Sunday, April 19, 2015

Unemployed multiculturalist used his friend as a slave then chopped him up and dumped remains in canal

A man who killed his friend, stuffed the body into a suitcase and threw it into a canal has been jailed for 19 years.

Lorenzo Simon, 34, of Smethwick, West Midlands, and his girlfriend Michelle Bird used their friend Michael Spalding for slave labour before Simon killed him and dismembered his body.

The 39-year-old's remains were stuffed into two suitcases before Simon and Bird threw them into Birmingham Canal, a court heard. 

Police have now released CCTV video footage showing the pair dragging the cases along a pavement.

Simon was found guilty of murder at Birmingham Crown Court today and Bird, while being acquitted of the same charge, was convicted of assisting an offender and sentenced to two and a half years.

At a sentencing hearing, Mrs Justice Thirlwall told Simon: 'You had no thought for him at all. Your focus, as so often in your life, was on what was best for you.'

Simon initially denied knowledge of Mr Spalding's death, claiming he threw him out following a row over a car crash, but later admitted assaulting him during a fight after police found tiny blood droplets on the flat's lounge wall.

Neighbours reported seeing a bonfire in the rear garden following Mr Spalding's disappearance - a heat so intense it melted UPVC guttering fascias - and forensic examination of debris from an oil drum showed it to be part of the victim's humerus bone.

Police divers recovered the second case - containing the victim's head, limbs and tools - below Pope Bridge, Smethwick, on May 16 and further searches of the canal bed uncovered a hacksaw.

Using futuristic 3D scanning technology - developed through a pioneering project with Warwick University - experts were able to show a perfect fit between the charred bone and a severed limb found in the suitcase.

And the same scanning proved a link between the hacksaw and lacerations found on other bones.

Drag marks were also found on the towpath near where the pair dumped the suitcases into the canal.

Detective Inspector Harry Harrison from West Midlands Police said: 'Michael was exploited in life by Lorenzo Simon and Michelle Bird and they afforded him no dignity in death. On the contrary, they treated him in the most despicable manner in order to conceal their crime.

'Simon accepted Michael as a tenant on the agreement he used his considerable handyman skills to do up the flat. But he treated him like a slave, working him past midnight and then waking him early in the morning to continue working.

'They were only allowed out with his say-so and given just one meal a day - usually pizza and chips.

'Michael finally broke and complained at their treatment - we believe that, combined with a car accident where Simon accused him of being responsible for damaging his VW Passat, led to the fatal attack.

'Simon said he hit Michael in the back and that he fell to the floor dead within seconds and claimed to have disposed of the body in panic.

'Bird said she was on an errand to buy alcohol at the time of the killing but later admitted helping her boyfriend in the aftermath.

'However, we were able to provide compelling evidence to the jury that this was a vicious murder and that Simon went to considerable lengths to try and cover his tracks.'

Mr Spalding had been living at the Oxford Road address for almost three weeks and was under the impression a good renovation job would help him land his own tenancy with the landlord.

However, Simon blamed the father-of-three for a collision in mid-April that left his VW Passat with front end damage - and told him the crash ended his hopes of securing his own place and jeopardised their own tenancy arrangement.

Mr Spalding last spoke to his partner, who moved out to be with family in Tamworth, at 10pm on April 25 and police suspect he was murdered later that night or the following day.

The black suitcase containing the victim's torso was first spotted on May 5 floating in the water near Pope Bridge by a narrow boat owner.

It was seen on several subsequent occasions by canal users before a contractor, suspecting the case contained a dead animal, towed it to Icknield Port yard on May 12.

Unemployed Simon - who has convictions for robbery, burglary, theft and drug supply - moved to Derby in a bid to evade police when news of the body find broke - but was arrested with Bird on May 19 and charged two days later.

Detectives later heard accounts from neighbours in Oxford Road who told of 'aggressive, nasty' arguments coming from the flat.

One recalled Simon saying: 'I want this place finished - I've got to live here, you are taking the p**s' to which Mr Spalding replied 'I'm tired, I'm hungry, I want to go home. I've been at it all day'.

A pathologist deemed a number of weapons were used to dismember the body, including knives, a saw and possibly a heavy bladed weapon like an axe.

The post mortem examination was unable to confirm the precise cause of death but it is suspected Mr Spalding died from a stab wound to the neck, evidence of which was subsequently destroyed.


MD: Montgomery County CPS oversteps again in handling of the Meitivs' 'free-range' children

The last time we talked about the case of Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, the couple said that despite a finding of “unsubstantiated neglect” by Montgomery County’s Child Protective Services, they would still allow their 10- and 6-year-old children to walk the mile to a park close to where they live in Silver Spring.

The children, Rafi, 10, and Dvora, 6, had been picked up by police after they had been reported wandering alone. That “unsubstantiated neglect” charge was an extraordinary case of government overreach by an agency stretching their interpretation of a vague area of law in an attempt to paint these parents as negligent, we argued then. After the bad publicity and criticism thrown at CPS, we didn’t think Montgomery County government could be even more incursive and even more insensitive to parents’ wishes.

We were wrong.

On April 12, Alexander and Danielle once again allowed their children to visit the park. This time, they dropped them off there at 5 p.m. on a sunny Sunday after a drive home for a visit to Ithaca, New York, relatives, according to a story Tuesday in The Washington Post. The children were expected home at 6.

It was 5½ hours before they saw them again. Acting on an anonymous report of the children walking alone, a police officer collected Rafi and Dvora just a few blocks from their home in Woodside.
Here’s the Post‘s timeline from then on:

“The police officer notified CPS at 5:16 p.m. At 6:10, he called another CPS employee. At 6:41, the officer was told a CPS decision had yet to be made. So at 7:18, the officer decided to take the children to the CPS offices in Rockville.”

It’s unclear why the officer didn’t just walk the few blocks home with the children, who said they weren’t lost. It’s also not clear why he didn’t contact the Meitivs immediately, or why he decided to take the children — hungry and needing the restroom — 20 minutes away to child protective services.

CPS finally called the parents at 8 p.m.  Three hours. That’s an unconscionable delay.

We can only imagine the panic the Meitivs were experiencing. Except rather than some predator abducting their children, it was the police, and, compounding the situation, child protective services, who finally handed the children back to their parents at 10:30 p.m. CPS, of course, isn’t talking or explaining itself, content to use the excuse that their investigations are confidential — despite the fact that the Meitivs are talking publicly.

Were the children in danger? The Post cites the police report, which says the children were in a parking garage being eyed by a “homeless subject.” That’s a vague, scary bogeyman we wouldn’t be surprised to hear was completely concocted as a justificatory afterthought. We’re not the only ones who are dubious about how the office handled this situation.

“This is a ‘What were they thinking?’ moment,” Marc Elrich D -at large, chairman of the Montgomery County Council’s Public Safety Committee, told the Post of the police failure to notify the parents.

Indeed — what were they thinking? If an investigation is needed here, it’s into CPS procedures, not the Meitivs’ parenting.

Yes, some serious questions need to be raised here. This case has received national attention and ignited a debate about how much independence children should have. This is a valuable debate worth having — among parents, not a government agency that apparently wants to raise our children for us.


Free-Range' Parents Will Sue CPS for Grabbing Their Kids: The Meitivs get a lawyer

The Meitivs are lawyering up, and will file some kind of lawsuit against Montgomery County, Maryland, officials who took their children while the youngsters were walking outside by themselves.

Matthew Dowd, a partner at Wiley Rein LLP, will represent the Meitivs free of charge, according to this statement on Danielle Meitiv's Facebook wall:

Matthew Dowd, a partner with Wiley Rein, states: “The Meitivs are rightfully outraged by the irresponsible actions of Maryland CPS and Montgomery County Police. We must ask ourselves how we reached the point where a parent’s biggest fear is that government officials will literally seize our children off the streets as they walk in our neighborhoods.

The Meitivs intend to fully vindicate their rights as parents and their children’s rights, and to prevent this from happening to their children again. The CPS investigations and actions here are premised on a fundamental misapplication of the law and are contrary to the constitutional rights of these parents to raise their children as they see best.”

The actions of Maryland CPS and Montgomery County Police violate the fundamental rights parents have in raising their children. In Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 75 (2000), the Court explained that “the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.” This fundamental, constitutional right of parents cannot be infringed simply because certain governmental employees disagree with a parent’s reasoned decision on how to raise his or her children.

The Meitivs are troubled by the county’s discretionary use of power to subject this happy, healthy and independent family to invasive, frightening and unnecessary government oversight, when there are other pressing challenges for county families in need.

Quick question: Aren’t prisoners allowed one phone call, or is that just on TV? Because the Meitiv kids weren't able to contact their parents in the six hours they were held by the authorities.


Good boobs, bad boobs: how feminists police women’s bodies

If you want to be a good feminist today, it seems you must have an opinion on breasts.

You would expect the two main sides in the contemporary feminist bra debate – Free the Nipple and No More Page 3 – to be in permanent conflict. After all, one is about exposing nipples, the other about covering them up. But actually, they seem to be the breast of friends.

As a piece in the Huffington Post put it, ‘#FreetheNipple and No More Page 3 share the same feminist goal: greater equality for women’. This schizophrenic attitude to nudity, this marriage of a breast-exposing campaign with a breast-hiding campaign, seems baffling. The impossibility of wanting to bin your bra and strap it on with moral zeal at the same time doesn’t seem to register with young feminists.

