Thursday, July 22, 2021

DeSantis: Disrespected Police Officers Can Relocate to Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on July 12 that police officers from around the United States are welcome to relocate to Florida for a better workplace “culture” if they feel disenchanted.

“I do think you will see; I think you’ve already seen. But there are people in these police departments in various other parts of the country who, if they can get a job in Florida, they want to come to Florida to be able to do it,” he said, according to local media. “Because the culture is better, and they understand they’re going to be supported much more resolutely [in] what they do.”

DeSantis referenced rampant anti-police protests last year following the death of George Floyd, arguing that the lack of support for law enforcement has caused crime rates to spike. Some city governments moved to cut funding to their police departments in the face of left-wing calls to “defund the police.”

Some cities such as Baltimore, Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Portland, Oregon, cut police funding in the wake of the demonstrations and riots—although some municipalities recently have begun to pledge additional funding to departments.

“Make no mistake: the reason that you have such huge spikes in crime in many parts of the country is because of not standing up for law enforcement, having weak policies where you’re letting people out, and you’re not prosecuting people who are committing habitual offenses,” the Republican governor said. “That is clearly causing disastrous consequences.”

Epoch Times Photo
Thousands of people take part in a demonstration to defund the police in support of Black Lives Matter in Toronto, on June 19, 2020. (The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette)
The governor’s comments come amid a wave of retirements and resignations in police and sheriff’s departments across the United States. Recruitment is also down across departments.

An analysis by The Epoch Times last month revealed that the top three police departments in the country—New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago—have lost thousands of officers since 2019. Other cities have seen significant declines in their law enforcement ranks.

Over the past two years, the LAPD has lost about 600 officers, which reportedly has been blamed on a government hiring freeze implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the City Council’s move to cut the department’s budget by about $150 million amid “defund the police” calls.

In Chicago, 646 officers resigned or retired in 2020, while as of April 30, 330 have left the department, the analysis shows.

New York hasn’t fared much better, either, with retirements spiking to 2,600 last year from 1,509 in 2019, an NYPD spokesperson said. An additional 350 NYPD officers have exited this year, as of May 15.


California Appeals Court Overturns Anti-Misgendering Law on First Amendment Grounds

A California appeals court struck down as unconstitutional a state law that penalized elder-care workers for using pronouns inconsistent with elderly long-term care patients’ claimed gender identity.

Gender identity is a disputed concept. A lack of linguistic clarity has clouded the issue in recent years as the concepts of sex and sexual identity, or gender, a politically and scientifically contentious concept whose definition isn’t universally agreed upon, have become difficult to separate. Despite the distinct meanings of the two words, many institutions and individuals use “gender” to mean biological sex, especially on fillable forms and documents.

Failing to use gender in its new meaning can be costly nowadays.

A New York human rights law banning gender identity discrimination imposes fines of up to $250,000 for failing to use a person’s preferred personal pronouns.

Social media giant Twitter bans users for “misgendering” or “deadnaming” transgender people, categorizing it as harassment and abuse. Deadnaming is referring to people by names they used before they changed their gender identity—for example, calling Caitlyn Jenner by that person’s birth name, Bruce Jenner.

Facebook reportedly recognizes at least 58 genders, allowing users to select which gender to use in their profile self-descriptions. Among them are Androgynous, Bigender, Cisgender, Gender Fluid, Genderqueer, Non-binary, Pangender, Trans, and Two-Spirit.

But in a rare legal defeat for the transgenderism movement, a ruling by the Court of Appeal of the State of California, 3rd Appellate District, sided with First Amendment speech protections over activists. The ruling by the three-judge panel was unanimous.

The court decision in Taking Offense v. State of California, came on July 16. Taking Offense is an informal group of state taxpayers.

The court decision affects the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Long-Term Care Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights, which the California Legislature added to the state’s Health and Safety Code in 2017.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat, said in 2017 that he wrote the bill because LGBT seniors face special challenges that weren’t covered by existing nursing home laws, local media reported.

Wiener said he had received reports of LGBT seniors being mistreated.

“We have a number of advocacy organizations that are very excited about the bill, that helped us get it passed, and they are definitely putting the word out that people living in long-term care facilities have these protections and should be aware of them,” he said.

Health and Safety Code section 1439.51, subdivision (a)(5), “prohibits staff members of long-term care facilities from willfully and repeatedly referring to a facility resident by other than the resident’s preferred name or pronoun when clearly informed of the name and pronoun,” according to court documents.

Taking Offense challenged that provision, arguing that it violates care facility staff members’ rights to free speech, free exercise of religion, and freedoms of thought and belief, and is vague and overbroad.

The court said it “recognized the Legislature’s legitimate and laudable goal of rooting out discrimination against LGBT residents of long-term care facilities,” but stated that “we agree with Taking Offense that … the pronoun provision, is a content-based restriction of speech that does not survive strict scrutiny.”

“The pronoun provision—whether enforced through criminal or civil penalties—is overinclusive in that it restricts more speech than is necessary to achieve the government’s compelling interest in eliminating discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of sex. Rather than prohibiting conduct and speech amounting to actionable harassment or discrimination as those terms are legally defined, the law criminalizes even occasional, isolated, off-hand instances of willful misgendering—provided there has been at least one prior instance—without requiring that such occasional instances of misgendering amount to harassing or discriminatory conduct.

“Using the workplace context as an analogy, the statute prohibits the kind of isolated remarks not sufficiently severe or pervasive to create an objectively hostile work environment.

“There is no requirement in the statute that the misgendering at issue here negatively affect any resident’s access to care or course of treatment. Indeed, there is no requirement that the resident even be aware of the misgendering.”

In this case, the attorney general “has not shown that criminalizing occasional, off-hand, or isolated instances of misgendering, that need not occur in the resident’s presence and need not have a harassing or discriminatory effect on the resident’s treatment or access to care, is necessary to advance that goal.”


Be careful whom you celebrate

Many Americans have a "thing" for bad boys and make heroes of them. Along with Jesse James, they celebrate bloodthirsty revolutionaries like Che Guevara, cop-killers like Mumia Abu-Jamal, drug lords like Joaquín Guzmán (El Chapo) whom they lionize in songs (narcocorridos), robbers like Bonnie and Clyde, and all manner of scum and villainy not fit for society. Maybe they'd have a different bunch of heroes had they been victims of their intemperate heroes.

This celebration of criminals goes back decades. But nowadays, if one isn't a big-time evildoer, one can still ascend into the pantheon if one is a victim like, say, George Floyd. Mr. Floyd certainly didn't deserve the treatment he got from the Minneapolis police, but neither does he deserve the shrines. He resisted arrest and had used fentanyl, microscopic amounts of which are fatal. Floyd also had quite a rap sheet, with stints in prison. Should he really be beatified?

Consider another type of hero:

The University of Missouri in Columbia was the first university established in the territory of the Louisiana Purchase, a rather smart investment made by one Thomas Jefferson. In 1883, descendants of Jefferson donated his original tombstone to UMC, which "was unveiled at the university on July 4, 1885."

On July 6, I visited the campus of UMC, and, strolling on the quadrangle, I learned that Jefferson's tombstone had been encased in acrylic to protect it from student vandals. In September of 2020, the Columbia Missourian reported:

The acrylic case was put in place by MU to ramp up security around the obelisk after incidents of vandalism occurred near it and the bronze statue of Jefferson sitting nearby.

"We took this action to protect it from vandalism," MU spokesperson Christian Basi said in an email. "This is Jefferson's original tombstone, and it was entrusted to the university. We have a responsibility to ensure that it is preserved appropriately."

Many took to Twitter after the case was built to criticize the decision.

The university might do a little introspection to see if it could be responsible for engendering its students' self-righteous indignation at Jefferson's obelisk. How do dumb kids get the idea that they are moral arbiters of anything if not by their professors? Students are being told that they're morally superior. They have no doubts and make heroes and martyrs out of ne'er-do-wells like George Floyd while destroying the shrines to those whose greatness they have neither the maturity nor sophistication to understand.

Students who harm our heritage, like Jefferson's tombstone, should be expelled and indicted. Teachers who fill students' minds with garbage should be summarily fired. On July 18, Mark Levin provided a roadmap on how you can "push back" against the idiocy in education; watch this four-minute video of it.

America needs a better bunch of heroes. I suggest the old ones, like Jefferson.


Pastor Who Resisted Church Lockdowns Threatened With Death, His Family Intimidated

Pastor Brian Gibson, who has been a target of cancel culture for resisting draconian lockdown measures as well as for exercising his First Amendment rights, has received hundreds of death threats. He and his family have experienced various forms of harassment.

“Just for being a vocal proponent of the First Amendment, just for being someone that supported President Trump, and someone that spoke out actively, I received close to 1,500 death threats. People broke into my house, kicked my gate down, hacked all of our accounts,” Gibson said on EpochTV’s “Crossroads” program.

“It’s amazing what they can do and how coordinated some of these intimidation rings can really be. I think I underestimated what that would really be until it happened to me.”

Gibson and his family were threatened on social media and received intimidating phone calls or mail. It affected his three kids, aged 9 to 15, the pastor said.

“My kids … weren’t able to go home for over a month. And then … we had to sell that home and relocate.”

Gibson took his family to a rather isolated place in the Rocky Mountains to get away, but they were found, even there, and intimidated while spending time in a park.

“I didn’t know if they were going to try to kill me,” Gibson said. “So I went into a convenience store, sent my kids out the back through woods to where we were staying, and I went around the other side of a building—flanked this guy and found out what he was doing there [and] confronted the man.”

