Tuesday, October 21, 2014



Catholic bishops scrap plans to 'welcome' gay members after landmark summit on family issues ends in deep divisions

Catholic bishops meeting to discuss 'family issues' at a two week summit have scrapped plans to welcome gay members of the Church.

Showing deep divisions at the end of the Vatican synod, which was sought by Pope Francis in part to chart a more merciful approach to homosexuals, the bishops failed to approve even a watered-down section on ministering to gay Catholics.

Midway through the summit, a draft document was released proposing remarkably progressive plans for the Catholic Church, saying unmarried couples living together can be 'positive', and gay relationships and divorcees must be welcomed.

But by the time the synod ended, the welcoming tone of acceptance had been stripped away and replaced by a paragraph describing homosexuality as a 'problem' Catholic families have to confront.

Rather than considering gays as individuals who had gifts to offer the church, the revised paragraph referred to homosexuality as one of the problems Catholic families have to confront.

It said 'people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy,' but repeated church teaching that marriage is only between man and woman. The paragraph failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

Two other paragraphs concerning the other hot-button issue at the synod of bishops — whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion — also failed to pass.

The outcome showed a deeply divided church on some of the most pressing issues facing Catholic families.

It appeared that the 118-62 vote on the gay section might have been a protest vote by progressive bishops who refused to back the watered-down wording. The original draft had said gays had gifts to offer the church and that their partnerships, while morally problematic, provided gay couples with 'precious' support.

New Ways Ministry, a Catholic gay rights group, said it was 'very disappointing' that the final report had backtracked from the welcoming words contained in the draft.

Nevertheless, it said the synod's process 'and openness to discussion provides hope for further development down the road, particularly at next year's synod, where the makeup of the participants will be larger and more diverse, including many more pastorally-oriented bishops.'

The draft had been written by a Francis appointee, Monsignor Bruno Forte, a theologian known for pushing the pastoral envelope on ministering to people in 'irregular' unions. The draft was supposed to have been a synopsis of the bishops' interventions, but many conservatives complained that it reflected a minority and overly progressive view.

Francis insisted in the name of transparency that the full document — including the paragraphs that failed to pass — be published along with the voting tally. The document will serve as the basis for future debate leading up to another meeting of bishops next October that will produce a final report to be sent to Francis.

'Personally I would have been very worried and saddened if there hadn't been these ... animated discussions ... or if everyone had been in agreement or silent in a false and acquiescent peace,' Francis told the synod hall after the vote.

Conservatives had harshly criticized the draft and proposed extensive revisions to restate church doctrine, which holds that gay sex is 'intrinsically disordered,' but that gays themselves are to be respected, and that marriage is only between a man and woman.

'We could see that there were different viewpoints,' said Cardinal Oswald Gracis of India, when asked about the most contentious sections of the report on homosexuals and divorced and remarried Catholics.

German Cardinal Walter Kasper, the leader of the progressive camp, said he was 'realistic' about the outcome.

In an unexpected gesture after the voting, Francis approached a group of journalists waiting outside the synod hall to thank them for their work covering the synod.

'Thanks to you and your colleagues for the work you have done,' he said. 'Grazie tante.' Conservative bishops had harshly criticized journalists for reporting on the dramatic shift in tone in the draft, even though the media reports merely reflected the document's content.

Francis' gesture, and his words inside the synod hall chastising bishops who were overly wed to doctrine and were guided by 'hostile rigidity,' as well as those bishops who showed a 'destructive goody-goodiness,' indicated that he was well aware of the divisions the debate had sparked. His speech received a four-minute standing ovation, participants said.

Over the past week, the bishops split themselves up into working groups to draft amendments to the text. They were nearly unanimous in insisting that church doctrine on family life be more fully asserted and that faithful Catholic families should be held up as models and encouraged rather than focus on family problems and 'irregular' unions.

The bishops signaled a similar tone in a separate message directed at Christian families released Saturday. There was no mention whatsoever of families with gay children, much less gay parents, and it spoke of the 'complex and problematic' issues that arise when marriages fail and new relationships begin.

'Christ wanted his church to be a house with the door always open to welcome everyone, without excluding anyone,' the message read. (Oddly, the English translation was less welcoming than the official Italian, ending the sentence after 'everyone.')

Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of South Africa, who helped draft the revised final report, told Vatican Radio the final document showed a 'common vision' that was lacking in the draft.

He said the key areas for concern were 'presenting homosexual unions as if they were a very positive thing' and the suggestion that divorced and remarried Catholics should be able to receive Communion without an annulment.

He complained that the draft was presented as the opinion of the whole synod, when it was 'one or two people.'  'And that made people very angry,' he said.

SOURCE






When nanny staters say ‘choice’, what they really mean is ‘less choice’

Nannies, nudgers and various other adherents to what the UK Labour Party calls ‘the politics of behaviour’ have done a lot of bad stuff in recent years. Their smoking ban hollowed out pub life. Their fearmongering about fatness did more than any fashion mag to convince young people that chubbiness is sinful and skinniness is next to Godliness. Their jihad against junk food in schools deprived today’s kids of some of childhood’s great pleasures: having a Mars bar in your blazer pocket and taking bites out of it in between scoring goals in the playground or sharing a fizzy strawberry lace as you natter about last night’s TV.

But even worse than all that has been the way this fun-allergic lobby has warped the meaning of the word choice. Almost singlehandedly they have transformed the c-word. They have turned ‘choice’ from something individuals do for themselves, using our free will and moral autonomy to decide on a course of action that we think is best suited to our lives, into something that is done for us, by others, and which we have to be guided towards. They talk about the ‘right choice’, the ‘informed choice’, the ‘healthy choice’, and about their determination to shove us donut-scoffing plebs towards that ‘choice’. They have turned choice utterly on its head: when they say ‘choice’, what they really mean is ‘less choice’.

Consider Lord Darzi’s proposals, published this week, for how to make London a healthier city. He wants mayor Boris Johnson to ban smoking in Trafalgar Square and other squares and parks; to ban the siting of junk-food shops near schools; and to give Oyster Card users a discount if they get off their lazy butts once in a while and walk part of the way to work. It is standard, soul-destroying lifestyle-policing fare. But what was most striking was Darzi’s insistence that through restricting certain forms of behaviour - smoking in public, buying chips near a school - he is boosting people’s ability to make a choice. He says he wants us all to make what he calls ‘the healthiest choice’, but that choice isn’t ‘always easy [or] obvious’, so we have to be assisted in the making of it. Labour’s Tessa Jowell also used the c-word in a super-weird way in her backing for Lord Darzi. ‘We need to make the healthier choice the easier choice for Londoners’, she said.

So let’s get this straight: restricting someone’s ability to choose whether he lights up a fag in Trafalgar Square is actually about improving his ability to make a choice? That public officials can propose the restriction of certain behaviours in one breath and then blather on about choice in the very next sums up how emptied of meaning the word choice has become. If they were serious about choice, they would say: ‘Smoke in Trafalgar Square, or don’t smoke in Trafalgar Square, it’s your choice.’ That would genuinely entail giving the citizen a choice – not a massive, meaningful, democracy-shaking choice, no, but a choice nonetheless: to smoke or not to smoke. By contrast, saying ‘We think you should be prevented through by-law from smoking in Trafalgar Sqaure or buying chicken wings within a hundred-metre radius of a school’ is an explicit negation of choice; it’s a pummelling of the autonomy involved in making a choice. It removes choice, it doesn’t enhance it.

This is doublespeak par excellence. Increasingly, when the politicians of behaviour say ‘helping citizens make a choice’, what they really mean is ‘limiting citizens’ ability to make a choice’. So the ever-growing nudge industry talks about overhauling society’s ‘choice architecture’ in order to make it easier for people to make the ‘right health choices’, by which it means putting pressure on us to do what it thinks is right. Smoking-ban supporters and those who want a price hike in booze talk about helping citizens make ‘informed choices’, by which they mean using law or financial pressure to force us to make the choice they think is best for us. They have made the choice – you shall not smoke here, or drink too much, or eat certain foods around schoolkids – and all that remains is for them to nudge or nag or legislate the rest of us towards that choice they have made about our lives. This is prescription, not choice.

We need to reclaim the word choice. Choice is a good thing, a wonderful thing. No, not because individuals will always make good choices; some of them will make very bad choices, including the choice to get blotto every day of the week or to smoke 100 cigarettes a day, which are hardly good things to do.

But it is better for a citizen to make a bad choice using his own free will than it is for someone else to make a ‘good choice’ on his behalf and then elbow and berate him towards that ‘choice’. This is a point John Stuart Mill makes in On Liberty. He said that even though individuals ‘may not do the particular thing so well as the officers of government… it is nevertheless desirable that it should be done by them, rather than by the government, as a means to their own mental education – a mode of strengthening their active faculties, exercising their judgement, and giving them a familiar knowledge of the subjects with which they are thus left to deal’.

In short, the act of making a choice is good even if the choice one makes is bad, because it is through making a choice, through exercising our moral autonomy, that we learn, grow and become independent, fully human in fact. As Mill put it, ‘The human faculties of perception, judgement, discriminative feeling, mental activity, and even moral preference, are exercised only in making a choice’. If choices are made for us – by Lord Darzi or some other member of the informed-choice brigade – then we never get to exercise our moral muscles, far less determine our destinies. The idea that there is one choice – The Right Choice – is a contradiction in terms, and an Orwellian one at that, because choice is a conscious act carried out by an individual deciding what he should do, not a predetermined script foisted on society by those in the know. Choosing is good, even if the choice is bad, because choosing one’s path in life and learning from one’s mistakes is what being human is all about. The choice-warping politics of behaviour doesn’t only dull our fun – it diminishes our humanity.