The claim that the acts of baring and censoring boobs are equally effective in arguing for women’s equality seems to be making a statement about the purpose of the bosom. It suggests that sometimes it’s okay for boobs to be on display, and other times it isn’t. Another Huff Post article argued that ‘nobody can surely say they open Page 3 to see what nature has created to feed children?’. Err, no, of course not - for the same reason that I don’t eat chocolate because it is supposedly a source of calcium, but rather because I enjoy it. The implication here seems to be that when breasts are a source of food for babies, they’re good; but when they are displayed in a more sexual way, they are bad.

This sinister celebration of boobs as udders is actually regressive. It sets back women’s equality by prioritising the biology of the female over her autonomy as a free-thinking individual able to decide what she likes and what she doesn’t like.

Its The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of boobs. Good, clever, middle-class breasts are acceptable; bad, fake, Essex-girl breasts are not. And The Ugly would have to be that array of obsequious male nipples appearing under the #FreetheNipple hashtag on Instagram. Feminists who support both #FreetheNipple and No More Page 3 reveal themselves to be not only embarrassed by their fellow females who choose to get their knockers out for cash rather than retweets, but also openly prejudiced about a working-class girl’s ability to make her own decisions about her body.

So the likes of Katie Price are seen as a dangerous influence on women because they aren’t puritanical about their chests. When, a few years ago, Price said she decided to bottlefeed her kids because ‘I think only a certain person could handle my knockers!’, there was uproar. A woman who prefers her chest to be sexual rather than maternal? The horror!

So, what constitutes a good, wholesome, feminist pair of tits? Well, showing them to other good, wholesome feminists is a good start. The specification of where and when women should be allowed to bare all - on Instagram, yes; in the Sun, no - is really about censoring who is allowed to look at breasts. For feminists, it is okay for like-minded females, babies and men who have pledged their support via Twitter to see breasts, but gruff builders, young lads and pretty much anyone who finds tits titillating cannot be allowed to glimpse a freed nipple.

Both the No More Page 3 campaign and #FreetheNipple speak to a deep-seated class prejudice within contemporary feminism. Whether they are encouraging women to whip out a lactating nipple in restaurants (good breasts) or forbidding men from pinning a perky pair on the wall of their garages (bad breasts), today’s middle-class feminists are really only interested in enforcing a top-down puritanism about nudity and control of working-class behaviour.

What this boob-obsessed bunch can’t face up to is that no one outside of their tiny cliques really cares about what happens to our chests. The world of Page 3 is old-fashioned, yes, but hardly worth getting your bra strap in a twist over. Many young women have over the years flashed for a few photos and then walked away with heavy wallets and light hearts – I don’t see any problem with that at all. Scour Instagram, and you will see the hypocrisy of #FreetheNipple: this hashtag campaign contains promiscuous selfies and shots of casually pierced nipples, all accompanied by token lines about the need to be nice to women. These breast barers are just as keen for attention as those who pose for tabloids, but they think they are involved in a good cause because their ‘likes’ come from middle-class professional Instagrammers rather than oiks in a greasy spoon.

True supporters of women’s equality should reject both these campaigns. If you believe that women have the right to do whatever the hell they want with their bodies, then for God’s sake talk about something other than tits. Yet young middle-class feminists see it as their duty to educate stupid men and stupid women about the parameters of breast-baring, about acceptable and unacceptable boobs. Women have a far better tool, above the chest, so can we please engage it? And could feminists please stop being such fun sponges and quit using tit tape to censor women’s freedom.


The denigration of men: Ridiculed, abused, exploited - the triumph of feminism has made today's men second class citizens

Men are brilliant. Seriously, we are. We invented philosophy, medicine, architecture, cars, trains, helicopters, submarines and the internet. Not to mention the jet engine, IVF, electricity and modern medicine.

We’ve led all the industrial revolutions and sent rockets into Space. We’ve fought wars with tin hats and bayonets and won them. The world we live in would be nothing without Alexander Graham Bell, Sigmund Freud, Horatio Nelson, Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare and Albert Einstein. The geniuses Leonardo da Vinci, Stephen Hawking, Michelangelo, Beethoven, Charles Darwin and Michael Faraday have all contributed immeasurably to our modern lives.

So why is it that, today, there has there never been a worse time to be a man? Rubbishing the male of the species and everything he stands for is a disturbing — and growing — 21st century phenomenon. It is the fashionable fascism of millions of women — and many, many men, too. Instead of feeling proud of our achievements, we men are forced to spend our time apologising for them. When people chide us for not being able to multi-task or use a washing machine we join in the mocking laughter — even though we invented the damned thing in the first place.

If ever we do manage to do something well we’re told it’s because our achievements were handed to us on a plate — probably at the expense of women — and not because we’re skilled and work hard. And, naturally, the problems of the world are all our fault.

In 2013 the [brainless] Labour MP Diane Abbott made a damning speech about Britain’s men and boys, smugly announcing that masculinity was ‘in crisis’. The then shadow Public Health Minister declared that male culture is a ‘celebration of heartlessness; a lack of respect for women’s autonomy and the normalisation of homophobia’.

She sneered that men were choosing to stay in ‘extended adolescence’ by living at home with their parents — which has nothing to do with rising house prices, of course, but everything, according to Ms Abbott, with men being ‘resentful of family life’. If it weren’t so tragic it would be funny.

As it is, this kind of stiletto sexism — popularised by an army of female media commentators such as Julie Burchill, Suzanne Moore and Barbara Ellen — has become a depressingly familiar feature of modern British life. And it shows no sign of going away.

Consider the statistics. If you become a father to twins — one girl, one boy — current data proves that your son will die younger, leave school with fewer qualifications and be less eligible for work than your daughter.

Our universities and further education institutions are dominated by women at a proportion of ten to every seven men, with the Royal Veterinary College formally identifying boys as an under-represented group.

Across the Russell Group of Britain’s leading 20 universities, just three have a majority of male students.

This means your son will be more likely to join the ranks of the unemployed, the majority of whom are now — yes, you’ve guessed it — men.

The Office of National Statistics noted that in the summer of 2014 a total of 1,147,511 British men were out of work, compared with 887,892 women.

Psychologically, your son will be more likely to suffer from depression and attempt suicide than his sibling, but there’ll be less support in place to save him.

He’s also more likely to endure everyday violence than women, with the latest crime statistics for England and Wales noting that two-thirds of homicide victims were men.

If he’s seduced by his female teacher, she’ll leave court with a slapped wrist thanks to a legal system which is frequently lenient with women. But if your daughter has an affair with her male maths teacher he’ll be chalking up numbers on a prison wall before you can say: ‘burn your bra’.

By the time your son is 18, he will probably have absorbed the social message that his dad is much less valuable as a parent than his mother — that fathers in families are an added bonus, not a crucial cog.

Then, if he starts his own family and his relationship doesn’t last, he may become one of the four million UK men who have no access to their children, yet are forced to fund them.

To cap it all, he’ll be progressively neglected by British healthcare despite being more likely to get — and die from — nine out of the top ten killer diseases. You know, the biggies: these include cancer, heart conditions, strokes, pneumonia, diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver.

Fifteen years ago the UK Men’s Health Forum showed that, for every £1 spent on men’s health, £8 was spent on women’s. Since then little has changed, for no good reason. Or rather, one very bad reason: we live in a medical matriarchy. In other words, male life is cheap. Bargain basement, last-day-of-the-sale cheap.

The ultimate insult? It’s all done at our expense. The National Health Service is funded by the public purse, but it’s men — yes, men — who pay a whopping 70 per cent of UK income tax. Yet we are thrown nothing but crumbs in return.

Currently, women are screened for breast cancer, ovarian and cervical cancer. This is great, but excuse me if I don’t jump for joy. There’s still no screening programme for prostate cancer, even though it kills four times more men than cervical cancer does women.

And while we’re on the subject of statistics, we men will die five years earlier than our wives, sisters, daughters and girlfriends in a life expectancy gap that’s increased 400 per cent since 1920.

Oh, and if we are lucky enough to survive the NHS long enough to be able to go on holiday and sit next to a child on a commercial airline such as British Airways, he’ll be moved in case he sexually abuses them. Your grown-up daughter won’t, even if she has previous form.

All in all, the outlook for your son is pretty bleak, isn’t it? Sadly, he will accept the way things are because over the past couple of decades or so it’s what men have done.

In our anxiety to support women’s emancipation — which men agree with, by the way — we have allowed our intellectual ability, our emotional intelligence and our capacity for commitment to be endlessly ridiculed.

Obviously, this isn’t to say that girls are having a brilliant time of it. Most of society is well versed in the problems and pressures faced by women — the same women who have spent years trying to prove their worth beyond motherhood and housework.

But, unlike us, they get column inches and air time. They get government funding and MPs. They have a vocal community who will stand in their defence.

We men, on the other hand, have nobody. We are of no interest to MPs, UN panels or charities. If we want somebody to fight our corner, we are going to have to do it ourselves.

And fight it we must, before it’s too late. We don’t want to undo or compete with feminism — far from it. But we urgently need our own version of women’s lib to stop our sons being permanently deflated, downgraded and disenfranchised. Remember the suffragettes? We are the suffragents.