Gibson has multiple churches in Texas and Kentucky. Through his organization Peaceably Gather, he has helped churches to reopen when pandemic-related lockdowns were imposed across the country.

When lockdowns due to the pandemic caused by the virus were in effect, Gibson’s church in Kentucky ran a drive-thru Easter egg giveaway for kids. The Health Department told the pastor that his church would be shut down if he continued to pass out eggs.

There were “less than 10 people working, gloved and masked, giving an egg to a kid in the name of Jesus,” Gibson said, yet the health department had concerns about it.

“They’re letting the liquor stores do drive-thru sales. They’re letting the fast food places do that. The Lowe’s is full of people, Home Depot’s full of people, all the big box stores right?” he said.

“It blew a fuse in me. I called all the local media [and] told them: ‘I’m going to defy the governor’s orders. Here’s when I want to do it, here’s how I’m going to do it. Have them come arrest me.’ And I was looking to get arrested for Jesus.”

He then started Peaceably Gather and rallied pastors. “I think the hand of God was guiding me. God called me for that time. And over the course of the next three weeks, 5,000 churches opened up with us.”

Capitol Protest

On Jan. 5, the day before the U.S. Capitol breach, Gibson gave a speech at Freedom Plaza in Washington.

“The only thing I did on the fifth is, I preached the gospel of Jesus Christ of Nazareth in Freedom Plaza, telling people about his death, burial, resurrection, telling people they could be forgiven of their sins, and also standing up and speaking for the First Amendment,” he said.

About six months earlier when speaking out in Arizona, Gibson had taken a selfie with a man who stood out in the crowd because he was wearing a large, horned fur hat.

“I take a pic with him, post it up on my Instagram, [saying], ‘This guy’s got the craziest outfit in Arizona today,’” he said.

It turned out that the man in the picture became one of the people who entered the Capitol building during the breach on Jan. 6 and was later arrested.

Media used the picture to try to frame the pastor, saying that he was “one of the masterminds of the Capitol siege,” according to Gibson.

“I wasn’t in the Capitol, but I think what they do when they create these hit pieces, they’re trying to build a narrative against you, build a case against you: No. 1, with the public, and No. 2, they want a legal case against you,” he said.

“The mainstream media works to try to spin the narrative, and to spin public opinion before they’ll ever file charges on somebody.”

Do Not Be Afraid

“In America, especially in the West, a lot of the churches bought into that the blessing of God will make sure there’s no problems in your life,” Gibson said. “I preach that [God will bless you]—I believe that 100 percent—but he also promised people persecution.

“In America, we’ve become so comfortable. We don’t want to give up any of our comforts for real truth and real conviction anymore. And that’s why the church remained silent during the lockdowns. So that’s why so many pastors didn’t speak up and push back.”

People don’t want to speak up against critical race theory or on other issues because they don’t want to be labeled a racist, Gibson said.

“Stand up for what you believe in. Don’t be afraid. Continue to love your enemies, but stand your ground. I think that’s really what we need in America,” he said.

Gibson advises people, especially Christians, to look at the current situation and issues such as cancel culture from a broader perspective.

“Stop being afraid of what somebody might do to you. … The high cost of living is potentially dying,” Gibson said. “I don’t want to die. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a martyr’s complex, I want to live a long life, be an old man, see all of my kids’ kids.

“But if someone has such a grip of fear around you, [that] you can’t live or be who you are, what good is living anyway? So I really think it’s time for people to not be afraid.”

Pope John Paul II, during his inauguration ceremony in 1978, said, “Do not be afraid.”

Historians agree that the pope’s words informed by his faith uplifted people’s spirits and inspired people to stand up to communist oppression leading to the fall of communism in Eastern Europe




Tuesday, July 13, 2021

A group of scientists have argued for the 'racist' term 'caucasian' to be banned

The term is obsolete but it has come to be used as a euphemism for "European" so, as long as that is understood, I doubt that it does much harm

The word 'caucasian' should be banned because it is 'associated with a racist classification of humans', according to five Cambridge and UCL scientists.

Researchers said scientists should only use the term when absolutely unavoidable but refrain from 'usage where possible'.

Authors of the article titled 'The language of race, ethnicity, and ancestry in human genetic research' said the term Caucasian was an 'old term associated with racist and pseudo-scientific classifications of humans'.

Caucasian, they wrote, is 'an 18th-century term invented to denote pale-skinned northern and western Europeans, or in other archaic connotations a wider range of people based on skull measurements, including west Asians, south Asians, north Africans and Europeans.'

The paper, published on the pre-print sever arxiv, added: 'The language commonly used in human genetics can inadvertently pose problems for multiple reasons.

'Terms like 'ancestry', 'ethnicity', and other ways of grouping people can have complex, often poorly understood, or multiple meanings within the various fields of genetics between different domains of biological sciences and medicine, and between scientists and the general public.

The paper said scientists should add quotation marks around the word when used in research, the Telegraph reported.

Authors Dr Ewan Birney, Michael Inouye, Dr Jennifer Raff, Dr Adam Rutherford, and Aylwyn Scally said their is intended 'to stimulate a much-needed discussion about the language of genetics'.

Adding they hoped it would help 'begin a process to clarify existing terminology, and in some cases adopt a new lexicon that both serves scientific insight, and cuts us loose from various aspects of a pernicious past.'

Dr Ewan Birney, deputy director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory at the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridgeshire, has added terms such as 'Native American', 'Hispanic', 'White Irish', and 'European', should also be avoided.

Instead, he says, researchers should use more scientific language derived from a two-step genetic analysis.

'European', for example, would instead be 'the European-associated PCA [principal component analysis] cluster, which aims to minimise variation in non-genetic factors and genetic factors'.

The suggestion, which even Dr Birney terms 'bamboozling' for non-scientists, is intended to prioritise 'technical accuracy over concision'.

The researchers said: 'Some of these suggestions may meet with disagreement; we present them partly to stimulate discussion of these and other terms, and in the hope that this will lead to better and more accurate language conventions and less misunderstanding, particularly outside of human genetics'.

Announcing the paper, honorary Senior Research Associate at UCL Dr Rutherford said: 'I have been working on this a while: sparking a conversation about the lexicon of genetics, which continues to utilise scientifically redundant, confusing and racist terminology.'

Adding in a second tweet: 'We're definitely not prescribing or policing language, but want to prompt a dialogue with colleagues in similar and adjacent fields about our terminology, datasets and tools, and move towards a lexicon that both serves the science and frees us from a racist past.'

Among his fellow contributors, who were each given equal credit, were Dr Jennifer Graff, a geneticist and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kansas, Michael Inouye, Principal Research Associate in Systems Genomics and Population Health, and Darwin College, Cambridge geneticist Aylwyn Scally.


Again the Supreme Court defends religious believers. Again it's unanimous

by Jeff Jacoby

WHEN THE NATION'S highest court issued a 9-0 decision last week upholding a Catholic social-service agency's right to participate in Philadelphia's foster care program, it provoked a mordant comment from Case Western law professor Jonathan Adler:

"Supreme Court rules UNANIMOUSLY against Philadelphia in Fulton religious liberty case; opinion by [Chief Justice] Roberts," Adler tweeted. "So tell me again, who are the extremists?"

It was an apt comment. Throughout this case, Catholic Social Services and its supporters had been portrayed as the aggressors, hostile to gay and lesbian equality and outrageously demanding the right to be closed-minded and intolerant. By their unanimous verdict, the justices made clear just which side they thought had behaved outrageously. It wasn't the church.

The litigation stemmed from a decision by the city of Philadelphia to ban CSS, an arm of the local archdiocese, from providing foster services for needy children. For more than 50 years, the Catholic agency had contracted with the city to provide such services. Officials had described it as "a point of light in the city's foster care system." But when a church spokesman said that, on religious grounds, it could not certify same-sex couples as foster parents, the city pulled the plug. It refused to renew the organization's contract on the grounds that it was in violation of Philadelphia's antidiscrimination rules.

CSS hadn't actually discriminated against anyone. The church spokesman had been speaking theoretically. No same-sex couple had ever asked the Catholic agency for foster care certification; faced with such a request, it would have referred the couple to one of the 27 agencies in Philadelphia that do certify same-sex couples. Nevertheless, the city barred CSS from all further foster care work. More than that: Despite an acute shortage of foster homes, the city prohibited any child from being placed with foster parents previously vetted and certified by CSS.

In essence, officials ordered Catholic Social Services to disavow its religious beliefs or to end its exemplary foster care services. They refused to make any accommodation that would allow CSS to continue caring for children in need without violating church teaching. They insisted on rigid adherence to the law, even if that meant fewer caring homes for those children.

Progressive voices defended the city's hard line. The Philadelphia Inquirer denounced Catholic Social Services for clinging to "a bigoted view that should not be rewarded with public funds." The ACLU accused CSS of demanding "a license to discriminate against LGBTQ families" and derided its plea for an exemption as "legally baseless."

To which a unanimous Supreme Court said: Wrong.

There are many issues on which the justices disagree. Yet time and again, they have put ideological differences aside to enforce the First Amendment's command: Government may not impede the free exercise of religion absent a truly imperative reason to do so.

Philadelphia officials described Catholic Social Services as "a point of light in the city's foster care system."

