It’s Nothing to Do With Equality

The Supreme Court of the United States is currently hearing oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry in which the issue presented is “Whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the· union of a man and a woman.”

Let’s get beyond whether the Supremes will extend the 14th even further beyond all intent, stretching until it has got to finally snap. The Nine – and their various incarnations over the last 50 years -have  made the 14th into whatever they have want to fashion it. And one may argue that they can do so. The 14th Amendment is a creation of the people of the United States and those who are the lawful representatives of the United States, whether in matters legislative, executive or judicial, will do what they may.

What all the “fair-minded people” in front of the Supreme Court building and all of their friends in the blogosphere have missed is that whilst the 14th Amendment is the creation of the people, marriage isn’t it. Marriage isn’t the creation of any people, “fair-minded” or not.

I can understand why there might be some confusion by those who think that either marriage laws or individual marriage licenses create marriage. From at least  the time of Moses, there has been civil regulation of marriage. The Biblical concern was degrees of consanguinity. In more recent times, there have been age regulations and occasionally health precautions. All of these are concerned with the core purpose of marriage: procreation.

Likewise the purpose of a marriage license is to prevent those who should not procreate from doing so and to register the initiation of the marriage, should such information be needed later in the case of a dissolution. That there are those who will procreate unlicensed does not invalidate the purpose. After all, the law formerly addressed adultery and fornication to curb that factor.

But we need to get this clear: marriage was created by God and is merely regulated by the State. That marriage was created by God to be between a man and a woman is patently clear from Scripture. It’s very institution is linked to the creation of woman as distinct from man. Scripture never suggests that it could be otherwise. All of human history until this most recent blink of an eye has been a universal witness to this. This is, of course, not surprising, as this is the only means of procreation.

And what of the constant cry that we shouldn’t stand in the way of two people loving each other? Love only enters into the matter within the bounds of the institution itself. There are many loves in the world that are not the love of marriage. Each of those must respect the bounds of the type of relationship in which the love grows.

Our affections for other people do not define us. Our desires do not define us. Love itself is not subject to our definition. It is an attribute of God and a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

The legislatures of the several States have the authority to create a type of contractual relationship which persons of the same sex can enter into that carries with it the same legislated advantages that marriage has in the eyes of the law. These legislatures can pass laws regarding real property ownership, taxation, and intestacy.  If the 14th Amendment were going to apply, it would be that these new contractual relationships would be allowed to heterosexual fornicators as well.

So once again, let us be clear. Marriage equality is not about marriage equality. All marriages are equally marriages. However, to declare something a marriage outside of the inherent definition of marriage in creation is to directly defy the Creator. We can throw ourselves on the floor and have a tantrum and say, “But it’s not fair!” all we want. “Fair”, along with “righteous,” “just,” and “true,” are not ours to decide or define.

If the Supreme Court of the United States decides that the State of California is prohibited from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman on the basis of the 14th Amendment, it will really be saying states must recognize the marriage of any two people – though logically the next step must be to overturn polygamy laws – but I’ll leave that for now. This is not really about the 14th Amendment or equality before the law. It is about who or Who has the authority to define marriage.

Free At Last

The continuing saga of the Bulgarian nurses in Libya is finally at an end. Through a deal brokered by the EU with the help of Qatar, the nurses and their Palestinian doctor colleague have flown to Bulgaria. They were released under a 1984 prisoner exchange agreement

The Bulgarian president and prime minister both met the plane as it landed. The former hostages (let’s call it like it is) were travelling with the wife of the French President and the European Union foreign affairs commissioner. They were immediately officially pardoned by the president, who has even gone one step further and is putting them up at the presidential residence. This includes the doctor, who was granted Bulgarian citizenship last month.

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Libya agreed to release them after the EU agreed to take care of all of Libya’s HIV children in European hospitals for the rest of their lives. The Libyans were also offered normalised relations with the EU. I’d say they managed to pull of a good deal. Find some Christians who have come to your country to help people, arrest them on ludicrous charges, see that they get sentenced to death, and it is amazing how much leverage you can have.

While we rejoice in their freedom, let us not forget that there are other Christians imprisoned, killed, and otherwise persecuted for their faith by Islamic (and other anti-Christian) regimes around the world.