So here are my suggestions for a new, improved approach to masculinity. It may not be politically correct, but look where political correctness has got us.

Let’s start by ditching a few of those everyday myths about being a bloke in the 21st century. First up, the wage gap. For years men have been guilt-tripped over a supposed discrepancy in pay that apparently sees women lose thousands of pounds every year compared with their male colleagues.

The great news? According to experts who understand it, this simply isn’t true.

The claim has been debunked by leading economists, including Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, both professors of economics at Harvard University, and Christina Hoff-Somers of the American Enterprise Institute.

‘The wage gap myth has been repeatedly discredited but it will not die,’ says Hoff-Somers. ‘The 23 per cent gap is the difference between average earnings for all men and all women, but it does not take into account differences in occupation, expertise, job tenure and hours worked. When it does, the so-called wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing.’ Essentially, this means a woman who works as a primary school teacher isn’t going to be paid the same as a man who works as a brain surgeon. Which is how it should be. This is about salaries structured on skill, difficulty and reward.

Many women work fewer hours than men. Many choose comfortable, low-paying jobs that fit in with their many other commitments, perhaps to children and ageing parents rather than strenuous, dangerous and life-threatening ones. These naturally bring higher pay for men, but — according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health — also put male workplace fatalities at 94 per cent of the total.

Which suddenly makes women’s career choices look very much more sensible, whatever the pay difference. And make no mistake about it, a choice there has to be. When it comes to careers and families, something has to give. But that’s as it should be.

It’s a mathematical fact there aren’t enough hours in the day for anyone, male or female, to work 60-hour weeks all year, raise children and run a house full-time. So the idea that it should be split down the middle to prove some political point might sound right-on, but in reality it’s the cause of so much unnecessary marital conflict.

Instead, let’s be realistic. Whether it’s an unwelcome truth or not, most new mothers like to nurture the baby they’ve been carrying for nine months, while fathers typically return to work and help bankroll it.  This is absolutely OK.

Think about it: women carry life. That’s the ultimate. We men can’t compete with that, so our purpose is to provide for that life.  That’s our identity as fathers and what we bring to the table. It’s been this way since time immemorial because it’s cost-effective, practical and sensible.

Recent legislative changes tried to rewrite this fact when the Coalition brought in extended paternity leave in 2011, taking it beyond the standard two weeks. But it failed miserably. Fewer than one in 50 used it. In fact, for various reasons, a quarter of new fathers took no leave at all.  This is also absolutely OK if it’s what both partners want.

Eventually, in every relationship, somebody will need to take the bulk of childcare responsibility, while the other manages the rest. Personally, I don’t care who assumes the traditional breadwinner role, but unless you can afford a nanny (or manny) to do the child rearing for you, it can’t be both of you.

Whatever the outcome, just remember: it’s not a choice that must be adjudicated by feminist harridans. I say this because whenever working fathers are discussed in the media, the insinuation is that they don’t pull their weight.

Actually, the opposite is true: aside from proving we can multi-task just fine, research collated by the Fatherhood Institute shows that British dads work the longest hours in Europe — an average of 46.9 hours per week, compared with 45.5 hours in Portugal, 41.5 hours in Germany and 40 hours in France.

Around one in eight UK fathers works excessively long hours — 60 or more — while almost 40 per cent graft more than 48 hours each week. Contrary to popular opinion, we don’t leave the house every morning for the sole purpose of jumping into bed with our secretaries. And when we do get home to spend time with our children we’re no slackers either.

In the late Nineties, fathers of children under five were devoting an average of two hours per day on child-related activities, compared with under 15 minutes in the mid-Seventies.

Today, fathers’ time spent with their children currently accounts for one-third of total parental childcare, even though many of them are working full-time as well.

So we’ve established that men are, in fact, pulling their weight at home, and that the pay gap is not what it’s cracked up to be.

Indeed, in many cases it’s going the other way: the Chartered Management Institute found recently that female managers in their 20s are now bringing home 2.1 per cent more than men of the same age.

So why, I ask, are men still expected to pay for nights out? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sat in restaurants observing men financing lavish dinners while their glamorous guests freeze at the sight of the credit card machine — even though, dripping with jewellery, they could clearly afford to cough up.

Don’t get me wrong. Plenty of women do go Dutch. Plenty more settle the tab themselves. We like these women. We like them when they allow us to treat them — and likewise, we enjoy it when they spoil us. What we’re after here is a mutually beneficial sharing of bills, as well as minds.

That’s not to say we should throw out chivalrous behaviour altogether. There are plenty of aspects of it — otherwise referred to as ‘being nice’ — that are worth keeping. Holding a door open for a woman, for example, just makes the minutiae of daily life a bit easier for everyone. It’s a kind and respectful thing to do.

All I’m asking for is that we men get a bit of respect in return. Because at the moment we’re being exploited and abused — not least, when it comes to our most important roles of all: as husbands and fathers.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Friday, April 17, 2015

Conservatives Rally Against DC ‘Anti-Discrimination’ Bills

A group of conservative lawmakers in Congress are attempting to stop what they call “ill-conceived” legislation from taking effect in the nation’s capital.

One bill, called the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, could force pro-life employers in Washington D.C. to hire individuals whose reproductive health decisions stand in opposition to the organization’s viewpoint.

“This coercive measure would ban pro-life organizations in D.C. from even considering a job seeker’s views on abortion as a condition of employment,” said Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., who introduced what’s called a “resolution of disapproval” on Monday that, with the support of both chambers of Congress and the president, would override the law in question.

“I hope both chambers of Congress will act swiftly to pass our resolution so that we can stop this ill-conceived law and restore needed protections for those in the pro-life community who call D.C. home,” she said.

A second bill, called the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA), seeks to prohibit religious-affiliated schools from discriminating against gay and lesbian student groups.

Conservatives argue this policy would infringe on the ability of private schools to operate according to their religious beliefs. For example, they say it could force a Catholic school to support a student-led gay pride parade despite the school’s stance on homosexuality.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., led the effort against that measure today by introducing a separate resolution of disapproval.

“By passing this Act, the D.C. City Council has infringed on the fundamental right of religious freedom,” Hartzler told The Daily Signal. “Americans are protected by the Constitution from being forced by their government to take actions that go against their religious beliefs. Forcing religious schools to go against their beliefs goes directly against our Constitution and shouldn’t be allowed.”

The Republican Study Committee—with its 170 members—is backing both efforts.

“It is unconscionable that employers should be forced to pay for policies that go against their deeply held religious beliefs, yet that is exactly what the District of Columbia’s legislation would do,” said Rep. Bill Flores, who chairs the committee.

Congress has an obligation to act and exercise its constitutional authority to prevent this flagrant violation of religious freedom. I commend Congressman Black and my colleagues in the Republican Study Committee for joining me in this important fight to preserve and protect our most sacred founding values.

The power to oversee Washington D.C. legislation was granted to Congress under the U.S. Constitution and the Home Rule Act of 1973.

The Senate has already introduced resolutions of disapproval for both the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act and the Human Rights Amendment Act under the leadership of Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and James Lankford, R-Okla.

Both measures were signed into law by Washington D.C.’s Mayor, Muriel Bowser, earlier this year. Her office did not immediately respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment regarding the pushback among Republicans in Congress.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who supports both bills, released a press release today calling the Republican attempt to strike down the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act an “astonishing infringement of an individual’s right to personal liberty.”

“The District’s local law supports the local interests of D.C. residents who do not want to answer to their employers or anyone else for their reproductive choices,” she said. “Disapproval of the D.C. bill by Congress would signal that the constitutional right to privacy has come under historic attack.”

Norton has not yet commented on Republicans’ attempt to also kill the Human Rights Amendment Act, although she previously stated that the “anti-discrimination legislation” is needed to “protect students from discrimination for their sexual orientation at their own schools and universities.”

Norton also maintains that with these bills, there is “no intent to violate the rights of others, such as freedom of religion.”

Conservatives, on the other hand, believe it is especially important to prohibit these policies given that Washington D.C. is home to some of the largest pro-life and faith-based organizations in the world, including the Susan B. Anthony List, March for Life, the Family Research Council, and the Archdiocese of Washington.

But even if they are successful in passing both resolutions through Congress, Republicans would still need the president’s signature to prevent them from going into law. Right now, it is unclear whether President Obama would support that effort should they reach his desk.


Videogames don’t make you violent – or sexist

The world of videogames is no stranger to moral panics. Recently, researchers at the University of Oxford published the latest in a long line of studies debunking the persistent myth that violent videogames cause aggression in children. The study – published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture – found that, regardless of a particular videogame’s content, children who played videogames moderately were actually less aggressive than those who do not game at all.

But this was no great triumph over media-effects theory. Indeed, the children who weren’t playing videogames were presumably on Twitter, whining about how videogames cause and promote misogyny. In recent months, this new hysteria has been at the forefront of the gaming discussion. Proponents of the idea insist that gaming culture is ‘toxic’, not inclusive enough and that women are represented exclusively as sexual objects in games. They have put forward censorious arguments, which have been countered by a new pro-gaming movement called #Gamergate.