The modern court is a civil rights bulwark, and its support for LGBTQ equality has been cemented in such landmark decisions as Lawrence v. Texas, Obergefell v. Hodges, and, most recently, Bostock v. Clayton County. But the court has been equally clear that religious liberty is a paramount value under the Constitution. It is not subordinate to the state's interest in upholding same-sex marriage. It may not be bulldozed aside when it's at odds with a nondiscrimination policy. When such a conflict exists, government must seek a way to accommodate religion. The issue in Philadelphia, wrote the chief justice, "is not whether the City has a compelling interest in enforcing its non-discrimination policies generally, but whether it has such an interest in denying an exception to CSS."

This is not the first time religious believers have been told that their views must bow to other government interests.

In the Hosanna-Tabor Church case in 2012, the interest in question was employment rights under the Americans with Disablities Act. In McCullen v. Coakley, it was the Massachusetts law mandating a "buffer zone" around abortion clinics. In Holt v. Hobbs, it was Arkansas's interest in maintaining a strict dress code in prisons. In Little Sisters of the Poor v. Azar, it was the government's requirement that employers subsidize contraception through employees' health plans.

In each of these recent cases, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the officials who refused to adapt their policy to make room for First Amendment liberties. Now, in Fulton v. Philadelphia, it has done so once more.

On today's culture-war battlefields, religious views that contradict prevailing secular dogma are often reviled as unenlightened fanaticism unworthy of legal protection. But on the Supreme Court, liberals and conservatives alike have a different view. The free exercise of religion goes to the bedrock of America's constitutional system. The justices have been saying so with increasing frequency, and they don't seem inclined to let up.


Some Facebook users have recently reported being sent warning messages from the social media giant relating to “extremists” or “extremist content.”

“Are you concerned that someone you know is becoming an extremist?” one message reads. “We care about preventing extremism on Facebook. Others in your situation have received confidential support.”

The message also provides a button to “Get Support,” which leads to another Facebook page about extremism.

Redstate editor Kira Davis, who said was sent a screenshot of the message from a friend, wrote: “Hey has anyone had this message pop up on their FB? My friend (who is not an ideologue but hosts lots of competing chatter) got this message twice. He’s very disturbed.”

And others reported getting a warning that they may have been “exposed to harmful extremist content recently.” The message then states that “violent groups try to manipulate your anger and disappointment,” similarly offering a “Get Support” option.

“Facebook randomly sent me this notice about extremism when I clicked over to the app. Pretty weird. … The Get Support button just goes to a short article asking people not to be hateful,” another user on Twitter wrote.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to The Epoch Times on July 1 that the company is currently running the warnings as a test to some users.

“This test is part of our larger work to assess ways to provide resources and support to people on Facebook who may have engaged with or were exposed to extremist content, or may know someone who is at risk. We are partnering with NGOs and academic experts in this space and hope to have more to share in the future,” the spokesperson said, without elaborating.

The messages come after lawmakers have repeatedly targeted and pressured CEOs of big tech firms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft, essentially accusing them of allowing “extremism,” misinformation, and cyberbullying on their platforms. Such social media companies have faced criticism from Republicans who have accused them of censoring conservative voices and limiting the reach—or outright blocking—content that portrays Democrat political figures in a negative light.

Conservatives, including former President Donald Trump, have argued for the revocation of Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, which serves as a liability shield for online publishers. However, the movement to rein in Big Tech was dealt a blow earlier this week when a federal judge tossed a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit against Facebook that had accused the firm of engaging in anti-competitive practices.

These warning messages, however, are sure to trigger even more negative feedback against Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, over fears that the company is attempting to stifle free speech. On Twitter, as screenshots of the warning messages were being shared en masse on July 1, many users expressed concern over the direction Facebook is taking.


An imported woke leftist culture is 'racialising' France, causing splits in society and holding back ethnic minorities, President Emmanuel Macron has claimed

Macron said the political left's insistence on defining their countrymen by their ethnicity and depicting them as victims is causing rifts, and blamed social science ideas that have come from the United States.

'I see that our society is becoming progressively racialised,' Macron told Elle magazine in an interview published this week, going on to say that he believed ethnic minorities have been placed 'under house arrest' by left-wing ideology.

He also pointed blame at feminists and black rights activists for seeking to define people according to their gender and their skin colour, arguing that such views cause rifts in French society and limit social mobility among ethnic minorities.

A new generation of younger French activists are increasingly vocal in denouncing the problem of racism in France and the legacy of the country's colonial past in Africa and the Middle East.

But their opponents see the focus on race and the past as opening up unnecessary divisions and encouraging a culture in which minorities and women see themselves as constantly oppressed and discriminated against.

Movements against racism over the last year such as Black Lives Matter, which resonated in France after arriving from the US, have led to fears among some critics that the country is importing American racial and identity politics sometimes labelled as 'woke culture.'

Macron took aim in particular at the idea of 'intersectionality' - popular among left-leaning U.S. academics - that seeks to explain discrimination and poverty by examining the role played by race and gender in affecting an individual's life chances.

'The logic of intersectionality fractures everything,' he said. 'I stand for universalism. I don't agree with a fight that reduces everyone to their identity or their particularity.

'Social difficulties are not only explained by gender and the colour of your skin, but also by social inequalities,' he insisted.

'We had freed ourselves from this approach and now we are once more categorising people according to their race and by doing that we are totally placing them under house arrest,' the head of state added.

The 43-year-old added that he could think of young white men in his hometown of Amiens or nearby Saint-Quentin in northern France 'who also have immense difficulties, for different reasons, in finding a job'.

'Social difficulties are not only structured by gender and by skin colour, but also by social inequality,' he said.

Macron's comments have been interpreted as an attempt to appeal to mainstream voters and regain ground in the centre of France's politics ahead of presidential elections in April.

People have also seen it as an attempt by Macron to paint himself as the defender of a French social model against ideas perceived as left-leaning that have gained ground in U.K. and U.S. universities, according to The Times.

The President also defended his decision to appoint Gérald Darmanin as France's Interior Minister. Darmanin is a hard-line right-winger facing an inquiry into allegations that he raped a woman in 2009, which he denies.

'I am not going to give in to the ambient madness, which consists in saying that anyone who faces an accusation is necessarily guilty,' Macron said.

'I defend the presumption of innocence. For years, we dealt badly with the victims of violence. The risk now is to enter into a society of absolute victimisation. If the voice of the victim covers all the others, you are no longer in a society of justice but of vengeance.'

Macron attempted to win over French feminist groups by saying he had been the first mainstream leader to put domestic violence on the country's political agenda.

He also promised to improve protection available to women with violent partners and husbands.

However, Macron said he rejected extending the time limit for abortions in France from 12 to 14 weeks, saying the 'trauma' for women was increased after this period.

In the interview timed for the start of a UN-sponsored summit on gender inequality in Paris, Macron also promised to do more to combat domestic violence and women's health problems such as endometriosis.

He also backed his education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, who has spoken out against girls wearing crop-tops in schools.

'I'm in favour of "dressing properly" at school, for girls as well as boys,' Macron said. 'Everything that is a marker of identity, or a desire to shock or stand out, shouldn't be at school.'

Blanquer demanded that French pupils, who do not wear uniforms, come to school in 'republican dress' last September amid protests over bans on crop-tops or mini skirts at some establishments.

'School is not a place like any other,' the minister said. 'You don't go to school as if you're going to the beach or to a nightclub.'

Macron's interview has been published in the wake of his party LREM (The Republic on the Move) experiencing a wipe-out in local elections on Sunday, as it failed to win a single one of the country's key mainland regions.

Despite an appalling turn-out of around a third of the country in the second round of the regional elections – the first took place a week earlier – the results are seen as key indicator of how both Mr Macron and Marine Le Pen's far-Right National Rally might do in presidential elections next year.

The principal winners on Sunday were the mainstream conservative right, in the form of the opposition Republicans party.

Nationally, Mr Macron's LREM (The Republic on the Move) won less than 10 percent of the vote. Sunday's nationwide poll was also a disaster for Le Pen, whose party also failed to make any breakthroughs.




Friday, July 02, 2021

Democrats discover that 'defund the police' is political poison

by Jeff Jacoby

AS NEW YORK headed into the home stretch of last week's mayoral primary campaign, progressive New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg considered the prospect of a victory by Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president running as the most unabashedly pro-police, anti-crime candidate in the race.

"For New York Democrats to choose a law-and-order mayor now," Goldberg wrote in the New York Times, "would be seen as a rebuke to progressives all over the country."

Four days later, it appeared that Adams had come in first in the June 22 primary. The final tally hasn't been released, but it seems more likely than not that the next mayor will be an outspoken Black former cop who for months has rained contempt on progressive demands to "slash the Police Department budget and shrink the police force." Such asinine proposals, he says, threaten the lives of "Black and brown babies" and are promoted primarily by "a lot of young, white, affluent people."

It was indeed a rebuke to the nation's progressive elites and woke activists. And not a moment too soon.

All decent Americans were horrified last year by the pitiless murder of George Floyd, and hundreds of thousands were roused to march and cry out against racial injustice and police brutality. But on the hard left, that reaction soon morphed into something more destructive: relentless demonizing of law enforcement, political pressure to defund police departments, and disdain for any reminder that "blue lives matter" too as racist, cynical, or antisocial. As cities across the country erupted in riots, theft, and arson, progressives sang the praises of "unrest in the streets," defended looting as "reparations," and insisted again and again that the upheaval — which caused dozens of deaths and at least $1 billion in damage — was "mostly peaceful."