SOURCE






GamerGate: Part I: Sex, Lies, and Gender Games

A controversy over videogames has become a battle in a larger culture war

A controversy over videogames may seem an unlikely candidate for a big story, especially with everything else in the news. Yet an epic Internet drama known as "GamerGate," now in its second month, continues to get media attention and fuel animated debate. (In its latest flare-up, Intel found itself in the crossfire last week when it pulled its ads from Gamasutra, a gaming webzine at the center of the quarrel.) While this saga has everything from sex to alleged corruption, GamerGate has also become a battle in a larger culture war. To the liberal and progressive commentariat, it's part of a reactionary white male backlash against the rise of diversity—in this case, "sexist thugs" out to silence and destroy women who seek equality in the gaming subculture. To conservatives and right-leaning libertarians, it's a welcome pushback against left-wing cultural diktat, particularly in the area of gender politics. Meanwhile, gamergaters themselves—who seem to lean left-libertarian—say that what they want is ethics and transparency in the gaming media.

As often happens, reality is more complex than any of these narratives. While the gamers' revolt has very legitimate issues, is also true that it has been linked to some very ugly misogynist harassment of feminists. It also seems clear that the overwhelming majority of GamerGate supporters reject such tactics—and that harassment related to this conflict has been a two-way street. For a supposed misogynist "hate mob," GamerGate includes a lot of vocal women—and they have their own complaints of gender-based abuse, such as being called gender traitors or even "male sockpuppets." Finally, the feminism GamerGate rebels against is not simply about equality or  diversity; it is an authoritarian, far-left brand of gender politics that views everything through the lens of patriarchal oppression and tolerates no dissent.

A disclaimer is in order: I am not a gamer, unless you count playing Space Invaders and Millipede at the student center arcade in college and a mild Tetris addiction after I got my first home computer. While I have no experience with role-playing videogames, I have some knowledge of them thanks to several (mainly female) friends who play and one who writes videogame-based fan fiction.

I do have personal experience with the gamers' mortal enemies, the so-called "social justice warriors," to know they can be a highly toxic Internet presence. Those who voice their loathing of "the SJWs" are not simply talking about people sympathetic to socially progressive causes but about cultist zealots who enforce the party line with the fervor of Mao's Red Guards, though luckily without the real-life power. In social-media discussions of art and entertainment, the "warriors" can be found sniffing out and attacking such ideological deviations as liking a heterosexual love interest for a character perceived as gay, liking or disliking a character on the wrong side of race-and-gender identity politics, or (I kid you not) using the "ableist" nickname "derpy" for a klutzy pony on the TV cartoon My Little Pony.  Let them gain enough influence in an online community, and they will poison it for anyone who wants to talk to other fans of their favorite shows, movies, or books—or games—without relentless hectoring about "privilege" and "oppression."

Back to "GamerGate" and its tangled web. (A fairly detailed, straightforward, and balanced chronicle of the events can be read on the Know Your Meme website.) The drama began in mid-August, when Eron Gjoni, a programmer and ex-boyfriend of videogame developer Zoe Quinn, made a massive blogpost accusing her of infidelities and deceptions, with screenshots of their online chats as corroboration.

Quinn, a vocal "social justice" Internet activist, had numerous enemies—many of them on the notoriously anarchic, anonymous 4Chan message board. They were quick to seize on the disclosures, portraying this as an ethics issue because some of Quinn's liaisons had possible implications of favoritism. One of her partners was later a judge in an independent videogame festival that had just bestowed an award on Quinn's game, Depression Quest; another was a videogame journalist who had given her a couple of positive mentions. Threads discussing this dust-up, some of them quite nasty, proliferated in a variety of forums.

With the focus on Quinn's sexual conduct and allegations of using sex for professional gain, the "Quinnspiracy"—as it was initially known—was inevitably seen as a sexist attempt to take down a female developer. In late August, the controversy got a boost when actor Adam Baldwin, whose politics lean right, took interest in it and tweeted links to some YouTube videos critical of Quinn—also coining the #GamerGate hashtag. Around the same time, feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian, whose Tropes vs. Women video series critiquing sexist clichés in videogames had made her the gaming community's bête noire, reported that she had left her home as a precaution after a Twitter user sent her a string of rape and death threats which included her address.

For some, the attacks on Quinn and on Sarkeesian became a perfect storm of gaming-culture misogyny. On August 28, Gamasutra ran a blistering attack on "game culture" by feminist cultural critic Leigh Alexander, declaring that "gamers are over" and ridiculing them as socially inept, badly dressed young males addicted to mindless gadget-buying and "getting mad on the Internet." This was followed by a spate of online articles—both on sites devoted to gaming or "geek culture" and in general-interest publications such as Vice and The Daily Beast—attacking gamer culture or announcing its demise. The gamers struck back in the social media, finding supporters in gadfly tech blogger Milo Yiannopoulous of Breitbart London and dissident feminist/critic of feminism Christina Hoff Sommers.

More HERE





British Muslim Touts Benefits of Islamic State Rule: Tax Breaks, Slavegirls

“Now that we have the caliphate, we can have slavegirls,” said British Islamic activist Mizanur Rahman, touting some of the benefits of the Islamic State (IS) in a series of videos obtained by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
Rahman, who also goes by the alias Abu Baraa, noted that enslaved women are permitted under Islamic sharia law as he addressed the question: “Can a father change the nappy of his baby daughter?”

“It’s allowed, but it’s not the normal suitable role of the father. It should be done by the mother. That is obviously part of the modesty and shyness,” he explained, adding: “If there are other women – of course it is better for them (to do it). A sister, a mother, a mother-in-law, a grandmother, an auntie – whatever, if there is somebody else it is better for them, Allah willing. Or a slavegirl.”

“Nowadays we can start to return to some of the many other rulings of Islam, which have been absent for many years," he continued. “Now that we have the caliphate, we can have slavegirls in the caliphate.”

He also pointed out what he considers one of the economic perks of living under the IS. “Do you know how much jizya (tax imposed on non-Muslims) they are charging in the Islamic State now? It is the equivalent of about 400 pounds a year.

“Living in the U.K. is expensive because of the taxes, because of the interest, because of the taxes, because of the interest, because of all the capitalist system. All that is removed and all you pay is this small amount," he said.

“Not only that, but it’s only the able-bodied man who pays the jizya,” he continued. “The disabled or elderly get a pension. They don’t pay the jizya. The women and children don’t pay any jizya ever. A woman never pays jizya. She is allowed to work, but she never pays jizya, nor does she pay any income tax. My brother, what is better for them?”

Rahman has his own website where he expounds on the teachings of Islam, including a statement that “Islam is the most ardent defender of the rights of all people of every colour, race, religion, gender and age.” He is also currently active on Twitter and Facebook.

Rahman claims that America cannot survive IS' retaliation.

"The question is not how the Islamic State is going to survive against the American airstrikes," Rahman said August 7. "How is America going to survive against the Islamic State's defense and retaliation?" he asked. "That's the real question. I don't believe they're going to survive. I think it's already over for America. They don't want to admit it, but it's over."

Rahman, a 31-year-old British citizen of Pakistani descent, was convicted in 2007 for encouraging the murder of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was sentenced to four years in prison, but was released in 2010.

He was arrested again last month with eight other British Muslims on suspicion of encouraging terrorism. "He denies wrongdoing and has not been charged,” Reuters reported.

In response to the MEMRI video, Rahman tweeted out to his over 10,000 followers: “MemriTV gets excited by the Hukm (legal regulation) of changing nappies in Islam.”

Rahman also pointed out that Christians and other non-believers “need to be humiliated” by his fellow Muslims. “Their houses will never be equal to the houses of the Muslims.” he said, adding,“They will never be allowed to ride a horse while the Muslims don’t have horses.”

“Non-Muslim men cannot ride a horse like a man in the Islamic State. They have to ride like a woman, with two legs on one side, because they need to be humiliated, and they should not be similar to the Muslims.”

SOURCE

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

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

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

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Monday, October 20, 2014


Pope prepares to purge conservative cardinal in push to reform Vatican

Pope Francis is about to demote an arch-conservative cardinal who has been bitterly opposed to his reformist agenda and his call for greater acceptance of gays and divorcees in the Catholic Church.

The sidelining of American cardinal Raymond Burke comes against a backdrop of acute differences of opinion among nearly 200 bishops and cardinals who for the last two weeks have been discussing issues relating to the family at a synod, or assembly, at the Vatican.

The move suggests that the Pope, who has upset many within the Catholic Church with his call for a more flexible and "merciful" approach towards gay people and divorcees, is determined to purge the Vatican of some of his more trenchant critics.

Cardinal Burke, who has strongly criticised Pope Francis's more open attitude towards homosexuals, is currently head of the Vatican's highest court of canon law.

But he said he is preparing to be given a new, much lower profile role as the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta, a Catholic charity based in Rome that traces its origins back to the Crusades.

"I very much have enjoyed and have been happy to give this service, so it is a disappointment to leave it," the cardinal, whose official title is Prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, said.  He said he had not yet received formal notice from the Pope of the demotion.

He and other conservatives were highly critical of an interim document released on Monday, halfway through the synod, which suggested that the Church should be "welcoming to homosexual persons" and open to lifting the ban on remarried divorcees from receiving Communion.

He has accused Pope Francis of harming the Church by allowing such free-ranging debate on key issues facing ordinary Catholics.

Cardinal Burke maintains the hardline, traditional Catholic approach that homosexuals are "intrinsically disordered" and that the act of gay sex is a sin. He has gone further, saying that homosexual acts are "wrong and evil".

The bishops, archbishops and cardinals involved in the synod were to vote on Saturday evening on whether to accept a final document from the two-week meeting, in which language about acceptance of homosexuality and remarried divorcees is expected to be watered down on the urging of conservatives, particularly bishops from Africa and the US.

It will then be up to Pope Francis to decide whether, and when, to make the document public.