In the past, you were a gamer because you liked playing videogames, regardless of non-issues like gender, race or sexuality. However, the people behind the recent fuss see everything through the warped lens of identity politics. Their narcissism and willingness to harass game developers into submission has made the art of making a good videogame even more of a chore. Instead of developers being able to portray their own vision and tell their stories, they are constantly being coerced by mobs of online activists to adhere to particular neurotic standards. Even when game developers aren’t being shouted down for creating an allegedly aberrant game, the spectre of the Twitterati, the coercive power of their fury, must be ever-present.

Gamers, rallying under the #Gamergate hashtag, are rightfully outraged that their hobby and community are being co-opted by ideologues. The professionally sensitive and perpetually offended crusaders are determined to undermine everything that makes the gaming community great. The fact that small cliques of right-on gamers, and censorious onlookers, have the ability to censor and pressure major game developers shows how influential and belligerent they have become. Nothing, it seems, can faze them. A study published last week categorically debunked the idea that videogames cause sexism, but this has hardly made a dent in the anti-#Gamergate’s self-confidence.

Women have always been welcome in gaming. There have been countless female game developers who have contributed to many gaming masterpieces. What the gaming crusaders can’t seem to get past is that the gaming community doesn’t see them as ‘women in gaming’, in need of special concern – they just see them as fellow gamers. And, surely, if equality is the goal, isn’t this the ideal?


Big Law Thinks Gay Marriage Opponents Are Like Racist Bigots. That’s a Problem

Sunday’s New York Times stated plainly what many of us have known for a while: Our nation’s elites are intolerant of ordinary Americans.

The reporter for the Times revealed a startling reality: “In dozens of interviews, lawyers and law professors said the imbalance in legal firepower in the same-sex marriage cases resulted from a conviction among many lawyers that opposition to such unions is bigotry akin to racism.”

That’s right. Our nation’s legal elites think that the belief that marriage is the exclusive union of husband and wife is “bigotry akin to racism.” That’s a problem. And it explains the growing intolerance showed toward ordinary Americans who believe the truth about marriage.

It also raises a profoundly important question: Will the government respect their rights of conscience and religious liberty?

This isn’t an idle question or dangerous fear-mongering. Throughout the past several years, a constant refrain from the Left has been that people who oppose same-sex marriage are just like people who opposed interracial marriage—and that the law should treat them just as the law treats racist bigots. Of course that argument is not true, but that hasn’t stopped our elites from making it.

The Times noted that while the same number of amicus briefs have been filed at the Supreme Court supporting and opposing state marriage laws, no major law firm had filed a brief supporting marriage as the union of a man and a woman. (Full disclosure: I spoke with The New York Times reporter and am quoted in the article.)

Two weeks ago, we saw in Indiana how Big Business, Big Media and political leaders all used their influence to bring down good religious liberty protections. This confluence of Big Business and Big Government has a name: I call it “cultural cronyism.” The same is true for Big Law.

While Big Business is against religious liberty, Big Law is against marriage. The basic viewpoint was captured in yesterday’s New York Times article:

Gay rights advocates offer their own reason for why prominent lawyers are lined up on one side of the marriage cases. “It’s so clear that there are no good arguments against marriage equality,” said Evan Wolfson, the president of Freedom to Marry. “Lawyers can see the truth.”

This statement is presumptuous and self-serving.

Reasonable people can acknowledge that there are good arguments on both sides of this debate. Only ideologues think their side has all the good arguments and the other side has none.

Surprise! Lawyers can be ideologues too. And these ideologues at the most elite sectors of society—Big Business, Big Law and Big Government—want to penalize and coerce ordinary Americans with traditional beliefs about marriage.

We must fight back.

Ordinary Americans—whether they are in favor of same-sex marriage or opposed—agree that the government shouldn’t penalize their neighbors. Ordinary Americans—even those in favor of same-sex marriage—do not view their neighbors as bigots.

But our governing elites do. So people who believe the truth about marriage need to equip ourselves, because our opponents want to see the law treat all citizens who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife as if they are racists.

But as I explain in this Heritage Backgrounder, great thinkers throughout human history—and from every political community up until the year 2000—thought it reasonable to view marriage as the union of husband and wife.

Indeed, support for marriage as the union of man and woman has been nearly a human universal. It is shared by the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions; by ancient Greek and Roman thinkers untouched by these religions; and by various Enlightenment philosophers. It is affirmed by canon, common, and civil law and by ancient Greek and Roman law.

Bans on interracial marriage and Jim Crow laws, by contrast, were aspects of an insidious movement that denied the fundamental equality and dignity of all human beings and forcibly segregated citizens. When these interracial marriage bans first arose in the American colonies, they were inconsistent not only with the common law inherited from England, but also with the customs of prior world history, which had not banned interracial marriage.

And while the Bible says marriage has nothing to do with race, the Bible insists that it has everything to do with sexual complementarity. From the very beginning of Genesis to the very end of the Book of Revelation, the Bible is replete with spousal imagery and language of husband and wife. So whether from faith or reason or universal human experience, America’s elites must not be allowed to coerce and penalize their neighbors who remain steadfast in the truth about marriage.

America is in a time of transition. Courts have redefined marriage, and beliefs about human sexuality are changing. Will the right to dissent be protected? Will the right of Americans to speak and act in accord with what the United States had always believed about marriage—that it’s a union of husband and wife—be tolerated?

Even if the legal definition of marriage is changed for public policy purposes, should that entitle activists to silence citizens and eradicate charities, schools and businesses that simply ask for the freedom to operate according to this belief?

The United States is a pluralistic society. We need to maintain civil peace even amid disagreement. Our nation’s elites aren’t helping.


Louisiana Timidly Considers Religious Liberty Legislation

Just like Indiana and Arkansas, Louisiana started to consider its own version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but it seems the threat of pushback may dissuade state lawmakers. The president of Louisiana’s Senate, Republican John Alario, said, “As it was originally introduced, I’m not in favor of it. It would put Louisiana in such a bad light, we don’t want any part of it.”

Whatever happened to trading short-term discomfort for long-term benefit? The state’s governor, Bobby Jindal, said he would fight for legislation like the RFRA “that seeks to preserve our most fundamental freedoms.”

The opposition to state-level RFRAs could be nothing more than a heckler’s veto. According to a poll conducted by WPA Opinion Research on behalf of the Family Research Council, 81% of those polled “agree that government should leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage as they live their daily lives at work and in the way they run their businesses.”

But Louisiana lawmakers are scared of the shrill 19% who want government to tell small businesses to bake the cake, to serve the hypothetical pizzas, regardless of the business owner’s most deeply held beliefs



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Second Witness Contradicts Leftist Comic Sarah Silverman’s Wage Discrimination Video

Just another Leftist liar.  If "equal pay for women" is a real problem, why can't celebrity Leftists tell a real, true story about it?

Chris Murphy says he was there on the night that comic Sarah Silverman said she got $10 for the same work for which a male comic earned $60. Murphy says Silverman’s story of sexism, told for a video campaign (see below) that champions equal pay for women, is not accurate. He backs then-New York Comedy Club owner Al Martin’s claim that comics — male or female — who just drop in and ask to do a set, like Silverman did that night in 2002, don’t get paid anything.

Murphy, in a Facebook post Monday afternoon, says even Bill Hicks and Rodney Dangerfield, who were big names back in that day, didn’t expect compensation for guest spots at comedy clubs.

“There has been some He said she said things going on about the night in question between her [Silverman] and Al Martin. I feel I’m qualified to write about it since I was there.

I can confirm Sarah was not booked on the show, because I remember being excited she stopped in. Sarah rarely if ever played The New York Comedy Club. It could be because she was under the impression Al never paid comedians.

I gather this because when she came outside after her set she said, “Wow that was a great crowd. The place is packed. Al should be paying comedians”. The hilarious Todd Barry and I informed her he does. She went inside and asked to be paid. The rest is social media history.” — Chris Murphy on Facebook, April 13, 2015

Sarah Silverman direct message to Scott Ott on TwitterAfter writing about Silverman’s comedically sketchy story last week, I reached out to her. She responded with a direct message on Twitter. Silverman said, “What are you fighting for or against exactly. It’s true. He [Al Martin] took advantage of someone he assumed wouldn’t say anything. That’s the point.”

Actually, that’s not the point of the “wage gap” video Silverman made for, nor is it the reality of events as we’ve now heard from two other witnesses.

Chris Murphy on Monday became the second witness to contradict Sarah Silverman’s story about wage discrimination which forms the spine of her video about women earning less than men for the same work.

Like many Leftists with a cause, Silverman tries to identify with victims — in this case, women who purportedly get paid less than men for the same work. But even though she went back 13 years to find a personal example, her victim-tale won’t bear scrutiny. She makes it sound like Martin withheld from her the ordinary pay for a comedy set, but ponied up fully for male comic Todd Barry.

Martin maintains that Barry was scheduled for that night, and thus budgeted, but Silverman asked to do a set when she saw the great crowd. When she came back and asked for equal pay because she did the same work as Barry, Martin gave her $10 for cab fare. So, she was actually paid something when the standard expectation for guest spots is $0.

Chris Murphy added…

“I’m not sure why Sarah believed she was taking [sic] advantage of that night because she was a woman. Perhaps she was out of the loop so long she forgot the guest spot policy. Or it could be that in some circles it’s hip to crap on Al Martin.”