Unlike other countries, where the COVID-19 pandemic led to less serious crime, violence in US cities has soared. The murder rate in New York exploded by 45 percent in 2020 and another 17 percent so far this year. Homicides increased sharply in Chicago, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Miami. In Portland, Ore., which slashed its police budget and shut down three law enforcement units, murders skyrocketed by 255 percent. Oakland police chief LeRonne Armstrong, speaking to reporters Monday about the loss of $17 million in funding, was reduced almost to tears as he described his city's devastating rise in murder, robbery, shootings, and carjackings.

America has been living through its deadliest crime wave in more than a generation. Yet for much of the past year, honest discussion of violent crime was so taboo on the left that it went unmentioned at the Democratic convention. In the meantime, police morale has plummeted and cops have quit in droves.

Now the political chickens have come home to roost. Murders have spiked in US cities from coast to coast. The victims have included dozens of children.

Democrats are realizing that the progressive message on crime and policing is electoral poison. The "defund the police" movement is "nuts," former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis recently told The Hill. "My God, what the hell is going on here?... You have folks screaming and yelling about getting rid of policing, which makes no sense at all." As crime reaches levels not seen in decades, trust in Black Lives Matter has been sinking in the polls, while support for police has been gaining.

Progressives' anti-police rhetoric didn't help Democrats among minority voters, it hurt. Data analyst David Shor told New York magazine that the "defund the police" campaign drove Hispanic voters away from Democratic candidates last fall. "We raised the salience of an ideologically charged issue that millions of nonwhite voters disagreed with us on," he said. he said. Polling by the Manhattan Institute finds that among Black New Yorkers, only 17 percent want to decrease the number of police officers in their neighborhoods, while 62 percent would like to see stepped-up policing of quality-of-life issues, such as graffiti and public urination.

"Large numbers of Black and Latino voters," reports the New York Times, reject the left's approach to "the very issues — race and criminal justice — that progressives assumed would rally voters of color to their side."

At least some progressives are getting the message. Consider crime-weary Cleveland, a minority-majority city where former mayor and congressman Dennis Kucinich, a lifelong Democrat from the leftmost wing of his party, is running to once again lead the city he presided over in the 1970s. His signature issue: Hiring 400 new police officers. Kucinich says he wants to "send a message loud and clear to violent felons: A strengthened Cleveland police force will pursue you. You cannot escape. You will be caught."

A year ago, few Democrats — and no progressives — would have dared speak that way. But a wave of devastating riots and the largest murder spike in more than 60 years have a way of clarifying the political stakes. Which is why a law-and-order hardliner is in the lead to be New York's next mayor, and why the "defund the police" movement is about to expire.


Supreme Court Upholds donation confidentiality

What would it take for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Independent Women’s Law Center, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Gun Owners of America, and the Human Rights Campaign and the Proposition 8 Legal Defense Fund to be found in the same trench fighting the same opponent? Nothing less than the right to the freedom of association, which the Supreme Court has held is implicit in the First Amendment.

In Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, the Supreme Court on Thursday held by a 6-3 majority that California violated that right by demanding that charitable organizations disclose their major donors as a condition of fundraising in the state.

Charitable organizations in California that solicit contributions are required by state law to register with the state and provide reports that include their federal IRS Form 990. While most Form 990 information is public, federal law requires that “Schedule B,” which lists an organization’s “substantial donors,” be kept confidential.

Americans for Prosperity and the Thomas More Law Center refused to provide their Schedule B’s to the state, and instead sued California. The risk of public disclosure of this sensitive information, they argued, violates the right of association, especially when California does not actually use it to investigate charitable misconduct.

In a 1958 landmark decision titled NAACP v. Alabama, the Supreme Court unanimously held that requiring disclosure of a group’s members “may constitute as effective a restraint on freedom of association as [other] forms of government action.” Not surprisingly, the NAACP joined an amicus brief defending the same principle in today’s case.

An important issue in the case was the legal standard that should be applied in such compelled disclosure cases. The tougher the standard, the closer the connection must be between what the government wants to do and its reason for doing it.

The district court applied a standard called “exacting scrutiny,” which requires that government action be “substantially related to a sufficiently important governmental interest.” This standard, according to the district court, further requires that the action be “narrowly tailored” for the government’s purpose.

This is a rigorous standard, meant to minimize the possibility that government actions deter people from exercising their First Amendment freedom of association.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed the district after applying a more lenient version of the “exacting scrutiny” standard that did not require this “narrowly tailored” connection. The Supreme Court agreed with the district court that the state’s action must “be narrowly tailored to the government’s asserted interest.”

The Supreme Court found a “dramatic mismatch” rather than a close connection between California’s “dragnet for sensitive donor information” and its claimed objective of preventing charitable fraud. California had not only previously failed to enforce its Schedule B disclosure requirement, but did not actually use that information when it investigated charities.

Instead, the Supreme Court found that California’s real reason for demanding this information was convenience, to simply have the information “close at hand, just in case” it might be useful. That was not nearly enough to justify the risk that the donor information might be disclosed.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, wrote in dissent that the majority had actually abandoned, rather than applied, the court’s precedents. She argued that, under those previous decisions, “reporting and disclosure requirements do not directly burden associational rights.”

Rather than the majority’s holding that an up-front disclosure requirement automatically violated the First Amendment, the dissenters would look at whether particular plaintiffs’ freedom of association had actually been affected.

The majority took note of the hundreds of organizations, “span[ning] the ideological spectrum,” that had filed briefs supporting the plaintiff groups in this case. They emphasized the “gravity of the privacy concerns” that any advocacy group would face from disclosure of donors.

“The deterrent effect feared by these organizations,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “is real and pervasive.” The district court had cited evidence of “pervasive” Schedule B disclosures by the state as well as “ample evidence” that these particular organizations, their employees, and supporters could face hostility, intimidation, or harassment upon such disclosure. California’s “assurances of confidentiality,” the Supreme Court said, “are not worth much.”

Roberts concluded the court’s opinion with this important admonition: “When it comes to the freedom of association, the protections of the First Amendment are triggered not only by actual restrictions on an individual’s ability to join with others to further shared goals. The risk of a chilling effect on association is enough.”

That’s a freedom we all can share.


‘You Should Be in Prison’: Critics Slam Washington Post Article Encouraging ‘Kink Culture’ for Children

A Washington Post op-ed published Tuesday celebrates and encourages exposing children to “kink culture,” such as explicit performances at pride parades.

“Yes, kink belongs at Pride,” reads the headline of writer Lauren Rowello’s Washington Post piece. “And I want my kids to see it.”

Rowello, a “gendervague” person who is married to a transgender woman, described how the couple attended a pride parade where their children were confused to see “a few dozen kinksters who danced down the street, laughing together as they twirled their whips and batons, some leading companions by leashes.”

The term gendervague appears to refer to a person whose gender identity is “inextricably related” to being autistic.

“The man paused to be spanked playfully by a partner with a flog,” Rowello wrote. “‘What are they doing?’ my curious kid asked as our toddler cheered them on.”

The Washington Post writer said that though the children “were too young to understand the nuance of the situation,” Rowello told them that “these folks were members of our community celebrating who they are and what they like to do.”

“Children who witness kink culture are reassured that alternative experiences of sexuality and expression are valid—no matter who they become as they mature, helping them recognize that their personal experiences aren’t bad or wrong, and that they aren’t alone in their experiences,” Rowello wrote.

“Kink visibility is a reminder that any person can and should shamelessly explore what brings joy and excitement,” the writer added. “We don’t talk to our children enough about pursuing sex to fulfill carnal needs that delight and captivate us in the moment.”

“Sharing the language of kink culture with young people provides them with valuable information about safe sex practices—such as the importance of establishing boundaries, safe words and signals, affirming the importance of planning and research and the need to seek and give enthusiastic consent,” Rowello wrote.

The post quickly drew fire from commentators on social media.

“If your ‘principles’ prevent you from running this sickness out of your country, your principles are garbage,” tweeted “I’m Right” host Jesse Kelly. “Nations do not remain stable, healthy nations with this behavior becoming acceptable.”

“In a sane society, CPS would already be on the way,” The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro tweeted.


California Boycotts America

It doesn’t take much for California to boycott you.

75 years ago, Winston Churchill warned that an iron curtain had descended over Europe. But a silicon curtain has been descending over California which is boycotting 100 million Americans.

The state lost a House seat for the first time while Florida gained a seat. California Democrats responded by adding Florida to a list of states that their army of government employees may not visit on government business. It’s not an honor unique to Florida. These days the People’s Republic of California is boycotting 17 states and keeps banning more states every year.

Californians can still go see Oklahoma, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, but the state is on the banned list. (The musical, which has been accused of “unbearable whiteness” and (violent, homophobic racism” will probably soon be on the banned list.) Dorothy could travel from Kansas to Oz, but Hotel California’s government employees are banned from Kansas.

After 5 years, California is boycotting 103 million Americans across 1.2 million square miles.

Beyond Florida, California is boycotting Texas, the second largest state in the country, and which picked up two House seats. That’s because while California Democrats may be boycotting Texas, the state’s residents and some of its biggest companies are fleeing there.

Along with Texas, Florida, Kansas, and Oklahoma, Democrats are also boycotting Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, both Carolinas and Dakotas, Tennessee, and West Virginia. American children may memorize lists of states while California State University students have a list of “banned states” to memorize that Democrats believe they shouldn’t visit.

In a touch of East Germany in the West, traveling can require filing a "Request for Approval of Travel to Prohibited States". California State University notes the “restrictions apply to all CSU employees, officers, or members, as well as non-employee travelers, including students.”

Escape From California is now a documentary.

