Friday, February 05, 2016



Australia should do more for Aborigines?  If so how?

The self-righteous bleat below is an editorial from the Left-leaning Melbourne "Age".  It exhibits all the brains of a flea.  It shows no awareness of Aboriginal life or of the unending stream of government efforts that have been made to better the lot of Aborigines.  I would be surprised if the writer had ever set foot in a black's camp. I have.  I grew up with Aborigines around the place.  They were in my Primary school and down the end of the street where I lived. 

So the writer below has only his self-righteousness to put forward. He puts forward not a single suggestion about what to do to help Aborigines.  He doesn't know what has happened and has no idea what should happen.  He is just a brainless Leftist fool 

The best he can do is end up with an unsubstantiated accusation.  He speaks of "The disadvantage foisted on Indigenous Australians by ignorance or prejudice."  Where is his evidence that the poor situation of Aborigines is due to "ignorance or prejudice".  He has none.  It's just a verbal fart.

There are many ethnic groups in Australia and many of them came here when there was indeed prejudice against them.  My mother's father told her when she was young that he would cut her off if she married an Italian.  So did that hold Italians back?  Hardly.  Not long ago, Australia's most populous State -- NSW -- was run by Italians and Greeks -- the Iemma administration.  And they were put there by the NSW voters.

And look at the Jews.  Can any group ever have been more hated than the Jews?  If you want to talk about prejudice and discrimination, look at the experience of the Jews.  Yet Jews ride high wherever they are.  Israel even prospers despite constant attacks on it by Muslims.

Plainly, there is no sytematic disadvantage inflicted on anyone by prejudice and discrimination.  One could more plausibly argue that it spurs people on to a high level of achievemrent.

So our brainless Lefty editor is plain WRONG in his attribution of Aboriginal backwardness.  That leave Aborigines responsible for themselves.  Self-responsibility?  What a horrible thought to a Leftist!  The State is their solution to evertything. 

Aborigines developed to lead a hunter-gatherer life and they are superbly adapted to that life.  They are NOT however adapted to modern life and nothing will make them that.  There are however some ways that they can be helped. 

I see it in the contrast between elderly Aborigines and young Aborigines.  The older ones are much better adapted to white society.  They lead reasonably clean, orderly and sober lives.  Why?  Because when they were growing up, the Aboriginal settlements were run by missionaries.  And Aborigines are a very spiritual people so religion has a big effect on them.  It gave the missionaries the leverage to teach Aborigines habits that would be to their advantage.

But there is no political will to bring back the missionaries so is there anything else to be done?  Just about everything that could be tried has been tried by successive State and Federal governments of all political stripes so there is really only one possibility left:  Better policing.  The violence towards women and children by Aboriginal males is horrific. I have seen it.  But if the women had somewhere to run to in their settlements, many could escape that violence.  Most settlements already have a police presence but it is woefully inadequate.  More cops are what is needed but I am quite sure that would not suit our brainless Leftist editor.



If you are yet to take the 8½ minutes to watch journalist Stan Grant speak on the topic of "racism destroying the Australian dream," make the time. His words are searing, a much-needed jolt to national complacency towards Aboriginal Australia, and a powerful statement of reality, both historical and present day.

But more than words, the accompanying passion – Grant's face and tone deeply imbued with sorrow, anger, hope and regret from personal experience as an Indigenous man – points to the emotional toll of unfinished business on the first people of this country. We must all strive to better acknowledge this suffering, even if it remains a lived experience most people can never truly understand.

Grant's speech, delivered in October, won prominence last week when released as an online video during a traditional time of introspection, both for the community and in our personal lives.

The new year is often a moment when people choose to take stock of goals, to resolve a fresh beginning, or rededicate themselves to cherished dreams. The symbols of nationhood are put on overt display just as languid summer weeks are about to be swamped by the reality of busy lives. As if to warm up dozing political muscles, we have developed a habit of adorning Australia Day with a ritual debate about changing the flag and becoming a republic.

But Grant's speech challenges the country to do more. Much more. His is a reminder that the personal and national experience is deeply intertwined for Indigenous Australians. The "Invasion Day" protests to mark the anniversary of the arrival of white settlers are illustrative, but cannot alone convey the discrimination felt each and every day in the Indigenous community.

"My people die young in this country," Grant reminds us. "We die 10 years younger than average Australians and we are far from free. We are fewer than 3 per cent of the Australian population and yet we are 25 per cent, a quarter of those Australians locked up in our prisons .hs.hs. If you are a juvenile, it is worse, it is 50 per cent."

Statistics that alone are distressing, but in what stands as a national shame, Grant observes "an Indigenous child is more likely to be locked up in prison than they are to finish high school." What a indictment on the supposed ethos of a fair go.

Australia can do and must do better. The steep difference in Victoria, where Indigenous children are more than 12 times as likely as non-Indigenous children to be placed in state care is another indicator of woeful disadvantage. We have become far too comfortable with pledges to "close the gap" that the action necessary to make this a reality is rarely a priority.

Complacency also marks our debate about the place of Indigenous culture in our national story. We have become fixated on a slogan, "recognition", too often ignoring the concepts many Aborigines would prefer be debated, such as "self-determination", "sovereignty" and "treaty".

It is not that the proposal to change the constitution to acknowledge Indigenous culture is without merit. But the country must properly decide what such a change is meant to achieve. Megan Davis, a legal professor and member of the Prime Minister's Expert Panel on recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the constitution, has warned the idea has become mired in "bipartisan stage-managed process". We should be aspiring to more than piecemeal reform, but justice.

Like Grant's speech, Davis' essay "Listening but not hearing", published in the latest edition of Griffith Review, is a further reminder the country can grow from a frank, and importantly, inclusive debate about the life of Indigenous Australians. The disadvantage foisted on Indigenous Australians by ignorance or prejudice is holding the nation back. To do better, the voices of the Aboriginal community must be listened to, and heard.

SOURCE






Europe must copy Australia and stop the refugee boats

Britain needs the former Australian Prime Minister to help tackle the migrant crisis, and should give him a peerage to make it worth his while
           
The Australian Liberal Party has already done one great service for David Cameron: finding, funding and preserving Sir Lynton Crosby. The knighthood alone symbolises the debt the Conservatives owe Crosby for their first majority in nearly a quarter of a century. Now it is time for the Prime Minister to return the favour to the Liberals by giving a peerage to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

There are three good reasons for this. First, it would relieve the current Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, of his single biggest political management problem - the continued presence of a former leader on his back benches. If recent Australian political history tells us anything it is that former leaders - particularly when deposed - often attempt to return to leadership in the most spectacular fashion.  Outplacement really needs to mean outplacement.

Second, and this is a critical part of solving Turnbull's headache, Abbott would not disdain membership of the House of Lords. He was born in London and his respect for the United Kingdom stretched to him giving a eulogy to Margaret Thatcher after her death.

The third, and best, reason is that once back in the UK, Tony Abbott could tell Britain and the European Union how to "stop the boats" - and we do need to learn how to do that.

There is a bluntness about the phrase "stop the boats" that sounds coarse to European ears. And the harshness and the brutality of its articulation as a proposition by Abbott is a tone which is absent from our mainstream politics, but not from our politics as a whole. Anger, and indeed confusion, dominate and at times define our political discourse.

But it is an anger exploited and channeled by populist parties of the Left and Right - it finds no home in the mainstream. But it needs to.

The trajectory of European policy on refugees and asylum seekers has been a masterclass in how a very human, in fact humane, and emotional response has led inexorably to human misery. No one with a heart can have failed to be exhilarated when Angela Merkel opened Germany's borders to refugees.

The sight of a German Chancellor posing for selfies with refugees was in one way a symbol of a very different Europe. But in the world of people smuggling and human trafficking, it was received very differently. Angela Merkel was - inadvertently - the poster girl for their exploitation and exacerbation of human misery.

For once you signal that Europe is open for refugees then you no longer control your borders - they are managed by criminal gangs.

There's an Indonesian phrase for this incentive for people smugglers - "sugar on the table". And so we return to Tony Abbott. Australia has faced a similar challenge from people smugglers. The same desperate families. The same criminal gangs.

The same risk to life - a one-in-twenty chance of death if you boarded a boat in Indonesia. That's why there was bi-partisan agreement to end the trafficking and why there is strong Australian support for the policy of the Navy turning back boats. When boats are scuttled by smugglers then "passengers" are rescued - but they don't come to Australia.

They go to refugee camps off shore. They don't, in popular parlance, "jump the queue". The result has been an end to the trade in lives.

The contrast with Europe could not be starker. The winter is ending. More boats are coming - and people are still drowning. There are predictions of over a million refugees coming into the EU this year. Whether or not the number is sustainable economically that number is unsustainable politically. And the larger the traffic, the greater the number of deaths.

Stopping the boats on its own is not the whole of the solution. But it is a start. Ending the inhuman trade requires and end to the conflict that dislocates and a solution to the poverty that drives Africans north across the Mediterranean.

But the push factor can be ended and the loss of life can cease. It can be done - Tony Abbott knows how.