Differentiating Martyrdom

As if it weren’t self-evident by now, the Taleban are once again showing why they must be eradicated and extinguished from the face of the earth. They have kidnapped 23 Korean Christians (including 18 women) and will murder them unless all South Koreans leave Afghanistan.

If you think this is a ploy to get a Coalition country to remove its troops, you’d be wrong. South Korea has no troops in Afghanistan. There are 200 Koreans there, but they are engineers, doctors and medical staff.  They are trying to rebuild the country and keep its people alive. But then the Taleban have never been big on keeping people alive.

The Koreans have been specifically targeted because they are Christians. Even though they were on their way to work in a hospital in Kandahar, they are accused of evangelism, which carries a death sentence under the Taleban – though must be remembered things are not much better under the elected government of the country. Thus, I would not expect a lot of help from President Hamid Karzai in negotiating their release.

Their plight will not come as a surprise to them. Many of the Korean missionaries who go into the Muslim-controlled countries speak of a desire for martyrdom – exhibiting a ferver reminiscent of various Roman persecutions. But in an age where the desire for martyrdom is only ever seen in an Islamic context, the world cannot understand those who give their lives willingly without explosives strapped to themselves and who hope to see the face of the Saviour and not 72 virgins.

More From the Cretins in the Kremlin

It beginning to feel a bit like a James Bond film, but there’s no fiction involved. More and more evidence is emerging that the Kremlin has revived its policy of assassinating enemies wherever the can be found around the world.

As noted in The Times:

Twelve months ago the Duma passed a law allowing Russian security agents to pursue “terrorists” overseas and to kill them if they were deemed a threat. The clear aim was to assassinate Chechen fighters who had sought refuge in neighbouring countries. But the law also allowed the FSB to resume a practice that had been officially halted since the disbandment of an organisation (well known to James Bond readers) called Smersh, an acronym for Death to Spies, that was set up by the USSR to hunt down and destroy its enemies around the world.

Putin opponent Boris Berezovsky said that there had been an attempt to assassinate him and Scotland Yard acknowledged it was true, but that they had sent the assassin back to Russia a couple of days after they arrested him. You have to wonder what was going on there, but the Yard wouldn’t divulge anything else.

Russia has also been flexing its atrophied military muscle. Two bombers were headed into British airspace yesterday from their base in on the Kola Peninsula. RAF jets were scrambled to intercept them and Tu95s turned back before reaching British airspace. The RAF characterised it as a rare incident.

The Kremlin seems to think they are on the moral high ground become the British will not allow for the extradition Putin political opponents wanted for “corruption” in Moscow, but the British Government knows that there is no such thing as a fair trial in Russia and once convicted, opponents of the State will be subjected the worst violation of human rights in Siberian labour camps.

We won’t be bullied by the Russian bear. We cannot tolerate the revival of the their tactics. The Russians will just have to keep sending over hit men. The police and MI5 will just have to catch them and bring them to British justice.  At the same time, Russia needs to be diplomatically isolated – something it really can’t afford.

That’s Entertainment

I don’t live anywhere near London, but I’ve found a political race I can really enjoy. Boris Johnson is running for mayor of the captial city.

London has only had a mayor since 2000 (not to be confused with the Lord Mayor of the City of London, a ceremonial office held by one of the aldermen of the Square Mile), a position held since that time by Ken Livingstone. Red Ken, as he is affectionately known due to his extremely leftist views, is still the mayor despite his promise to only serve one term. Of course that was after he went back on his promise that he would not run if he wasn’t chosen as the official Labour candidate.

Ken has a reputation for shooting off his mouth and getting himself into hot water. He compared a Jewish reporter working for the Evening Standard to a concentration camp guard and then said the paper was “a load of scumbags and reactionary bigots.” When the US Embassy refused to pay the London Congestion Charge because it is a tax and not a charge for a service, he called the US Ambassador a “chiselling little crook.” He invited Yusuf al-Qaradawi to London to speak on schoolgirls wearing the hijab, despite al-Qaradawi’s support for suicide bombers in Palestine.  The list goes on and on, really.

Boris has the larger-than-life personality that can take on Ken. He’s a Tory front-bench spokesman, former magazine editor, columnist for the Daily Telegraph, popular TV personality, and extremely prone to gaffes.  As the Wikipedia article about him accurately describes, “Johnson has an image as a self deprecating, straw-haired eccentric, disorganised and scatty (he once explained the lateness of his work by claiming that, “Dark forces dragged me away from the keyboard, swirling forces of irresistible intensity and power”).”