California’s boycott of America began with Assembly Bill No. 1887 which was supposed to protect gay rights and the sacred right of grown men to shower with young girls. But, like most government legislation it quickly went off the rails. And considering that it started out more off the rails than California’s mostly imaginary but hideously expensive high-speed rail, that’s an accomplishment. Like most of the state’s current accomplishments, from bringing back typhus to spending tens of thousands of dollars per homeless tent, it’s of the horribly bad kind.

The People’s Republic of California just added Florida and three other states to its hit list for protecting women’s sports. It’s a strange world in which California is going after West Virginia to stop teenage girls from having their own sports teams, but that’s only the start of the madness.

Governor Doug Burgum in North Dakota had panicked and vetoed a bill protecting girls by preventing men from competing on female teams. But that wasn't good enough because he didn't also veto a campus free speech bill which banned schools from disciplining students for their personal opinions and abusing security fees to bar conservative speakers.

The North Dakota free speech bill also stated that student organizations could limit membership to those who share their beliefs. The Human Rights Campaign, Harvey Weinstein's favorite civil rights charity, claimed that this "law is nothing more than a harmful attempt by Gov. Doug Burgum and North Dakota legislators to discriminate against LGBTQ".

And despite Burgum's defenses of gay rights, California decided to ban North Dakota.

It’s not enough to refuse to protect women if you don’t also go ahead and also punish, censor, and suppress anyone who disagrees with the official dogma of the Democrats.

Other states have also ended up on California’s hit list for allowing religious freedom in schools.

Kentucky’s 4.5 million people and 40,000 square miles are off limits because of Charlie Brown.

W.R. Castle Elementary School in Johnson County, Kentucky struck out Linus reading passages from the New Testament in A Charlie Brown Christmas. The Charlie Brown Bill was introduced and signed to protect the religious freedom of students in Kentucky schools.

California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra, now Biden's HHS secretary, claimed that the bill "could allow student-run organizations in colleges and K-12 schools to discriminate against classmates based on their sexual orientation or gender identity."

“I’m highly disappointed that the man would be so stupid,” a Kentucky state senator said of Becerra. “He can read it and he can see there’s absolutely no discrimination in that bill.”

California Dems are in favor of limiting the right to work, conduct investigative journalism, or post opinions on the internet to those who share their beliefs. That’s why they oppose religious freedom, not because they oppose discrimination, but because they impose discrimination.

Attorney General Rob Bonta is now carrying on California’s sacred anti-religious crusade.

As Charlie Brown can tell you, it’s easy for states to fall afoul of California. Iowa was added to the list because it wouldn’t cover transgender surgery under Medicaid. North Carolina banned men from using the ladies room in 2016, but then Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat who ran on the right of men to urinate where they want to appease the NCAA, repealed the bill in 2017.

Governor Roy Cooper just celebrated Pride Month, but California still refuses to relent and North Carolina remains on the list of “banned states” usually maintained by Communist dictatorships.

California is boycotting a state that celebrates Pride Month for gay rights.

But once a state is added to the list of the enemies of the People’s Republic and the Human Rights Campaign, it must stay there until Google, Amazon, and Facebook officially annex it.

South Carolina was banned by California because a 500-page appropriations bill briefly protected the religious freedom of adoption agencies to “decline to provide any service that conflicts with, or provide any service under circumstances that conflict with, a sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction of the faith-based child placing agency.”

“The State of California strongly stands against any form of discrimination,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra declared, while discriminating against his tenth state.

The Supreme Court just issued a ruling essentially saying the same thing as South Carolina and protecting the right of a Catholic adoption agency to follow the values of its own faith.

If California were consistent, it would immediately ban all travel to the United States.

But if California Democrats were consistent, they wouldn’t be trying to eliminate all sources of reliable power while insisting that everyone drive an electric car, or refusing to arrest criminals and then condemning the muggings of elderly Asian people by those very same criminals.

While California claims to be fighting discrimination in every other state, the Supreme Court repeatedly slammed it for discriminating against Christians and other religious believers.

And while California State University employees are warned against traveling to banned states on the money stolen by state Democrats from taxpayers, CSU's new College of Ethnic Studies appointed a dean who supports Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, and hates Jews.

As more states move to protect women’s sports, religious freedom, and Charlie Brown, California might soon end up boycotting every state except New York and Oregon.

While California Democrats add millions more Americans to their list of 100 million banned, millions of their own people are fleeing the state to some of these same banned states. Like East Germany, the People’s Republic of California is watching in dismay as millions flee California for Florida and Texas despite their support for women’s sports and religious freedom.

If only there were some sort of wall to stop them.




Monday, June 28, 2021

Author who faced backlash from trans activists when she questioned hormone treatments for teens reveals dozens of doctors and teachers agree with her - but says they are too scared to speak out

The author of a controversial book examining the huge surge in adolescents identifying as transgender has said that she received an outpouring of private support from doctors and teachers who live in fear of backlash from trans activists if they speak publicly.

Author Abigail Shrier, whose book Irreversible Damage drew both backlash and praise last year, spoke out in a guest essay on Monday for the newsletter of former New York Times op-ed editor Bari Weiss.

In her book, named a book of the year by the Economist, Shrier investigated the surge of adolescent girls presenting with gender dysphoria and self-identifying as transgender.

She notes that in the United Kingdom, the number of such cases up are up 4,400 percent over the past decade.

The author suggested the phenomenon is due to social pressure on teen girls, comparing it to 'the Salem witch trials of the 17th Century, the nervous disorders of the 18th Century, and anorexia nervosa, repressed memory, bulimia and the self-harm contagion in the 20th Century.'

Shrier questioned the wisdom of hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery for transgender youth -- and her book was met with an onslaught of criticism from trans activists, who called it transphobic and accused her of of 'erasing' trans youth.

The author denies the allegations that she is transphobic, writing in her new essay: 'As I have stated endlessly in public interviews and in Senate testimony, I fully support medical transition for mature adults and believe that transgender individuals should live openly without fear or stigma.'

In the furor last year, Target briefly banned sales of the book, and Amazon halted a promotional campaign.

Just last week, the blog Science-Based Medicine retracted a mostly positive review of Shrier's book by a medical doctor (the review has been reprinted elsewhere).

Now Shrier reveals that she received a private outpouring of support for her book, even from unlikely quarters.

One such note came from 'a senior staffer for a popular 2020 Democratic presidential candidate,' according to Shrier.

The supporter wrote: 'It might surprise you to know that I work for a prominent progressive politician (obviously I could never express my support for your work publicly). But it should be known that not everyone on the Left has totally lost their mind.'

'Child and adult psychologists and psychiatrists write to say they have witnessed a surge in transgender identification among teen girls who seem to be acting under peer and social media influence,' wrote Shrier.

'Teachers write to say they believe that the phenomenon is plainly an example of social contagion within their classrooms. Surgeons and pediatricians and endocrinologists write to wonder aloud at what has happened to their profession,' she continued.

'Journalists at our most storied newspapers, TV networks, and literary magazines, even at NPR, write to tell me they liked my book, they agree with it, and to tut-tut the abuse directed at me,' wrote Shrier. 'They wish — wish! — they could say so publicly.'

Shrier argued that the time had come for people who agreed with the premise of her book to speak up publicly, despite their fears of being targeted by trans activists.

'The first hundred or so silent supporter emails meant the most to me. They made me feel less crazy and less alone. But the inescapable reality is that defeating this ideology will take courage,' she wrote.

'And courage is not something that can happen in private. Courage requires each one of us to speak up, publicly, for what we believe in. Even when — especially when — it carries costs.'

Shrier argued that social pressure was keeping many people silent, particularly medical doctors who have an 'obligation to do something.'

'Whether or not most people admit it, what keeps them from speaking up in the face of what they know is wrong is fear,' she wrote.

'Fear not primarily of unemployment, though that is a pressing concern, but fear of ostracism. This deep and ancient fear is behind our desperate reach for innocence and safety when we virtue signal. By contrast, we stand exposed when we speak unpopular truth,' wrote Shrier.

In a note appended to the essay, Weiss wrote that she was committed to publish 'those voices who have been shut out of so many other channels that ought to be open to them.'

'How have we gotten to the point where having conversations about important scientific and medical subjects requires such a high level of personal risk?' she wrote.

'How have we accepted a reality in which Big Tech can carry out the digital equivalent of book burnings?'


Supreme Court Protects Property Rights Against Union Trespass

The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that a state law permitting labor union organizers to enter farmland without permission to try to organize workers was unconstitutional under the Fifth and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.

The ruling was 6 to 3.

In Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, the court considered a California regulation that allowed union agents to “take access” to farmland for up to three hours a day, 120 days per year in order to try to unionize workers.

Ordinarily, that sort of uninvited entry would be considered a trespass, but California’s regulation purported to make it lawful.

The question the court considered was whether that regulation was a “taking” within the meaning of the Fifth and 14th Amendments. Those provisions say that no state may take private property for public use without compensation.

The clearest example of a “taking” happens when the government uses its eminent domain power to acquire title to land against the owner’s wishes. But other takings occur when the government denies an owner the full rights that come with land ownership, such as the right to exclude other people.

The latter is what happened here. California’s government denied farmers the right to exclude people from their land. The right to exclude, wrote Chief Justice John Roberts for the majority, “is one of the most treasured rights of property ownership” and “is universally held to be a fundamental element of the property right.”

Citing case law stretching back 100 years, Roberts observed that California’s regulation “appropriates a right to physically invade the growers’ property—to literally ‘take access’ and therefore violates the Constitution.”

California argued that it had not taken the farmers’ land because the regulation allowed activists only temporary access. In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer also took the position that anything less than 365-day-per-year access was not a taking.

