to write a book based on her acclaimed two-part Radio 4 documentary series, Raising Ham,’ it reads.

But that is not the full story. In 2005, St Louis did, indeed, receive the liberal organisation’s ‘fellowship’. She was given £50,000, which was supposed to support her while she wrote the book in question.

However, no book was ever published. Or, indeed, written. An entire decade later, the project remains a work in progress.

Asked to explain these discrepancies — although details of the claims are carried, remember, on the internet page where she is supposed to present her credentials to students and fellow academics — St Louis said she had done interviews for the Daily Mail but conceded it was ‘possible’ that she had never written for the paper.

She said her by-lined articles in the Independent and Sunday Times may have been published more than two decades ago. Asked how she could, therefore, justify the claim on her CV that she ‘writes’ for the titles, she hung up.

In a subsequent email, St Louis appeared to backtrack and insist that she has written for all the newspapers cited on her CV, but said: ‘I don’t have time . . . to find all the articles on different old computers.’

She did not respond to a question asking what awards she had ever won for journalism, science, broadcasting or writing.

With regard to the £50,000 fellowship, she added: ‘I didn’t finish the Rowntree book I was writing because I had breast cancer and was extremely ill for a year.

‘Then, after that, I had to work to look after my family. It doesn [sic] take away the fact that I won it [the £50,000] and still hope to finish the book does it?’

Readers can, of course, draw their own conclusions.

In common with most academics, St Louis also uses her online CV to cite articles she has previously published in prestigious academic journals. It claims that she has published three. However, even this is misleading. Two of the three cited journal articles are the same: a piece for the British Medical Journal entitled: ‘Can Twitter predict disease outbreaks?’

Are such errors merely sloppy? Or were they designed to mislead? And what do they tell us about the attention to detail of a woman whose purported recollection of a short lunchtime toast has effectively ruined a Nobel laureate’s career?

Again, readers must draw their own conclusions.

In an email, one of the prominent scientists who have publicly supported Sir Tim Hunt tells me: ‘What you have discovered is very alarming. False claims about publications are taken very seriously by universities. Perhaps even more seriously than reports of dodgy, sexist speeches!’

Another, Dame Valerie Beral, who has worked with Sir Tim, added that if St Louis had made false claims on her CV, then her evidence about his speech ought to be discounted.

‘I think the institutions who have forced Tim to resign now need to look at the claims that this person has made in the past, and work out whether they can trust what she says regarding this incident.  ‘If her previous claims turn out to be false, then I believe that Tim must be re-instated.’

City University, meanwhile, says it’s investigating the web page in question.

This is not, however, the only medium in which St Louis appears to make false, or at least misleading, statements.

Earlier this year, she stood, successfully, in an election to become a board member of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ). As part of the election process, St Louis was required to present a detailed CV to voters.

This document, which stretches to six pages, is still on the WFSJ’s website. It contains several deeply questionable statements.

In an early passage, she for example writes: ‘I am a regular contributor to ABC News Worldview TV programme.’ Yet ABC News Worldview has not aired for roughly five years. Factiva, an online search engine which carried transcripts of it, suggests that the last recorded contribution by Connie St Louis to the show was on May 31, 2006.

In another early passage, St Louis writes that she has a second career working for quangos.

‘In November 2002, I was invited and subsequently appointed by the Minister responsible for media, sport and culture to be a board member of UK Sport (the former UK Sports Council) . . . My term of office ended last year but I continue to serve on the audit committee as an external member.’

UK Sport describes things differently. A spokesman says St Louis was appointed to the board in November 2002 but she left in 2005.

St Louis did not respond when asked by the Mail how she can, therefore, claim, in a CV published in 2015, to have been a board member of UK Sport until ‘last year’.

Elsewhere in the six-page CV is a section devoted to ‘Qualification and Training’. In it, St Louis trumpets the fact that she is ‘a member of the Royal Institution’.

Again, very prestigious. Or so it seems, until a spokesman for the Royal Institution told me: ‘Anyone can be a member. It’s simply a service you pay for which entitles you to free tickets to visit us and gives you a discount in our cafe.  ‘It’s like having membership of your local cinema or gym.’

Why would someone include such a thing on their CV?

‘Actually, that’s a bit of a problem,’ the spokesman added. ‘We have heard of a few people using membership on their CV to imply that they have some sort of professional recognition or qualification. But it means nothing of the sort. It’s very, very odd to see this on a CV.’

St Louis did not respond when the Mail asked why she cited this membership as a ‘qualification’.

Neither, as it happens, did she reply to a request to explain what academic qualifications she actually has.

The CV again is unclear. In a section outlining her education, she states: ‘BSc (Hons) Upper Second Class degree in Applied Biology.’ But it does not state where she gained it from, making it impossible to fact-check.

Doubtless, more facts will eventually emerge, perhaps once City University has finished investigating this matter.

In the meantime, those who have condemned the Nobel laureate Sir Tim Hunt may wish to re-examine some of her previous statements about the affair.