The synod has revealed acute dissent within the uppermost ranks of the Catholic hierarchy between progressives and traditionalists.

The bishops scrapped their landmark welcome to gays, showing deep divisions at the end of the two-week meeting.  They failed to approve even a watered-down section on ministering to gays that stripped away the welcoming tone contained in a draft document earlier in the week.

Two other paragraphs concerning the other controversial issue at the synod - whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive communion - also failed to pass.

There will be more debate on both issues at a second synod to be held next October.

This month's synod has revealed acute dissent within the uppermost ranks of the Catholic hierarchy between progressives and traditionalists.

"You have some people, like Burke, who are very upset by what has been discussed at the synod," Father Tom Reese, a Jesuit priest and veteran Vatican analyst, told The Telegraph on Saturday.

"There is a large body of bishops who think the language being expressed is too accommodating and fear that it will result in ordinary people thinking that it doesn't matter whether you are divorced or shacked up with someone or whatever. They certainly don't want that to be the message."

While Cardinal Burke and others are appalled by Francis's agenda, saying that it attacks the sanctity of marriage and the Church's teaching on homosexuality, other bishops are in favour of aligning the Church more with the challenges faced by modern Catholics.

Asked during a Vatican press conference for clarification on whether the Church welcomed gays or still regarded them as sinners, an Indian cardinal said the Church should embrace homosexuals with compassion and understanding.  "Yes, I would certainly say they are part of the Church," said Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Mumbai.  "I have met gays in Mumbai and I have told them they are very welcome, that we wish to care for them."

SOURCE






Madman Kerry says Extremism Not Linked to Islam; Responsible Factors Include Deprivation, Climate Change

Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday night rejected any link between Islam and extremism practiced by the likes of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh), pointing instead to factors such as poverty among youthful Mideast populations, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and climate change.

Addressing a reception at the State Department in honor of the recent Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, Kerry told an audience of Muslim community representatives, diplomats and others that the world was facing “a very complex time, and there are many currents that are loose out there that have brought us to this moment.”

“The extremism that we see, the radical exploitation of religion which is translated into violence, has no basis in any of the real religions,” he said. “There’s nothing Islamic about what ISIL/Daesh stands for, or is doing to people.”

The situation was “complicated, and for other reasons,” Kerry said. “We’re living at a point in time where there are just more young people demanding what they see the rest of the world having than at any time in modern history.”

He said with large youthful populations in some countries in the Middle East, South-Central Asia and the Horn of Africa, “you are going to have a governance problem unless your governance is really addressing the demands and needs of that part of the population.”

Kerry said extremist violence was just a symptom of underlying causes that needed to be addressed. He spoke in that context of a need for a partnership – to pursue peace, shared prosperity and the ability to get an education and a job, as well as “sustainability of the planet itself.”

“And that brings us to something like climate change, which is profoundly having an impact in various parts of the world, where droughts are occurring not at a 100-year level but at a 500-year level in places that they haven’t occurred, floods of massive proportions, diminishment of water for crops and agriculture at a time where we need to be talking about sustainable food.”

“In many places we see the desert increasingly creeping into East Africa,” he said. “We’re seeing herders and farmers pushed into deadly conflict as a result. We’re seeing the Himalayan glaciers receding, which will affect the water that is critical to rice and to other agriculture on both sides of the Himalayas. These are our challenges.”  [Higher levels of CO2 are in fact REDUCING the desertificaton of Sub-Saharan Africa]


SOURCE






UK: Leftist indifference to the disabled

Their one-size-fits-all ideology is all that matters to them

Yet another instance of Ed Miliband’s legendary political acumen was his attempt at last week’s PMQs to rebrand the Tories as “the nasty party”. This was on the basis of leaked comments by Lord Freud on the unfortunate effect of the minimum wage on the disabled. A transcript of what the junior welfare minister actually said at a private Tory meeting showed it to be the very opposite of what Miliband tried to convey.

In fact, he was addressing precisely a point I made here in June 1999, after being approached by a local councillor who had worked with the disabled for years. He alerted me to the social disaster that the Labour government’s new minimum wage was about to create.

It was going to prevent thousands of people with learning or physical disabilities from doing modest jobs – such as clearing litter, assembling wooden toys or stacking supermarket shelves. This work took them out into the community with a sense that they were doing something useful, but it didn’t necessarily justify their being paid the new minimum wage. So what many charity workers and social services managers proposed was that the handicapped should continue doing such therapeutic work, but for wages below the new minimum, with the difference made up by a modest change to the benefit rules.

The then government’s insistence on everyone getting the full minimum wage made nonsense of its claim that it would help the disabled, but it remained impervious to objections. I quoted the fine Orwellian twist of a reply to a Labour MP from the trade minister Ian McCartney, loftily explaining that the minimum wage “supports a culture of social inclusion”. In other words, as I wrote, to promote the “inclusion” of the handicapped, they must be socially excluded.

Sure enough, this was just what happened. In 2000 The Guardian was quoting Mencap in reporting that large numbers of handicapped people had been laid off, and were now forced to while away their time in day centres or languish unhappily at home.

This was precisely the anomaly Lord Freud was again trying to address, in those remarks for which David Cameron ordered him to apologise, on the grounds that they were “foolish and offensive”.

SOURCE






Tackled by the Language Police

Wretched excess by government can be beneficial if it startles people into wholesome disgust and deepened distrust, and prompts judicial rebukes that enlarge freedom. So let’s hope the Federal Communications Commission embraces the formal petition inciting it to deny licenses to broadcasters who use the word “Redskins” when reporting on the Washington Redskins.

Using the FCC to break another private institution to the state’s saddle for the satisfaction of a clamorous faction illustrates how the government’s many tentacles give it many means of intimidating people who offend it. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, empowered to ban trademarks that “may” disparage persons, has already limited trademark protection of the Redskins' name.

The FCC petition argues that broadcasting during prime time of the word “Redskins” has “an adverse impact on impressionable young Indian as well as non-Indian children.” (Today’s sensitivity arbiters say the word “Indian” does, too, but never mind.) Furthermore, uttering “Redskins” is “akin to broadcasting obscenity” and pornography, is “hate speech” and an “ethnic slur” that “keep[s] alive the spirit of inhumanity, subjugation and genocide” and “may” cause violence against Native Americans. Besides, it is a “nuisance,” defined as something “annoying.”

Is the FCC empowered to protect an entitlement to a life without annoyances? What if the FCC is annoying? This is complicated.

Professor Eugene Volokh, who specializes in First Amendment law at UCLA’s School of Law and supervises an invaluable website, The Volokh Conspiracy, thinks the petition refutes itself. It argues that “Redskins” is offensive because of the ideas and attitudes the word conveys. But when the Supreme Court upheld restrictions on the broadcasting of certain vulgarities (George Carlin’s “seven dirty words”), it stressed that the mere fact that speech is offensive is not a sufficient reason for suppressing it. And although the court focused on the content of the words, it did not focus on the political content or on the speaker’s opinion. “Indeed,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, “if it is the speaker’s opinion that gives offense, that consequence is a reason for according [an utterance] constitutional protection,” because “the government must remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas.”

Volokh adds: “The premise of the criticism of ‘Redskins’ is precisely that it embodies a racist, demeaning message about American Indians (whether or not this is intended by those who use it), and that it offends because of this racist meaning. It thus is the speaker’s imputed opinion and supposed ‘political content’ of the word that gives offense.”

Some say “Redskins” is merely an offensive epithet with a negligible ideological message. Volokh replies that the epithet is offensive to those who are offended “because of its allegedly racist ideology, and the call to suppress it stems precisely from the perception that it conveys this racist ideology.” Anyway, the anti-“Redskins” petition is less legal reasoning than a form of bureaucratic bullying known as regulation by “raised eyebrow.” The petition’s author notes that the FCC sometimes indicates disapproval of this or that, thereby compelling broadcasters, worried about being put out of business, to practice self-censorship. So the petition seems designed to trigger this, thereby succeeding even if it fails – even if the FCC dismisses the petition.

If, however, the FCC under progressives today but conservatives tomorrow, can, in the petition’s words, define and ban particular words as “nuisances” because they “annoy” a “substantial composite” of the population, what other words will appear on an ever-lengthening list?

Today many colleges and universities have “free speech zones” – wee spaces to which the First Amendment is confined. Such institutions are run by educators whose meager educations did not teach them that the Amendment made America a free speech zone. Campuses are habitats for progressives, and the distilled essence of today’s progressivism is the use of power to limit speech. The fact that censorship is progressivism’s default position regarding so many things is evidence of progressives' pessimism about the ability of their agenda to advance under a regime of robust discussion. It also indicates the delight progressives derive from bossing people around and imposing a particular sensibility, in the name of diversity, of course.

The petition, which uses “R*dskins” (this typographical delicacy supposedly will help prevent pogroms against Native Americans), says the phrase “colored people,” too, is “now considered derogatory.” If so, some progressive has the awkward duty of notifying the NAACP that its name is “akin to” a disparagement, an obscenity, pornography, a racial slur and hate speech. The language policeman’s lot is not a happy one.

SOURCE

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

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

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

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Sunday, October 19, 2014


John Kerry Blames the Jews for the Islamic State

The kind of rhetoric coming out of the Obama administration is the stuff of the KKK or al-Qaeda. Blaming the Jews for this purely Islamic movement exposes Kerry and Barack Obama for what they really are. Jew-haters. America, what have you wrought? It is the Quran that fuels recruitment to the Islamic State, not Israel.

"Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday called for a resumption of the Israel-Palestinian peace process, saying the talks were vital in the fight against extremism."It is imperative that we find a way to get back to the negotiations," Kerry said at a State Department ceremony marking the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha"

 Kerry has just returned from a tour of Europe and Egypt, where on Sunday he attended a conference on the reconstruction of Gaza, and where he told Israel and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. We need "to find a way to create two states that can live together side by side, two peoples, with both of their aspirations being respected," Kerry added."I still believe that's possible, and I still believe we need to work towards it."