If Martin and Murphy are right, then Silverman’s story is not merely a mis-remembering or misunderstanding. She says she went back into the club after learning Barry got paid, and she asked Martin for $60. Silverman says that he sheepishly said, “O, did you want a $60 spot?” — as if he were caught in the act of cheating her, ostensibly because she’s a woman. She calls his behavior “pretty shitty.”

In other words, in the video, Silverman calls out Martin for sex discrimination and deception. I have repeatedly attempted to ask Silverman about these challenges to her narrative, but have heard nothing in response since her direct message on Twitter. At this writing, that video has been viewed more than 162,000 times, but apparently many viewers aren’t buying her story either. Check out the lopsidedly negative thumbs up-to-thumbs down ratio: 379-to-4,828.

If equal pay for women is a real problem, why can’t celebrity Leftists tell a real, true story about it? If there are real victims, these fake stories can do nothing but harm them.


The Gender Wage Gap—A Myth that Just Won’t Die

This past year I was on the academic job market, applying for faculty positions at a variety of colleges and universities. As a woman making a critical career move, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in cover letters, resumes, statistics about cost of living, state income taxes, health insurance, and, of course, salary information.

Chances are you’ve heard the statistic on numerous occasions, “women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns—for exactly the same work.” I certainly heard this several times throughout my job search in various contexts. This issue of the supposed “gender wage gap” came up again recently during the 2015 Oscars when actress Patricia Arquette used the platform to call for wage equality stating,

To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.

Social media exploded. Bloggers, politicians, and others applauded Arquette for her statements. The familiar and rallying cry of “equal pay for equal work” was everywhere. While few would disagree with the sentiment that men and women should receive the same compensation for the same services, the position espoused by Arquette and others that women are systematically underpaid is just plain wrong. Of the many economic-related fallacies to be cited as gospel on a regular basis, this one drives me positively insane.

Let’s take a look a closer look at this statistic.

The first thing to notice is that the “77 cents on the dollar” metric isn’t comparing apples to apples. It is a comparison of gross income. That is, it compares the income of all women to that of all men. It fails to take into account important factors—like education, experience, or even just comparing people in the same career. You wouldn’t compare the incomes of elementary school teachers with Bachelor’s degrees to those of individuals with PhDs in physics and complain that there is a “teacher-physicist wage gap”—but this is precisely what this statistic does.

When you take these characteristics into account, the purported “gap” all but disappears.

One important variable to consider is the type of careers men and women select. Simply put, men and women tend to choose different jobs. Looking at data from 2010 on undergraduate majors in the U.S., one sees certain fields are heavily dominated by men and vice versa.

Consumer and human science majors, for example, are about 88 percent female. Eighty-seven percent of library science majors are women. Women also heavily dominate healthcare majors and educational fields, with females representing 80 percent or more of these majors.

By contrast, other disciplines are largely populated by men. Males comprise some 96 percent of military and applied science majors. Eighty-three percent of engineering students are men. Eighty-two percent of computer science majors are male, as are 70 percent of economics majors.

In addition to selecting different jobs, women and men also differ in the number of hours they choose to work. Men are much more likely to work full-time hours or more a week (40+ hours). Women are much more likely to work part-time (less than 35 hours per week). Not surprisingly, people who work part-time jobs tend to earn less than people who work full-time jobs.

(Note: women actually tend to earn more than men with the same part-time jobs.)

When women do find themselves in male-dominant fields, they actually tend to do better than their male counterparts in terms of finding a job. Take, for example, academic jobs. One study from 2010 looked specifically at applications for tenure-track jobs in electrical engineering and physics. They found that while women comprised only 11 percent of engineering applicants and 12 percent of physics applicants, they were much more likely to receive job offers. In fact, the study found that 32 and 20 percent of job offers went to female candidates in engineering and physics, respectively.

The gender wage gap falls completely apart if one thinks of it from the perspective of an employer. Suppose you own an accounting firm. Further suppose that the gender wage gap is real—women and men do the exact same work, but you can pay the women in your firm 77 cents for every $1 you pay your male employees.

You need to hire five new accountants. What are your options?

A. You can hire male CPAs at a price of $50,000 each, per year ($250,000 per year for all five),


B. You can hire female CPAs at a price of $38,500 each (77% of the male wage), per year ($192,500 per year for all five).

What would you do? Hire the women, of course! In fact, you’d be foolish to hire any men at all! You’d get the same work from either group of employees, but by hiring women you’d save $57,500 every year.

The same goes for other businesses. If men and women were truly providing “equal work,” but women were systematically paid less than their male counterparts, entrepreneurial business leaders could make a killing hiring women. The fact that we don’t observe this is yet another indication that the statistic is seriously flawed.

Now, some will point to the statistics on the careers men and women tend to choose and say that women aren’t really “free” to choose their careers. This is not only incredibly patronizing, but it ignores the fact that women in the U.S. are not only well-educated, but also well-informed when it comes to selecting careers. It’s not as if women are unaware that social workers and schoolteachers tend to earn less than engineers. We choose careers just as men do. We consider what we think is most important when selecting a career, look at our options, and make the best choices we can.

When it comes to issues of gender equality, there are a variety of issues to discuss. When having these discussions, however, it’s important for women and men to discuss the facts and present correct information. Otherwise, we not only perpetuate incorrect information, but we ultimately fail to advance these issues in any meaningful way.


No, the Culinary Is Not Political

Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio probably doesn't cook much these days. Having built his reputation preparing expensive entrées for his well-heeled customers at Craft Restaurants, Colicchio is now cooking up liberal food policy to expand the government's ever-encroaching role in how we eat, and what.

His self-promotion schedule and branding pursuits could put Kim Kardashian to shame. He's the star and producer of two reality shows on Bravo, Top Chef and Best New Restaurant. Colicchio owns several pricy restaurants and "ethical sandwich" joints on both coasts. He lends his name to a collection of expensive artisanal kitchenware, including a coffee mug for only $46.

But apparently television and restaurant fame don't hold enough gravitas for this wannabe political star. Over the last few years, Chef Colicchio has emerged as the face of the food movement, culinary elitists who insist that every bite of food is a political statement (think climate-change folks going after your shopping cart instead of your SUV).

Testifying before Congress a few years ago about the school-lunch program whet his appetite for politics. Since then, Colicchio has visited Capitol Hill several times to promote mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods, and as the guest of organic farmer Representative Chellie Pingree (D., Maine) he even attended the State of the Union address in January. No doubt the chef will want a seat at the table to spin the now controversial update to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, due for approval later this year.

To further impact food policy, Colicchio co-founded Food Policy Action, a PAC that scores lawmakers on how liberal they vote on food issues. Far from reflecting a consensus of top food and nutrition experts, the FPA scorecard represents a narrow view of some of the nation's most ideologically divisive activists. The group grades House members and senators on whether they "promote policies that support healthy diets, reduce hunger at home and abroad, improve food access and affordability, uphold the rights and dignity of food and farm workers . . . and reduce the environmental impact of farming and food production."

The implication is that members of Congress who don't agree with Colicchio and his leftist cohort oppose healthy food and the reduction of hunger and are indifferent to degradation of the environment.

In a video released during this month's TEDxManhattan, Colicchio attempted to credit FPA for the loss of one Republican congressional seat last year because the candidate was "terrible on food issues" — a stretch given several other factors contributing to the congressman's defeat.

The PAC is gearing up to challenge Republicans on "food security" issues, including labeling GMO products and restoring cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The FPA board is filled with Obama-administration sympathizers, including Gary Hirshberg, an organic-food cheerleader and the Stonyfield chairman, and Robin Schepper, the former executive director of the Let's Move! campaign, which just celebrated its five-year anniversary with the first lady gushing over her own bean-kale burgers and curried pumpkin with peas.

To buttress his political agenda, Colicchio serves up one amuse-bouche after another of half-truths and platitudes. Despite hundreds of billions spent each year to feed people in America, Colicchio insists that "we don't have the political will in this country to fix hunger." His biggest whopper is that the only reason that people prefer fast food to fresh produce is that the latter is more expensive, as if the demand for Big Macs reflected only people's economic decisions and had nothing to do with what they like.

The chef is a big defender of SNAP, which he calls "one of the best-run programs in the country," and is furious about the 1 percent funding cut for it in last year's farm bill. He insists that poor people are obese not because of bad choices but because "the inability to afford healthy food is the biggest problem for millions struggling with obesity," even though the program allows for the purchase of fruits and vegetables (fresh and frozen), lean meats, dairy, and other healthy items.

Serving as a mouthpiece for liberal foodies has paid off for Colicchio; MSNBC named him its first-ever food correspondent last month. (MSNBC host Alex Wagner is married to former White House chef Sam Kass, another food scold, who banned boxed macaroni and cheese from the White House kitchen.)

If you're looking for practical dinner advice, look elsewhere. Colicchio will continue his "food is political" crusade. Gone are the days of mindless food shopping; culinary elitists like Colicchio want a trip to the grocery store to be a political experience. "In today's world, it is impossible to separate our food culture from the politics and policies that shape our choices as consumers and taxpayers, whether we're aware of them or not," Colicchio said about his new gig.

Of course, Colicchio is just one line chef in the busy liberal kitchen of shamers and elitists determined to strip the joy and fellowship out of eating. The main problem with this movement isn't its self-proclaimed noble intentions: it's the impracticality of its core tenets, which are largely unattainable for most Americans. Consider the new executive director of the Let's Move! campaign, Deb Eschmeyer. Her central qualification for the job? She sought to fight obesity by encouraging city kids to go to local farms for organic produce.