Take, by way of a final example, an interview with the BBC on June 10, in which St Louis recalled that toast in Seoul: ‘He just ploughed on for five to seven minutes, actually,’ she said. ‘It was really shocking. It was culturally insensitive and it was very sexist.’

Strangely, the passage from Sir Tim’s speech that St Louis has so far made public is exactly 37 words long. It would take, at most, 20 seconds to recount.

So did Sir Tim really ‘plough on’ for five to seven minutes? And, if so, what did he say?

Why did she selectively quote just one statement from his toast? And how did such a remark end the 50-year career of a Nobel laureate?


Islamic State: Where sex-slave depravity masquerades as faith

“Don’t worry brothers, she won’t dissappoint you,’’ Australian jihad­ist Mohamed Elomar declared in his misspelled tweet, posted with an image of the young captive with sad and tortured eyes.

She was almost certainly Yazidi, one of seven slaves of Islamic State he claimed to have for sale for $2500 each. We don’t know what happened to her, whether Elomar got his price, and probably never will after the former Sydney­sider was reported this week to have been killed. But the brutal intent was all too apparent.

The twice-married Elomar, 29, was reaching out to young Muslims to join him in the combat zone in Syria and Iraq and enjoy the same spoil of war: sex. The inconvenient truth for the professed puritans of Islamic State is that the prospect of “guilt-free sex’’ has moved up on the list of attractions promoted in their slick, multi-dimensi­oned recruiting online and through social media.

The uncomfortable questions for the Western world, including Australia, are why this debased appeal seems to be gaining traction with Islamic State’s target audience, which increasingly includes women, and why it’s not challenged more stridently in the public arena.

In an internet chat room recently, monitored by US researchers covertly keeping tabs on a presumed Islamic State recruiter, the discussion was explicit about the earthly pleasures available to young men who got into the fight.

“They were promised a girl would be provided for them to marry, she would be pretty, and they be given a home to live in,’’ said one member of the team, speaking on condition of anony­mity. “There were direct questions about when there would be sex. They were told, ‘as soon as you like’.’’

Similar Q&A sessions have been logged on the notorious web platform Ask.fm, as well as the plethora of encrypted messaging sites that are used by Islamic State operatives to reel in recruits.

The pitch to young women is more nuanced, but the obligations are clearly understood. Islam­ic State propaganda plays heavily on “romantic notions of adventure and finding romance in the form of a husband or wife’’, according to British academics Erin Marie Saltman and Melanie Smith, writing for London’s Institute for Strategic Dialogue on the gender factor in jihad.

“The sense of adventure in leaving home to travel is influential particularly for the young women,’’ they write. “The other adventure is one based on the promise of meaningful romance as a prize for making the journey.’’

Jytte Klausen of Boston’s Brandeis University calls it a “very professionally run deception scheme’’. She told The Weekend Australian: “It is of course completely in violation of Islamic religious law to lure young people away in marriage and to fight without parental consent … this particular trick appeals to the incipie­nt desire of teenagers to be validated in their thinking that they are right and their parents just plainly not with it.’’

Another notorious Australian jihadi, Khaled Sharrouf, was reported to have died by Elomar’s side when their convoy was taken out by an airstrike in Raqqa, the capital of the so-called caliphate in Syria. Sharrouf was more than his friend and mentor: they were family. Elomar had married Sharrouf’s 14-year-old daughter, Zaynab, after his first wife was intercepted with their three children while trying to join him.

Together, they formed the nucleus of what Saltman and Smith identified as an Australian “sub-cluster’’ within Islamic State, a crucible for exploiting women under the guise of sharia.

When Elomar boasted last December about his slave girls, Islam­ic State was still on a roll, having seized vast tracts of territ­ory in southern Syria and northern Iraq in the breakout that put it on the map. The Yazidis had paid a particularly terrible price.

Long persecuted because some of their beliefs derived from the Bible, they were branded devil worshippers by the Islamists and systematically rounded up. Up to 5000 Yazidi men were murdered and at least that number of women enslaved, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights estimated.

The accounts of what happened to them are horrifying. Human Rights Watch, a non-government organisation, issued a report in April detailing the systematic rape and torture of young women and girls, based on interviews with some who had escaped the clutches of Islamic State.

Jalila, 12, described how she was beaten and dragged away by a gunman. “I told him not to touch me and begged him to let me go,’’ she said. “I told him to take me to my mother. I was a young girl, and I asked him: ‘What do you want from me?’ He spent three days having sex with me.”

Dilara, 20, was taken to a wedding hall and held with about 60 other terrified Yazidi women and children. “From 9.30 in the morning men would come to buy girls to rape them … they were like animals … they would rape them and bring them back to exchange for new girls. The girls’ ages ranged from eight to 30 years … only 20 girls remained in the end.”

Wafa, 12, was told by an older fighter she could trust him; she was “like a daughter’’ to him and wasn’t to be afraid. Soon enough, he raped her. “He was sleeping in the same place with me and … one day I woke up and my legs were covered in blood,’’ the child said.

Islamic State has sought to justify the sexual violence by claiming that Islam permits sex with non-Muslim “slaves”.