He said the unresolved Israel-Palestinian conflict was fueling recruitment for the Islamic State jihadist group. "There wasn't a leader I met with in the region who didn't raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation," Kerry said."People need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity," he added.

Kerry was the architect of the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process between July 2013 and April.

SOURCE  






America's most "incorrect" man reflects

"The Bell Curve" 20 years later: A Q&A with Charles Murray

October marks the 20th anniversary of “The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life,” the extraordinarily influential and controversial book by AEI scholar Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein. Here, Murray answers a few questions about the predictions, controversy, and legacy of his book.

Q. It’s been 20 years since “The Bell Curve” was published. Which theses of the book do you think are the most relevant right now to American political and social life?

American political and social life today is pretty much one great big “Q.E.D.” for the two main theses of “The Bell Curve.” Those theses were, first, that changes in the economy over the course of the 20th century had made brains much more valuable in the job market; second, that from the 1950s onward, colleges had become much more efficient in finding cognitive talent wherever it was and shipping that talent off to the best colleges. We then documented all the ways in which cognitive ability is associated with important outcomes in life — everything from employment to crime to family structure to parenting styles. Put those all together, we said, and we’re looking at some serious problems down the road. Let me give you a passage to quote directly from the close of the book:

Q. Predicting the course of society is chancy, but certain tendencies seem strong enough to worry about:

An increasingly isolated cognitive elite.

A merging of the cognitive elite with the affluent.

A deteriorating quality of life for people at the bottom end of the cognitive distribution.

Unchecked, these trends will lead the U.S. toward something resembling a caste society, with the underclass mired ever more firmly at the bottom and the cognitive elite ever more firmly anchored at the top, restructuring the rules of society so that it becomes harder and harder for them to lose. (p. 509)

Remind you of anything you’ve noticed about the US recently? If you look at the first three chapters of the book I published in 2012, “Coming Apart,” you’ll find that they amount to an update of “The Bell Curve,” showing how the trends that we wrote about in the early 1990s had continued and in some cases intensified since 1994. I immodestly suggest that “The Bell Curve” was about as prescient as social science gets.

Q. But none of those issues has anything to do with race, and let’s face it: the firestorm of controversy about “The Bell Curve” was all about race. We now have 20 more years of research and data since you published the book. How does your position hold up?

First, a little background: Why did Dick and I talk about race at all? Not because we thought it was important on its own. In fact, if we lived in a society where people were judged by what they brought to the table as individuals, group differences in IQ would be irrelevant. But we were making pronouncements about America’s social structure (remember that the book’s subtitle is “Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life”). If we hadn’t discussed race, “The Bell Curve” would have been dismissed on grounds that “Herrnstein and Murray refuse to confront the reality that IQ tests are invalid for blacks, which makes their whole analysis meaningless.” We had to establish that in fact IQ tests measure the same thing in blacks as in whites, and doing so required us to discuss the elephant in the corner, the mean difference in test scores between whites and blacks.

Here’s what Dick and I said: "There is a mean difference in black and white scores on mental tests, historically about one standard deviation in magnitude on IQ tests (IQ tests are normed so that the mean is 100 points and the standard deviation is 15). This difference is not the result of test bias, but reflects differences in cognitive functioning. The predictive validity of IQ scores for educational and socioeconomic outcomes is about the same for blacks and whites."

Those were our confidently stated conclusions about the black-white difference in IQ, and none of them was scientifically controversial. See the report of the task force on intelligence that the American Psychological Association formed in the wake of the furor over “The Bell Curve.”

What’s happened in the 20 years since then? Not much. The National Assessment of Educational Progress shows a small narrowing of the gap between 1994 and 2012 on its reading test for 9-year-olds and 13-year-olds (each by the equivalent of about 3 IQ points), but hardly any change for 17-year-olds (about 1 IQ-point-equivalent). For the math test, the gap remained effectively unchanged for all three age groups.

On the SAT, the black-white difference increased slightly from 1994 to 2014 on both the verbal and math tests. On the reading test, it rose from .91 to .96 standard deviations. On the math test, it rose from .95 to 1.03 standard deviations.

If you want to say that the NAEP and SAT results show an academic achievement gap instead of an IQ gap, that’s fine with me, but it doesn’t change anything. The mean group difference for white and African American young people as they complete high school and head to college or the labor force is effectively unchanged since 1994. Whatever the implications were in 1994, they are about the same in 2014.

There is a disturbing codicil to this pattern. A few years ago, I wrote a long technical article about black-white changes in IQ scores by birth cohort. I’m convinced that the convergence of IQ scores for blacks and whites born before the early 1970s was substantial, though there’s still room for argument. For blacks and whites born thereafter, there has been no convergence.

Q. The flashpoint of the controversy about race and IQ was about genes. If you mention “The Bell Curve” to someone, they’re still likely to say “Wasn’t that the book that tried to prove blacks were genetically inferior to whites?” How do you respond to that?

Actually, Dick and I got that reaction even while we were working on the book. As soon as someone knew we were writing a book about IQ, the first thing they assumed was that it would focus on race, and the second thing they assumed was that we would be talking about genes. I think psychiatrists call that “projection.” Fifty years from now, I bet those claims about “The Bell Curve” will be used as a textbook case of the hysteria that has surrounded the possibility that black-white differences in IQ are genetic. Here is the paragraph in which Dick Herrnstein and I stated our conclusion:

"If the reader is now convinced that either the genetic or environmental explanation has won out to the exclusion of the other, we have not done a sufficiently good job of presenting one side or the other. It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences. What might the mix be? We are resolutely agnostic on that issue; as far as we can determine, the evidence does not yet justify an estimate." (p. 311)

That’s it. The whole thing. The entire hateful Herrnstein-Murray pseudoscientific racist diatribe about the role of genes in creating the black-white IQ difference. We followed that paragraph with a couple pages explaining why it really doesn’t make any difference whether the differences are caused by genes or the environment. But nothing we wrote could have made any difference. The lesson, subsequently administered to James Watson of DNA fame, is that if you say it is likely that there is any genetic component to the black-white difference in test scores, the roof crashes in on you.

On this score, the roof is about to crash in on those who insist on a purely environmental explanation of all sorts of ethnic differences, not just intelligence. Since the decoding of the genome, it has been securely established that race is not a social construct, evolution continued long after humans left Africa along different paths in different parts of the world, and recent evolution involves cognitive as well as physiological functioning.

The best summary of the evidence is found in the early chapters of Nicholas Wade’s recent book, “A Troublesome Inheritance.” We’re not talking about another 20 years before the purely environmental position is discredited, but probably less than a decade. What happens when a linchpin of political correctness becomes scientifically untenable? It should be interesting to watch. I confess to a problem with schadenfreude.

Q. Let’s talk about the debate over the minimum wage for a moment. You predicted in the book that the “natural” wage for low-skill labor would be low, and that raising the wage artificially could backfire by “making alternatives to human labor more affordable” and “making the jobs disappear altogether.” This seems to be coming true today. What will the labor landscape look like in the next 20 years?

Terrible. I think the best insights on this issue are Tyler Cowen’s in “Average Is Over.” He points out something that a lot of people haven’t thought about: it’s not blue-collar jobs that are going to be hit the hardest. In fact, many kinds of skilled blue-collar work are going to be needed indefinitely. It’s mid-level white-collar jobs that are going to be hollowed out. Think about travel agents. In 1994, I always used a travel agent, and so did just about everybody who traveled a lot. But then came Expedia and Orbitz and good airline websites, and I haven’t used a travel agent for 15 years.

Now think about all the white collar jobs that consist of applying a moderately complex body of interpretive rules to repetitive situations. Not everybody is smart enough to do those jobs, so they have paid pretty well. But now computers combined with machines can already do many of them—think about lab technicians who used to do your blood work, and the machines that do it now. For that matter, how long is it before you’re better off telling a medical diagnostic software package your symptoms than telling a physician?

Then Cowen points out something else I hadn’t thought of: One of the qualities that the new job market will value most highly is conscientiousness. Think of all the jobs involving personal service—working in homes for the elderly or as nannies, for example—for which we don’t need brilliance, but we absolutely need conscientiousness along with basic competence. Cowen’s right—and that has some troubling implications for guys, because, on average, women in such jobs are more conscientious than men.

My own view is that adapting to the new labor market, and making sure that working hard pays a decent wage, are among the most important domestic challenges facing us over the next few decades.

Q. In the book you ask, “How should policy deal with the twin realities that people differ in intelligence for reasons that are not their fault and that intelligence has a powerful bearing on how well people do in life?” How would you answer this question now?

I gave my answer in a book called “In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State,” that I published in 2006. I want to dismantle all the bureaucracies that dole out income transfers, whether they be public housing benefits or Social Security or corporate welfare, and use the money they spend to provide everyone over the age of 21 with a guaranteed income, deposited electronically every month into a bank account. It takes a book to explain why such a plan could not only work, but could revitalize civil society, but it takes only a few sentences to explain why a libertarian would advocate such a plan.

Certain mental skillsets are now the “open sesame” to wealth and social position in ways that are qualitatively different from the role they played in earlier times. Nobody deserves the possession of those skillsets. None of us has earned our IQ. Those of us who are lucky should be acutely aware that it is pure luck (too few are), and be committed to behaving accordingly. Ideally, we would do that without government stage-managing it. That’s not an option. Massive government redistribution is an inevitable feature of advanced postindustrial societies.