But the culinary elitists behind the food movement aren't truly interested in how to get dinner on the table. Theirs is a political crusade disguised as a public-health campaign. They use food as a wedge to further divide Americans between blue plates and red plates.

Listen, for example, to Colicchio's comparison of the food movement with social and political struggles of the past: "At some point, we need to take this social movement and turn it into a political movement," Colicchio said during the Food for Tomorrow conference. "It's what happened in other social movements as well, whether it was civil rights or whether it was marriage equality."

The hyperbole is not only bad politics but will do nothing to improve Americans' health.


Indiana Pizza Parlor Reopens Without Fanfare

The Left, incensed that owners of Memories Pizza would decline to cater a same-sex wedding because of religious objections, tried to protest the pizza parlor serving a one traffic-light Indiana town out of existence. Due to the threats, Kevin O'Connor closed his shop for eight days.

But he reopened April 9 to a full restaurant and not a protester in sight, according to the Associated Press. “I’d do the same thing again,” O'Connor told the AP. “It’s my belief. It’s our belief. It’s what we grew up on. I’m just sorry it comes to this because neither one of us dislike any of those people. I don’t hold any grudges.”

During the time his business was shuttered, a producer from The Blaze created a fund for the pizza shop that collected over $800,000 in donations. So are the owners rolling in the dough? (‘Scuse the pun.) “It was really making us uncomfortable,” O'Connor said. After spending a bit on his pizza parlor, he’ll donate some of it to charity.

So much for the Left’s conspiratorial explanation of the donations as some kind of guerrilla marketing campaign. The Left couldn’t sustain its rage. What’s left is an operating pizza parlor and the disturbing realization that the Left trivializes religious liberty.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sharpton ahoy! Black teen thief shot & killed by Cleveland Police on east side did not have a gun

He had been shot twice before by fellow criminals so clearly had a history of very foolish behaviour.  He may well have tried to grab the cop's gun.  Note that the store he robbed was owned by a fellow black

 A teenager shot and killed by Cleveland Police early Thursday morning has been identified.  Police said 18-year-old Brandon Jones was shot by officers at 2:15 a.m. on Parkwood Drive and Primrose Avenue.

Cleveland Police said officers were checking out a break-in at a small convenience store when the shooting happened.   When two officers arrived, police said Jones came out of the store with a bag.

At least one officer had his gun drawn, a source stated.

The two officers approached Jones and tried to arrest the man. Police say a struggle between the three ensued.   One officer shot the suspect at least one time.

Jones was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center in critical condition and later died. According to sources, Jones did not have a weapon, but tried to grab an officer's gun.

No police officers were wounded in the incident.  Sources said the police involved were two seasoned veteran officers.

Essex Hayward, the 90-year-old owner of the shop, said it has been robbed several times and even shot before.  He said Jones only got away with cigarettes and some money.  The shop was closed when the break-in happened.


The PC terror of the Twittermob

Two web developers, Hank and Alex, were sharing tech-related in-jokes about `dongles' and `forking someone's repo' at a conference. It was private, jokey wordplay - or at least, that's what they thought. A woman in front of them, Adria Richards, overheard the jokes, became outraged, took a photo of the pair, and posted it on her Twitterfeed. `Not cool' ran the tweet as she `called out' their `inappropriate' and `sexist' jokes. At the end of the conference, they were reprimanded by the conference organisers and eventually sacked from their jobs. It didn't end there. The woman who tweeted her outrage received abuse from freelancing misogynists who themselves were outraged by the firing of Hank and Alex. Hackers attacked the IT server system at Richards' workplace and she, too, was sacked.

It is a grim story, but it is one that, unfortunately, is becoming commonplace. Author and broadcaster Jon Ronson, in his new book So You've Been Publicly Shamed, examines the peculiar twenty-first-century phenomena of the Twitterstorm and `calling out' culture. Ronson is a very good and likeable journalist. He has a talent for spotting a potentially great story and the tenacity to bring it to life. He is a journalist in the old-fashioned sense of the word. He pursues contacts, leads and interviews - many times over - until he's scooped a decent story. And, unlike so many hotshot broadsheet writers, Ronson is always more interested in the people he's writing about than he is in himself. It is this approach which means his contacts are often prepared to open up to him and which explains why his writing can be so compelling.

Ronson, though, has his detractors. His interest in oddballs and freaks suggests he is not someone who takes things too seriously. Yet his eye for the wacky and the strange sometimes ends up hitting on hard political topics. For example, his 2001 documentary, The Secret Rulers of the World, captured how radical lefties were embracing conspiracy theory, once the theory of choice for far-right nutters. Likewise, So You've Been Publicly Shamed captures how the easily offended, often radically minded, have wrecked people's lives in a manner which would make corrupt, repressive states feel proud. What's alarming and chilling about Ronson's case studies is that, far from being isolated incidents, they increasingly reflect a general trend towards the curtailing of free expression.

Take the case of the American, Justine Sacco. Before a trip to South Africa, she made a throwaway quip on Twitter, to her 170 followers, about how white people can't catch AIDS in Africa. This bad joke was a dig at her own apparently cosseted existence rather than at black AIDS suffers. But sadly for Sacco, this joke was lost on one of her followers (she doesn't know who), and by the time she had landed at Cape Town Airport she was trending on Twitter. Ronson provides an extensive list of the tweets in response to Sacco's original post. They were a mixture of pious, indignant rage and low-level sadism. `We are about to watch this @JustineSacco get fired. In REAL time. Before she even KNOWS she's getting fired.' Ronson makes the point that Sacco was the first person he'd interviewed who had been destroyed, not by the government or big business, but by her fellow citizens.

The same was true of Lindsey Stone. She and a friend had a long-running `stupid joke' that involved pulling poses contrary to what a public sign says, such as smoking in front of a no-smoking sign. At Arlington in Washington DC, the pair saw the `silence and respect' sign for US soldiers who had died in combat - this prompted Lindsey to do a goofy am-dram one-finger salute pose in front of the sign. Due to Facebook settings not being as private as many of us think they are, especially for uploaded photos, this private joke became public. Four weeks after returning from Washington DC, Stone became aware of online hostility towards her and her photo. Incredibly, a `Fire Lindsey Stone' Facebook page had been created and had attracted 12,000 likes. The company Lindsey worked for, LIFE (Living Independently Forever), was inundated with emails demanding her sacking - a request that was quickly met. According to Ronson, Stone `fell into a depression, became an insomniac and barely left home for a year'.

Public shaming in the twenty-first century, especially for mildly jokey rather than criminal behaviour, can be devastating for its victims. Ronson, who admits that he's done his fair share of `calling out' tweets, is right to say the process degrades us all. A harder question to answer is why such unhinged responses to bad jokes and legitimate opinions have become the norm rather than the exception.

In trying to answer this question, it would be easy, and wrong, to indulge in anti-human prejudices, and to his credit Ronson picks apart such lazy theories. He demonstrates how the nineteenth-century French doctor and thinker, Gustave Le Bon, was wrong with his `group madness' concept, developed in The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind. Le Bon's theory was that humans totally lose control over their behaviour in a crowd. Our free will evaporates and a contagious madness takes over.

Ronson notes that Le Bon is still popular because `we tend to love nothing more than to declare other people insane'. But the problem with theories like Le Bon's is that they can't explain why some people get involved in Twitterstorms and others choose not to. It seems that how people react in a crowd or on social media is based on patterns of behaviour that reflect wider belief systems. The predilection to behave in this way exists prior to the coming together of any pitchfork- or Twitter-wielding mob.

For the sociologist mile Durkheim, the process of punishment and shaming served to change an individual's behaviour and uphold society's values. From Medieval times through to the nineteenth century, the authorities were willing to tie people to public whipping posts or place them in stocks for their transgressions. Local newspapers would have published a digest detailing the amount of squirming that had occurred. Punishment is primarily expressive - it expresses society's moral outrage at the offence. Through rituals of order, such as a public trial and punishment, society's shared values are reaffirmed and its members come to feel a sense of moral unity.

Thus `calling out' someone's Twitter transgressions could be said to be motivated by a desire to do good for wider society. Ronson draws a not too far-fetched analogy between public shaming on social media and how citizens in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) informed the Stasi (the GDR's terrifying secret police) on their neighbours - they thought this was the right thing to do.

The question today is how and why harmless jokes, or the `wrong' opinions, are seen as transgressive and worthy of what the criminologist John Braithwaite calls `stigmatic shaming' (which means there's no final forgiveness for the individual's `bad behaviour'). But in the twenty-first century the nature of stigmatic shaming has changed, too. Ronson notes how individuals who have been exposed to public judgement for aspects of their sexual behaviour, such as sleeping with prostitutes, are no longer social pariahs. Max Mosley or Wayne Rooney, for instance, were not cast out of public life following tabloid revelations of their paid-for sex romps. Shaming no longer involves the transgression of traditional or religious values but, instead, the transgression of politically correct codes. And it is on social media where the regulatory power of PC codes is most keenly felt.