Roberts called that argument “insupportable as a matter of precedent and common sense.”

For one thing, Roberts said, the court has long held that even temporary or intermittent invasions are still takings. And for another thing, he said, drawing an artificial line between temporary and permanent takings would create absurd results. For example, a taking would be unconstitutional if it extends for 365 days per year, but constitutional if it lasts 364.

In dissent, Breyer—joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan—argued that California’s regulation did not deny owners the right to exclude, because it merely “regulates” that right. In their view, a law is only a taking if it “goes too far,” and to determine that, courts should “balance several factors,” keeping in mind that some “invasions” are needed for the government to run our complex modern world.

There’s something Orwellian about that, and Roberts deftly exposed it, saying that fundamental property rights, like the right to exclude, “cannot be balanced away.” Moreover, the fact that we live in a complex modern society “only reinforce[s] the importance of safeguarding the basic property rights that preserve individual liberty, as the Founders explained.”

Among others, Roberts was referring to John Adams, who said, “Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.”

Roberts was right to remind us of that lesson and to declare, once again, that protecting property rights “empowers persons to shape and plan their own destiny in the world, where governments are always eager to do so for them.”

It’s impossible to miss the message there to the increasingly loud socialist movement in the United States. The Constitution does not permit that vision. Private property is essential to liberty, and it’s not going anywhere.


Washington Post is condemned for video urging Americans to set up 'white accountability groups' and force themselves into 'a period of deep shame' over their skin color

The Washington Post has been branded 'neoracist' and accused of promoting a 'pseudoreligious movement' after the airing of a controversial video declaring people should feel 'shame for being white' and urging readers to form 'white accountability groups'.

The latest episode of the series, hosted by Nicole Ellis and called the New Normal, was released on Friday and discussed how white people can combat white supremacy.

'An antiracist culture does not exist among white people,' trauma specialist and author Resmaa Menakem says when introducing the concept. 'White people need to start getting together specifically around race.'

The video series was launched last spring, originally to discuss the coronavirus pandemic but shifted to conversations about race after the death of George Floyd.

He adds that the groups should meet and discuss for up to five years, until, 'you end up with a community that is aligned with each other.'

Rebecca Toporek, who is a professor in the Department of Counseling at San Francisco State University agreed with the concept, saying that such groups, 'are really helpful in terms of having a place to process, having a group of people whose responsibility it is to call me on things, or to challenge me.'

Ellis then speaks to trauma therapist Ilyse Kennedy, who said she had been taking part in such a group, and said that it was important that members experience a, 'period of deep shame for being white and for acknowledging the harm that our ancestors have caused,' adding, 'we can't ask people of color to hold our hand.'

Toporek said such measures might be necessary to separate oneself from white supremacy.

'Part of the structure of racism... is to keep us from recognizing that racism is part of our daily lives.' she said. 'So it's a longer term process of looking at your understanding of yourself in the world, both historically but also contextually. Also the family you live in, the community you live in, and what role whiteness plays in that.'

Jesse Singal questioned the concepts promoted on the episode and likened them to a cult, tweeting, 'This is a very strange pseudoreligious movement that is likely to do more harm than good.'

'I'm fighting against race supremacy; the Washington Post wants to install it everywhere,' tweeted Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow for the Manhattan Institute.

Rufo, one of the most famous opponents of critical race theory in the US, added: 'The game is that they want to create an essentialized racial category ("whiteness"), load it with negative connotations, then impose it on individuals through guilt, shame, and school indoctrination. This approach is reductive, manipulative, and malicious. Don't fall for it.'

User @AGHamilton29 called the episode a: 'A 5 minute video propagating ignorant neoracist nonsense. It's really astonishing the extent to which this stuff is becoming mainstream and normalized, especially by the press.'

Another user replied that: 'It's like a bizarre new religion. They have their own language, their idea of original sins (whiteness), and seeking redemption through "doing the work" to understand race issues. It's a disconnect from the reality 99% of Americans live in.'

Discussions of race and 'anti-racism' efforts to actively tackle discrimination have hogged the headlines in recent months, and sparked fierce discussions between supporters and opponents.

Those who support critical race theory and anti-racism teachings say they are necessary to highlight the depth of racism faced by black Americans in almost every aspect of their life.

Opponents say the theories are too unequivocal, offer few solutions, and serve only to divide people further.


Does ‘Housing First’ Help Homeless? Here’s What Happened in Los Angeles

In 2016, influential political leaders, activists, and media outlets in Los Angeles said they had a simple solution to homelessness: Build more housing. Echoing an argument heard across the country, they claimed that rising rents have thrown people onto the streets and that by directly providing free “permanent supportive housing,” cities can reduce the number of people on the streets and save costs on emergency services.

In response, 77% of Los Angeles voters approved a $1.2 billion bond for the construction of 10,000 units for the city’s homeless. That commitment made Los Angeles the most significant testing ground for the “Housing First” approach that has become the dominant policy idea on homelessness for West Coast cities.

Even before the passage of the bond, the concept’s creator, Sam Tsemberis, was lavished with praise by the national media. In 2015, The Washington Post wrote that Tsemberis had “all but solved chronic homelessness” and that his research “commands the support of most scholars.”

In the years since, Housing First has taken even greater hold in California and the across the West. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently declared that “we need to have an entitlement to housing.” California Gov. Gavin Newsom went a step further, arguing that “doctors should be able to write prescriptions for housing the same way they do for insulin or antibiotics.”

Five years in, the project has been plagued by construction delays, massive cost overruns, and accusations of corruption. The Los Angeles city controller issued a scathing report, “The High Cost of Homeless Housing,” which shows that some studio and one-bedroom apartments were costing taxpayers more than $700,000 each, with 40% of total costs devoted to consultants, lawyers, fees, and permitting.

The project is a boon for real estate developers and a constellation of nonprofits and service providers, but a boondoggle for taxpayers. The physical apartment units are bare-bones—small square footage, cheap flooring, vinyl surfaces—but have construction costs similar to luxury condos in the fashionable parts of Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, unsheltered homelessness has increased 41%, vastly outpacing the construction of new supportive housing units. Los Angeles magazine, which initially supported the measure, now wonders whether it has become “a historic public housing debacle.”

Before completing a single housing unit, the city reduced its projected construction from 10,000 units to 5,873 units over 10 years, with the potential for further reductions in the future.

But the long-term problem runs much deeper: Even if one accepts that permanent supportive housing is the solution, there are currently more than 66,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County. Under the best-case scenario, Proposition HHH will solve less than 10% of the problem over the course of a decade.

Despite Housing First’s uncertainties, other West Coast cities desperate to solve homelessness, including Seattle and San Francisco, have been captured by its seductive messaging and promise of respite.

As Los Angeles grapples with the unforeseen consequences of its big bet on Housing First, the federal, state, and local governments, especially in major metropolitan areas, are preparing to commit billions of dollars to the program, whose track record remains woefully underexamined.

Ever since clinical psychologist Tsemberis pioneered the model in New York City in the 1990s, political leaders, activists, and academics have insisted that Housing First is an “evidence-based” intervention that reduces homelessness, saves taxpayer money, and improves lives.

Supporters frequently argue that the program reduced costs in a study of chronic alcoholics in Seattle, consistently demonstrates high retention rates in multiple academic surveys, and eliminated chronic homelessness in Utah.

“We’re going to stem this crisis by building supportive housing in every neighborhood throughout Los Angeles,” City Council member Herb Wesson recently claimed.

These studies, however, are not as persuasive as activists suggest. Although the study of chronic alcoholics in Seattle does show a net reduction in monthly social service costs of $2,449 per person, this figure does not include $11 million in capital and construction costs for the housing units themselves; in other words, Housing First saves money if the cost of housing is not included.

Even on its own favorable terms, the study’s purported savings aren’t as dramatic as they appear: While the Housing First participants showed a 63% reduction in service costs over six months, a wait-listed control group that was not provided housing showed a 42% reduction in service costs over the same time period, raising questions about the specific effectiveness of the intervention.

Claims that studies show one-year retention rates of roughly 80% for Housing First participants are open to question. In a meta-study of three best-in-class Housing First sites, researchers found that 43% remained in housing for the first 12 months, 41% were “intermittent stayers” who left and returned, and 16% abandoned the program or died within the first year. These findings challenge the argument that Housing First is a long-term solution to homelessness.

Finally, advocates and the media have long touted Utah as the gold standard of Housing First. “The Daily Show” called the state’s program “mind-blowing,” the Los Angeles Times reported in 2015 that Utah “is winning the war on chronic homelessness,” and dozens of media outlets announced that the state “reduced chronic homelessness by 91%.”

These miraculous results, however, were not the result of Housing First policies, but apparently clerical manipulation by state officials. According to the Deseret News and economist Kevin Corinth, “As much as 85% of Utah’s touted reductions in chronic homelessness … may have been due to changes in how the homeless were counted.”

It’s not that all of the chronically homeless were housed; they were simply transposed onto a new spreadsheet. Moreover, between 2016 and 2018, the number of unsheltered homeless in Utah nearly doubled—hardly the victory that Housing First activists had declared.

The recent debate surrounding Housing First has predominantly been focused on the physical and budgetary metrics of housing retention and cost reductions. But these surface-level concerns obscure a deeper question: What happens to the human beings in these programs? The results, according to the vast majority of studies, point to a grim conclusion: Housing First does not meaningfully improve human lives.

