Friday, February 09, 2018

California baker who refused to make a wedding cake for same-sex couple for religious reasons IS allowed to turn away customers because it is 'artistic expression', judge rules

A California judge has sided with a baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding because of her religious beliefs.

Cathy Miller, the owner of Tastries Bakery in Bakersfield, made headlines last year when she turned away a Lesbian couple who wanted her to make their wedding cake.

Miller's lawyers had argued that making the cakes violated her Christian beliefs and free religious expression.

Superior Court Judge David Lampe ruled in favor of the baker on Monday, saying the act of making cakes was 'artistic expression' and did not violate California anti-discrimination laws.

'A wedding cake is not just a cake in a free speech analysis,' the judge wrote in his eight-page ruling.

'It is an artistic expression by the person making it that is to be used traditionally as a centerpiece in the celebration of a marriage. There could not be a greater form of expressive conduct.'

The case was initiated when same-sex couple Eileen and Mireya Rodriquez-Del Rio complained to the California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing after they tried to buy a cake from Miller's bakery for their wedding in October.

The state ruled in the couple's favor arguing that the First Amendment did not apply because the couple had not asked for any words or messages on the cake. They issued an order to force Miller to make the cake.

But Judge Lampe rejected the ruling and said his decision was based on the fact that Miller had not yet prepared the cake.

He said it would have been discrimination if the cake was already on display at the shop and Miller refused to let the couple buy it.

'A retail tire shop may not refuse to sell a tire because the owner does not want to sell tires to same sex couples,' Judge Lampe wrote.

'No baker may place their wares in a public display case, open their shop, and then refuse to sell because of race, religion, gender, or gender identification.'

At the time, Eileen Rodriquez-Del Rio said Miller had told them she would take their order, but give it to another bakery to make because she doesn't 'condone same sex marriages and will have no part in this process'.

A similar case in Colorado is still awaiting a Supreme Court decision involving baker Jack Phillips.

He has argued that he should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples based on free speech and free exercise of religion.


Antisemitism in the British Labour party

by John Mann, a Labour Party politician in England who has spoken out against antisemitism

I made my Question Time debut last week as a Labour MP. I was asked about Theresa May, about Brexit, about allegations of rape and how to deal with them and about statues of Margaret Thatcher. I talked about my work as a constituency MP, and as the longest-serving member of the Treasury Select Committee.

I discussed my work against child sexual exploitation and abuse and spoke about the economy and immigration. And yet, when I looked at my phone, I found I had received anti-Jewish abuse and an antisemitic death threat on social media. I am not Jewish, I didn’t talk about Jews and I didn’t discuss the Middle East.

This isn’t the first time. I can speak out about knife crime and drugs and the tweets come in – “who is paying you to do your work” “Why don’t you admit you’re in the pay of the Israeli government” and the like. It is not just tweets though. One Labour party member called me a “CIA *******” for dealing with the “antisemitism nonsense” following an appearance I made on the Daily Politics at Labour party conference talking about the Brexit. Not all, but the vast majority of these attacks have come from self-identified “left-wing” activists or Labour party supporters.

Anti-Jewish hate and invective is becoming so obsessive, so fervent that irrespective of what an anti-racist activist is discussing, antisemitism is the online reaction. Last week, Phillip Collins, in the Times, highlighted the problem of Left wing antisemitism and the obsessive hate of Israel. He pointed out that most of the statements people make are not actionable. The death threat I received will be, but much of the abuse fell into the other category. As he said: the “tone of voice, the severity, the passion, the elevation of an issue that should be one among many to a defining idea of political identity.” ”It connects to a loathing of America and of capitalism and of alleged western interference in the Middle East. For the uncomplicated racist, hatred of the undesirable people is the starting point. For the complicated, confused leftist, the denigration of a people is their conclusion.”

But now it’s one step further. There’s a group-focussed enmity. Anyone who calls out racism, or seeks to address anti-Jewish hatred is a target. It’s even now the case that allegations of antisemitism are being inferred or created and attributed to Jews in order to try and diminish the charge when one has not been made. This of course, undermines victims of antisemitism and their right to define such abuse and call out the abusers.

If you have had the misfortune of engaging these racist Twitter trolls, it won’t be long before you find some patterns emerging. It starts with talk of “Zionism” and quickly leads to allegations of the Holocaust being “rammed down our throats” and support for Holocaust revisionism. There is an antisemitic sickness, particularly afflicting the left, and it is spreading.

With the type-and-click ease and public platform that companies like Twitter provide, it is far easier than ever before to exist in a self-edifying bubble of conspiracy and hate. Despite promises and plans, the truth is that social media companies are ill equipped to deal with the problem. The initial response from Twitter to the death threat I reported, was to say it did not violate the company’s terms. The account was suspended, but clearly something went wrong. Most of the abusive, racist rubbish will however remain on line, easily discoverable by the young or any other people interested in searching about plans to address sexual abuse, Brexit or other matters. All the while, the obsessive racists fall further down the rabbit hole, convinced they will triumph over the fabricated “other” they define themselves against.

My political convictions are premised on action. I have acted, and I will continue to act, to deal with addressing these problems.