Twenty-five years ago, the term PC was a joke, largely used by conservatives to lampoon the behaviour of liberals and lefties. Today, far from PC having `gone mad', it has gone thoroughly mainstream. Critics of PC are often viewed as closet bigots, people who simply want to make racist or sexist comments without any comeback. But this misses the point about the problems with PC. PC is designed to control individual behaviour rather than create a more equal or fair society. Through PC, problems to do with racial or sexual inequality have been recast as problems of language etiquette. Justine Sacco's family, for instance, had a long history of actively supporting the ANC in South Africa during the struggle against Apartheid; her tweet was also a joke against herself and perceptions of `white privileged' Americans. But all of this was irrelevant because the politically correct use of language is considered more important than a person's actual opinions or deeds.

Protecting other people's self-esteem or emotional states has become important because humans are no longer seen as being able to cope with `disagreeable' words. This has pretty much become the organising principle on university campuses throughout Britain and America. But the culture of limiting `offence' has only encouraged people to perceive and exaggerate all manner of comments as `offensive'. We've reached the point where an individual's subjective `hurt' now triumphs over solidarity with other people. Indeed, solidarities based around work, how most of us are only one pay cheque away from penury, was once a powerful social bond among the powerless in society. It was widely recognised that handing employers a stick with which to beat an employee could be used against yourself and others. This is why, 30 years ago, nobody would call on someone else to be sacked from their job on the basis of something they had said, no matter how reprehensible they thought it was.

One of the most depressing trends covered in Ronson's book is how calling for someone to be sacked from their job, even though a tweet is unrelated to their work, is often the first demand social-media users all-too gleefully make. It shows just how atomised and lacking in solidarity Western societies have become. Trying to get someone sacked was once considered a terrible thing to do. Now it is considered the right thing to do. Ronson's book demonstrates how social media reflects and exacerbates such malignant trends, such as calling for the state or employers to punish people for opinions, jokes or beliefs considered offensive or inappropriate.

Nevertheless, Ronson is somewhat off the mark when he applies his criticism of public, social-media shaming to the case of author and `motivational public speaker' Jonah Lehrer. In 2012, journalist Michael C Moynihan became suspicious of quotes Lehrer had attributed to Bob Dylan in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works. In fact, the quotes were completely made up. Other editors and book publishers quickly discovered that most of Lehrer's articles and work featured fabrications, inaccuracies and evidence of plagiarism. Ronson uses the case of Lehrer as part of his exploration of public shaming, but actually it's not entirely legitimate to compare Lehrer's downfall with the cases of Sacco, Stone and others. In Lehrer's case, it was a journalist, and then social media, who forced Lehrer to be held to account for his dishonesty and fakery. He was not being destroyed for bad jokes or bad opinions.

Ronson feels uneasy that Lehrer had `been exposed by the sort of person who used to be powerless' and reminds the reader Lehrer had written some wonderful stuff. There's a danger here of confusing Twittermob intolerance with stinging public criticism and ridicule. Increasingly, many journalists are hostile to `below the liners', ordinary members of the public who leave ridiculing comments underneath an opinion piece or review. There's a tendency to confuse the online public who are simply opinionated with Twittermobs and intolerance. Ronson is right to cast a weary and critical eye over the Twittermob mentality. But journalists' views and opinions still ought to be fair game for challenge and ridicule. At times, So You've Been Publicly Shamed doesn't clearly make the distinction between robust public debate and intolerance.

It is also worth pointing out that shame and being shamed are not necessarily bad things. The existence of shame is a recognition that genuinely transgressive acts are problematic. Shaming, therefore, provides a check and balance on wayward behaviour. It is the mechanism through which, informally and organically, civilised boundaries are maintained by society. It is also less repressive because such informal controls do not involve the state and the judiciary. What makes the Twittermob's acts of `shaming' so brutal is that individuals who haven't done anything wrong end up having their lives destroyed. Telling bad-taste jokes does not warrant being given unemployable pariah status. Ronson's engrossing book, and the sorry tales he covers, is a depressing snapshot of Twitter's tyranny of intolerance and the closing down of a free society.


From Ireland to Indiana, the spread of gay-marriage groupthink

Why the campaign for same-sex hitching is so censorious and intolerant

To see how straitjacketed the debate about gay marriage has become, look no further than Ireland.  There, on 22 May, there will be a referendum, with voters asked to say Yes or No to amending the Irish Constitution so that marriage will be redefined as a union between ‘two persons without distinction as to their sex’. Sounds good, right? An opportunity for an actual electorate to have a debate and have its say on the future of marriage? Not so fast.

The run-up to the referendum has been about as far from a fair or open debate as it’s possible to get. One side in the debate - the side that is critical of gay marriage - is demonised daily, treated virtually as heretics, almost as criminals. It’s accused of causing psychological harm, branded as ‘hate speakers’, and frequently forced to make public apologies simply for expressing its belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. And as a writer for the Irish Independent says, ‘It’s not a debate if one side can’t speak’. The public discussion before the Irish referendum has not been a debate, she says - it’s been ‘a Two Minutes Hate’ against anyone who doesn’t think gay marriage is the greatest idea ever.

Pretty much the entire establishment in Ireland, aside from the increasingly uninfluential bishops and priests, backs gay marriage (giving the lie to the gay-marriage movement’s depiction of itself as a beleaguered minority bravely battling The Man for its civil rights). From the prime minister, Enda Kenny, to the vast majority of Dail Eireann, to pretty much the whole media - most notably the Irish Times, voice of the minuscule cultural elite in Dublin that sets the moral and political agenda in Ireland - every person with power is rallying for gay marriage. And barely a week passes when they don’t demonise the other side, the smaller, less powerful side, the side which, in opposing gay marriage, is apparently harming citizens, causing violence and, worst of all, jeopardising Ireland’s political future.

As with all heretics in history, Ireland’s opponents of gay marriage stand accused of directly harming the public. So last month, the Psychological Society of Ireland issued a dire warning that the propaganda of the anti-gay marriage camp could ‘impact detrimentally on people’. PSI said it is ‘seriously concerned’ that this lobby’s claim that traditional marriage is better than gay marriage, on the grounds that a mother and father make better parents than two people of the same sex, could have ‘far-reaching implications’. It chastised opponents of gay marriage for promoting ideas that ‘run contrary to the positions of professional bodies’ - that is, for daring to defy the new priests: the expert class - and said their words could wreak mental and moral havoc.

As one news report summed it up, PSI thinks that ‘the debate itself [my italics] carrie[s] the potential to have detrimental effects, both psychological and emotional, on adults and children’. So discussion is dangerous; positing a view that runs counter to the elite’s outlook could cause emotional damage. It’s remarkable how much the authoritarian boot has shifted: once it was those who denied Biblical truths who were accused of doing moral harm to citizens; now it is those who cleave to Christian views and doubt gay marriage whose words, whose desire to have a debate, are depicted as dangerous, warping things.

The PSI is not alone in demanding that the anti side watch its words, or better still, stop saying them. An Irish government minister has urged antis to ‘refrain from confrontational and offensive language’. The Irish Times has gone further, publishing a piece calling for the establishment of a ‘homophobia watchdog’ in the run-up to the referendum, so that the authorities can ‘monitor the inevitable destructive rhetoric that will colour one side of the debate’. And to those who cry ‘what about free speech?’, the Irish Times has a simple answer: ‘“Free speech” is not a free pass to inflict psychological trauma.’ That is, your words, your very thoughts, are traumatic, even socially destabilising, and thus they must not enjoy liberty; they should not be expressed.

Echoing those eco-illiberals in the UK and elsewhere who slam media outlets that offer a ‘balanced’ view in the debate on climate change, the Irish Times has also called into question the need for media balance on gay marriage in the run-up to the referendum. Too much of the media have ‘a skewed view of what balance is’, it says, feeling the need to offer a platform to ‘Middle Ireland’, ‘the silent majority’, ‘the mainstream’, when the only consequence of such ‘polarised conversations’ is that ‘facts and reason are drowned out by emotional arguments and inaccuracies’. ‘It’s pointless’, it concludes. It means, amazingly, that debate is pointless. Gay-marriage activists see themselves as ‘factual and reasoned’ and anyone who criticises them as emotional, inaccurate, traumatising, psychologically harmful. Who needs to hear from ‘Middle Ireland’ when the well-educated inhabitants of Dublin 4 know exactly what the nation needs? As it happens, the Irish media do not need lectures from the PSI about trauma or from the Irish Times about ‘skewed balance’, and nor is there a need for a speech-monitoring homophobia watchdog - for the media in Ireland have already dutifully fallen in line behind gay marriage. Indeed, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has recently ruled that too many broadcasters are showing a bias in favour of gay marriage. (There’s no need for rulings like this either, of course; can’t we just let debate flow freely?)

Experts’ and observers’ depiction of gay marriage’s opponents as emotionally harmful is having a direct impact on how the debate is, or rather isn’t, panning out. It is strangling discussion, stifling the expression of what are increasingly depicted as deviant views. In the words of Eilis O’Hanlon at the Irish Independent, the increasingly shrill proponents of gay marriage seem less interested in ‘finding the truth’ than in ‘identifying [themselves] as members of an enlightened elite’, so that the whole referendum run-up is ‘reduced to a case of kindly metropolitan liberals versus nasty Catholic conservatives’.