Although housing programs are often an effective solution for families experiencing a temporary loss of shelter, Housing First programs do not have a strong track record improving the lives of the unsheltered homeless—the people in tents, cars, and on the streets—who often suffer from more severe challenges.

According to research by the California Policy Lab, 75% of the unsheltered homeless have substance abuse conditions, 78% have mental health conditions, and 84% have physical health conditions.

In theory, Housing First would address these problems. In every program, residents are offered a wide range of services.

At the Pathways to Housing program in New York City, a flagship program founded by Tsemberis himself, residents are served by an “interdisciplinary team of professionals that includes social workers, nurses, psychiatrists, and vocational and substance abuse counselors who are available to assist consumers 7 days a week 24 hours a day.”

However, despite this massive intervention, the Pathways program shows no reduction in substance abuse or psychiatric symptoms over time—in fact, those conditions often worsened.

This basic finding is confirmed by a range of studies showing that residents of Housing First programs show no improvement regarding addiction and mental illness. They are housed but broken, wracked by the cruelest psychoses, compulsions, and torments—all under the guise of medical care.

A Housing First experiment in Ottawa, Canada, illustrates this paradoxical outcome in stark terms. Researchers divided the study into two populations: an “intervention” group that was provided Housing First and access to primary care, medically assisted treatment, social workers, and on-demand services; and a non-intervention “control” group that was not provided housing or services—it was simply left on the streets.

To the shock of the researchers, after 24 months, the non-intervention control group reported better results regarding substance abuse, mental health, quality of life, family relations, and mortality than the Housing First group. In other words, doing nothing resulted in superior human outcomes than providing Housing First with wraparound services.

One explanation may be that Housing First programs are deliberately not oriented toward recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal. They operate on the “harm reduction” model, which allows residents to continue using drugs such as alcohol, heroin, and methamphetamine, and does not require mental health treatment as a condition of residency.

In theory, this permissive policy would help “reduce harm” to the individual; in practice, however, it may create a community-level effect that makes it hard for any individual to find recovery.

Here is the basic chain of events: Homeless individuals with substance abuse and psychiatric disorders are placed together in a residential facility where they are allowed to continue the way of life they had on the streets. Despite the availability of services, there is no incentive to use those services and no disincentive to the problematic behavior associated with street homelessness. Consequently, widespread addiction often becomes the norm within Housing First programs.

Preferring Homelessness

This chain of events is not just a thought experiment. In Birmingham, Alabama, researchers inadvertently created this exact problem when they put participants of two different programs—one “recovery” program and one “harm reduction” program—in the same apartment complex.

Immediately after beginning the experiment, the recovery group “began abandoning the provided housing, complaining that their proximity to persons not required to remain abstinent (i.e., the other trial group) was detrimental to their recovery. They claimed that they preferred to return to homelessness rather than live near drug users.”

The researchers quickly stopped and reorganized the trial, writing that “this unexpected reaction shows one possible risk to housing persons with active addiction.”

Still, Housing First advocates insist that their policy is working. When reached for comment, Tsemberis insisted that The Washington Post headline declaring that he had “solved homelessness” is true.

“The most effective way to end homelessness for people with mental health and addiction is to provide housing and wraparound support,” Tsemberis said. He points toward rates of “housing stability” as the key metric, while conceding that Housing First does not provide “a cure for mental illness and addiction.”

This is a suggestion that policymakers have “solved homelessness” simply by bringing people indoors, no matter their addictions, mental illnesses, and human torments.

Advocates portray Housing First as a science that transcends politics. The policy was first adopted by the George W. Bush administration and has gained support from Republicans and Democrats alike. As The Washington Post observed, it is “a model so simple children could grasp it, so cost-effective fiscal hawks loved it, so socially progressive liberals praised it.”

However, the real-world evidence from cities such as Los Angeles challenges this narrative. If Housing First has demonstrated anything, it is this: It provides a stable residential environment for the homeless to live out their pathologies, subsidized by the public, and administered by the social-scientific sector. It does not, however, address addiction, mental illness, and other factors that limit human potential and lead to homelessness.

In Los Angeles, despite the insistence that Housing First is the answer, some uncertainty is creeping in. Garcetti is now on the defensive, as homelessness in Los Angeles continues to increase despite billions in spending.

After the federal government released a study questioning the premises of Housing First, Garcetti backed away from the unidimensional approach, telling reporters with irritation in his voice: “Sometimes people parody Housing First as ‘only housing.’ Nobody embraces only housing. It’s got to be housing with services together.”

In more bad news for public officials and supporters of Housing First, there is an emerging body of evidence that calls into question the “cost savings” of the program.

A recent study in Massachusetts shows that Housing First does not reduce rehospitalization and service utilization, while another study in Chicago suggests that Housing First might increase overall costs.

Furthermore, researchers have concluded that the purported cost savings in earlier Housing First studies would not apply to the 82% of the homeless population that is not chronically homeless.

In Los Angeles, this could spell disaster. In the most optimistic scenario laid out by the controller’s office, the city will build 5,873 supportive housing units at an initial cost of $1.2 billion, plus an estimated $88 million in annual service costs associated with the Housing First model.

The recipients of this housing will not meaningfully improve their lives in terms of addiction, mental illness, and spiritual well-being—and there will still be 60,000 people on the streets across Los Angeles County. In other words, even under its own theoretical assumptions, Proposition HHH is doomed to fail.




Thursday, June 24, 2021

Man sparks outrage on Twitter after claiming women shouldn't use the word 'vagina' because it's 'vulgar'

A man has sparked outrage online after saying women shouldn't use the word 'vagina' because it's 'vulgar.'

Eric Amunga, who goes by @Amerix on Twitter and is a reproductive medicine specialist, fat loss coach and men's health consultant based in Western Kenya, penned: 'Men, Stay away from vulgar women.'

'A feminine, respectful woman values what she speaks or writes. A woman who easily says or writes 'f***k', 'vagina', 'd**k' is a NO. Vulgar women are damaged women who come with emotional baggage. FOCUS ON YOUR LIFE.'

It wasn't long before the controversial post garnered over 11,000 likes and hundreds of comments, with many left perplexed over what women should call their intimate areas if 'vagina' wasn't considered appropriate.

'So how does one refer to the female parts?' questioned one woman, while a second commented: 'Vagina is vulgar?' I'm a gynaecologist. What am I supposed to call it, a pocketbook?'

A third wrote: 'Wow, have we retrograded to the Dark Ages and I didn't get the memo?'

Elsewhere, a fourth noted: 'You are a "medical specialist" in REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH or all things... and think it's vulgar to say the SCIENTIFIC NAME of a woman's reproductive organ???'

Another agreed: 'Um, "vagina" is not a curse word. It's a medical term. It is the correct name for a part of female anatomy. Why did you lump it in with the other two?'

Another sarcastically penned: 'Did not realise it was vulgar to use the correct anatomical terminology to discuss my own body.'

While at first many questioned whether Eric was being sarcastic, it wasn't long before many realised his comments were serious.

'This tweet is yet another example of fragile toxic masculinity that prefers the subjugation of women as second class citizens,' raged one, while a second commented:

'We ALL have baggage and anyone who judges for it isnt worth the time. I would rather know a woman that uses those words when they are expressing an emotion than one that uses God while lying to your face.'

However, one person defended Eric and suggested that his comment had been misinterpreted.

'Depends on what context you are saying the words. They are scientific words yes, there is now the vulgar side of it,' wrote one. 'That is what he is cautioning against. Just some decorum on the language. This is just simple to see his point of view. Who want a lady who is vulgar?'


Don't tell the woke brigade! They are the forgotten heroes of the British Empire, including anti-slavers and veterans of the Napoleonic Wars. Now, a new charity is battling to restore their graves

Perhaps those of a woke disposition should sit down before reading any further. For this is surely anti-wokery of the most brazen kind.

At a time when the justice warriors of the Left are furiously trying to pull down statues, plaques and portraits of anyone remotely connected with Britain’s imperial past — from sea captains and sugar merchants to Winston Churchill and even the Queen — here is an outfit which is busily trying to keep them up.

What’s more, it even wants to restore them to their former glory and trumpet their existence to the world.

It wants to repair the broken effigies of colonial troops in the Caribbean. It is working to mend the cracked marble and faded inscriptions honouring imperial forces from Africa to the Indian Ocean — and here in Britain, too.

While others might want to ‘cancel’ the lot of them and consign them to the dustbin of history, this plucky young charity, the Remembrance Trust, has other ideas.

Its stated goal is to preserve the memory of those who made great sacrifices — and in some cases paid the ultimate price — in the name of the deplorable British Empire.

Just last week, the trust agreed to spend money restoring the grave of Guardsman John Cole, a veteran of Waterloo. Last month, his resting place was smashed to pieces by drunken yobs joy-riding on a tractor in Benfleet, Essex.

Whatever we might call the opposite of ‘woke’ — dormant? Comatose? — then the Remembrance Trust is surely it.

And, this week, I am glad to say, it is to receive royal recognition. The Princess Royal will unveil a memorial to dozens of the Duke of Wellington’s men — including a former drummer boy — discovered in a churchyard in Jersey.

Right now, the Remembrance Trust is going to need all the help it can get, for it sits in a very exposed position on the frontline of the ‘culture wars’.

If the cancel culture commissars feel entitled to destroy a new TV channel they have never watched on the grounds that it might feature the odd Brexity meat-eater; if it is acceptable to ‘cancel’ our most successful living author, JK Rowling, because she has expressed the view that women are women; then is it not borderline insanity to be lionising the men (and they are almost all men) who built the Empire?

Well, not quite.