At least 3000 Yazidis remain in captivity alongside members of other persecuted minorities, Human Rights Watch believes.

Girls of nine are known to have been violated, a fact chilling­ly acknowledged in an Islamic State field manual that licenses its men to “have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for (it)’’.

The UN’s special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Bangura, revealed earlier this month that women could be bought in the slave markets of Raqqa province for the price of a packet of cigarettes. “This is how they attract young men — ‘we have women waiting (for) you, virgins that you can marry’,’’ she told news service AFP.

Klausen, the founding profes­sor of the well-regarded Western Jihad Project, however, insists the proposition that the typical Islam­ic State recruit is an alienated nerd who can’t meet girls doesn’t fly. “Many of the young men have had plenty of girlfriends before they left for IS,’’ she said. “It is, in my view, more important that IS gives them a salary, a house when they marry and they can have children. The inability to set up independent households is a huge social problem across Africa, Asia and also in Europe’s expensive cities.’’

Greg Barton, a professor at the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University, said Islami­c State offered a way for young Muslims to have “their sexual needs met without feeling guilty about it’’. Like just about everything else, the ghanimah system of distributing war booty, including subjugated women, is run on tight hierarchical lines.

The top rung of the male leadership, the emirs, get the first pick of captives, followed by unit commanders and the rank-and-file fighters. The women of Islamic State also receive their cut of the spoils with wedding gifts and living allowances.

And, yes, sex once they are married, though not necessarily to a man of their liking. “In the case of women who come from sheltered families, the promise of legit sex may be as much of the draw as the promise to the guys that they will ‘be somebody’ and become a ‘lion’,’’ Klausen said.

One jihad bride, calling herself Umm Layth, told a British research team: “Honestly, there is something so pleasurable to know that what you have has been taken off the kuffar (non-believer­s) and handed to you personally by Allah.’’

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said up to 500 foreign women were with Islamic State in the Middle-East war zone, though none was allowed to fight, owing to sharia strictures. By the estim­ate of Saltman and Smith of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue the intermarried knot of Australian women numbers about 20.

If Elomar is dead — and there’s every chance he is — his teenaged wife has joined the ranks of jihad widows whose availability is also used as recruitment bait by Islamic State.

Zaynab was barely 13 when her father moved the family to Syria and made his mark by having one of her brothers pose for gruesome photographs with a severed human head. She professes to have no regrets. “Chillin in the khilafah, lovin life,” the teenager tweeted in March, together with a photograph of five veiled women reclining against what appeared to be Sharrouf’s new BMW.

The hypocrisy of the scene seems to have escaped her. Yet she shows a distinct awareness of the atrocities committed by Islam­ic state against the Yazidis and would have been mindful of what Elomar was up to with the slave girls. Whether he did anything more than try to sell them is something else we may never know; what can be said with certainty is that he would have been prosecuted in Australia for taking a bride as young as Zaynab.

She will have the regula­tion period of iddah — four months, 10 days — to mourn, then be expected to remarry, just as her friend, Zehra Duman, from Melbourne, was after husband Mahmoud Abdullatif, also from Melbourne, died in Syria in January.


Christian Farmers Fined $13,000 for Refusing to Host Same-Sex Wedding Fight Back

The owners of a small family farm in upstate New York fined $13,000 for discriminating against a same-sex couple for refusing to host a wedding on their property are fighting back.

In an appeal filed today before an appellate division of the New York Supreme Court, a lawyer for Cynthia and Robert Gifford, owners of Liberty Ridge Farm near Albany, N.Y., argued that when finding them guilty, the court did not consider their constitutional freedoms and religious beliefs.

“[The decision] violates the Giffords’ free exercise of religion, freedom of expressive association, and freedom of expression protected under the United States and New York Constitutions,” James Trainor, an allied attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, wrote in the appeal.

The Giffords were found guilty of “sexual orientation discrimination” by an administrative law judge last July.

Because Liberty Ridge Farm is open to the public for seasonal activities such as an annual fall festival, the state of New York classifies it as a public accommodation that therefore cannot discriminate on the basis of certain personal characteristics, including sexual orientation.

“Discrimination in the name of civil rights is as abhorrent as discrimination which does violence to the concept of civil rights,” wrote the administrative law judge.

In a statement issued to press today, Trainor said the judge’s order “forces the Giffords to host same-sex ceremonies or to host no wedding ceremonies at all.” He added:

The government is essentially saying to the Giffords, give up your faith, or give up your livelihood.

The conflict began on Sept. 25, 2012, when Melisa Erwin and Jennifer McCarthy, a lesbian couple, called the Giffords to ask them to host their same-sex wedding at Liberty Ridge Farm.

The Giffords live on the second and third floor of the barn and, when they host weddings on the first floor, open part of the second floor as a bridal suite.

Not wanting to go against her beliefs of traditional marriage, Cynthia Gifford politely declined the request. Unbeknownst to the Christian couple, the caller recorded their conversation. Shortly thereafter, the lesbian couple filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights.