A writer for the Sunday Independent admitted to feeling reluctant to express her concerns about the behaviour of the pro-gay marriage lobby. Her friends warned her to ‘be careful’ because ‘anyone who sticks their oar in risks attack’. There is a ‘chilling effect’ on public discussion as a result of the treatment of one side as wicked and corrupting, she said. The bishop of Kildare, Denis Nulty, had a point when he recently warned against ‘the danger of groupthink’ on gay marriage. As O’Hanlon says, through groupthink ‘outsiders are demonised and hounded’. Referring to the Twittermobs that formed during a heated debate on gay marriage last year, she says ‘anyone who expressed the slightest reservations about same-sex marriage was howled down as a homophobe and pelted with hashtags and slogans until they either submitted to the mob or were driven offline’.

Ireland’s opponents of gay marriage have also been subjected to the kind of tabloid exposes normally reserved for social deviants. And such is the debate-allergic climate that even bishops, people who should surely be expected to hold a traditionalist view on marriage and the family, have felt pressured to make public apologies. For expressing his view that gay people who adopt children are ‘not necessarily parents’ and that ‘children need a mother and a father’, Bishop Kevin Doran was slammed and hounded, until he agreed to say sorry. He said he ‘regrets any hurt’ his words caused. Even the Primate of All Ireland indulged in a mea culpa: ‘I think that sometimes when we say things we can be insensitive, we can hurt.’ It seems the old bishops have heeded the warnings of the new secular bishops that make up Ireland’s expert and chattering classes, and have agreed to genuflect at the altar of safe, stultified discussion on gay marriage.

What is striking is the extent to which the critics of gay marriage are now treated in a similar way that gays were treated for decades. Homosexuality wasn’t decriminalised in Ireland until 1993 - making you wonder where the Irish state gets off now posing as super-gay-friendly - and before that gays were seen as a blot on the moral landscape. They were seen as psychologically disordered (not just in Ireland, but across the West) and their words and culture were often censored for fear that they would traumatise young people and tear the moral fabric. Sound familiar? Yes, the same is now done to those who hold traditional views on marriage and the family. In Ireland, as elsewhere, the illiberal, intolerant tactics once used against homosexuals have been turned against those who dare to criticise homosexual lifestyles.

Around the world, the institutionalisation of gay marriage has been attended by authoritarianism, whether of the violent state variety or what John Stuart Mill called ‘the tyranny of prevailing opinion’. From French riot police’s tear-gassing of protesters against gay marriage to American activists’ witch-hunting of corporate bosses or small-town restaurants that refuse to cheer gay marriage, this supposedly great civil-rights issue of our age has a powerful intolerant streak to it. (The recent fiftieth anniversary of the Selma march really exposed gay-marriage activists’ claims to be the new civil-rights movement: far from mirroring the blacks who marched for their rights, the gay-marriage movement, most notably in France, looks a lot more like the Montgomery cops who batoned those marchers off the streets.)

Why is the gay-marriage movement so intolerant? Despite winning the backing of almost every powerful figure in the West, from Barack Obama to David Cameron, from Apple to Goldman Sachs, and despite being turned by the media into the great unquestionable, almost sacrilegious cause of our age, still gay-marriage activists hilariously fancy themselves as underdogs and, worse, seek to shush or shame out of existence anyone who opposes them. In the words of the American journalist Damon Linker, the gay-marriage movement seems curiously hell-bent on ‘stamping out rival visions’. Or as Reason magazine said in relation to recent intolerant activism by American gay-marriage campaigners, it seems some are ‘not merely content with the revolutionary step of removing state discrimination against same-sex couples’, but also want to ‘use state power to punish anyone who refuses to lend their business services to wedding ceremonies they find objectionable’.

What’s this all about? Why the illiberalism, the intolerance, the ugliness? It’s because gay marriage is not really about expanding freedom at all. Rather, it represents the emergence of a new, post-traditonalist morality, an attempt by at-sea elites across the West to redefine themselves and their moral missions through the gay issue. Gay marriage has become the favoured means through which our rulers, feeling ever-more detached from their old moral worldview, are institutionalising a new, pseudo-progressive, seemingly consensual morality, based, not around the old ideals of family, commitment and privacy, but around the new po-mo values of relativism (all relationships are the same), non-judgementalism (who are we to say that a mum and dad are better than two mums?), and illiberal liberalism, the central political outlook of our times, which under the guise of building a new liberal consensus seeks to censure and punish anyone who deviates from that consensus. The reason the elites, from the political classes to the influential opinion-forming set, are so instinctually hostile to criticism of gay marriage is because they have invested their very moral rehabilitation, their future political and moral legitimacy, into this issue more than in any other. And thus no ridicule of it can be tolerated. For if you knock gay marriage you are not only knocking gay marriage - you are upsetting Western elites’ efforts to establish a new morality that simplistically distinguishes between Us (good, kind, liberal backers of gay marriage) and Them (the old, the religious, the outdated, the Other).

Ireland captures this perfectly. The reason so many in the political and media classes want, or rather need, the amendment to the Constitution to pass is because they think legalising gay marriage will help rejuvenate Ireland in the twenty-first century. The minister for children said that if Ireland doesn’t legalise gay marriage, it would ‘send out a bad message internationally’. Or as prime minister Kenny put it, passing gay marriage will ‘send out a powerful signal internationally that Ireland has evolved into a fair, compassionate and tolerant nation’.

All this talk of ‘sending signals’ to the world shows how absolutely central gay marriage has become to the project of Western elites making themselves over in these post-Cold War, post-traditionalist, post-political times. The Irish state needs gay marriage for the same reason Obama and Cameron need it - to fashion a new moral worldview and ‘send a signal’ about its elitist progressivism, its decency in comparison to the old world, the old people, the old outlook. That so many gay-rights campaigners are going along with this politicisation and exploitation of their lifestyles by elites on the lookout for a new sense of purpose is remarkable. That those who hold a divergent view on gay marriage are being silenced is a scandal.


ACLU Targets Religious Charities Over Refusing Abortions, Contraception for Immigrant Children

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on Apr. 6  against the federal government to obtain “documents related to how groups that are awarded government funding contracts are restricting refugee and undocumented immigrant teenagers' access to reproductive health services, including contraception and abortion.”

The lawsuit is seeking the release of documents from the Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families about contracts awarded to religious groups that are helping unaccompanied minors, many of whom have crossed into the United States from Mexico.

Brigitte Amiri, an ACLU senior staff attorney, said that religious organizations, particularly the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), are taking millions of dollars in federal funding and refusing “to provide teens with critical reproductive health care — such as emergency contraception and abortion — as required by U.S. law.”

“Recently, the federal government released proposed regulations requiring federal contractors who care for unaccompanied minors to provide access to contraception, emergency contraception, and abortion if a teen has been raped,” said the ACLU, referencing a recent interim rule published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

“In response, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, one of the groups that received a government-funded contract to provide care to these teens, said any requirement that they provide information about contraception or abortion, even a referral or the arrangement for such services, would violate their religious freedom,” the ACLU said, citing the USCCB’s Feb. 20 letter of reply to ORR’s interim rule.

The Dec. 24, 2014 interim rule, which will go into effect this June, requires federally funded organizations caring for illegal alien minors to provide “unimpeded access to emergency medical treatment,” including “emergency contraception,” and abortion.

The ACLU argues that, “religious freedom does not include the right to take a government contract that requires providing access to health care, and then refuse to provide a teen who has been raped the health care she needs.”

However the USCCB and other religious organizations have invoked the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which bars the federal government from denying government grants and contracts on the basis of a group’s free exercise of religion.

“There is little question that a government requirement to provide or refer for items or procedures to which an organization has a religious and moral objection would impose a ‘substantial burden’ on its exercise of religion,” the USCCB wrote.

“Abortion takes an innocent human life and wounds another life.  It is the antithesis of healthcare.  This lawsuit will not expand access to humane care, but rather will peddle death and harm to an already vulnerable population — young undocumented immigrants — dealing a blow both to life and to religious freedom,”  Mallory Quigley, Communications Director at the Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life advocacy group, told in reference to the ACLU lawsuit.

“Abortion does not cure, it does not provide relief or solace for the problems of sexual assault or poverty.  Abortion only inflicts further wounds on those already hurting.  Religious organizations such as Catholic Relief Services are providing true compassion and care, and the dignity that these young women deserve,” she said.

The ORR regulation anticipated religious freedom objections in its preamble, noting, “ORR is mindful that some potential and existing grantees and contractors may have religious or moral objections to providing certain kinds of services, including referrals (for example, for emergency contraception)."

“ORR is committed to providing resources and referrals for the full range of legally permissible services to UCs (Unaccompanied Children) who need them, helping to facilitate access to these options, and doing so in a timely fashion and in a manner that respects the diverse religious and cultural backgrounds of UCs,” states the rule.

“At the same time, ORR is also committed to finding ways for organizations to partner with us, even if they object to providing specific services on religious grounds,” it states.

The USCCB, along with Catholic Relief Services, the National Association of Evangelicals, World Vision, and World Relief called the referral option “inadequate” and called for an amendment to the rule providing a “meaningful accommodation” that “frees existing and prospective grantees, contractors, sub-grantees and subcontractors from any requirement to provide, facilitate the provision of, provide information about, or refer or arrange for items or procedures to which they have a religious or moral objection.”



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here