SOURCE






Rabid feminists have proved the dictionary right

This week, Oxford University Press (OUP) drew criticism from feminists after ‘responding flippantly’ to an accusation of sexism. Michael Oman-Reagan – an academic who made the initial complaint – took issue with the Oxford English Dictionary’s choice of example for usage of the word ‘rabid’ – ‘rabid feminist’. He also complained about some other ‘sexist’ examples. The OUP’s initial response (a sarky tweet) was well received, but, after some Twitter feminists piled in, it issued an apology and promised to review its examples.

What remarkable times we live in when a small minority can influence how the English language is presented in the dictionary. Using the example ‘rabid feminist’ is perfectly acceptable. How ironic that Twitter feminists sought to challenge it by behaving in such a rabid way.

It may be tempting to write this off as just another Twitterstorm, but there is a sinister, censorious undertone here. Not only did a small group of people feel it was their place to cherry-pick things they didn’t like from the dictionary and demand they be changed, but, worse still, they were pandered to. Cowardly institutions like the OUP are not the kind of custodians the English language needs.

The dictionary exists to define words, not push so-called progressive narratives. The fact that feminists see the offending examples as personal attacks on women betrays how mired in a false sense of victimhood they are. Let’s be clear, the phrase ‘rabid feminist’ isn’t an attack on all womankind. Feminism is not a gender – it’s an ideology. To give an ideology gendered status is to attempt to place it above critique.

To borrow the OED’s current slogan: language matters. This is exactly why all attempts to sterilise and neuter it must be firmly resisted.

SOURCE






Fury in German town after mayor tells families to keep their children away from migrants to avoid 'provoking them' when they wear fewer clothes in the summer

Residents of a small German town have reacted with fury at their mayor's response to a resident's concerns migrants have been sexually harassing his granddaughter.

About 100 people from Bad Schlema, in eastern Germany, were gathered at a town hall when the mayor told them to tell their children not to 'provoke' the asylum seekers, it was reported.

This prompted outrage among those in attendance as they claimed they should be allowed to walk wherever they liked.

It comes just weeks after a spate of sex attacks across German cities saw hundreds of women report to police they had been sexually assaulted by 'Arab or North African men'.

The video shows an elderly man raising concerns about his granddaughter with mayor Jens Muller, from Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party, Breitbart reported.

According to the translation, he states: 'I have a question regarding the school - about physical education in the school gym.

'She's under 10 and it also happened in a nearby town. The girls have been harassed by the refugee children... The asylum seekers, and they get harassed from the windows [of the shelter] and things like that.  'How will this be in the summer when the school girls wear less clothing?'

Attempting to bat away the question quickly and easily, the major responded: 'That's easy, just don't provoke them and don't walk in these areas.'

But his response caused outrage among the audience, with many jeering and lambasting him for the dismissive response.

Members of the audience could be heard crying out: 'You cant even walk in your own city anymore!' and 'go home, boy, who the hell elected you?'

Others were heard shouting: 'They [the migrants] come here and we're not allowed to walk here anymore!' and 'boy oh boy, you've got some nerve. What kind of mayor is this? He should step down!'

Despite the poor reception his comments received, Mr Muller continued enraging the audience.  'Well, it's not technically necessary for the girls to walk there. There are alternative routes for going to school.'

An audience member responded: 'It doesn't f****** matter if there are other routes!'

The mayor then quipped: 'Do you think this doesn't exist among Germans?', only to be told: 'That has nothing to do with this! Germans go to prison for this,' by a resident.

In recent weeks German authorities have attempted to mitigate the fears caused by the waves of sex attacks at New Year that were blamed on migrants.

Social workers in Cologne have been giving migrants special training to prepare them for the city's traditional, and boisterous, Carnival celebrations.

The effort comes in the wake of a string of robberies and sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in the city that police say were committed largely by foreigners.

German authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of those events during the five-day street party starting Thursday.

Caritas, a Catholic welfare association, hosted a lecture Tuesday for 150 migrants who got a crash course from teachers dressed in costumes and with performances by local musicians.

Hundreds of thousands of revelers are expected to party on the streets and in the city's pubs and bars until Ash Wednesday.

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, February 04, 2016



Free Speech and Pharmaceutical Regulation

The FDA kills more Americans every year than motor vehicle accidents do, so it was good to see its grip loosened a little recently. Because of the FDA, it takes something like 10 years and half a billion dollars to get a new drug approved.  In that ten years many people who would have been helped by the drug die.  Additionally, drugs for uncommon illnesses are not even researched, let alone approved, because not enough of them would be sold to recoup the half a billion needed to get them approved.  So the FDA is a huge millstone around the neck of new drug development and a rational government would kill it off

The reason it survives is because the *intentions* behind it are good.  It aims to make sure drugs are safe before people start to use them. But the question is how many lives does it in fact save?  Probably only a few as there is always a great uproar when a drug is found to have adverse effects.  Fear of being sued causes companies to take a drug off the market rapidly.  Vioxx was taken off the market in that way.

So we have to weigh the chance of a few deaths from adverse reactions against the large and steady stream of people who die because their doctors cannot get the best drug for their condition to them.

A better system would be to put in the place of the FDA a "Drug Safety Authority" which would have authority to advise only.  Individual doctors could then make up their own minds and take any risks that might flow from that.  But the article below is from a medical journal and the author just defends the existing system with the usual corny arguments

It should be noted that the drug in contention below has already been certified by the FDA as safe.  After that point the FDA  should surely need strong reasons for further interventions.  Such reasons would not seem to exist in the case discussed below



Recent research has not been kind to fish oil salesmen, or the value of ω-3 fatty acid supplements for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.  Amarin Corporation, in particular, has been hit hard. The company’s only approved product is icosapent ethyl (Vascepa), a prescription-based derivative of fish oil. In 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug to treat patients with very high triglyceride levels, but the company has long wanted to promote its use in a much larger group of patients: those with lower triglyceride levels and cardiovascular disease who were already being treated with statins.

In 2013, an FDA advisory committee voted 9 to 2 against approval for this use, in part because several recent studies of other drugs with similar effects on blood lipids showed no clinical benefit when they were added to statins.  Amarin’s stock price plummeted, and investors brought suit claiming that they had been misled about the promise of the drug.

In May 2015, Amarin struck back, suing the FDA in US district court in Manhattan, arguing that the First Amendment gives the company the right to market its drug for this broader group of people despite the lack of regulatory approval and the lack of evidence of an outcomes benefit for patients. The company's argument hit at the heart of the drug regulatory system in the United States. For decades, that system has required companies that want to promote pharmaceutical products for new uses to first prove to the FDA that the drugs are safe and effective for these uses.

Amarin argued that this system is unconstitutional, and that companies should instead be allowed to market their products in any way that a judge would consider to be neither false nor misleading. Amarin relied in particular on a recent and much criticized judgment from a federal appeals court, US v Caronia.  That 2012 decision came close to declaring the FDA’s prohibition of off-label marketing unconstitutional, citing recent Supreme Court cases that have strengthened constitutional protections for commercial speech.

In August 2015, the judge in the Amarin case, relying largely on the Caronia ruling, handed the company a major victory. He ruled that the company could market Vascepa for the desired broader population, and make many of the very claims that the FDA views as misleading —claims such as “supportive but not conclusive research” shows that the drug “may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” As of December 2015, the FDA had not decided whether to appeal or settle the case.

The stakes are high indeed: the Amarin precedent, if it holds, has the potential to unleash a flood of misleading marketing to physicians. Under Amarin, if a company wants to market its drug off-label, it need only convince a judge, not the FDA, that its claims are not “false or misleading.” In effect, the decision replaces drug regulators with judges—whose expertise in science and medical research varies considerably —when off-label promotion is concerned. The judge in Amarin saw the problem clearly: “You're talking to somebody who has difficulty using a toaster,” he said at the hearing. “I’m the last person who should opine on this.”

It is not merely that most judges lack the requisite training to effectively assess complex drug claims. They also lack access to the necessary data, and the tools that regulators have to evaluate and shape that data. When a company seeks approval from the FDA for a new indication for a marketed drug, it must submit extensive clinical research and trial data, as well as details about the trial design. FDA scientists can therefore reanalyze the data, detect flaws in protocols and case reports, and, when necessary, reject trial results or require more information. A recent FDA review conducted after safety concerns were raised about rosiglitazone (Avandia), for example, involved manual reviews of forms and efforts to collect additional data for hundreds of trial participants and revealed important new facts, including 8 deaths that had not previously been recorded.

The most insidious aspect of the Amarin decision, therefore, is that it undermines the structures that encourage companies to produce high-quality clinical evidence to support new uses of drugs. If the decision stands, companies with a drug approved for one use will have to produce only enough evidence to convince a judge, not the FDA, to market it for additional indications. To be effective, a company’s marketing must also influence the prescribing patterns of physicians.

Although physicians are a more sophisticated audience, they are not in a position to substitute for regulators. Relatively few have training in research methods. Those who do have such training lack access to comprehensive clinical trial data and rely heavily on the published literature, which is skewed toward positive results. In addition, there is a strong and specific association between pharmaceutical marketing and physician behavior, independent of the evidence supporting the products.

