Thursday, June 30, 2016

Neglected children can stay with gypsy parents 'in spirit of diversity,' says British judge despite social workers plea for three youngsters to be taken into care

Three neglected children from a traveller family should carry on living with their parents because of the need to respect diversity, a judge ruled yesterday.

Mr Justice Mostyn said he would allow the children to stay with their mother and father because he wanted to show tolerance ‘to the traditions of different communities’.

His decision at the High Court came despite a plea from a social worker appointed to represent the children, aged two, four and nine, for them to be taken into care.

Mr Justice Mostyn said there were ‘fairly serious concerns’ about the children’s welfare.

He added: ‘The standards of parenting of this family, who come from the travelling community, are certainly not to the same standards as one would expect from a conventional nuclear family.

‘However, I have always been strongly of the view that tolerance must be shown, in a spirit of diversity, to the traditions of different communities. The parenting in this case has certainly been far more, one might say, robust, also delegated, than one would expect in the conventional nuclear family.’

Mr Justice Mostyn said there had been ‘incidents which take the matter beyond mere tolerance’ adding there had also been events ‘which go beyond mere robustness into the realm of neglect’.

The judge said the guardian, a social worker who represents the interests of the children, had urged social workers ‘to take active consideration in the forthcoming weeks and months to considering issuing care proceedings’.

However, he said her views were ‘not in any sense decisive’ and that social workers ‘wish to continue to work with this family’.

The judge said he would not order that the children be made wards of court, which would mean that major decisions about their lives would have to be made with a judge’s permission. Instead, he set up a supervision order which places the children under the watch of social workers for six months.

Mr Justice Mostyn told the parents they ‘must understand very clearly that even though the court is tolerant of their different traditions, their fundamental obligation is to care properly for their children and they must do so’.

He said failure to do so during the supervision period would mean ‘further, more dramatic, steps will no doubt be taken’.

The judgment was made public in the week after 36-year-old Ben Butler was sentenced to a minimum of 23 years in jail for murdering his six-year-old daughter Ellie in 2013.

The killing happened less than a year after Ellie was sent to live with her parents, against advice from social workers, by High Court judge Mrs Justice Hogg.

Social workers have demanded an explanation of Mrs Justice Hogg’s decision from the senior judiciary and fresh demands have been made to end the secrecy around family courts. Neither the parents in the traveller case nor the council whose social workers are involved has been publicly named


Military Bishop: Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Means ‘People Not Able to Act According to Their Religious Beliefs’

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who heads the Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, said he believes some of the detrimental effects of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, which legalized homosexual marriage, include “people not being able to act according to their fundamental religious beliefs.”

Broglio spoke at the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) fourth annual March for Marriage on Sept. 25 against same-sex marriage.

“I think some of the detrimental effects include people not being able to act according to their fundamental religious beliefs,” he told in an interview prior to the march on Saturday.

“I think there’s a certain pressure on those who uphold marriage as being between a man and a woman, they’re being pressured to change that belief,” said the archbishop. “Certainly people who work in areas, in service industries, are being also forced to compromise their religious beliefs, all of which at least, in my humble estimation, go against the First Amendment.”

The archbishop added that there is a tendency to “label anything that people disagree with as untenable or unacceptable and therefore hate speech, and that’s a problem because, of course, we’re required to teach the truth in love as Saint Paul told us.” asked Archbishop Broglio why it was important to him to come march for the issue a year after the Supreme Court decision in June 2015.

 “I think obviously standing for one man and one woman marriage is an important element of Catholic faith,” he replied, “and for that reason it’s important to use whatever catechetical moment we have to underline that and reiterate the importance of that truth.”


Know your Confucius and be less confused about values that matter

Confucius say: “Squirrel who runs up woman’s leg not find nuts.” That’s about the standard of Confucian education I received: schoolyard parodies of the 5th century BC Chinese sage’s quirky aphorisms.

It’s not quite the kind of thing Harvard academic Michael Puett and writer Christine Gross-Loh have in mind in their unexpected international bestseller, The Path: What Chinese Philosophy Can Teach us About the Good Life.

The Path, based on a popular Harvard undergraduate course, has been widely praised as a timely challenge to Western ideas about life, philosophy, and Eastern wisdom.

It has succeeded in reviving Western interest in Confucius at a time when Confucianism is also undergoing a revival in China after two great wrecking balls have swung through the country in the past half century, shattering trad­ition and shaking communities both rural and urban from their moorings. The first wrecker was the Cultural Revolution; the second was the market revolution.

Australians should get to grips with the ideas in The Path, for there is no other Western country where the imperatives of Asian engagement and Asian literacy are as urgent; America has Asia to think about, but it also has the Americas; Europe has Asia to think about, too, and it also abuts Russia and the Balkans; if you like, larger Europe. Asia is pretty much all Australia has got and we are, as a consequence, intimately tied to its destiny.

For the past decade policy makers have been pressing schools and universities to promote the cause of Asian language learning, but that’s not going anywhere fast. Contemplative Asian philosophy — Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism — offers an appealing key to the cultures to our north. Spark an interest in the Asian philosophies of living at schools and universities, and we might fuel the fire of mass Asian cultural literacy.

Knowledge of Asian philosophy, on the other hand, is not all about Asia. Traditional Asian philosophies challenge many of the assumptions that under-girder Western notions of the self, particularly the idea that there is a “true self” hidden within us all, which it is our duty to discover and to nurture.

As Puett argues in a recent New York Times interview, the pursuit of the authentic self sounds like a modern approach to life.