Our only option is to do that redistribution in the least destructive way. Hence my solution. It is foreshadowed in the final chapter of “The Bell Curve” where Dick and I talk about “valued places.” The point is not just to pass out enough money so that everyone has the means to live a decent existence. Rather, we need to live in a civil society that naturally creates valued places for people with many different kinds and levels of ability. In my experience, communities that are left alone to solve their own problems tend to produce those valued places. Bureaucracies destroy them. So my public policy message is: Let government does what it does best, cut checks. Let individuals, families, and communities do what they do best, respond to human needs on a one-by-one basis.

Q. Reflecting on the legacy of “The Bell Curve,” what stands out to you?

I’m not going to try to give you a balanced answer to that question, but take it in the spirit you asked it—the thing that stands out in my own mind, even though it may not be the most important. I first expressed it in the Afterword I wrote for the softcover edition of “The Bell Curve.” It is this: The reaction to “The Bell Curve” exposed a profound corruption of the social sciences that has prevailed since the 1960s. “The Bell Curve” is a relentlessly moderate book — both in its use of evidence and in its tone — and yet it was excoriated in remarkably personal and vicious ways, sometimes by eminent academicians who knew very well they were lying. Why? Because the social sciences have been in the grip of a political orthodoxy that has had only the most tenuous connection with empirical reality, and too many social scientists think that threats to the orthodoxy should be suppressed by any means necessary. Corruption is the only word for it.

Now that I’ve said that, I’m also thinking of all the other social scientists who have come up to me over the years and told me what a wonderful book “The Bell Curve” is. But they never said it publicly. So corruption is one thing that ails the social sciences. Cowardice is another.

SOURCE






Fascist Leftists in Houston

There are at least three outrageous things about the Houston city government’s recent actions pushing an ordinance to allow men and women to use each other’s public restrooms.

The first is the substance of the ordinance itself, which allows men and women, irrespective of their biology, to use bathrooms designated for the opposite sex. The major driver of this law was Houston’s lesbian mayor, Annise Parker.

Have we just become completely insane in this country? Is nothing sacred anymore? Is there no limit on the demands of radical leftists to force the rest of us to normalize their bizarre behavior?

These people obviously want to dilute natural distinctions between genders and force us to accept their warped view that one’s gender is merely a matter of one’s mindset. They are even casting it as a law to prevent discrimination against gender-confused people – as if they are yet another protected class. In more stable times, this would be so self-evidently absurd that I’d hardly need to write a column on it.

Think of it as sort of a reverse slippery slope ploy. The proponents of the ordinance doubtlessly figure that if they can force their fellow citizens to live with the notion that biology is wholly irrelevant to gender, then they will have taken one more giant step toward achieving society’s approval of same-sex marriage.

It doesn’t seem to bother supporters of the ordinance one whit that it allows sexual predators to pretend they are of the opposite sex in order to sneak a peak (or worse) in the bathrooms of the other gender.

Putting this in perspective, some critics have called the ordinance the “Sexual Predator Protection Act.” Indeed, what about the rights of people who want to be protected from predators? What about the interest of citizens who want to protect their families – their children – from being exposed to the dangers of sexual predators? What about their views and their values? Are they entitled to any protection, or is it only those who subscribe to extreme leftist positions who are entitled to the law’s protections?

Nothing can be permitted to interfere with the left’s fast march to coerce society into accepting its preferences into law. If a few women or men are assaulted in the process or if their privacy is violated, that’s a small price to pay on this historic path to dilute our natural gender identities – a path that will further endanger the nuclear family, which is a bedrock institution that lends moral stability to society.

The second outrage is that the city has greatly overreached in subpoenaing the pastors of the city for copies of their sermons and their communications to their congregations to determine whether they have violated this Godforsaken ordinance. Lest you think this was a mistake, the mayor tweeted, “If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game.”

There is no constitutional prohibition against pastors discussing politics. This issue only comes up in connection with tax laws and regulations, but even those don’t preclude pastors from discussing policy issues. The only arguable limitation concerns overt endorsements of candidates.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the pastors, said the city’s effort to compel disclosure of the requested information is completely improper. Not only are the pastors not a party to the lawsuit, which was brought by voters to challenge the validity of the city’s adoption of the “equal rights ordinance,” but the materials they are seeking aren’t reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, and their motion is overly broad.

The third outrage is the city’s lawless disqualification and rejection of valid petitions filed by voters to challenge the law. Voters submitted more than three times the legally required number of petition signatures to require city action (17,269 were required, and the voters submitted a whopping 55,000), and the city secretary initially certified them as sufficient in number. But the mayor and city attorney outright rejected the petition anyway, on the specious grounds that the petition signatures weren’t valid.

Increasingly, we see leftists in this country openly defying the law if it does not serve their ends and trampling the Constitution and rights of those who don’t march in lock step with their demands. Leftists talk a good game about honoring the will of the people but habitually ignore and suppress that will when it doesn’t conform to their own, from activist liberal judges who continually defy the express will of the voters in rejecting same-sex marriage to this bona fide, good-faith challenge to Houston’s overreaching ordinance process.

The extreme left, whose natural political habitat is the Democratic Party, is growing ever more intolerant, excessive, coercive, intimidating, lawless and frightening. People of ordinary sensibilities and traditional values and others are awakening to the fascism of extreme leftists in this country, which is one of the many reasons we’re going to see a tsunami of voters voicing their outrage against such un-American behavior in November.

SOURCE





Catholic League chief Bill Donahue: “Liberals defend Islam because they don’t like Jews”

That's certainly part of the story.  As far back as Karl Marx Leftists have been critical of Jews, even though Marx himself was of Jewish origin

Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, said Tuesday that one of the reasons that liberals defended Islam was because they shared common enemies: The United States and Jews. On NewsmaxTV, host Steve Malzberg asked Donohue to respond to the recent spat between actor Ben Affleck and comedian Bill Maher.

"Well, in 1999, Ben Affleck starred in the anti-Catholic movie Dogma, which said that the Virgin Mary had a daughter through sex with Joseph and that she went and worked in an abortion clinic," he remarked. "They asked him about this, 'is it anti-Catholic?' He said it was definitely meant to push some buttons. So we know he is not going to push the buttons of Muslims, just Catholics."

"They're always bashing us. If they only showed one ounce of the sensitivity to Catholics they show to Muslims I wouldn't even have a job."

"Liberals are afraid to criticize Muslims, but that is not the only reason they support the Islamic faith.", Donahue claimed.

"I think there is also a sense here, a lot of these people really don't like America," he explained. "What does Islam have in common with the left? Maybe not in terms of ideology, but in terms of an animus against this country, and I think it's palpable, and they don't like Jews either."

"And I'm so fed up with these phonies - (like) Chris Hayes on MSNBC - they don't care at all about Catholic bashing."

SOURCE

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

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

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

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Friday, October 17, 2014



'Racist' French cinema hit 'too politically incorrect' for UK and US audiences

British and American cinema-goers will not get to see a hugely popular French comedy because it has been rejected by film distributors who deem it politically incorrect and possibly racist.

"Qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au Bon Dieu?" (Serial (Bad) Weddings) tells the tale of two stuffy, white, Catholic parents whose daughters horrify them by marrying men of other religions and ethnic backgrounds.

Three are already wed - to an Arab Muslim, a north African Jew, and a Chinese man - and Maman and Papa place all their hope in their youngest daughter, only to discover that she has promised herself to a man from Ivory Coast.

The movie has been seen by more than 12 million French but will not make it across the water because, according to the production company behind it, English-speaking audiences "would never allow themselves these days to laugh at blacks, Jews or Asians."

"The people [in US and UK distribution companies] we spoke to found it politically incorrect," Sabine Chemaly of TFI International told Le Point magazine.

The film got mostly rave reviews in France, with one critic praising it as a "sort of hymn to the melting pot of France, an efficient comedy that uses self-derision to promote multicultural tolerance".

The film's message appears to be that even if the French are sometimes a little racist, common sense will prevail and everyone can in the end get along.

The director, Philippe de Chauveron, said his film was about "deflating" the prejudices peddled by the anti-immigrant Front National party, whose support has been growing rapidly in France in recent years.

But the few reviews that have appeared in the English-language film trade press were negative.

"The majority of the jokes are extremely heavy-handed -- the Jew calls the Arab "Arafat" and then is karate-chopped by the Asian," said the Hollywood Reporter, while Variety magazine noted that the film had been criticised for "perpetuating racist stereotypes and feeding into France's ambient xenophobia".

The 2011 French film, The Intouchables, touched upon similar topics as Serial (Bad) Weddings and grossed nearly $400 million worldwide, but it's hard to see Weddings honeymooning far outside the usual Francophone hotspots," added the Hollywood Reporter.

SOURCE






How the Free Speech Movement Stopped Moving

This month marks 50 years since Mario Savio stood atop a police car at UC Berkeley and gave an impassioned speech to throngs of young pampered radicals that launched what is now preserved in amber and lionized as the “Free Speech Movement.” Barefoot and presumably smelly, Savio famously orated something about the “machine”—apparently it was “odious”—and how you had to place your body in the machine’s gears to stop it from working.

And in a sense, it worked. But more precisely, the machine only shifted gears. The net result a half-century later on college campuses nationwide is that you are now permitted to say “fuck” but no longer allowed to say “nigger.”

In an email forwarded to Berkeley’s faculty, staff, and students early in September of this year, school chancellor Nicholas Dirks acknowledged the Free Speech Movement’s Golden Anniversary, but with reservations:

"…the commitment to free speech and expression can lead to division and divisiveness that undermine a community’s foundation. … Our capacity to maintain that delicate balance between communal interests and free expression…will be tested anew. Specifically, we can only exercise our right to free speech insofar as we feel safe and respected in doing so, and this in turn requires that people treat each other with civility."

Cutting through that verbal wall of bullshit, Dirks appears to be saying that free speech ends where the “community” begins. He also seems to imply that one person’s right to feel “safe and respected” may trump another’s right to say what’s on their mind.