The Amarin decision—if it is neither modified nor reversed—may well put patients, and the evidence base for medical practice, at risk. Drugs that are prescribed for unproven indications can cause serious harm. For example, tiagabine (Gabitril), a medication to reduce the frequency of seizures in patients with epilepsy, can cause seizures when used off-label for other indications. Risk-benefit ratios also shift when new uses are contemplated: a drug whose adverse effects may be acceptable when used to treat patients with serious illness may cause more harm than benefit if used to treat healthier patients. Even a drug that is safe, but ineffective, can be harmful, for example if it is used instead of an effective intervention. Because health care budgets are limited, spending on ineffective treatments also squanders money that might be better spent elsewhere.

Does our constitutional commitment to free speech really require this result? Not if the traditional legal standard for commercial speech protection prevails. Commercial speech serves an “informational function” and can be regulated to ensure that the public has access to accurate information. The FDA serves exactly this end. The agency aims not to censor company speech, but to foster the development of accurate and reliable information, and channel that information into settings where it can be rigorously evaluated.

For example, companies are not prohibited from marketing outright. They may make marketing claims if they provide adequate supportive evidence to the FDA. Nor are companies prohibited from conducting research, and publishing such research —whether meeting FDA standards or not —in the medical literature. Indeed, this is encouraged, and companies can distribute reprints of studies directly to physicians, if the publications have certain indicia of reliability, such as having undergone peer review.

The FDA did not appeal the ruling in the Caronia case. The ongoing settlement negotiations in Amarin suggest that the agency may not yet wish to take its chances in the higher courts in this case. At some point, however, the FDA will have to either take the underlying issue about off-label marketing up the chain, to the Supreme Court itself, or lose a key aspect of its regulatory authority by a thousand cuts.

If and when the FDA finally takes a stand, it will need the help of experts who can help judges understand our drug regulatory system and render vivid the acute dangers of deregulation where medicines are concerned.

SOURCE






Sen. Cotton Introduces Bill to Rescind ‘Nonsensical’ Directive on Israel/West Bank Product Labelling

Accusing the Obama administration of a new “effort to put daylight between the United States and Israel,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Monday introduced legislation aimed at annulling what he called a “nonsensical” directive on labeling goods produced in the territories disputed between Israel and the Palestinians.

“That directive plays right into the hands of those who are driving insidious efforts to boycott Israeli goods,” he said in a statement.

“There is an effort in some quarters around the globe to delegitimize Israel,” Cotton said. “Those behind it know they are too weak politically and too wrong morally to succeed in quick and dramatic fashion. They instead seek to achieve their aims gradually with incremental steps like labeling rules.”

The January 23 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) directive reminds traders that goods produced by Israeli companies located in the West Bank or Gaza Strip may not be labeled “made in Israel.” Any that are will be “subject to an enforcement action.”

The State Department says it is merely a “reissuance” of 20 year-old guidance and does not constitute a change of policy.

But its appearance, just days after European Union (E.U.) ministers agreed that products made or grown in the disputed territories and destined for European markets no longer be labeled “made in Israel,” raised some eyebrows.

“This has been reported widely in the Israeli media this evening as a new policy and as some kind of rebuke to Israeli settlement policy,” a reporter pointed out to State Department spokesman Mark Toner at Thursday’s daily briefing.

Toner disputed that, saying the “guidance was simply a restatement of previous requirements.”

He said it was his understanding the guidance was reissued because of “allegations of mislabeling,” received from “around nine or ten” complainants.

“Many countries around the world do this kind of labeling. It in no way represents a boycott or anything like that,” Toner said. He recalled that the State Department said the same thing last month about the E.U. labeling move – that it did not constitute a boycott.

However Toner himself said last November, when the E.U. first approved the changes, that labeling products from settlements “could be perceived as a step on the way to a boycott.”

The U.S. directive does differ from the E.U. one in an important respect: In the U.S., a product from an Israeli settlement in the West Bank must be labeled “West Bank,” whereas in the E.U. the same item must now be labeled “West Bank (Israeli settlement)” or similar.

Cotton said the 20 year-old guidance now reissued by the CBP had rarely been enforced in the past.

“While some say the directive merely ‎restates an old labeling rule originally drafted 20 years ago with no intention to stigmatize Israel, the truth is the rule was lightly if ever enforced and serves little purpose today,” he said.

“Its vigorous enforcement now – coming after a concerted lobbying campaign on the part of groups looking to weaken Israel – will have the undeniable effect of isolating our closest friend in the Middle East and giving other nations an excuse to unfairly treat Israel in trade relations,” Cotton said.

“That is why I’m introducing a bill today to rescind the administration’s nonsensical rule and halt this latest effort to put daylight between the United States and Israel.”

SOURCE






Harry Potter is a conservative

Harry Potter is the most successful book of all time next to Pilgrim’s Progress and the Sear’s Catalogue.

And so, naturally, there is a certain cult, known in his world as Deatheaters, and in our world as Political Correctness, that seeks repulsively to claim that success as their own.A recent article in i09 reports that Anthony Gierzynski, a political scientist at the University of Vermont, found that Harry Potter fans are more open to diversity and are more politically tolerant than nonfans.

The fans are also less likely to support the use of deadly force or torture, more politically active, and more likely to have had a negative view of the Bush administration.From this the conclusion is put forth (in a leap of logic that would make the cow jumping over the moon blush with shame) that Harry Potter draws children toward the political Left.

What an utter load of rubbish.

I have inspected neither Gierzynski’s data nor his methods, but I know blast-ended skrewt dung when I smell it.

Asking on a questionnaire whether one is open to diversity is like asking whether one likes raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. And the caricature of conservatives as cretins who applaud deadly force and torture, intolerance and cruelty, is as much of a world make-believe as Voldemort himself.

Finding that no one in real life believes what bigoted leftists pretend conservatives believe does not mean most people lean left: it means leftists are bigots.

It is no surprise that more leftists buy books, including fairytale books, for their children, and pass along their political viewpoints as well. Leftists already live in Cloudcuckooland, which is next door to fairyland.

I suggest that some enterprising political scientist perform a similar study for any book-reading of any kind, not just books about schoolboy wizards, or, indeed, any idle pastime whatsoever. Leftism is found more among idle folk whose mental immune system is weak: among teens, among university professors, and among everyone else who does not work for a living. (And the People’s Republic of Vermont is as thick with the leftism-carrying vectors as a fever swamp with mosquito and tse-tse fly.)

As part of their ongoing attempt to politicize private life, and spread their cult, leftists since the 1930s at least have attempted to import their messages into movies, popular songs, television, everywhere. It is a particular badge of courage to them if they can get a conservative father to buy a book containing propaganda for his child unknowingly.

When a leftist critic calls a book “subversive.” he means it as a compliment. He means that the work undermines the expectations of art form but also that it undermines the current social order, because, to the Left, even art forms, even children’s books, can carry the plague vector of their worldview.

For better or worse, reality is conservative. Because of this, drama in any form tends to be conservative: readers still enjoy reading love stories and heroic adventures. Hence a book like Harry Potter, which is based on archetypes as old as cave paintings — wise men with long gray beards, evil serpents, trusted comrades, the unloved orphan (who, like Hercules or Moses, is chosen by fate to slay monsters or evil lords and save his people) — is innately conservative.

And so, ironically, the faithful leftist reading of Professor Gierzynski’s dimwitted paper, fooled by the pseudo-scientific smell the paper emits, will find the tables turned. It will be the conservatives who cackle when the unwitting leftist buys these magical books for his child. These books teach the most solid and conservative of messages imaginable.

And, no, I do not mean that they teach that intolerance is good and torture is even better. I mean these books show clear and edifying examples of core conservative values in action. Let us list a few:

The families in Potter consist of mothers and fathers, not various partners of various genders engaged in various acts of free love. Ron’s family is a shining example of a loving family, with a father who works and a mother who is willing to face mad witches if need be for her large and well-loved brood. Harry Potter himself is saved by his mother’s love and protected from the evil spells of her murderer.

The government in Harry Potter’s world, as in ours, in inept, corrupt, and regarded as an obstacle rather than the source of salvation. Each boy relies on his own wit and courage and friendships to save himself and to save the world.

The press in Harry Potter’s world, as in ours, is inept, corrupt, and a source of outrageous falsehoods. The main reporter-witch can assume the form of a mosquito.

The moral universe in Harry’s world rejects any form of relativism. There are no shades of gray here, or examples of a thing being right for one group and wrong for another. The ends do not justify the means here either: knowing that Voldemort is also an orphan raised in poverty does not automatically make him one of the oppressed and therefore excused in anything he does, as it would in the left-wing world.

Dumbledore is gay! And the one example in the book of Dumbledore’s love is an evil man who manipulated him. Aside from that, as best the text can show, Dumbledore lives chastely.

Do I even need to say anything about the alleged occultism in Potter? We Christians invented the medieval romance from which the modern novel takes its form, and modern fantasies slavishly copy, including this one. Romance is as Roman as Rome. If you think Sir Orfeo or Orlando Furioso or Le Morte D’Arthur is occult, go find the nearest exorcist: you’re possessed by the imp of stupid.