“We’re not hateful people,” Gifford said in an interview with The Daily Signal, holding back tears. “We just believe that a marriage is between a man and a woman, and we do not want to hold a [same-sex] marriage ceremony here on our family farm because the state tells us we have to do it.”

As punishment, the government fined the family $10,000 and ordered them to pay an additional $3,000 to the women. The Giffords were also required to attend staff re-education training classes to teach the state’s viewpoint on marriage. These are the stipulations that the family is challenging with their appeal this week.



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 POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Friday, June 26, 2015

Coulter on foolish flag talk

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter dismissed the “completely moronic” debate going on about the Confederate flag Tuesday, arguing that the Democratic Party should be banned in order to help African-Americans.

In an interview on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” Coulter also jumped on “liberal talking points” about the flag’s connection to Republicans, adding that Democrats were the ones who “supported the Confederate(s)” in the Civil War.

The best-selling author made the remarks one day after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the flag to be taken down from the state house’s lawn.

“I think it’s completely moronic,” Coulter said. “I mean, this is an awful thing that happened in Charleston. Luckily, it’s quite rare. But to jump on this and go back to a litany of liberal talking points that make Republicans look bad, how about banning the Democratic Party?”

“They were the ones who supported — who were on the Confederate side of the Civil War. They were the ones that supported segregation for a hundred years,” Coulter said. “If we want to do something nice for black people, how about ending immigration which is dumping millions of low-wage workers on the country, taking jobs from African-Americans, as enumerable studies have shown.”

“I mean there are all sorts of  nice things you could be doing here,” Coulter said.

SOURCE (Video at link)

Charleston and the Confederate Flag Battle

With every murderous rampage committed by a sociopath, the Left exploits the tragedy to push its agenda of taking Liberty from all of us. In recent years, that’s generally meant two things: gun control or racial grievance. The horrific murders of nine black Christians in Charleston by a white supremacist provided an opportunity to bring the two issues together.

Barack Obama, as usual, weighed in on both. He called for more gun control, and then he denounced the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the South Carolina capitol as a racist symbol. It’s the latter that’s become a rallying point for leftists as well as Republicans eager to shed the racist label.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, said Monday, “It’s time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds.” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a GOP presidential candidate, and Tim Scott, the first black Republican senator elected in the South since Reconstruction, likewise called for its removal. That provides political cover for state Republicans to vote to take it down.

Of course, given the prominence of South Carolina in the presidential primary season, the Leftmedia gleefully makes the Confederate flag an issue for Republicans every presidential cycle.

But that’s awfully odd since Democrats are the ones who raised it at the South Carolina capitol in 1962. Democrats are the party of Jim Crow and segregation — the ones in KKK robes who sullied the banner of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia with racial overtones. Democrats Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter campaigned with the flag before it was uncool to do so. Democrats push for an ever-higher minimum wage, which all too often leaves blacks unemployed and enslaved on the Left’s deliberately institutionalized urban poverty plantations.

Yet somehow the Confederate flag is a Republican problem.

Speaking of racism, know what else is racist? Gun control. It was originally conceived in the South to prevent blacks from owning firearms. Even now, proponents of gun control rarely lament the lives lost due to inner city gang violence.

Who else is racist? Barack Obama, whose roots of racial hatred run deep, and who stirs the pot by using the “n” word.

As for the flag itself, Leland Summers, head of the state’s chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, dismissed the Left’s complaint: “Do not associate the cowardly actions of a racist to our Confederate Banner. There is absolutely no link between The Charleston Massacre and The Confederate Memorial Banner. Don’t try to create one.”

He’s right in part, though it’s not that simple. It’s undeniable that the Confederate States propagated slavery — an institution Gen. Lee called “a great political and moral evil” — and that the Confederate flag in whatever form brings that to mind. The Union was hardly innocent in this regard, however. Abraham Lincoln harbored his own racism and favored solving slavery by sending blacks back to Africa. Yet no one seems to associate the American flag with such things.

Democrats made the Confederate banner a symbol of racism at KKK rallies, and now they have successfully turned a large portion of the populace against it. When a racist murderer used the Confederate battle flag as a background for his pictures, it only reinforced the link. Democrats fully intend to use the issue to rally blacks around Hillary Clinton, hoping “racist” Republicans would squirm to avoid calling for the flag’s removal. If South Carolina Republicans do remove it, the issue will be somewhat diffused — though nothing will ever be enough for the Left.

“I think compromising with the left on this issue is not worth it because the left is only politicizing this issue to advance their agenda,” wrote Red State’s Erick Erickson. “Once the flag is gone, the left will advance to the next issue then the next issue, etc. They won’t compromise. There is no compromise. There is only conversion or censorship with the left.”

For most of those who fly Lee’s banner today, they intend it as homage to the honorable part of their heritage. Certainly those of us at The Patriot Post with long family history in the South view it that way. The vast majority of Southerners did not own slaves and their descendants reject the idea that they (read: we) are to blame for that horrific institution. Yet the modern Left is intent on blaming all Southerners — especially Republicans — for slavery and all racism, which has in part served to make the flag a symbol of defiance akin to the Gadsden flag of the Tea Party.