It is no coincidence that one of the prime movers and shakers of the original Free Speech Movement was Bettina Aptheker, the daughter of dedicated Stalinists and a woman who, despite all the lip service she paid to “free speech,” openly supported thought-squashing socialist regimes throughout the 1960s, the sort of tyrannical state entities that would rip your tongue out of your throat for making the merest bird squeak of dissent. Aptheker is now a professor of feminist studies at UC Santa Cruz and recently wrote this in a Berkeley alumni magazine:

"On the occasion of this 50th anniversary of the FSM…it is worth pausing for a moment to consider the ways in which gender, race, class, and sexuality may effect [sic] one’s access to freedom of speech. Although the First Amendment embraces a universal ideal in its wording, it was written by white, propertied men in the 18th century…."

Lady, if I was against free speech, I’d tell you to shut the hell up right now. But I’ll let you prattle onward and downward, because you’re only proving my point.

What a despicable group of tyrants the freewheeling leftists of the early 1960s have become. Those who rose up against the “machine” back then are still working from the old operator’s manual. Miraculously, they still manage to convince themselves that they have not become the machine against which they once railed. And somewhere along the line they concocted the screwball idea of “hate speech”—I doubt such a concept so much as existed in 1964—and began fallaciously arguing that it was a fundamentally different thing from free speech.

They spun a magical illusory world where “civil rights” and “civil liberties” are somehow at odds with one another. They even convinced untold numbers of otherwise intelligent people that if you stopped calling blacks dirty names, those benighted and oppressed descendants of slaves would perform better academically.

They still whine about McCarthyism, which would be fine if they were able to point to a single Nazi screenwriter currently employed in Hollywood. In their childish quest to avoid creating a “hostile environment,” they’ve engineered an environment that is brutally hostile to the merest wisp of dissent. They have engineered a coddled, over-medicated world where mild disapproval of anything is “hate speech.” In the service of “sensitivity,” they have fashioned a modern educational system that is an uninterrupted blood libel against white males. They have achieved ethnic, gender, and sexual diversity—at the almost complete expense of ideological diversity. It is a world where feelings overrule ideas at every turn. Ideas—at least ones that diverge a millimeter from official indoctrination—are viewed as threats.

The mind of a censor is a dark and frightened space. Censors are motivated not by a certainty that their targets are wrong but a fear that they may be right. The end result of the Free Speech Movement has been to create a generation of graduates whose minds are bolted shut and paved over with cement.

In the interest of delusional and unquantifiable intangibles such as “equality” and “social justice,” the totalitarian wolves in free-speech clothing who arose in Berkeley fifty years ago have created a suffocating environment that is more hostile to the free exchange of ideas than perhaps at any time in American history.

 SOURCEhttp://takimag.com/article/how_the_free_speech_movement_stopped_moving_jim_goad/






Former Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom quits party because it is too 'politically correct'

Controversial former Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom has quit the party saying he now considers it too politically correct.

Mr Bloom, a former flatmate of Nigel Farage, said he was leaving with a "heavy heart" but had "had enough" after being banned from speaking because of his controversial views.

He warned Ukip’s first elected MP Douglas Carswell that he could be knifed in the back by his new party if he was not careful.

The former MEP, who was first elected to Brussels in 2004, said: “I was a founding member of Ukip and I’ve been a significant donor.

“But now I find that instead of being the libertarian party, the party of common sense, I’ve been banned from speaking.  “So, yes, it’s a very sad day for me. But the party seems to have gone astray."

He added: "Quite what’s going on I couldn’t say, but I’ve had enough.  “What kind of party are we supposed to be? The whole point and the reason we are doing so well is because we were supposed to something different.  “We seem to be drifting towards the politically correct mainstream like everybody else.

“I’ve had enough of party politics. I don’t think party politics is for people who tell it like it is.”

Mr Bloom caused an outcry in 2012 after saying that foreign aid is sent to "Bongo Bongo Land".  It came after he sparked accusations of sexism after saying: “I just don’t think they clean behind the fridge enough”, a remark which ultimately led to his downfall.

When female Ukip activists said they were too busy to “clean behind the fridge” Mr Bloom told a fringe meeting at the party’s 2012 conference: “The room is full of sluts!”  The remark was meant as a joke but caused fury. Mr Bloom then hit Mr Crick over the head with a Ukip conference programme outside the fringe event in a row about racism.

Furious party leader Nigel Farage said Mr Bloom’s antics had ‘destroyed’ coverage of the party’s annual conference, and he was suspended from the party just two hours after giving his keynote address as Ukip’s defence spokesman.

Ukip has been trying to move away from its politically incorrect image and appear more mainstream, although Mr Farage attracted criticism last week when he called for people who have tested positive for HIV to be banned from migrating to Britain as a “good start” in controlling the UK’s borders.

SOURCE





Hercules Actor: ‘Being a Christian in Hollywood, You Get Attacked’

Kevin Sorbo, star of the 1990s TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, as well as the 2011 movie Soul Surfer and this year’s highly successful God’s Not Dead, said there is a huge audience for Christian-themed movies and Hollywood would profit if it understood that audience, but he added that if you are a Christian and a conservative in Hollywood, “you will get attacked.”

Sorbo, who sometimes comments on current events, also said he believes there is a hostility towards Christians by some media and they spend an inordinate amount of coverage on topics such as “global warming” instead of focusing on more immediate issues such as the persecution and beheading of Christians by radical Muslims.

In an interview with CNSNews.com about the new movie Let the Lion Roar, in which he plays the 16th century Protestant John Calvin, Sorbo talked about the appeal of Christian movies in the marketplace and how the media are hostile toward people of faith.

CNSNews.com asked Sorbo if the criticism he has faced stemmed in part from the fact that he is an outspoken Christian.

“Yeah, sure,” he said. “I think being a conservative in Hollywood and being a Christian in Hollywood, you get attacked. It’s so strange to me that the media sits there and protects the things that they protect, or they ignore the things that they ignore, and they go after stories like global warming -- like that’s more important than what’s going on in the world right now with these terrorists.”

“Am I saying that all Muslims are bad? Of course not all Muslims are bad,” said Sorbo.  “That’d be a silly thing for me to say. There’s what, 1.2 billion of them out there? But they’ve estimated 300 million of them are radical and ready to behead every single person who doesn’t believe the way they believe, including fellow Muslims.”


“That’s a far bigger problem for me with terrorists in the world than the things that they [media] want to pick on, attack, and I’m tired of racism being used as a card or bigotry or anything,” he said. “It’s like, give me a break.”

CNSNews.com then asked, “In the interviews I read some of the things you talked about was some of the resistance in Hollywood or New York to making Christian movies or pro-Christian movies, even though a lot of these, if they’re done well, they tend to be popular and profitable. You seem to be saying that there’s an animus against Christian movies in Hollywood -- why do you think that is?

Sorbo said, “You know, it’s interesting, I went to see Noah. I got invited to Paramount and one of the producers came up there. Well, number one they hired an atheist director, which to me is a weird choice. I mean, look, the movie was very interesting, it was beautifully shot. But as my wife says, it was Waterworld Meets Transformers. But I think it only made $100 million in America; I say only but they had $200 million into it. Worldwide they did very well. I think they still ended up making a $100 million profit. Not a bad profit, you know?”

“But ultimately it did very well opening week and in every one country that opened it,” he said.  “But if you look at it, that movie dropped off 50, 60, 70% in every country the following week. Word of mouth was like, ugh, it doesn’t really speak to us. And I say us, I’m saying Christians who went to, who flocked to the movie to see it.”

In analyzing why the appeal of Noah diminished quickly with audiences, Sorbo referenced, for contrast, Mel Gibson’s hugely popular 2004 movie, The Passion of the Christ.

“I go back to Mel Gibson, only saying that if you look back at stories -- I’ve been saying this stuff, you can see the stories that were printed up -- Hollywood not being very happy with Mel’s portrayal [of Christ’s Passion],” said Sorbo. “Well, he shot it for $30 million and the darn thing made –what? -- $500, $600 million worldwide?”

“So, with the believers in God it obviously struck a positive chord, much like my movie God’s Not Dead did this year,” he said.  “I mean, we had a $2 million budget, the thing made $64 million and we did very well overseas.”

He continued, “So you know there’s an audience out there, is all I’m saying. I think Hollywood, I don’t think they on purpose don’t do it, I mean it’s called show business and they want to make money too and I know they’ve got more things coming down the pipe.  … But I just think, I don’t think they have people around that understand it, that get it because maybe they’re not believers in God, maybe they’re not Christian, maybe they’re not whatever -- and I think you’ve got to hire people like that to put movies out there that will appeal to the audience.”

Sorbo then noted the phenomenal success of Christian-themed or God-based television series.

“I mean, you look at 7th Heaven, Highway to Heaven, Roma Downey’s show Touched by an Angel, those shows all went 8, 9,10 years and there’s been nothing like that on TV for a long time.,” said Sorbo. “Why?  There’s an audience out there that would love that stuff, that has a moral compass that they want their children to see and follow, as well. To me, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

“I don’t know why Christians get bashed,” he said. “Christians aren’t the ones beheading children and blowing up churches and buses with women and children on board. So, I don’t understand why Christians get attacked and we sit here and protect Muslims, say, ‘oh well, can’t judge them all.’”

“Wow, it’s so strange to me,” he said, “what we protect and what we go after right now in this country through the media.”

Kevin Sorbo’s latest film project, Let the Lion Roar, examines how the Bible was changed by some anti-Jewish writers throughout history and presents its message that the Jewish people and Israel are vital in God’s plan for man’s salvation. The movie was released on Blu-ray/DVD with an accompanying book in September. In addition to Sorbo, other actors in the film include Oscar-nominated Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight), John Schneider (October Baby), and Stephen Baldwin.