He’s had two high-profile extra-marital affairs (in the aftermath of the first one, he was locked out of his house in front of reporters), called the Papua New Guineans cannibals, said Liverpudlians have a “deeply unattractive psyche”, and said Portsmouth is “one of the most depressed towns in Southern England, a place that is arguably too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs”.  Despite all this and more, he is a very popular character. It is just very difficult not to like Boris.

Yes, if there is anyone who can go toe to toe with Ken Livingstone, it is Boris Johnson. It will be fun to watch.

Shameful

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I didn’t see what all the excitement was over the Hindu prayers in the Senate. Apparently members of Operation Save America did.

In a shameful, God-dishonouring way, Ante Pavkovic, Kathy Pavkovic, and Kristen Sugar disrupted the proceedings of the Senate just to demonstrate for anyone who might have missed it that baptism is not an innoculation against stupidity. I rephrase what I said previously to ask where they were when Muslims and Jews have prayed in the Senate (or any other legislative body in the US).

And even being convinced in all their bone-headedness that their objections should not be lodged in a lawful manner, surely they could have quietly chained themselvs to the doors of the Senate or something. No, their goal was not to stop the prayer, but rather to make a spectacle of themselves.

Being involved in such a high profile incident just spreads the shame further.

Wigging Out

With all the constitutional changes and stripping of tradition brought in by Labour Governments since 1997, the latest developments should come as no surprise. The Lord Chief Justice announced today that in all but the criminal court, the wigs and gowns are to be abandoned. The change will also include the ceremonial full-bottomed wigs. Thus ends tradition dating back to the reign of Charles II.

This is more modernisation for the sake of it. There is no real need to turn lawyers into just more men in suits. It seems the wig would make it easier to say “M’lud” to the occupant of the bench.  The costume also creates an atmosphere reflecting the seriousness of the proceedings.

It seems almost pointless that one of the other changes announced is that solicitor-advocates (solicitors who have gained the right of audience in the higher courts) will be allowed to wear the traditional costume of the Bar.  Instead, barristers without their wigs, wing collars and bands will be indistinguishable from the solicitors instructing them in the civil courts.

The change will have a negative economic impact. There are several firms that specialise in making legal wigs. Job losses are expected.

Directionless Civic Prayer

There seems to be a bit of a kerfuffle about the Senate session tomorrow being opened with a prayer by a Hindu. This will apparently be the first time a Congressional day will begin with polytheistic supplications.

I don’t know what the big deal is. The Senate has had prayers by others who do not name the name of Christ. There have been a number of prayers by Jews and Muslims. There doesn’t seem to a national outcry when one of these is on the agenda.

No doubt this is because of the idea that there is something special about monotheism. This the proposition that as long as you are praying to “God”, someone is bound to hear you. I suppose if you praying to multiple gods, then there is a degree of uncertainty as to whether a specific deity is looking over the Senatorial proceedings.

The fact is that the business of the Senate is not going to be consciously guided allegiance to Jesus or Ganesh or Lakshmi or Devi. It’s all form over substance.  Were the Senate to invoke the name of Jesus and actually see it’s work as delegated by God with a responsibility to act according to His will, the official supplications offered on it’s behalf might be something worth getting right.

A* Results While Lacking Basic Skills

I have been saying it for a long time, even though many of my colleagues have denied it. Educational standards have declined to the point that even some of the best students lack basic literacy and numeracy.

The Qualification and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has been running research trials on new functional skills tests to be introduced in 2009 for English and 2010 for maths. These trials have shown that students predicted A* grades in their results next month cannot handle percentages and angles, or full stops (periods) and commas.

As noted in the Sunday Telegraph:

Ministers fear that if the new tests are included in revamped GCSEs, the proportion of pupils gaining good grades in the two subjects, currently about half, will plunge, exposing dire standards – and the genuine achievement level – among schoolchildren.

The newspaper also quote from a letter sent to the schools minister from the QCA chief executive:

Research undertaken during the second phase of the trial indicated that candidates with actual or predicted GCSEs at grade C or above did less well than might be expected in trial assessments for functional skill.

In other words, “Even though we write the National Curriculum and vet all of the national examinations, we were not prepared for just how illiterate and innumerate the brightest pupils have become.”