I expect Labour to call out the anti-Semites. When someone with a public platform in the party tweets a racist slur or alleges antisemitism is fabricated, they must be called out. Each and every Labour MP has a duty to speak. We cannot ask other party’s to deal with issues of antisemitism in their parties if we don’t call it out in our own.

As for social media, we need to change our framework for understanding how the online world operates. The Germans have done so, and the European Commission is on its way to doing so too. Social media platforms are publishers of content, not simply conduits. The more these companies manipulate and edit our feeds and timelines, the more apparent the case for them taking responsibility. Later this month, I will begin the process of seeking a change in the law to hold these companies to account for failing to take action against racism on their platforms.

We all have a responsibility to call out antisemitism. Any MP should be able to appear on a public show about the key policy issues of our time without being subjected to racist abuse. If we can’t defeat racism, then it’s not the politicians we need to be questioning but rather our future as a civilised society.


Is Jacob Rees-Mogg being turned into the Donald Trump of the Conservative party?

Clearly, there could hardly be a greater contrast between the two men in terms of personality, character and demeanour. Rees-Mogg is almost beyond caricature as the very essence of old-fashioned gentlemanly behaviour, self-restraint and thoughtful intellect; Donald Trump is… well, Donald Trump.

Just like Trump, however, Rees-Mogg has been transformed very fast from a joke figure on the fringes of politics to a front-runner for the leadership of the Conservative party and to become the next Prime Minister.

This is due to three factors. He is considered to be a political outsider, and is thus attractive to people for whom the entire political establishment is tainted; he has the virtue of absolute authenticity since he stands for things on which, however unpopular they may be — as a Catholic he is opposed to abortion, for example — he will remain staunch through thick and thin; and he represents values which are supported by millions of people but which the mainstream political establishment disdains.

Namely, he believes that since the British people have voted to leave the European Union they should actually leave the European Union. Accordingly, he stands robustly against all the weaselly ways in which the political establishment is attempting to ensure that Brexit happens in name only, with Britain remaining tied to the EU even after it has in legal terms made its exit.

Rees-Mogg therefore stands unequivocally for democracy, integrity and the independence of Britain as a self-governing nation. As a result, the political and media establishment is now intent on stopping him.

Exactly the same thing happened to Trump, whose relentless rise was the result of the same three factors (apart from the devout Catholicism) and who consequently has been the target of a frenzied attempt to destroy him. Now the cry has gone up: “Anyone but Rees-Mogg” — and also Boris Johnson, who has positioned himself as a staunch Brexiteer and is also still considered (amazingly) a leadership front-runner.

The Tory MP Anna Soubry, an extreme Remainer, says if Rees-Mogg and /or Johnson were to become leader she would quit the party. “They are not proper Conservatives”, she says. She has also urged Theresa May to “get a spine” and remove 35 “hard ideological Brexiteers” from the party.

So she wants 35 members of the party to be expelled because she disagrees with their views! The person who is not a conservative is surely Ms Soubry; indeed, she would appear to be not even a democrat.

Ms Soubry is in fact emblematic of precisely why the Conservative party has so completely lost its way. It no longer understands what it needs so urgently to conserve, and insofar as it does dimly grasp this most certainly lacks the spine to do so.

That’s precisely why, like Trump in the US, Rees-Mogg has risen so fast — as the champion of values so deeply cherished by millions but which, along with those millions themselves, the political and cultural establishment so deeply despise.


'Settled Science' Just Got Blown Up

For decades, the federal government has been telling people to cut fats and increase carbs in their diet, relying on supposedly settled nutrition science. A new study shows that the advice has been completely wrong.

In Woody Allen's 1973 comedy, Sleeper, his character wakes up 200 years after routine surgery, and two doctors discuss his health status. The conversation goes like this:

Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called "wheat germ, organic honey and tiger's milk."

Dr. Aragon: (chuckling) Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.

Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or ... hot fudge?

Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy ... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.

Dr. Melik: Incredible.

Incredible, indeed, since it turns out that Allen had it exactly right.

That's the conclusion of a massive new study published in Lancet that followed 135,335 people in 18 countries on five continents.

The study found that consumption of fat was associated with a lower risk of mortality, while consumption of carbohydrates was associated with a higher risk.

It found that the kind of fat didn't matter when it came to heart disease, and that saturated fat consumption was inversely related to strokes.

The researchers say, ever so politely, that "dietary guidelines should be reconsidered in light of these findings."

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This research adds to a growing body of evidence that the government's war on fats has been dangerously misguided, if not deadly.

For example, a 2010 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, after looking at years of research, concluded that "there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease."

Other studies have found that whole milk lowers the risk of obesity.

Yet the government still admonishes against saturated fats and tells people to drink skim milk.

Meanwhile, government's push for a low-fat, high-carb diets has contributed to the explosion in obesity in the U.S.

The national obesity rate had been relatively flat between 1960 and 1980 — the first year the USDA issued its nutrition guidelines. But less than a decade after 1980, obesity rates shot up from 15% to 23%.

But don't expect the USDA to "reconsider" its guidelines, much less admit it was wrong, based on the new findings, since doing so would undermine the government's credibility.

This is the problem when science becomes politicized. And it's a prime example of why the public should be extremely wary of any claims that science is "settled" on any issue as complicated as health, nutrition, or, say, predicted changes in global climate 100 years from now.



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


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