SOURCE

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

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

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

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Thursday, October 16, 2014


Some Christians are promoting death for Muslims

An amusing rant from a Leftist atheist below.  He fulminates at great length about a small number of Christians who want to take the battle to Muslims but says that Muslim sadism, terrorism etc is no cause for action.  Why?  Because "They can't invade us, occupy us, or overthrow our government. They pose no existential threat to America or to the world".  Tell that to the Kurds and the Yazidis!

So he is quite relaxed  about a vast and merciless barbarism that is right now taking lives on a large scale while being very censorious about a bit of trash talk from nobodies.  Very Leftist

He is right that what YHWH commanded of the Israelites when they took Canaan is similar to what Jihadis think they are doing today.  He fails to mention however that Mohammed took a lot of his thinking from the Bible and that is one part of it.  Christians and Jews have however almost entirely outgrown those ideas whereas Muslims have not.  Theologically, the settlement of the land of Israel was a one-off event, not any kind of precedent for other times and places


A leading Evangelical magazine is calling for the destruction of Islam. It's not the outlier we might like to think. Recently, Charisma magazine, a major media outlet for evangelical and Pentecostal Christians, published an open call to genocide. The article in question, titled "Why I Am Absolutely Islamaphobic" [sic] and written by Gary Cass, begins with the premise that "every true follower of Mohammed" wants to "subjugate and murder" non-Muslims, and therefore it's impossible for Christians to live together peacefully with them.

Cass proposes three solutions to this problem. One is for Muslims to undergo mass conversion to Christianity; the other is mass deportation combined with eugenics - either "force them all to get sterilized" or kick them out of America "like Spain was forced to do when they deported the Muslim Moors." But he says both of these plans are unlikely to work, so "really there's only one" solution, which is:

Violence: The only thing that is biblical and that 1,400 years of history has shown to work is overwhelming Christian just war and overwhelming self defense.

Notice Cass' statement that war has been "shown to work" by "1,400 years of history." The only thing he could be referring to is the Crusades (presumbly beginning with the Spanish Reconquista, around 700 AD), which often entailed the massacre of civilians in captured areas. Most of us know the Crusades as a bloody and barbaric era in our history and think that a repeat is something to be avoided at all costs, but Cass is openly cheering the idea.

"Overwhelming self defense" is another bizarre and disturbing contradiction in terms. By definition, anything more than the minimum amount of force to stop an imminent threat isn't self-defense. The idea that self-defense requires waging "overwhelming war" on entirepopulations, rather than against specific aggressors, is the hallmark of paranoid and racist fantasies which believe civilization is under threat by "the other" and must be protected at all costs.

Like many deluded, macho wannabe crusaders, he fantasizes about the collapse of society, urging his readers to buy guns and form militias:

First trust in God, then obtain a gun(s), learn to shoot, teach your kids the Christian doctrines of just war and self defense, create small cells of family and friends that you can rely on if some thing catastrophic happens and civil society suddenly melts down.

Finally, he closes with a bloodcurdling statement that can only reasonably be interpreted as a call for genocide against Muslims:

Now the only question is how many more dead bodies will have to pile up at home and abroad before we crush the vicious seed of Ishmael in Jesus’ Name? …May we be willing to take the lesser pains now so our children won’t have to take greater pains later.

Notice, again, that he envisions "pil[ing] up" dead bodies, and not just "abroad", but also "at home." Most assuredly, the irony of this escapes Cass, but he himself is advocating exactly the same thing as what he accuses his enemies of wanting. He wants to subjugate or kill Muslims (with either mandatory sterilization and deportation, or "overwhelming war"). Most chilling, he calls this the "lesser pains" and says it's necessary so that we won't have to take even more drastic actions later.

After facing a storm of criticism from both Christians and atheists, Charisma pulled Cass' article down. But there's no explanation, no retraction, no apology; the original link now just goes to a 404 error page. Rather than reflect on what that led them to consider this piece reasonable to publish in the first place, or acknowledge they were wrong to run it and say what they'll do differently in the future, they chose to flush it down the memory hole, to try to pretend it never happened. (It's still available at its author's personal website, where it's prefaced with a banner that reads "Why We Cannot Coexist" - further proof that he's advocating violence against Muslims in general and not merely those who commit acts of terrorism).

Cass is by no means the first or the only Christian to defend genocide. Phil Robertson (star of the reality TV show Duck Dynasty) appeared on Sean Hannity's show recently to argue that we should either "convert them or kill them", referring to ISIS. Ironically, this is exactly the choice that ISIS offers to religious minorities under their dominion - either convert to their brand of Islam or die. Robertson, like Cass, is the mirror image of the radical theology he claims to despise.

The roots of this genocidal mindset come from the Bible itself. In the Old Testament, after the Israelites escape from Egypt, they arrive at the promised land only to find that it's already populated by the Canaanites and other pagan peoples. What follows, according to the biblical book of Joshua, is a campaign of slaughter in which God instructs his people to invade and massacre everyone already living there:

“When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; and when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them.” —Deuteronomy 7:1-2

And, according to the Bible, God's people did as they were instructed:

"And that day Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain… So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded." -Joshua 10

Prominent Christian apologists such as William Lane Craig have defended these ghastly verses, arguing that if God commands you to do it, you're justified in committing any act of violence, up to and including the slaughter of helpless men, women and children. (In fact, Craig argues that the most morally troubling part of this is the psychological toll that would have been inflicted on the Israelite soldiers who were tasked with carrying out the mass execution.) As we see with Cass, this genocidal, God-is-on-our-side mindset isn't purely a matter of ancient history, but continues to inform the beliefs and ideas of Christians today.

Of course, there's no question that Islamic terrorism does exist. Groups like ISIS are extraordinarily violent and brutal. Moreover, they seem to take sadistic glee in broadcasting proof of their own atrocities, like the killings of journalists. But in the final accounting, they're no more than a bunch of thugs with guns. They're no match for America's military. They can't invade us, occupy us, or overthrow our government. They pose no existential threat to America or to the world. But they count on us overreacting, lashing out with disproportionate and irrational panic (which is, after all, why they're called "terrorists" - they seek to accomplish their aims by creating terror).

Meanwhile, mundane, ordinary, everyday gun violence kills more Americans every year than international terrorism ever has or ever will.

If ISIS and similar groups are a threat to anyone, they're first and foremost a threat to other Muslims, who've suffered the most from their ruthless and violent quest to impose a harsh theocratic state. But, again, the starkly black-and-white worldview of American fundamentalists doesn't allow for this kind of nuance. In their eyes, all Muslims think and believe the same way, want the same things, and are all equally and irredeemably evil. Conversely, they believe all true Christians are good and righteous by definition. Good and evil, in the worldview of both Christian and Muslim fundamentalists, has no relation to your actions; it's solely a matter of whether you profess allegiance to the right side.

SOURCE






More Than 1,800 Pastors Advocate For Political Speech Rights in Church

There's plenty of political speech in universities courtesy of the taxpayer so why not in churches courtesy of the taxpayer too

So far this year, more than 1,800 pastors across the United States have participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, an annual event hosted by Alliance Defending Freedom that advocates for pastors’ right to speak on politics from the pulpit without fear of losing their churches’ tax exempt status.

Pulpit Freedom Sunday, which started Oct. 5 and runs through Election Day on Nov. 4, first began in 2008 with only 33 participating pastors.

So far this year, Alliance Defending Freedom, the Arizona-based Christian activist group that started the event, reported pastors in more than 1,500 churches in all 50 states and Puerto Rico have preached sermons “representing biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates” since the event began nearly two weeks ago.

Another 242 pastors have signed a statement declaring that “the IRS should not control the content of a pastor’s sermon,” the ADF stated.

ADF Legal Communications Director Kerri Kupec explained the event is a nationwide protest of the Johnson Amendment, a provision in the U.S. tax code which states that pastors of churches who fall under the federal government’s 501(c)(3) non-profit tax exemption cannot expressly endorse or oppose political candidates.

Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code states, “Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes” may qualify for tax-exempt status, provided that “no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

The restriction on political endorsements was first proposed by former-President and then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and added to the tax code in 1954.

According the Internal Revenue Service's online explanation of the restrictions for non-profit groups, churches are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

The IRS adds churches are restricted from “voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.”

But Kupec maintains that the language in the Johnson Amendment is vague and opens the door for the federal government to monitor and restrict pastors from speaking on biblical issues during sermons under the guise of enforcing restrictions on political speech. These restrictions, she said, ultimately curb a pastor’s First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution.

“Pastors do not surrender their First Amendment free speech rights when they take the pulpit,” Kupec explained.

“If you use that language [in the law], it’s whatever that means,” Kupec continued. “And no one knows what that means. There aren’t any guidelines. There aren’t any parameters set out.”

Kupec added the law creates an environment of fear for many pastors who are “afraid to cross some invisible line” when it comes to talking about politically sensitive issues, such as marriage and abortion, which may be linked to a particular candidate’s platform.

“There’s been a history of vague and unequal enforcement throughout the years of this Johnson amendment,” she said. “It’s been used as this tool of intimidation, almost this cloud of bullying. But nobody really knows what that line is, so the knee-jerk reaction is to not say anything, because [pastors] are afraid. And the IRS knows this.”

The ultimate goal of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, which has had more than 3,800 participants since its inception in 2008, is to eventually challenge the Johnson Amendment in court, Kupec said.

“The goal of the event is to get pastors to exercise their constitutional rights, and if the IRS decides that they’ve crossed some line and they decide to pursue some action against them, we’re here to represent those pastors in the court,” she explained. “It’s a way of getting the Johnson Amendment into the court, because it’s an unconstitutional amendment.”