They keep score in Quidditch. I just thought I would throw that in.

There is no cult of victimology here. Anyone who gets ahead, even the Chosen One, is because he works hard. The Twins open a joke shop when they graduate; they do not go on the dole.

“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Harry conquers death by submitting to it at Voldemort’s hand, and destroys the Dark Lord by being reborn. He sees the Dark Lord’s soul as the shriveled and pathetic thing it is, not glorious.

Salvation requires sacrifice.

Rules are made to be broken.

A word on this last point. One might think that we conservatives, who are law-and-order types, would object to a book in which the hero defies a government order and trains in secret with his fellow students against a day of war. However, conservatism, if it is anything, is the belief in limited government. We like rebels when the authority oversteps it role and turns corrupt, as it does in Harry Potter, with the various fussy bureaucrats, traitors, and cowards occupying the Ministry of Magic.

Leftism by its nature is totalitarian, since it extends its reach to every element and aspect of life. For leftists, life is politics and politics is life. For them, everything is a political issue, from the weather in the Arctic to the size of your bank account to the volume of your toilet tank to the chemicals in a hairspray bottle to the pronouns you use when the antecedent is unknown to whether a Catholic can refuse to bake a wedding cake for a ceremony that desecrates a sacrament.

In other words, leftists applaud revolution only when it is directed to the overthrow of whatever stands in the way of their socialist utopia. No leftist of which I am aware has ever expressed sympathy and solidarity for Lech Walesa, for the Hungarian Uprising of 1956, for the protesters of Tiananmen Square, for the protest novels of Solzhenitsyn. They applaud Malcolm X and Saul Alinsky. Leftism is statism; whenever the state is growing, leftists frown on rebels. It is only small and healthy states they want rebels to overthrow.

The first thing I ever heard about Harry Potter, back before I had read it, and the thing that most strongly recommended it to me, was that liberals thought it was a bad example to give kids because the young hero defied authority.

Had I known that the book also offered up rather clear examples of Christ-like self sacrifice, self-reliance, and moral clarity, not to mention a pro-family hence antipress and antiauthoritarian message, I would have rushed out even quicker to buy it.

So, adding this all up, I would say these books are about as left-wing as a portrait of George Washington crossing the Delaware meeting Saint Peter walking on the water coming the other way, with Merlin the Magician in the background talking to Aslan the Great Lion.

This book is the opposite of subversive. To subvert means to overturn from below, and make noble things seem base. This story uplifts from above, and uses the dark material of witch and warlocks to fashion a tale of light. Harry Potter overturns expectations of the low, crude,  selfish, and replaces them with the good, noble, self-sacrificing. If I may coin a term, the story of Harry Potter is superversive.

SOURCE






Neo-puritans strive to find offence — anywhere

Janet Albrechtsen writes from Australia:

With January 2016 ticked off the calendar, it’s worth reflecting how the past month has provided a window into the mindset of a burgeoning class of sanctimonious neo-puritans.

A few weeks back, West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle was just about run out of the country after an interview with a female sports presenter where he said: “Hopefully, we can win this game and have a drink after. Don’t blush baby.” Social media went nuts. The media, talkback, feminists went equally manic that Gayle would dare to flirt on camera.

The cricketer apologised the very next day. But that made no difference to the remonstrating neo-puritans. The batting legend was ­labelled a sexist and a creep, his club fined him $10,000, Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland said Gayle’s on-camera flirting was “completely out of line and inappropriate”. “It’s very, very public,” Sutherland said.

A few weeks later, NRL player Mitchell Pearce was caught on a smartphone video behaving like a drunken buffoon at a private party. But privacy made no difference to the censorious neo-puritans. Public lapse in judgment? Private indiscretion? The boundaries keep moving. There but for the grace of God go I has become there but for the grace of an iPhone go all of us. Pearce clumsily tried to kiss a woman who quickly rebuffed him. So he stopped. The half-back then simulated a dopey, jokey sex act on a dog. He urinated on a couch. Dumb and dumber.

But in the minds of the neo-­puritans, there is no room for boofheads anymore. Pearce is a villain. End of story. And villains must be publicly shamed. So there’s endless talk of fines and penalties, contracts cancelled, ­careers over, rehab and counselling. Pearce has left the country. I am deeply uncomfortable to find myself on roughly the same side of the argument as Peter FitzSimons.

But here’s where the Red Bandanna and I part ways. The progressive set that FitzSimons surely calls home is to blame for the rise of the holier than thou neo-puritanism that has tried to destroy Pearce. Australia’s self-appointed moral guardians are having a ­heyday doing what they do so often: dividing the world into victims and villains. But can it really be that simple? There is something truly disturbing about the refusal by these self-appointed moralisers to make room for a few boofheads, be they drunk or flirtatious.

To be sure, no one should celebrate stupidity. Pearce behaved badly. He has to account for that. But the obsession to label every misdemeanour or error of judgment as a sure sign of bad character points to a deeper malaise infecting our society. This false ­dichotomy of victims and villains is creating a sterile, puritanical world where even minor mistakes of judgment are pathologised as serious moral misdeeds.

Witness the weird explosion of academic literature and campus chatter about so-called micro-assaults, micro-aggressions, micro-insults, micro-invalidations and so on and so forth. So you’ve picked up a copy of Hustler magazine and looked at a naked woman? That makes you a perpetrator of “micro-insults” — and a villain. Prefer to be colourblind to race so you don’t define people by their colour? That makes you a perpetrator of micro-invalidations — and a villain. You’d think that the very mention of “micro” points to how trifling this all is. Not in the eyes of the neo-naggers, who can find wrongdoing anywhere they look.

And it’s not hard to trace how we ended up in this realm of the utterly ridiculous. The misguided taxonomy between villains and victims was given a fillip once feelings entered the realm of human rights laws. Once an offending word here or an insulting word there attracted the heavy hand of the law, victimhood became a booming business. And given that victimhood works as a political philosophy only if there are villains, it’s not surprising then that Western modernity is stretching at the seams with newfangled classes of victims and villains.

You’re a Catholic archbishop from Tasmania who produces a pamphlet that defends the trad­itional definition of marriage that has not only existed for millennia but remains the law of the land? Most would think this is a complete non-story within a healthy democracy where freedom of speech and religion are basic rights. Wrong. Under the hectoring neo-puritanism, the law allows anyone offended by that pamphlet to claim victimhood status and, hey presto, the archbishop and his church are cast as villains by a human rights bureaucracy only too willing to play along.

We seem to have reached the point where every transgression from the norm now demands either a victim or villain label. There’s no room for plain difference or straight stupidity any more. And the victim/villain ­dichotomy has reached into ­absurd places when Gayle and Pearce were cast as villains even where there were no victims.

Neither Gayle nor Pearce broke any law. The police were not called. There was no harm done, as John Stuart Mill would have concluded.

The 19th century English philosopher best explained the no harm principle when he said “That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”

Mill was addressing the importance of individual liberty in the face of state control. These days, the preachy neo-puritans imagine they are the state, imposing their judgments, wrecking reputations and careers because they have identified a villain even where there is no victim. No harm no longer matters to the neo-puritans. The principles that helped drive liberty have been upended.

Last week, the honchos who hand out Australia Day awards tried to further cement the victims and villains narrative into our national psyche when they picked David Morrison as Australian of the Year.

Morrison, a military man, is not regarded as an extraordinary soldier. So why did he get the gong? He gave one famous speech about victims of discrimination (a speech written by his then speechwriter, Cate McGregor, who transitioned from a man to a woman a few years ago).

You might have thought that upon receiving the award, Morrison would defend this great nation, maybe explaining the importance of being committed to Western values such as individual liberty and so on. Wrong again. Morrison’s Australia Day speech was replete with dark talk of victims and villains.

Not surprisingly, those who have fallen for this false dichotomy have bequeathed hero status on Morrison.

Those of us who see through the victim and villain ­baloney see a man of mediocre achievement given an award he didn’t deserve. And his paean to progressive causes is a reminder of how far we have fallen as a proud nation.

The lionisation of Morrison and the concomitant destruction of Pearce suggest it’s high time we did more to keep in check the rapacious colonisation of our communities by the neo-puritans. After all, the freedom to be a boofhead is the other side of the liberty coin.

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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Wednesday, February 03, 2016



The incomprehensible violence of the multicultural mechanic who raped and strangled aspiring City lawyer in her family home



A mechanic who raped a city lawyer before brutally strangling her to death after he was rejected by a girl at a party was jailed for at least 27 years.

Lodger Peter Kibisu, 23, murdered Elizabeth Nnyanzi, 31, when he returned to the £600,000 family home in August while high on drugs.

Today he was branded a 'wolf in sheep's skin' by her mother Coleen, who had offered him a roof over his head when he was homeless and was in Ghana when the attack occurred.

The BMW technician attacked the Imperial College graduate and paralegal at London firm Herbert Smith Freehills then went to work, later telling police an attacker had broken into the house.

He sobbed in the dock as prosecutor Mark Heywood QC told how Kibisu returned home on August 14 after a girl at a party rejected his sexual advances.

He said: 'The defendant returned home to where he was living with very close family friends, having been out for almost the entire night.