Before you press the ‘cancel’ button, dear snowflakes, and invoke the Twitter pile-on, it may be worth taking a closer look.

Because we cannot rewrite history. Not everything about Britain’s naval and military operations over three centuries was irredeemably bad. Without the sacrifices of these men, most of the world would not be speaking English — but would French be any better?

As for the naive conceit that the world would be a happier place if Nelson, Wellington and their men had stayed at home, well, think again. That is why the Remembrance Trust and its work matter.

The charity was only registered three years ago to attempt to plug a hole in our national story. We have the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) which tends to the graves and memorials of every man and woman who has died for King or Queen and country since 1914. And a magnificent job the CWGC does, as anyone who has visited some of its beautifully maintained sites will attest.

But when it comes to those who died before the outbreak of World War I, there is nothing to preserve or protect their memory. And many of them lie in desecrated or neglected graves which are nothing short of a disgrace.

That is where the Remembrance Trust seeks to step in. Now, some will ask why anyone should give two hoots about some long-lost soldier or sailor whom no one alive knew and who died in another age. To which the volunteers behind the trust point out that all these people are part of our history and how a nation treats its fallen warriors, even those from 200 years ago, says a lot about the present.

And if you don’t think these things still exert a hold on our collective identity, then just recall those extraordinary scenes six years ago when tens of thousands lined the streets of Leicester in respectful silence to watch the coffin of that 24-carat child-murdering wrong ’un, Richard III, being carried to his new grave.

If he deserves recognition and a resting place, then what about Charles Brownrigg?

The captain of HMS London, Brownrigg was one of more than 17,000 men of the Royal Navy who died during Britain’s 80-year war against the slave trade.

He was leading a patrol off Zanzibar in December 1881 when he saw a suspicious dhow. Its Arab crew, having crammed 100 African slaves in unspeakable conditions in the hold, opened fire as Brownrigg’s launch came alongside. With his men all dead or overboard, Brownrigg fought on, blinded by blood from a head wound.

One report states he whirled his rifle like a club around his head until thrusts of an enemy sword severed his fingers. Whereupon he was killed by a shot to the chest.

Brownrigg and five of his crew are buried on nearby Grave Island, off modern Tanzania, along with 80 fellow anti-slavers. A few yards away, however, stands a marble memorial to another 24 sailors of the Royal Navy who were killed when their ship, HMS Pegasus, was shelled in World War I.

The graves of the dead sailors from HMS Pegasus remain in pristine condition because they fall under the auspices of the CWGC. Brownrigg and his men died just 33 years earlier. Yet they lie beneath cracked stones in a weed-strewn plot. Now the Remembrance Trust wants to refurbish it properly.

On paper, the trust appears to have an impossible task, given its remit spans every campaign from American independence and the struggle to contain Napoleon through to the Crimea and the Boer War. But the Remembrance Trust’s founder, ex-Grenadier Guards officer, entrepreneur and author, Algy Cluff, is undaunted.

‘There’s no database, so we depend entirely on people coming to us,’ says Cluff, 80. ‘They can let us know if they spot a grave or memorial and if they want to volunteer or donate, all the better.’

He is driven by an old soldier’s simple sense of kinship, having himself seen active service in West Africa, Cyprus and Borneo.

‘A lady called the Coldstream Guards recently to say “how dare you leave your men like that?”. She’d seen two graves in a terrible state in France but the regiment knew nothing about it,’ he explains. ‘So we’ve spent £2,500 to help get a contractor to restore them.’

The men had been killed at the Battle of Bayonne in 1814, a year before Waterloo. It might be more than 200 years ago but these graves are more than a resting place.

They are a corner of a foreign field which tell a story. By way of fostering goodwill, the trust has given the Bayonne Museum the funds to restore its most prized exhibits: two hats — one of them Wellington’s and the other Napoleon’s. The locals are delighted.


UK to close loophole allowing child marriage by lifting minimum age to 18

The UK government is set to consider a bill raising the minimum age for marriage to 18 in a bid to close a legal loophole allowing child marriage "by the back door".

MPs said the current law, which allows marriage at 16 with parental consent, sabotaged girls' futures and condoned child abuse.

The loophole also undermines Britain's global efforts to end child marriage in other countries, campaign groups said.

"Child marriage is child abuse," former chancellor Sajid Javid told BBC radio before presenting the bill, which has cross-party support, on Wednesday local time.

"People think this is often something that just happens in developing countries. It doesn't. It's happening right here … it has to stop," he said, adding that thousands of minors had been coerced into marriages in Britain in the last decade.

The government has said it is committed to lifting the minimum age to 18.

Celebrating a 'big step'

"It's a big step in the right direction. We're celebrating this moment," campaigner Payzee Mahmod said.

Ms Mahmod, who was married at 16, said girls who wed young were pulled out of school and often subjected to marital rape and domestic abuse.

Girls from South Asian and Middle Eastern backgrounds are seen as most at risk of early marriage in Britain because having relationships outside marriage is often considered shameful.

Britain set 16 as the minimum age in 1929. Living together out of wedlock at that time was socially unacceptable.

But campaigners say most girls who marry under 18 nowadays are pressured into it by their families, and that raising the minimum age would empower them to say no.

Parliamentarian Pauline Latham, one of the bill's sponsors, said the current law permitted child marriage "by the back door".

"I've spoken to a lot of ministers to say we cannot let this continue, and they've agreed. Boris is keen to get it through," she added, referring to the Prime Minister.

An attempt to amend the law last year — spearheaded by Ms Latham — was derailed by the pandemic.

But campaigners said they were confident the legislation, which applies to England and Wales, would pass by next spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

More than 2,740 under-18s were married in England and Wales between 2008 and 2017, according to official data, but this figure excludes minors wed in traditional ceremonies or taken abroad to marry.

Campaigners say government must go further

Karma Nirvana, which campaigns against forced marriage, said it had come across cases involving children as young as 11, and marriages between the ages of 13 and 15 were "not uncommon".

Campaigners, who met with Mr Javid on Tuesday, said it was crucial not only to close the loophole but to make it a criminal offence to assist any underage marriage, including religious marriages and those conducted abroad.

"Criminalisation is a strong deterrent and necessary to protect every child from all forms of child marriage in all settings," said Ms Mahmod, whose sister Banaz was killed by family members after leaving a husband they had chosen for her at 17.


British Divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag: affairs don’t need to end a marriage

British people should be more French when it comes to extramarital affairs, according to a top divorce lawyer.

Ayesha Vardag, 53, has worked on some of the biggest break-ups and says that the pandemic has shown that “adultery is very far from the worst thing in the world” and more couples would stay together if society was less puritanical.

The pandemic has prompted a shift in why couples split up. With offices, bars and hotels shut, affairs withered. Inquiries mentioning adultery, made to her firm Vardags, fell by 63 per cent during the most recent lockdown.

However, contacts from those citing “bad behaviour”, which covers domestic abuse and coercive control, rose by 78 per cent as the pandemic took hold.

Being separated from illicit lovers had, in some cases, led to “arguments, tension and toxicity”, she found. It led her to a conclusion.

“It’s the way Brits have historically attributed to the French,” she said. “Never mind how many lovers we both have, just keep it discreet and we’ll continue to stay committed to our marriage, in a way that works for all of us. Could we learn something from that?”

Vardag, who has been married to her second husband for seven years, believes that some women fear criticism from “mums at the school gates” if they stay with cheating partners. “I think people would be a lot less upset about adultery if they didn’t have everyone else telling them that they ought to be upset about it,” she said.

Vardag believes that some couples would have a different attitude to affairs if they had pre-marriage counselling and discussed their approaches to fidelity before walking down the aisle.

“If somebody promises and swears they’re going to be faithful forever, they shouldn’t then be going and running around. But if those go into it with an expectation that, hey, we’re married, we’re going to have children together, we’re going to build something that’s going to endure for the whole of our lives ... [But] in the midst of that ... he might be interested in somebody, I might be interested in somebody ... Then I think that that is a perfectly reasonable, perfectly sensible, model to have,” she said.

Although she found cheating had fallen during the pandemic, clients said they had become victims of coercive control or gaslighting.

Working from home also led to an increase in nitpicking, she said, with tensions flaring over a husband not using a coaster or a wife eating too loudly.

The coronavirus also fuelled conflict, Vardag said. In some cases, a parent claimed that a child would not be safe because its mother had travelled abroad or its father was “sloppy” with protecting themselves from the virus.

She believes that there is a link between the fall in adultery and the rise in behaviour such as coercive control.

Since last year, the charity Refuge, which supports victims of domestic violence, has seen a leap in the number of people seeking help. Between April last year and February, calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline were up by an average of 61 per cent, with 13,162 calls and messages recorded.

“The pandemic hasn’t caused domestic abuse, but it has created an environment for it to thrive,” Ruth Davison, chief executive of Refuge, said.

Other law firms have noticed a surge in contact from those looking for divorce advice, with relationships falling apart after months under the same roof.

Stewarts said that demand was 122 per cent higher between July and October compared with the same period in 2019.

Sam Longworth, 41, a partner at Stewarts, said: “The pandemic really has put a mirror up, shone a light, on lots of relationships. Some of these relationships might otherwise have lasted for ages.”

He too noted an increase in controlling behaviour, or problems such as addiction, worsened by the pandemic, leading to marriage breakdown.

“Where there has been this physical closeness, it has been the opposite in terms of emotional connection ... Lots of times it has actually meant that your home environment, which is meant to be safe and secure, has actually been a point of strain and stress,” he said.