That said, it’s perhaps too much to ask of our public-school educated population to think of history with such nuance and understanding. And it’s likely the only politically tenable and prudent move for Republicans to concede the point.


Military Assault on Faith‏

Update on Chaplain Wes Modder. Modder’s commanding officer is doing all he can to ensure that the Chaplain is forced out of the Navy. Just weeks before this process started, his commanding officer praised him in a review calling him, “the best of the best.”

What happened to change the commanding officer’s mind? A small handful of military personnel came forward to complain that, during counseling sessions, the chaplain had given advice based on the Bible.

Specifically, he talked about the Bible’s views on sexual activity and homosexuality. Because these biblical views run contrary to the politically correct views currently espoused by the military, he is now fighting to save his career.

You might have also heard on the show about LCpl Monifa Sterling who was convicted at a court-martial for putting a Bible verse on her computer screen. And there are many other stories of Christians in the military being punished for expressing their biblical beliefs.

The hostility against expressions of Christian faith in the military increased when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed and homosexuals were allowed to serve openly in the military. That event propelled forward a shift in the military culture that was already happening.

The same will happen in the civilian world if the Supreme Court ruling on Obergefell vs. Hodges forces same-sex marriage on the nation. We are only a week away from the ruling from the court.


Jihadis and leftists, united in misogyny

Jennifer Oriel, commenting from Australia

I was invited to appear as a panellist on the ABC’s political talk show Q&A this month.

This week, Q&A featured a self-described Muslim activist who tweeted about gang-raping female columnists in January and pleaded guilty to threatening to kill an ASIO officer.

Why would I want to appear on Q&A following such an outrage against women and our nation’s protective forces?

The man who tweeted the idea of gang-raping female journalists also has expressed support for an Islamic caliphate. I consider him such an inferior example of manhood that I would prefer not to stain the page with his name, but here it is for the record: Zaky Mallah.

After hearing the standard Islamist narrative on the ABC — that is, Islamists charged with threatening violence are victims of government action to stop terrorism — Q&A’s audience applauded Mallah. That tells us a lot about the state of left-wing politics today.

In the 21st century, the hard Left goes soft on men who attack liberal democracy and promote violence against women as long as such men belong to a Left-anointed minority.

Q&A host Tony Jones upbraided Mallah, but only after he had blamed the government for jihadism. And Tuesday’s limp corrective by the ABC falls well short of the explanation we need and the apology Australians deserve.

The terms of reference for the investigation into the ABC’s indulgence of Mallah must include why a man who threatened to kill an ASIO official was cast as a victim while criticising our liberal democratic government’s anti-terrorism policy.

The omission that Mallah threatened lethal violence against a member our security forces and sexual violence against female intellectuals demonstrates more than mere oversight by the ABC. Australia’s public broadcaster has put Australian citizens in harm’s way.

What might have happened, for example, if either of the two female columnists Mallah proposed should be gang-raped in January were on the Q&A panel this week?

Unlike those female columnists, I was actually invited to be on a Q&A panel this month. I have written extensively on Islamist terrorism and have been threatened for doing so.

The thought that a man such as Mallah might have been sitting a few feet away from me on Q&A is, quite frankly, horrifying.

No woman should have to fear for her bodily safety in Australia when she exercises her democratic right to free speech — especially on our public broadcaster. And yet, that is precisely what I now feel about the prospect of appearing on Q&A.

There are serious questions which must be answered about the modern Left and its indulgence of Islamist terrorism and misogyny. We might begin by asking why the taxpayer-funded ABC indulged a man who promoted the idea of gang-raping female columnists.

Is it because the targeted columnists, Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi, are viewed as politically conservative and therefore deserved victims by Islamists and their left-wing allies in the West? Does the Left believe dissident women are asking for it?

We are bearing witness this week to a new form of political correctness — politically correct misogyny — where leftists and Islamists converge to shut dissident women out of public debate.

Author and human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali has suffered the brunt of PC misogyny during the past decade following her trenchant criticism of Islamist ­violence against women and girls.

In his book The Flight of the Intellectuals, Paul Berman chronicled the rise of the new sexism crafted by left-wing men against Hirsi Ali.

Using sleazy sophistry to conceal their contempt for the woman who dared to refuse victim status and became instead a champion of the free world, PC misogynists claimed she only made it because she was attractive.

In the US as in Australia, the sneering disdain some left-wing men reserve for dissident women is becoming more overtly misogynistic and it seems to increase in direct proportion to dissidents’ public success.

After Hirsi Ali received a standing ovation at the American Atheists convention, left-wing activist journalist Sam Hamad described her as: “a perfect little brown-skinned conduit” for the views of “white males”.

One would have thought that describing a woman with African descent as a “little brown-skinned conduit” should provoke public furore. But there was no cry of hate speech from the progressivist media, no call of sexism from the ivory towers.

Instead, the girl who survived female genital mutilation in Africa, assassination attempts in Europe and jihadist threats in America has grown to become a trending target of hard Left hate because by daring to live and tell the tale, Hirsi Ali has exposed their PC misogyny.