'He then took the very gravest advantage of those who had given him a home by first sexually attacking and then killing Elizabeth Nnyanzi - one of the daughters of the house - who was then alone in the property and in her own bedroom.'

'A beautiful, talented girl and a young star' - Miss Nnyanzi studied medicine at Imperial College London before switching to follow in her father’s footsteps as a lawyer

Coreen and Kibisu's mothers had been friends since their twenties and he added: 'The association between the two families had been close and long-standing.  'In the case of the defendant he had been given a home by the Nnyanzi family for approximately nine months.'

At the time Miss Nnyanzi's solicitor father Joseph lived in Uganda, while her two sisters Antonia and Cressida also lived away and Kibisu moved in on an 'extended guest invitation.'

'There was no intimacy between them and never had there been,' said Mr Heywood.

'She looked down on him as a much younger cousin, and one account says that Elizabeth would have been horrified and rejected any such advance.'

A victim impact statement from Coleen said her life had been 'shattered' and said: 'Elizabeth was a kind, caring and loving eldest daughter who used her extensive knowledge to help others.

Jailing Kibisu for life, Judge Richard Marks said his crimes were 'a horrendous betrayal of the trust and hospitality' extended to him.  'That is a home in which you two lived - the situation being your respective mothers had been friends for very many years,' he said.

Nnyanzi completed her bachelor's degree in medicine at Liverpool University and master's at Imperial before switching to law.

Described as 'truly unique' by her sisters, she had worked for several charities and only returned from working in Uganda months prior to her death.

Kibisu pleaded guilty to rape and murder in November and December last year.

SOURCE






Germany's Merkel says refugees must return home once war is over

German Chancellor Angela Merkel tried on Saturday to placate the increasingly vocal critics of her open-door policy for refugees by insisting that most refugees from Syria and Iraq would go home once the conflicts there had ended.

Despite appearing increasingly isolated, Merkel has resisted pressure from some conservatives to cap the influx of refugees, or to close Germany's borders.

Support for her conservative bloc has slipped as concerns mount about how Germany will integrate the 1.1 million migrants who arrived last year, while crime and security are also in the spotlight after a wave of assaults on women in Cologne at New Year by men of north African and Arab appearance.

The influx has played into the hands of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), whose support is now in the double digits, and whose leader was quoted on Saturday saying that migrants entering illegally should, if necessary, be shot.

Merkel said it was important to stress that most refugees had only been allowed to stay for a limited period.

"We need ... to say to people that this is a temporary residential status and we expect that, once there is peace in Syria again, once IS has been defeated in Iraq, that you go back to your home country with the knowledge that you have gained," she told a regional meeting of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Merkel said 70 percent of the refugees who fled to Germany from former Yugoslavia in the 1990s had returned.

Horst Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the CDU's Bavarian sister party, has threatened to take the government to court if the flow of asylum seekers is not cut.

Merkel urged other European countries to offer more help "because the numbers need to be reduced even further and must not start to rise again, especially in spring".

Fabrice Leggeri, the head of the European Union's border agency Frontex, said a U.N. estimate that up to a million migrants could try to come to Europe via the eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans next year was realistic.

"It would be a big achievement if we could keep the number ... stable," he told the magazine Der Spiegel.

Merkel said all EU states should have an interest in protecting the bloc's external borders, and all would suffer if the internal passport-free Schengen zone collapsed and national borders were closed.

AfD leader Frauke Petry told the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper that Germany needed to reduce the influx through agreements with neighboring Austria and a reinforcement of the EU's external borders.

But she also said it should not be shy about turning people back and creating "border protection installations" - and that border guards should, if necessary, shoot at migrants trying to enter illegally.

No police officer wanted to shoot at a migrant, Petry said, adding "I don't want that either but, ultimately, deterrence includes the use of armed force".

SOURCE






Political correctness is killing comedy, says famous British comedian

John Cleese says that political correctness and fear of offending could lead to a 1984-style society.

The Monty Python star said he has now been advised not to perform on university campuses as the idea of political correctness has expanded so far that any kind of criticism is now seen as 'cruel'.

Veteran comic Cleese said it is down to people who cannot control their emotions, so seek to control others, and worries that it could lead to a society like that in the iconic dystopian Orwell Novel.

He says: 'If you start to think "ooh, we mustn’t criticise or offend them", humour is gone, with humour goes a sense of proportion, and then as far as I’m concerned we’re living in 1984.'

Cleese, whose jokes about Germans and Spanish waiter Manuel in Fawlty Towers could well be considered offensive today, said that 'all comedy is critical,' in a video for The Big Think.

He explained how British newspapers offend him everyday with 'laziness, nastiness and inaccuracy,' but that he doesn't expect someone to stop it happening, he simply speaks out about it.

Cleese goes on to say that people do not have the right to be 'protected from any kind of uncomfortable emotion' as he defends the right of expression for comedians worldwide.

He then quotes psychologist Robin Skynner, saying: 'If people can't control their own emotions then they need to start controlling other people’s behaviour,' as he continues the profound tirade.'

Cleese adds: 'When you're around people who are super-sensitive, you can't relax, be spontaneous as you have no idea what is going to upset them next.

'I’ve been warned recently not to go to university campuses because political correctness has been taken from being a good idea, from "lets not be mean particularly to people who are not able to look after themselves very well", to the point where any kind of criticism of any kind of individual or group can be labelled cruel.

'The whole point about comedy is that all comedy is critical.'

Cleese and the other comedians in Monty Python pushed the boundaries of comedy in the 60s and 70s, and movie Life of Brian - a spoof version of the story of Jesus - offended numerous groups.

However, Cleese vehemently defends the right to speak through comedy, and this is not the first time he has spoken out about political correctness.

In 2014, he argued that it is 'condescending' as it only allows jokes to be made about certain groups while implying others need to be protected.

Speaking to Bill Maher on HBO, the legendary comedian said he used to make jokes about the French and Australians - but if he mentioned Mexicans it was deemed unacceptable.

He also joked that you can make jokes about Muslims, but if you do, 'they kill you'.

SOURCE





From Slavery Reparations to Voter-ID Laws, UN Experts Slam U.S.

Far-Leftist rubbish.  Let them turn their energies to criticizing countries that have real human rights abuses -- such as Muslim countries

A trio of U.N. human rights experts ended a fact-finding visit to the United States Friday with a sharp critique of the conditions faced by African-Americans today, and decried the fact that “there has been no real commitment to recognition and reparations” for slavery.

Members of the so-called “U.N. working group of experts on people of African descent” drew a connection between controversial incidents of police shootings of African-Americans to lynching of past years.

“Contemporary police killings and the trauma it creates are reminiscent of the racial terror lynching of the past,” they said a lengthy statement, parts of which were read out at a press briefing in Washington, D.C.

“Impunity for state violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

In another present/past equation, the experts compared slavery to the incarceration of large numbers of blacks for drugs offenses.

“The devastating impact of the ‘war on drugs’ has led to mass incarceration and is compared to enslavement, due to exploitation and dehumanization of African Americans,” they declared.

The three – French law professor Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, Filipino human rights lawyer Ricardo Sunga and South African legal scholar Sabelo Gumedze – called for a greater emphasis in school curricula on the history of colonization and the transatlantic slave trade.

They also recommended that “monuments, memorials and markers” highlighting the slavery issue be erected, and for federal and state legislation “recognizing the experience of enslavement” to be passed.

Specifically, they called on Congress to pass “The Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.” The legislation, introduced a year ago by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), provides for the establishment of a commission to study the issue and recommend “appropriate remedies.”

The trio’s 20-day visit included time in Washington D.C., Baltimore, Md., Jackson, Miss., Chicago, Ill. And New York City. They met with government officials, lawmakers, civil society representatives, rights activists and families of people killed by police.

Their full report and recommendations will be presented in September to the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, but the lengthy preliminary statement provided a good indication of how critical that final report will be.

“The colonial history, the legacy of enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism, and racial inequality in the U.S. remains a serious challenge as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent,” it said.

“Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another, continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of African Americans today.

The U.N. experts did voice approval for some policies and initiatives, including the recent executive order aimed at reducing the use of solitary confinement in prisons. And they praised the Affordable Care Act, which they said “has allowed 2.3 million African-American adults to gain medical health insurance.”

But they were highly critical of voter-ID laws, charging that “increased identification requirements in several states served to discriminate [against] minorities such as African-Americans contrary to the spirit of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.”

(During the last presidential election year four years ago, the NAACP approached the HRC in Geneva to complain about what it called “racially-discriminatory election laws.” The HRC includes countries where free elections are unknown, including current members China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.)

The three experts also criticized “stand your ground” laws, alleged racial bias in the criminal justice system and, in general, “systemic” racial discrimination which they said had the effect of denying development to the poorest black communities

“The persistent gap in almost all the human development indicators, such as life expectancy, income and wealth, level of education, housing, employment and labor, and even food security, among African-Americans and the rest of the U.S. population, reflects the level of structural discrimination that creates de facto barriers for people of African descent to fully exercise their human rights,” said part of the report, read out at the briefing by Mendes-France.