Kupec said ADF has drafted a “legislative fix” for the amendment that clarifies what pastors can and cannot say from the pulpit without risking their church’s tax-exempt status, thus eliminating any gray area currently surrounding the issue. But the end goal, she explained, is to win pastors the same freedom of speech behind the pulpit as they would have anywhere else – including the ability to speak on specific candidates.

“Ultimately, they shouldn’t not be able to speak freely from the pulpit,” Kupec said.

But the event is not without its critics, including the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist watchdog group that recently filed a lawsuit against the IRS for allegedly not enforcing the current restrictions against political endorsements in churches.

In a news release published on the FFRF’s website, the secular group accused ADF of “inciting illegal acts” and “treating church pastors like pawns” through the Pulpit Freedom Sunday event

"Churches and their pastors are not above the law,” said FFRF co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor in a news release on the group’s website. “Ministers who claim to be moral leaders should realize it's not only illegal for tax-exempt groups to endorse political candidates, it's unethical. It's an abuse of the public trust."

The news release said FFRF has been “given assurances” that the IRS has “authorized procedures and ‘signature authority’ to resume initiating church tax investigations and examinations.”

SOURCE






Goodbye Columbus, Goodbye America

Columbus may have outfoxed the Spanish court and his rivals, but he is falling victim to the court of political correctness.

The explorer who discovered America has become controversial because the very idea of America has become controversial.
There are counter-historical claims put forward by Muslim and Chinese scholars claiming that they discovered America first. And there are mobs of fake indigenous activists on every campus to whom the old Italian is as much of a villain as the bearded Uncle Sam.

Columbus Day parades are met with protests and some have been minimized or eliminated.

In California, Columbus Day became Indigenous People's Day, which sounds like a Marxist terrorist group's holiday. While it's tempting to put that down to California political correctness, in South Dakota it was renamed Native American Day.

The shift from celebrating Columbus' arrival in America to commemorating it as an American Nakba by focusing on the Indians, rather than the Americans, is a profound form of historical revisionism that hacks away at the origins of this country.

No American state has followed Venezuela's lead in renaming it Día de la Resistencia Indígena, or Day of Indigenous Resistance, which actually is a Marxist terrorist group's holiday, the whole notion of celebrating the discovery of America has come to be seen as somehow shameful and worst of all, politically incorrect.

Anti-Columbus Day protests are mounted by La Raza, whose members, despite their indigenous posturing, are actually mostly descended from Spanish colonists, but who know that most American liberals are too confused to rationally frame an objection to a protest by any minority group.

About the only thing sillier than a group of people emphasizing their collective identity as a Spanish speaking people, and denouncing Columbus as an imperialist exploiter is Ward Churchill, a fake Indian, who compared Columbus to Heinrich Himmler. Ward Churchill's scholarship consists of comparing Americans in past history and current events to random Nazis. If he hasn't yet compared Amerigo Vespucci or Daniel Boone to Ernst Röhm; it's only a matter of time.

The absurdity of these attacks is only deepened by the linguistic and cultural ties between the Italian Columbus Day marchers and the Latino Anti-Columbus Day protesters with the latter set cynically exploiting white guilt to pretend that being the descendants of Southern European colonists makes them a minority.

If being descended from Southern Europeans makes you a minority, then Columbus, the parade marchers, the Greek restaurant owner nearby and even Rush Limbaugh are all "people of color."

Italian-Americans are the only bulwark against political correctness still keeping Columbus on the calendar, and that has made mayors and governors in cities and states with large Italian-American communities wary of tossing the great explorer completely overboard. But while Ferdinand and Isabella may have brought Columbus back in chains, modern day political correctness has banished him to the darkened dungeon of non-personhood, erasing him from history and replacing him with a note reading, "I'm Sorry We Ever Landed Here."

But this is about more than one single 15th century Genoan with a complicated life who was neither a monster nor a saint. It is about whether America really has any right to exist at all. Is there any argument against celebrating Columbus Day, that cannot similarly be applied to the Fourth of July?


If Columbus is to be stricken from the history books in favor of ideological thugs like Malcolm X or Caesar Chavez, then America must soon follow. Columbus' crime is that he enabled European settlement of the continent.

If the settlement of non-Indians in North America is illegitimate, then any national state they created is also illegitimate.

It is easier to hack away at a nation's history by beginning with the lower branches.

Columbus is an easier target than America itself, though La Raza considers both colonialist vermin. Americans are less likely to protest over the banishment of Columbus to the politically correct Gulag  than over the banishing America itself, which was named after another one of those colonialist explorers, Amerigo Vespucci. First they came for Columbus Day and then for the Fourth of July.

The battles being fought over Columbus Day foreshadow the battles to be fought over the Fourth of July. As Columbus Day joins the list of banned holidays in more cities, one day there may not be a Fourth of July, just a day of Native Resistance to remember the atrocities of the colonists with PBS documentaries comparing George Washington to Hitler.

These documentaries already exist, they just haven't gone mainstream. Yet.

We celebrate Columbus Day and the Fourth of July because history is written by the winners. Had the Aztecs, the Mayans or the Iroquois Confederation developed the necessary technology and skills to cross the Atlantic and begin colonizing Europe, the fate of its native inhabitants would have been far uglier. The different perspectives on history often depend on which side you happen to be on.

To Americans, the Alamo is a shining moment of heroism. To the Mexicans who are the heirs of a colonialist empire far more ruthless than anything to be found north of the Rio Grande, the war was a plot to conquer Mexican territory. And neither side is altogether wrong, but choosing which version of history to go by is the difference between being an American or a Mexican.

A nation's mythology, its paragons and heroes, its founding legends and great deeds, are its soul. To replace them with another culture's perspective on its history is to kill that soul.

That is the ultimate goal of political correctness, to kill America's soul. To stick George Washington, Patrick Henry, Jefferson, James Bowie, Paul Revere, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and all the rest on a shelf in a back room somewhere, and replace them with timelier liberal heroes. Move over Washington, Caesar Chavez needs this space. No more American heroes need apply.

Followed of course by no more America.

This is how it begins. And that is how it ends. Nations are not destroyed by atomic bombs or economic catastrophes; they are lost when they lose any reason to go on living. When they no longer have enough pride to go on fighting to survive.

The final note of politically correct lunacy comes from a headline in the Columbus Dispatch about the Columbus Day festival in the city of Columbus, Ohio. "Italian Festival honors controversial explorer with its own Columbus Day parade".

Once the great discover of America, Columbus is now dubbed "controversial" by a newspaper named after him, in a city named after him. And if he is controversial, how can naming a city after him and a newspaper after the city not be equally controversial?

Can the day when USA Today has a headline reading, "Some cities still plan controversial 4th of July celebration of American independence" be far behind?

SOURCE





The dubious rationale for homosexual marriage

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday” to discuss the Supreme Court’s decision to let stand a number of judicial rulings overturning the acts of legislators and/or voters in 16 states, famed advocate Ted Olson offered the kind of reasoning that, in his former incarnation as a conservative, he would have scorned. “Over 59 percent of Americans now believe that marriage equality should be the law of the land,” he proclaimed. Seconds later he seemed to contradict himself: “We have a Constitution and Bill of Rights precisely because we want protections from majority rule.”

Which is it: a fundamental right that ought to be recognized without regard to majority views, or a popular view that deserves to be enshrined in the Constitution by the courts just because it’s polling well? If it’s true that large majorities have changed their minds on same-sex marriage, why not leave the matter to state legislatures and voters rather than undemocratically taking the question out of their hands?

When his opponent, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, asked Olson what the purpose of marriage is, Olson dodged the question and spoke instead of courts recognizing a “fundamental right that involves privacy, association, liberty…” Repeating the boilerplate offered by judges is non responsive.

Olson sprinkles his language liberally with emotionally laden expressions such as “dignity” and “respect,” as if to say that those who resist same-sex marriage are opposed to those civilities.

Asked about where he would draw boundaries on who should be permitted to marry if it’s “only about love,” Olson changed the subject, mentioning the “tens of thousands” of children being raised in same-sex households who “deserve the right to equality and the same respect and decency that other people have that are living right next door.”

“People Next Door” has become the chief talking point of the same-sex-marriage advocates. Chris Wallace asked it of Perkins (not that he was taking sides, he was fair): “You and your wife live happily in this house; there’s a same-sex couple living here. What’s the damage to you?”

This is the nub of the argument. As Olson claimed, “There’s no heterosexual couple that is going to decide to get divorced or not to get married or not to raise children just because another couple next to them is treated equally and with respect and decency under our Constitution.”

But it does affect the larger culture. If it didn’t, there would be no need for debate. Homosexuals comprise a tiny fraction of the population (just over 2 percent according to the CDC). I wish them nothing but happiness and peace, but they are a side issue. Of course they deserve “dignity” and “respect,” but changing marriage is not the way to get there.

Families began disintegrating and failing to form long before gay marriage became a cause celebre. But the movement for same-sex marriage pushes our culture in exactly the wrong direction because it forwards a damaging conception of marriage. Marriage, Olson says, “is about being with the person you love.”

Not so. Marriage is about the welfare of children. The state confers benefits on opposite-sex couples because they conceive and raise children, and it believes that strong families are the foundation of strong polities. Libertarian claims that the state should remain aloof from family matters overlook the fact that when couples divorce or part ways, the state becomes involved in property division and custody, so it’s unrealistic to keep the state out.

The problem with endorsing same-sex marriage is that it conveys to heterosexuals that mothers and fathers don’t really matter. If two men who love each other or two women who love each other are equally good for children’s welfare, then the argument that men and women should marry and remain faithful to the partner with whom they conceived children loses its force.

The “being with someone you love” case fits nicely on a greeting card, but it also contributes to the divorce culture, because the implicit message is that when you no longer love someone, the purpose of the marriage is over. Adults' feelings will trump all, as they too often do already.

The move for same-sex marriage was never about marriage. It was about social acceptance.

SOURCE

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

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

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

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