While Mallah might lack the hard Left’s talent for sophistry, his effect is just as devastating. On social media, he described columnists Panahi and Devine as “whores” and proposed that they be gang-raped on television. That is hard to write. No woman should have to read it.

It is little surprise to find support for misogyny among men who enthuse about an Islamist caliphate, where the unequal status of women and girls is enshrined as a rule of law and a cultural right.

But it should be a surprise to find self-declared progressives of the Western Left endorsing Islamist misogyny against any woman, let alone parading its advocates as paragons of sound citizenship.

In its response to the public furore about Mallah on Q&A, the ABC acknowledged his tweet about female columnists — in a single sentence of the last line of the final paragraph. The message could not be clearer.

As a female political commentator who leans conservative, my right to free speech and bodily safety may not mean much to the ABC. But I did not spend my formative years fighting for women’s rights in the 20th century only to submit to an Islamist-Left alliance of misogyny in the 21st.

I expect a public apology from the ABC for its outrage against women, female columnists and the basic security of Australians.

Until such an apology is given, I will not consent to appear on Q&A.



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 POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Consensus! Children raised by same-sex parents are no different from those in traditional families

The article below is very naive.  I could have told you before I read it what the consensus among researchers would be -- and the authors found just that -- and nothing more.  A consensus among a group of people simply tells you what those people at that time want to believe.  It tells you nothing about the facts.  Only evidence can tell you about the facts.  And there was no critical scrutiny of the evidence in this study. And that was certainly needed in this case. 

What for instance are we to make of a large 2012 study that arrived at very different conclusions?  To quote:  "The results reveal numerous, consistent differences, especially between the children of women who have had a lesbian relationship and those with still-married (heterosexual) biological parents".  Which conclusion is right?  We have no means of knowing from the study below.

So what the study below tells you is something about the biases of current social science researchers.  It tells you nothing about its alleged subject.  It simply tells you what the current intellectual fashion is

I follow the article below with the journal abstract

Scientists agree that children raised by same-sex couples are no worse off than children raised by parents of the opposite sex, according to a new study co-authored by a University of Oregon professor.

The new research looked at 19,000 studies and articles related to same-sex parenting from 1977 to 2013.

It comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule by the end of this month on whether same-sex marriage is legal.

'Consensus is overwhelming in terms of there being no difference in children who are raised by same-sex or different- sex parents,' University of Oregon sociology professor Ryan Light said on Tuesday.

Light, who co-authored the study with Jimi Adams of the University of Colorado at Denver, said the study may be too late to affect the court's ruling this month but he hopes it will have an impact on future cases.

'I hope we'll see acceptance of gay marriage of the courts and by the public at large,' he said.

The studies, Light said, showed some disagreement among scientists on the outcome of same-sex parenting in the 1980s but it largely subsided in the 1990s, and a clear consensus had formed by 2000 that there is no difference between same-sex and different-sex parenting in the psychological, behavioral or educational outcomes of children.

'Across the board we find the iterative suggests there's no significant differences,' Light said.

'To our knowledge this is the most comprehensive analysis of this type on this issue.'

Gary Gates, Research Director at the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, said although several review articles have made arguments that there is a consensus that the gender of the parents does not matter, he was not aware of any other in-depth study of this nature.

'That to me actually sounds like a fairly novel approach and I'm not sure that others have done it,' he said.

He said he believes the argument that same-sex parents are less adequate than heterosexual parents has largely been taken out of the legal debates. But he said it's always possible that it could come up.

'We'll see what happens in the Supreme Court argumentation,' he said.

'We find that the literature on outcomes for children of same-sex parents is marked by scientific consensus that they experience “no differences” compared to children from other parental configurations,' the pair wrote.


Scientific consensus, the law, and same sex parenting outcomes

By jimi adams & Ryan Light


While the US Supreme Court was considering two related cases involving the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, one major question informing that decision was whether scientific research had achieved consensus regarding how children of same-sex couples fare. Determining the extent of consensus has become a key aspect of how social science evidence and testimony is accepted by the courts. Here, we show how a method of analyzing temporal patterns in citation networks can be used to assess the state of social scientific literature as a means to inform just such a question. Patterns of clustering within these citation networks reveal whether and when consensus arises within a scientific field. We find that the literature on outcomes for children of same-sex parents is marked by scientific consensus that they experience “no differences” compared to children from other parental configurations.

Social Science Research, Volume 53, September 2015, Pages 300–310.

Another false rape claim

Police charge woman for making up a rape after she was exposed by her own FitBit

A WOMAN who claimed she was raped by a stranger when sleeping at her boss’s house has been caught fibbing by her own FitBit.
Jeannine Risley, 43, has been criminally charged after she told police she was sexually assaulted at knifepoint by an intruder while she was staying at her employer’s home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in March.

In her horrific account, ABC News reports she said she was dragged from her bed at midnight and raped in the bathroom by a man who was wearing boots.

But her own fitness watch got the better of her. Officers who embarked on the manhunt detected holes in Risley’s story when they found no footsteps in the snow surrounding the house, and no signs of an intruder indoors.