The “U.N. working group of experts on people of African descent” was established by the HRC’s now-defunct predecessor, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, following the World Conference against Racism held in Durban, South Africa in 2001.

The Bush administration withdrew from the Durban conference, amid controversy over demands for reparations for slavery and attempts to brand Israel as a racist state.

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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Tuesday, February 02, 2016


English history as a class war

By British libertarian history enthusiast Sean Gabb.  He says that Englishmen had more liberties when England was ruled by aristocrats than they now have under rule by the bureaucratic class

To understand the rubbish heap that England has become, it is useful to look at the circumstances that prompted the emergence of the modern State in Europe.

Around the end of the thirteenth century, the world entered one of its cooling phases. In a world of limited technology, this lowered the Malthusian ceiling – by which I mean the limit to which population was always tending, and beyond which it could not for any long time rise. Populations that could just about feed themselves during the warm period were now too large.

In the middle of the fourteenth century, this pressure was suddenly relieved by the Black Death, which seems to have killed about a third of the English population, and probably about a third of the human race as a whole. The result was a collapse of population somewhat below the Malthusian ceiling. In turn, this led – in England and Western Europe, at least – to an age of plenty for ordinary people.

However, continued cooling and a recovery of population led, by the beginning of the sixteenth century, to renewed contact with the Malthusian ceiling. So far as we can tell from the English statistics – which are the most complete and generally accurate – ordinary living standards fell rapidly throughout that century. With mild variations, they continued to fall until the last third of the eighteenth century. While the ceiling tended to rise during this period, the corresponding tendency to higher average living standards was offset by rising population. Living standards began to recover strongly only after the middle of the nineteenth century, when renewed warming, joined by the Industrial Revolution, lifted the ceiling out of sight. Even so, living standards in England did not recover their fifteenth century levels till about the 1880s. It was later elsewhere in Western Europe.

I think these natural forces go far to explaining the sudden emergence of religious mania and political unrest in Europe at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The Reformation and Wars of Religion can be explained partly in terms of an unfolding intellectual change. Ideas are an autonomous force. At the same time, the force of the explosion we date from 1517 has its origin in perturbations of the Sun, or whatever other natural cause drives changes in the climate.

One of the responses of the governing classes to the spreading wave of instability was to centralise and greatly to strengthen power. Most notably in France, but in Western Europe generally, kings were exalted far above their mediaeval status. Because they were unreliable members of the new order, nobilities were brought under control, and power was shared with humble officials, who might collectively grow powerful, but who individually could be made or broken as kings found convenient. The various divine right theories of this age were the legitimising ideology of the new order.

In France, the King withdrew to Versailles. The leading nobles were required to live with him, thereby breaking their connection with the land from which they were allowed to continue drawing their wealth. Much government was given to a class of office holders, who multiplied their functions and arrested much tendency to economic improvement in ways that I do not need to describe.

I turn now to England. In some degree, there was a growth of absolutism here during the sixteenth century. The Tudor Kings ended the civil wars, and made themselves supreme and unchallenged. Because England was an island with only one land border – and Scotland was easily managed – there was no need for a standing army; and standing armies, and the consequent arms race between states with land borders, were a secondary cause of the growth of absolutism. Even so, the Tudor Monarchy ruled England through a strong administration centred on London.

This growth was arrested and reversed in 1641, by the abolition of nearly every body of state unknown to the Common Law. The Privy Council remained, but its subordinate institutions – Star Chamber, for example, and the Council of the North – were swept away. The immediate result was civil war, followed by a republic run by religious maniacs. But this soon collapsed, and the Monarchy was restored in 1660.

However, the Restoration was of the Monarchy in name only. It is best seen as an aristocratic coup. The Restoration Parliament finished the work of 1641, by abolishing the feudal tenures, by which the Monarchy had kept control over the nobility. The landed aristocracy gained something like absolute title over their estates, untouchable by the King. The network of rights and obligations that tied them to those who worked the land was simplified to a relationship of landlord and tenant.

From the 1660s, we can see the emergence of an aristocratic ruling class checked only at the margins by the Crown. Before then, Members of Parliament were often humble men from their localities, who needed to look to their localities for expenses and even salaries. Very soon, the Commons was flooded with the younger sons of peers and aristocratic nominees. Andrew Marvell was one of the last Members of Parliament who needed to draw a salary. The commons became an aristocratic club. This process was hastened by the decay of many boroughs and the growth of the more or less unrepresentative system that was ended only after 1832.

There was one attempt at reaction by the Crown. Charles II and James II presided over the growth of a new official class. Samuel Pepys is the most famous representative of this class. But there is also Leolyn Jenkins, the son of a Welsh farm labourer, who was educated in the Roman Law – not the Common Law – and who led the parliamentary resistance to the Exclusion Bills by which the aristocracy in effect tried to seize control over who could be King of England.

But James II overplayed his hand, and was deposed and exiled in 1688. Thereafter, the aristocracy did control appointment to the Crown, and was able to monopolise every institution of state – allowing those that failed to serve its interest to atrophy.

During the eighteenth century, the internal administration in England became largely a matter of obedience to the Common Law. History was written backwards, so that it became a narrative of struggle to maintain or to restore a set of ancient liberties that were usually over-stressed, or even mythical. I suspect that any educated man brought forward from 1500 to 1750 would have failed to recognise his own England in the standard histories. The tension between competing institutions and legal systems that shaped his life had been reduced to a set of struggles over a Common Law that was only one element in what he considered the legitimate order of things.

I repeat that ideas are an autonomous force. The whiggish ideologies that dominated the century were strongly believed by the ruling class, and were beneficial to the people as a whole. Opposition to Walpole’s excise, and the Theatres Bill cannot be simply explained as the play of sectional interests, or the work of politicians hungry for office. The Third Duke of Sunderland, Lords Hervey and Chesterfield, the Rockingham Whigs – these were men of strong liberal opinions. No ideology becomes hegemonic unless it is also believed. There was an almost paranoid suspicion of government within the ruling class, and a corresponding exaltation of the liberties of the people. But English liberty was also a collateral benefit of the aristocratic coups of 1660 and 1688. Self-help and a high degree of personal freedom were allowed to flourish ultimately because the enlightened self-interest of those who ruled England maintained a strong bias against any growth of an administrative state – the sort of state that would be able to challenge aristocratic dominance. People were left alone – often in vicious pursuits – because any regulation would have endangered the settlements of 1660-88.

Our understanding of English history in the nineteenth century is shaped by the beliefs of the contending parties in that century. The liberals and early socialists demanded an enlarged franchise and administrative reform, because they claimed this would give ordinary people a controlling voice in government. The conservatives claimed that extending the franchise would lead to the election of demagogues and levellers by a stupid electorate.

This does not explain what happened. Liberal democracy was a legitimising ideology for the establishment of a new ruling class – a ruling class of officials and associated commercial interests that drew power and status from an enlarged state. The British State was not enlarged for the welfare of ordinary people. The alleged welfare of ordinary people was merely an excuse for the enlargement of the British State. The real beneficiaries were the sort of people who thought highly of Sidney and Beatrice Webb.

If this analysis is correct, men like John Stuart Mill and even Richard Cobden were at best useful idiots for the bad side in a struggle over which group of special interests should rule England. The real heroes for libertarians were men like Lord Eldon and Colonel Sibthorp, who resisted all change, or men like Benjamin Disraeli and Lord Salisbury, who, after the battle for “reform” was lost, found ways to moderate and, in the short term, to neutralise the movement of power from one group to another. Or the greatest hero of all was Lord Elcho, who kept the Liberty and Property League going until he was nearly a hundred, and who fought a bitter rearguard action for an aristocratic ascendency that was intimately connected with the rights to life, liberty and property of ordinary people.

This is not to romanticise the aristocratic ascendency. Eighteenth century England was a brutal place filled with injustice – the game laws, the press gang, a chaotic civil and criminal law, pervasive corruption. All the same, utopia has never been on offer. In passing, I will address myself to left-libertarians like Kevin Carson and Keith Preston. Their critique of the corporate elites and the plutocracy that are hurrying us into tyranny is fundamentally correct. But they are wrong to denounce the aristocratic ascendency that preceded the system under which we now live. It would have been nice for England to emerge into the modern world as a land of masterless men – of yeomen farmers and independent craftsmen and tradesmen. But this was never on offer. By the time the eighteenth century radicals found their voice, the only alternatives on offer were aristocratic ascendency and middle class bureaucracy. Old Lord Fartleigh had his faults. He hated the Papists, and thought nothing of hanging poachers. But he would never have thought it his business to tell us how to put our rubbish out, or whether we could smoke in the local pub.

Let it not be forgotten that the demolition of aristocratic rule was largely completed by the Liberal Government elected in 1906. This was the Government that also got us into the Great War, and kept us in it to the bitter end. The kind of people who formed it had already given us most of the moral regulation that we think of as Victorian – regulation that was always cried up as “progressive,” and that was usually resisted in the Lords. Since then, these people have taken up one legitimising ideology after another – national efficiency, the welfare of the working classes, multiculturalism, environmentalism, supranational government. The common thread in all these ideologies has been their usefulness as a figleaf behind which ordinary people could be taxed and regulated and conscripted, and generally made to dance as their rulers desired. Perhaps the main reason why Classical Marxism never became important in England was that, just when it was very big in the world at large, Keynesian demand management emerged as a more suitable legitimising ideology for the ruling class we now had.