“But what if we’re, on the contrary, messy selves that tend to fall into ruts and patterns of behaviour? If so, the last thing we would want to be doing is embracing ourselves for who we are — embracing, in other words, a set of patterns we’ve fallen into. The goal should rather be to break these patterns and ruts, to train ourselves to interact better with those around us.”

The Path stresses the necessity of looking outward, not inward; the importance of personal change over personal acceptance. I would add a caveat here: pre-Christian western philosophies — particularly Aristotle and the Hellenistic schools — also stress these ideas.

Puett is no pop philosopher. He’s Harvard’s Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilisations and Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion. And he brings to the book the scholar’s gift for fine distinctions.

He is well aware, for example, that the Chinese government is attempting to foster an appreciation of Confucian values.

He is equally aware that the kind of Confucianism encouraged by Beijing is a conventional — he uses the word stereotyped — kind of teaching whose emphasis is social, and self, control.

As he puts it: “Confucianism is again read as being about keeping people in their place — only now this is seen as a good thing.”

Sensing their moral authority weakening and the bonds of society beginning to fray, the rulers in Beijing are promoting an older idea of Confucianism as a kind of social mortar.

To explore this point its worth turning to The Analects of Confucius as translated by Pierre Ryckmans, the Belgian born scholar of Chinese art and culture who taught at the Australian National University and the University of Sydney.

Confucius, for Ryckmans, has been portrayed as a philosopher of moderation when in fact he was an active, vital figure who was driven by passion. Ryckmans summed up the Confucian political ideal this way:

“An aristocrat who is immoral and uneducated ... is not a gentleman, whereas any commoner can attain the status of a gentleman if he proves himself morally qualified. As only gentlemen are fit to rule, political authority should be devolved purely on the criteria of moral achievement and intellectual competence. Therefore, in a proper state of affairs, neither birth nor money should secure power.”

Ryckmans describes this as a political message with “subversive potential”; and its challenge — call it perhaps an equal opportunity elitism — is certainly not limited to contemporary Chinese politics.

So here are some very good reasons for thinking about Confucius: he offers a challenge to some cherished ideas about the self, about ethics, and about politics.

He also offers a guide to trad­itional Chinese — in fact East Asian — values. And to the extent that Confucian values are a contested topic in contemporary China, the more we know about these values the better we are equipped to read contemporary China.

What is more, the better we know our Confucius, the easier it is to discern the real from the mock Confucius. Confucius did not say: “Man who speaks with forked tongue should not kiss balloons.” Or did he?


Warning: Labels

John Stossel

When you use a coffeepot, do you need a warning label to tell you: “Do not hold over people”?

Must a bicycle bell be sold with the warning: “Should be installed and serviced by a professional mechanic”? Of course not. Yet that bell also carries the warning: “Failure to heed any of these warnings may result in serious injury or death.”

This is nuts. It’s a bell.

The blizzard of warning labels means we often won’t read ones we should, like the Clorox label that warns, do not use bleach “with other product … hazardous gasses may result.” No kidding. Mixing bleach and ammonia creates gasses that can kill people.

But I rarely bother to read warning labels anymore, because manufacturers put them on everything.

A utility knife bears the warning: “Blades are sharp.”

I know about such dumb labels because Bob Dorigo Jones, author of “Remove Child Before Folding,” asks his readers and radio listeners to send in ridiculous labels for his “Wacky Warning Label” contest.

“We do this to point out how the rules that legislatures and Congress make favor litigation,” says Dorigo Jones. “We are the most litigious society on Earth. If the level of litigation in the United States was simply at the level of countries that we compete with for jobs in Asia and in Europe, we could save $589 billion a year.”

America has more silly warnings mainly because, unlike the rest of the world, we don’t have the “loser pays” rule in courts. That rule means that whoever wins a court battle is compensated by the loser. It creates an incentive not to bring frivolous cases.

In the U.S., the incentive is to try even dubious legal arguments and hope you’ll hit the jackpot. Or maybe your enemy will pay you to avoid the bigger cost of hiring lawyers to continue the fight.

More lawsuits mean more frightened corporate lawyers smearing labels on everything, just in case “lack of warning” is an issue in a lawsuit.

That’s probably why a toy Star Wars lightsaber comes with the label, “Not to Be Used as a Battle Device.” Why would they bother to say that? Did someone sue, claiming they thought a lightsaber would do what it does in Star Wars movies? I don’t know. The company never responded to our questions.

Some dumb labels are brought to us by dumb politicians. California requires warnings that something may be “toxic” or cause cancer on everything from foods to theme parks: “Disneyland Resort contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.” Gee thanks, California, but it would probably be better to warn kids about alligators over in Florida.

Dorigo Jones offers a prize to whomever submits the wackiest label. The lightsaber label won this year, earning Susannah Peat of Carmel, Indiana, a thousand dollars. You can submit your choices to try to win next year’s prize.

Please do. It’s important to make fun of lawyer-driven stupidity that distracts us from more important risks.

I suppose I shouldn’t really blame companies. They’ve been sued successfully so many times for not having labels that they feel they must try to protect themselves. Injuries aren’t the real danger here. Lawyers and politicians are.

When companies get sued, they end up charging higher prices to cover the cost of the lawyers. So those warning labels not only distract us but also are part of a process that makes us all poorer.

I worry that they also make us stupider.

Economists say that when people assume that government protects us from all possible harm, we acquire a false sense of security. We stop looking out for ourselves.

Those warning labels give us the impression that the law has assessed every possible risk — if something were seriously dangerous, government wouldn’t allow it.

Lawyers and legislators' insistence that most every action be bound by written rules makes many of us forget to use own own brains.



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


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