Detectives steered their investigation towards Risley and discovered tracking data on her FitBit — which she initially said was lost in the attack — revealed she had been walking around during the time she said she was sleeping.

Things got murkier when police uncovered that her boss had recently told her she would no longer be a temporary director with the company.

The criminal complaint states Risley was directed to inform staff of the change during the week of the reported rape, but she had not yet done so.

She has been charged with false reports to law enforcement, false alarms to public safety, and tampering with evidence for allegedly overturning furniture and placing a knife to make it appear she had been raped by an intruder.


The Cultural Cleansing of the Southern States Begins

A full-fledged cultural cleansing of the Southern states is underway as lawmakers debate whether to remove Confederate flags and rename schools and parks named after Confederate war heroes.

There are also discussions in Washington, D.C. about removing Confederate-related statues from the U.S. Capitol — including a statue of Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy.

“It’s something to think about,” Sen. Harry Reid told reporters.

Republicans, meanwhile, are leading the charge in South Carolina and Mississippi to remove the Confederate flag — called a symbol of hate and racism.

Wal-Mart jumped on the band wagon, too – announcing they will remove all Confederate merchandise from its stores. EBay announced they will no longer sell Confederate flags or any other memorabilia.

Has the Department of Homeland Security classified the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy as right-wing hate groups, yet?

Meanwhile, there are dozens of reports from around the southeast of lawmakers hoping to rename parks and schools and streets that were originally named in honor of Confederates.

*Tennessee lawmakers are demanding that a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest be removed from the statehouse;

*Baltimore lawmakers want to rename Robert E. Lee Park;

*Dallas lawmakers are considering demands to rename Stonewall Jackson Elementary School;

*St. Louis lawmakers are debating over the future of a confederate statue in a city park;

*Commissioners in Hillsborough, North Carolina are debating whether to remove the words “Confederate Memorial” from a Confederate memorial.

*The Memphis City Council voted in 2013 to rename three parks – Confederate Park, Jefferson Davis Park and Nathan Bedford Forrest Park.

It won’t be too long before they start renaming cities and towns and counties named after Confederates. And I reckon it’s only a matter of time before they bulldoze the Confederate grave yards and war memorials too.

Maybe we can just pretend the Civil War never happened.

I’m assuming Hollywood will cooperate with the South’s cultural cleansing by eradicating any copies of “Gone with the Wind” and “Forrest Gump.” Forrest was named after the aforementioned Nathan Bedford Forrest.

I do wonder, though, about those good ole boys from Hazzard County. What are Bo and Luke Duke are going to do with the General Lee?

Maybe they could just paint a rainbow flag on top and call it the General Sherman.  He culturally cleansed the South, too.


Heretics are the heroes of the fight for free speech

Free speech in the West is threatened today less by jackbooted censorship than by the conformist culture of You Can’t Say That. Those who break strict speech codes and step outside the narrow bounds of acceptable opinion – such as Tim Hunt, the Nobel Prize-winning biochemist hounded out of his profession for making a daft joke about women in science – can expect not just criticism, but demands that they be silenced. ‘Offensive’ ideas are effectively treated as a secular form of blasphemy, and those who express them as heretics to be gagged and punished rather than debated with.

Yet, as my new book, Trigger Warning, argues, those branded heretics have often been the heroes, whipping boys and cause célèbres in the historic struggle for free speech. The big battles have been about the freedom to dissent from the respectable opinion of the age and question the unquestionable; we might call it the right to be offensive. What changes is what society considers heresy at different stages in history.

Heresy is defined as a belief contrary to orthodox religious opinion; or, in non-religious terms, an opinion profoundly at odds with what is generally accepted. The Ancient Greek origins of the word heresy are revealing. An early Christian leader defined his own views as ‘orthodox’, from the Greek for ‘right belief’. The views of his opponents he branded as heresy – from the Greek for ‘choice of belief’.

The thing that has always got you branded a heretic is making an intellectual choice. Heresy is the desire to choose what you believe in and to dissent from the authoritative dogma of the day. What better case for freedom of speech could there be?

Socrates, the greatest philosopher of Ancient Greece, raised the question of the right to be a heretic. Free speech – or parrhesia as they called it – meant something different to the Ancient Greeks. Athenian democracy was based on the idea of all free male citizens being of equal standing. Free speech represented this equality of merit. It was not supposed to be about freedom from overbearing state power, which is what those who fought for it later in Britain and America wanted.

Yet even in the ‘pure’ democracy of Athens, Socrates was put on trial and put to death at the age of 70 for taking free speech ‘too far’. Socrates questioned everything, often to the discomfort of his fellow citizens, and refused to be bound by Athens’ sacred traditions. He was charged with ‘not believing in the gods that the city believes in’ – heresy. Nor did Socrates believe in restraining his speech in line with the Athenian tradition of Aidos – respect, modesty or shame. He was, literally, shameless, even stripping naked to speak before his accusers to symbolise that everything must be out in the open. And the naked philosopher made clear that if the court voted to spare him, he would continue asking forbidden questions.