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British PM agitating for more equality

Stealing the thunder of the Labour party

Elite universities defended their record on equality and said poor schooling was partly to blame for a lack of black students after David Cameron vowed new laws to 'shame' them into admitting more ethnic minorities.

The Prime Minister warned educational institutions, the police, the military and the courts they were all the focus of a new effort to tackle social inequality, suggesting it might be fuelled by 'ingrained, institutional and insidious' racism.

Labour MP David Lammy has also been recruited by Number 10 to carry out a major review into discrimination in the criminal justice system, including why black offenders are more likely to be jailed for the same offences as their white criminal counterpart.

Mr Cameron said the absence of any black generals, the fact that just 4% of FTSE 100 chief executives were from ethnic minorities and that young black men were more likely to be in prison than at a top university ' should shame our country and jolt us to action'.

'I don't care whether it's overt, unconscious or institutional - we've got to stamp it out,' he wrote in The Sunday Times, warning it would otherwise only 'feed those who preach a message of grievance and victimhood'.

Universities have been summoned to a meeting with Business Secretary Sajid Javid to discuss the plan to force them to publish detailed breakdowns of application success rates by race as well as course, gender and socio-economic background.

He said it was 'striking' that the 2,500-strong 2014 intake at his own university - Oxford - included only 27 black students and suggested it was 'not doing enough to attract talent from across our country'.

But Oxford said it did 'not see the need' for such legislation and insisted the effects of social inequality were 'already pronounced before children begin formal schooling' and could not be addressed by higher education alone.

'Any serious solution to the problem of unequal educational progression must take into account the unequal distribution of high attainment across schools, socio-economic groups, even geography,' a spokesman said.

He said 367 undergraduates from ethnic minority backgrounds were accepted in 2015, 15% more than in 2010 - 64 of those being black students, up from 39 five years ago.

'We are constantly working to update what information we provide and although we do not see the need for further legislation, we would welcome discussions on what more information we could publish,' the spokesman said.

Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group of elite universities, said universities invested a 'huge amount of time, effort and resources' into broadening the student mix but needed more help from others.

'There are still far too many children from disadvantaged backgrounds underachieving at school and receiving poor advice and guidance.

'It will take time, commitment, and sustained action from a range of agencies to raise pupils' aspirations, increase attainment and improve the advice and guidance offered.'

Sir Anthony Seldon, University of Buckingham vice-chancellor, welcomed the push by Mr Cameron, one of several prime ministers of whom the historian has written biographies.

'It is deeply wrong that black and other ethnic minority students are so poorly represented in our universities, notably those like Oxford, which should be leading the way,' he said.

Mr Lammy, a qualified barrister, has been tasked with finding solutions to what the PM called a 'disgraceful' gulf in sentencing treatment.

He is due to produce recommendations on how to tackle discrimination at all stages - from arrest, through courts and prisons to rehabilitation - by the spring of 2017.

Official figures show 61% of black and ethnic minority offenders in England and Wales receive custodial sentences, compared with 56% of their white counterparts.

They also make up a disproportionate amount of Crown Court defendants (24%).

Mr Lammy told the Murnaghan programme on Sky News that he had discussed the appointment with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who he said had 'taken up these issues within the criminal justice system for many, many years'.  'There are occasions when the issue is beyond party politics. This is absolutely one of them,' he said.

Shadow justice secretary Lord Falconer welcomed the review but said ministers must ensure it prompted 'real change'.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: 'You can't fix social mobility without fixing the economy, money and jobs.

And this means universities too - places where we can develop the skills of the future for a country which desperately needs the very best quality vocational education.

'We need to extend the range of opportunities for post-school training that don't involve debt. Apprenticeships are crucial.'

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Should anything be ‘beyond a joke’?

The new comedy code of intolerant conformism is no laughing matter

Comedy, it seems, is no laughing matter these days, caught up in one controversy after another over the acceptable limits of humour.

Last week it was the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that was in the firing line again, accused of racism by everybody from the Queen of Jordan to radical US cartoonists for publishing jokes involving dead refugees. This week another serial offender, British comedian Jimmy Carr, is back in the headlines after being found guilty by the UK’s broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom, of causing ‘considerable offence’ after he cracked a joke about dwarves on BBC TV last November.

Comedy is suffering under a stifling atmosphere of conformism and intolerance. It appears that any joke judged to have crossed a line must be not just ignored, but condemned, censured and, if possible, censored. That, in turn, has given rise to a pathetic backlash of comedians and provocateurs trying to be offensive for the sake of it. The rest of us risk being left with the worst of both unfunny worlds.

Good jokes are generally in bad taste. They tend to mock the respectable rules and morals of society. By its nature comedy is always controversial, pushing as it must at the limits of what passes for taste and decency in any era. It is hard to think of a good joke that would not offend somebody. That is why there have long been attempts to control what is deemed ‘acceptable’ humour and to censor what is not. And why many writers and comedians have tried to subvert the rules.

However, as with other issues in the free-speech wars, the terrain has shifted. Once the complaints were about blasphemous and indecent comedy, and the censors were conservative politicians, policemen and priests. Now the protests are more often against comedians accused of breaking the new taboos – racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and the other usual suspects. And the demands to shut them down tend to be led not by old-fashioned prudes but by radical online activists, the liberal media and even other comedians. Backed up in the UK by broadcast regulators, politicians and the newly PC police.

We have come a long way since the upsurge of modern radical comedy in the 1960s, when the Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce could be arrested in the US and barred from Britain for using the word ‘cocksucker’ on stage. In 1964 in New York, Bruce was found guilty of performing a routine that was ‘obscene, indecent, immoral and impure’, in which ‘words such as “ass”, “balls”, “cocksucker”, “cunt”, “fuck”, “motherfucker”, “piss”, “screw”, “shit” and “tits” were used about one hundred times in utter obscenity’.

Three New York judges sentenced him, in what now sounds like a bad Dickensian joke, to four months in the workhouse. Bruce was released on bail pending appeals, but died before the legal process was complete. He was posthumously pardoned in 2003 by Republican New York governor George Pataki. ‘Freedom of speech is one of the greatest American liberties’, Pataki said, ‘and I hope this pardon serves as a reminder of the precious freedoms we are fighting to preserve’.

These days Lenny Bruce is revered as a pioneering comedy hero. Yet if the young Lenny were magically to appear on the New York stage today, what reception might he get?

His routine about a psychopathic rapist meeting up with a nymphomaniac after they each escape from their respective institutions, or his suggestion that he enjoyed sex with a chicken, or description of his audience as ‘seven niggers, six spics, five micks, four kykes, three guineas and one wop’, might not get him arrested for obscenity in the US or barred from entering Britain. But it surely would see him accused of racism and sexism and possibly the abuse of animals and the mentally ill by the outraged illiberal-liberal lobby, who would try to have him banned from campuses.

Nor would Bruce’s insistence that he used the n-word and other offensive epithets ‘just to make a point’, that ‘it’s the suppression of the word that gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness’, wash with the new comedy censors, who claim the right to decide what jokes others should be allowed to tell or to laugh at, what points they should be permitted to make.

The ‘alternative’ comedy scene of the 1980s in the UK and the US began partly as a punkish reaction against the older school of what was seen as one-note racist, sexist and homophobic humour. These alternative comedians soon became the new establishment, creating an alternative comedic conformism of their own. This fresh generation of comedians, including feminist stars, broke many old taboos about sex, sexuality or race. They were also, however, helping to create new taboos.

Today the shrillest voices condemning Charlie Hebdo or Jimmy Carr are not simply objecting to a comedian’s shtick or saying that it’s not funny – which anybody has the right to do. They are denying the offensive performer’s right to say it. This sort of censoriousness can only have severe consequences both for comedy and wider issues of free speech.

Those seeking to draw a new line between acceptable and offensive comedy will often try to distinguish between noble jokes and satire which ‘punches up’, by lampooning the rich and powerful, and that which is guilty of ‘punching down’, by poking fun at the disadvantaged and powerless. This might sound a worthy argument. At root, however, it is just a comedic version of the ‘I believe in free speech, but…’ line, which seeks to preserve freedom of expression for opinions and gags which are to your own personal taste. In comedy, as in politics, if we are serious about free speech it has to be defended for all as an indivisible liberty.

Of course, nobody has to approve of offensive humour, and anybody is free to heckle or hit back in kind. We have witnessed the rise of a new wave of comedians or deliberate provocateurs whose aim is to appear as offensive as possible. This is best understood as the flipside of the campaign to sanitise humour, an attempted backlash against those stultifying trends. It is regrettable that the only way some seem able to take a stand for free speech these days is by becoming an offence-seeking caricature of themselves. But they are only a side-effect of the bigger problem.

Jimmy Carr is sometimes guilty of being offensive for the sake of it. Yet the bit that got him into trouble with Ofcom this time was arguably slightly more thoughtful than that. Carr offended the Ofcom watchdogs, and attracted all of 11 complaints from viewers, by telling the BBC’s anodyne 7pm magazine programme The One Show what he explained was his ‘shortest joke possible: Dwarf shortage’. He then added: ‘If you’re a dwarf, and you’re offended by that: Grow up!’

Just before delivering that line, however, Carr told the presenters that he had been thinking about ‘my favourite all-time joke which might work on this show’. Then he told a gag about ‘a Welsh friend of mine. I asked him how many partners he had in his life. And he started to count and he fell asleep.’ Amid laughter in the studio, Carr immediately turned to the camera, asking ‘That’s just about all right, isn’t it?’. This sounded like a joke about the new taboos in comedy as much as it was about Welsh sheep-shaggers or dwarves. It was certainly inviting the offended responses, but also asking a question about how far he could go today. Carr got his humourless You Can’t Say That answer from Ofcom this week, and indeed from the BBC, which said it had tightened the rules for One Show guests in response to his offence.

There is a question that often appears to have been forgotten in all this: is it funny? The attempt to impose codes of conduct on comedy reflects the idea that you can somehow apply a political and moral judgement to humour. That you can, in short, stop yourself laughing at something offensive or controversial. Good luck with that, and with preventing yourself sneezing at the same time.

The history of comedy surely shows that, as with old-time British comedians such as Bernard Manning (motto: ‘They can’t stop us laughing!’), it is perfectly possible to talk like a bigot and yet be hilarious. That’s life. Comedy is a messy business, and people can laugh at the most outrageous things. To attempt to impose order on it, by removing what is not to the taste of the moment, is to risk killing it.

We are faced with a situation where what is considered acceptable in comedy could be every bit as one-note and conformist as in the bad old days, except that it now has to comply with different codes and taboos. Of course, nobody is against free speech for comedians. Until, that is, they decide somebody has gone too far in offending their own views and hurting their feelings.

It might be hard to get excited about defending free speech for those you consider to be sexist, disablist, Islamophobic or anti-Semitic comedians. There are few heroes in the battle for comedy’s soul. Yet it remains as important to defend freedom of speech and thought here as in any other corner of Western culture.

The most bitter free-speech battles these days can often be fought in the muddy lowlands of football or comedy, far from the cultural high ground. And the wish to dictate not just what jokes a comedian should tell, but also what we should laugh at, is the clearest conceivable attempt at thought control. What could be more intrusive than the attempt to police something as reflexive as a snort of laughter?

The tortured efforts to patrol what is and is not acceptably funny have created a fraught situation where comedy is in danger of becoming a more staid and safe affair, certainly in colleges and on TV, interrupted only by silly look-at-me acts where the main aim appears to be controversy rather than comedy.

The pulling of comedy’s teeth and the treatment of laughter as a serious case for censorship should be no laughing matter. Nothing ought to be beyond a joke. If comedians are not allowed to upset and offend, what chance have the rest of us got?

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The most surprising things about Australia, according to an Indian international student

It will be a bitter pill for Leftists, but this guy finds Australia not racist at all.  From reports in the Indian press, which were mainly recycled Australian journalism, he had expected a lot of racism.  And it is no mystery why. A couple of years ago there were a lot of reports of Indians in Australia being attacked.  What the reports covered up was that almost all of the attacks were by Africans.  Australians as a whole were disgraced  in the name of political correctness.  For their own safety, Indians should simply have been told to avoid Africans

Hailing from Chennai in southern India, he has studied in India, Canada for three years and has been studying in Australia for almost a year.

Here’s what has surprised him most about Australia since he moved here.

Australians aren’t racist, they’re friendly.

Reports of racism and assaults on Indian students have made their way back to India, Shiva said when his family and friends found out he was coming to Australia they warned him about the violence.

However, Shiva said his experience has been the exact opposite: "People are very friendly".

"I was given lots of advice from India that you are going to Australia just make sure that you’re not being attacked or be a victim of racism," he said.  "I don’t find any of that type of nonsense here, people are really friendly."

Shiva said he hasn’t been a victim of racism and it really depends on the company you keep.  "It depends on the friends that you make and the places you visit," he said.

Australian girls are really friendly.

"Australian girls are really, really fun, they crack lots of jokes… even when you’re meeting for the first time," he said.

"In India, there’s a barrier when you’re talking from a girl. If you’re hailing from a very orthodox family you are not supposed to talk to a girl."

But Shiva said that is starting to change as India becomes increasingly westernised.

"People are coming out of those barriers," he said.

"For me while I was studying at college in India I faced that barrier. I was unable to talk to a girl so freely as I am talking to you and other people in Canada and Australia."

Working part-time in Australia pays good money.

While Shiva’s current study timetable means he cannot work at the moment, he has had a couple of part time jobs and was surprised how good the pay was.

"I’ve tried a lot of jobs, I’ve been a personal assistant to a top executive," he said.

"They pay me really good money like $28 to $32 per hour.

"I was really surprised because when I compared the market with the US and Canada I think Australia has better compensation and it’s really understandable because living in Australia is surging everyday, it’s really tough to keep up with the cost of living in Australia.

The beaches are extraordinary.

Taking a trip to an Australian beach was one of Shiva’s most memorable experiences.

"I’ve been to the Northern Beaches [of Sydney] and they’re really, really nice," he said.

"They’re really beautiful, I was totally crying when I was standing inside the lake walking literally to the middle of the lake and it’s not deep.

"The beaches are clean, compared to India where the beaches are not clean."

It’s surprisingly different to Canada.

Shiva thought Australia would be similar to Canada, when he arrived he was surprised it was very different.

"It’s more international, Canada is more like white people, there’s more Americans and Canadians but here in Australia the first thing I noticed is it’s very diverse in culture. You have loads of Chinese people, you have loads of Indians, lots of German people, French people, and everyone else, it’s all over the place," he said.

"In India you have different cultures but from the same country. Australia has more international cultures."

Being vegetarian means something else.

Shiva describes himself as a "pure vegetarian", what he means is according to Indian standards he’s a vegetarian but in Australia his eating habits are actually vegan.

He was also surprised by how much bread Australians eat and how breakfast is very different in Australia, "people eat a traditional breakfast whereas Indians we prefer a warm Indian breakfast. It took some time for me to get used to that".

All the differences and Australia’s high cost of living means Shiva now cooks for himself a lot more.

"I’m an excellent cook, he said. "I don’t need to find a girl."

Everyone shortens everything.

Shiva’s full name is Shivaramakrishnan Ramamoorthy, but he says it’s easier to shorten his name to Shiva in Australia.

"People would raise their eyebrows and have no idea what I was talking about but that’s my name!" he said.

"I kept my preferred name as Shiva, even on Facebook, so people don’t get afraid of my name.

"But they still shorten my name…[Australians] they shorten everything, they shorten it further. I usually say to people ‘Hi my name is Shiva but you can call me SRK or Shiv’."

It’s far less crowded than home.

Shiva estimates the population of his home town in India is roughly the same population as Sydney.

He’s not far off either but the big difference is the population of Sydney is spread out over an area which is about 67 times larger than Chennai.

"In India everything is crowded, you can’t even find a space to park your car or your to wheeler, your bike."

Aussies are afraid of spiders and cockroaches.

Back in India Shiva said he "used to play with them". "People are so afraid of spiders [in Australia]. I’ve even heard about people dying from spiders, if I say that to my parents they will laugh at me."

"I’ve seen people going crazy… it’s just a cockroach, it just goes by," he said.

There’s less respect for elders.

Australian Shiva is very different to Indian Shiva, he said when he returns home it takes four or five days to settle back into the customs and expectations of his home country.

"When I’m in Sydney it’s a completely different Shiva that you will see," he said.

"In Chennai you need to be more respectable to your parents, over here people really don’t care who the hell you are.

"If I say ‘mum I like this girl I want to marry her’ she will probably say ‘I don’t like that girl’… the culture is more parent dominating rather than giving freedom to the children.

"Over here I find that completely different it’s up to the choices of people."

It’s easier to get a visa in Australia compared to Canada or the US.

Shiva said he’s found it much easier to get a student visa in Australia. He began trying to come to Australia after his visa application was rejected in Canada in the US.

Studying in Australia is relaxing.

Shiva said he’s "more relaxed studying in Australia" compared to India, where he found the courses more intensive.

"Over here [in Australia] they say intensive courses but for me it’s like a piece of cake," he said.

Professors are approachable.

"The professors here are much more friendly," Shiva said. "In India if I even had to speak to a lecturer or a principal it takes lots of respect and effort to meet them."

Shiva said if he did manage to meet his lecturers in India they would dismiss him saying "what’s going on you’re a student just focus on your studies" whereas in Australia he said "they’re welcoming that approach from students, they’re really encouraging students to perform well, they’re really supportive here".

He said it comes back to the culture of having to "respect your elders".

The changes in political leaders are really confusing

Shiva said he doesn’t like politics in Australia and has trouble understanding how it all works.  "Yesterday it was Julia Gillard and tomorrow morning it was Tony Abbott, I don’t know what the hell was going on," he said.

Shiva’s next adventure is to Norway in December.

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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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