The trial and execution of Socrates shows that, even in a society of equals with a commitment to open discussion, many who think they believe absolutely in that principle will recoil when confronted with heretical free speech bare-arsed and red in tooth and claw. So, as one expert study has it, ‘[w]hen Socrates practises parrhesia as the Athenians understood it, the bold affirmation and shameless articulation of what one believes to be true, the Athenians vote to execute him’. How much more horrifying real free speech must seem to the many who claim to support it in our timid society.

Like much else discovered or invented by ancient civilisations from science to sewers, the concept of free speech disappeared in Europe’s Dark Ages before being reinvented once more in the modern world.

Before the modern age in a society such as Britain, the very idea of free speech was considered heretical. In medieval England, matters of state were legitimately to be discussed only by the king and his courtiers, quite possibly in Norman French, and matters of faith were officially to be read and spoken of only by the priesthood, in Latin. Anything else could be deemed treason or heresy, potentially punishable by death.

This week marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta in 1215. For establishing the idea that there were limits to the power of the Crown, Magna Carta should rightly be celebrated as creating a prototype for liberty. Yet the historic Magna Carta makes no mention of freedom of speech. That was hardly surprising. Such a concept would have been effectively meaningless for the mass of peasants in the feudal England of 1215, among the most advanced nations of its medieval age.

Free speech, understood as the ability openly to express an opinion, take part in public debate and criticise those in authority, could not take hold in England or Europe until humanity moved history on, the notion of individual rights gained currency and people began to question the absolute power of Crown and Church.

Free speech became the voice of the autonomous individual who only emerged in British and Western society in the age of the Enlightenment. Those in authority did all they could to preserve their public monopoly on the Truth. The first printing press was introduced to England by William Caxton in 1476. English monarchs imposed a system of Crown licensing under which nothing could legally be published except with the permission of the Star Chamber. Any criticism of the Crown or the Church could be branded treason, seditious libel or blasphemy.

In 1637, a Puritan author, William Prynne, had his ears cut off for writing heretical pamphlets attacking the religious policies of King Charles I’s regime; Prynne was also branded on both cheeks with ‘S L’ for seditious libeller. Even in 1663, John Twyn was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn in London – now Marble Arch – under the recently restored King Charles II, having been found guilty of high treason for printing – not writing – a ‘seditious, poisonous and scandalous book’ justifying the people’s right to rebel against injustice.

Intolerance remained a core value of Western culture until the dawn of modernity. As late as 1691, French Catholic theologian Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet could boast: ‘I have the right to persecute you because I am right and you are wrong.’ No nonsense about everybody being ‘entitled to their opinion’ there. Heretical notions of free speech were not to be tolerated.

Yet it was also in the seventeenth-century age of Enlightenment that the growing belief in the freedom of the individual made free speech both necessary and desirable. It burst out as a burning political issue in the struggles between king, Church and parliament in the run-up to the English Revolution. That fire was to burn across the Atlantic.

Over the past 400 years, religious, political, cultural and sexual heretics have fought for the right to offend against the orthodoxy of the age. In the first wave of the modern free-speech wars in England, those demanding free speech were religious heretics who wished to break from the Church of Rome. The Puritans wanted a Bible printed in their own English language. The punishment for such heresy was for not only the book, but also the printer, to be burned at the stake. William Tyndale printed an English version of the New Testament in Germany in 1526 and smuggled it into England. He was strangled and burned for heresy in 1536. Just three years after he was executed, Henry VIII – having split from Rome and founded the Church of England – gave approval for an English text, the Great Bible, based on Tyndale’s work. Yesterday’s blasphemous heresy had become today’s orthodox belief.

The role of religious heretics in demanding free speech is worth remembering, when religion is often seen purely as a force for repression. Since these religious heretics came up against the censorious power of the central authority, their demands soon melded into a rising political clamour for the freedom of the press.

As the English Civil War broke out between king and parliament, John Milton published his plea for unlicensed printing in 1644, the Areopagitica, asking parliament to ‘Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties’. Milton was equally adamant that those who published blasphemy should be punished after the event. Nor did he wish the liberty to ‘utter and argue freely’ to be extended to devilish papists or non-believers. Tolerance has always been a difficult principle to uphold in practice.

The turmoil of the English Revolution, when the king was overthrown and executed in 1649 and the ‘order of the world’ turned on its head, brought new voices from below into public life for the first time. The radical Levellers movement formulated its own demands for more far-reaching changes in society, not least in relation to freedom of speech and of the press. Leveller John Lilburne called for an end to state licensing of the press: ‘For what may not be done to that people who may not speak or write, but at the pleasure of licensers?’

The English monarchy was restored in 1660, along with a new system of Crown licensing of the printing press. But when the Glorious Revolution replaced the autocratic Catholic King James II with the Protestant William of Orange in 1689, parliament passed a Bill of Rights. This wrote freedom of speech and debate into English law, at least for members of parliament. By 1695, the system of Crown licensing of the press finally ended. The fight for freedom of speech, however, was just beginning.



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 POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here