I know this is true from personal experience. I teach a subject which requires 14 to 16-year-olds to write essay answers. Getting past the problem that many of them have near-illegible handwriting (because that is a skill that has been abandoned for many years here), is it often nigh on impossible to read even after the words have been deciphered. Try reading an essay with only the occasional full stop, when there is no use of capitalisation to figure out where a new sentence might be beginning. Some students have heard of the comma, but appear blissfully unaware that the art of punctuation extends beyond these two marks. Admittedly. some are familiar with the one used for exclamation, because once they have discovered it, they can’t help but use it.

The problem extends beyond punctuation. You may recall I mentioned a few days ago that out of an entire class of middle-ability Year 10s, not one pupil knew what a prefix or a suffix was.

This is the group to whom many in the Government want to extend the right to vote when they reach the age of 16. I can only think their reasoning is that by dumbing down the education system, young voters will choose how to vote because they can read “Labour”, but “Conservative” will be too big a word with too many syllables.

Destroying the Past

When I saw it on the news tonight I couldn’t believe it.

Excavation in the Shire have revealed an archaeological find of significance that can only be compared with Stonehenge, similarly dating from the early Bronze Age. It is unique in Europe. According to the county archaeologist, “It is of international significance.”

You would think it is the next great tourist attraction. Surely it is the stuff of brown road signs and interpretive centres. If all the pseudo-druids go to the Henge for the solstice, surely they would visit the Rotherwas Ribbon at the equinox. Ching ching chingaling go the tills with tourist pounds.

Well, no. It’s being covered over. With a road. Yes, that’s right. An archaeological find of international significance is being tarmacked. They’ll take a few pictures first, but history cannot be allowed to stand in the way of progress.

Copycat Cameron

David Cameron has been completely outflanked by Gordon Brown.

The Prime Minister has revamped the Cabinet to reflect his approach to government.  He has followed this up by doing the unthinkable and handing power from himself to Parliament. This is exactly the opposite of what Tony Blair did. He is showing just how different he is.

Cameron has reshuffled his front bench to try to match the Government and at the same time reward loyalty and punish dissenting voices. Since he took over the Tory party, he has tried to “modernise” it and thus make it more appealing to the masses.

As a result he has appointed the first Muslim to an Opposition front bench. But once again this was reactive. It followed Brown appointing Shahid Malik as the first Muslim minister. The difference is that Brown appointed an actual MP to governmental post. Cameron had to give a peerage to an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate because Sayeeda Warsi was the first Asian woman selected to fight a parliamentary seat.

Cameron now has a 40% disapproval rating amongst Conservative activists. I guess they don’t want to be a mirror of the Labour Party.

Three Strikes and You’re Out

The day after two car bombs we found in London, both by providential observers, a blazing car has been driven at the main terminal building of Glasgow Airport.

It appears to me to be a car bomb gone “wrong”. The car was already on fire and one of the occupants was on fire, jumped from the car, but was stopped by members of the public until he was detained by the police.  The other was pulled from the car by police, even as he was trying to fight them off. Both were of South Asian ethnicity.
The car never had the chance to explode and as far as news reports indicate, no one was killed or injured.  So far this week, even when they’ve made an attack, terrorists have been unsuccessful.

The terrorists will have to realise this ain’t Bagdad. We won’t be cowed by their bullying.

Improving Access to Abortion

In light of the increasing medical evidence of how early the foetus shows signs of sentience  and the increasing number of abortions in this county, the British Medical Association voted yesterday to make abortions easier to obtain. Yes, that’s right.

Under the current law, two doctors have to sign off on the abortion.  the BMA wants to drop that requirement. It may have something to do with the fact that more and more doctors are refusing to do abortions. With more teens wanting to kill their babies and fewer doctors willing to serve as executioner, I suppose something has to give.

There was also a motion before the BMA annual conference to allow nurses and midwives to carry out abortions, but that was defeated on the grounds that they are not sufficiently trained to perform such a complex operation. This is just more evidence of the crisis.

There are 200,000 babies out there needing to be killed every year and no one seems to want to do the killing.  There has been some relief through the increased use of drug-induced abortion, but demand for surgical abortions is still outstripping supply. What is an immoral nation to do in such a situation?

“And that is that. The end.”

So ended Tony Blair’s political career. Those were the last words he said in public as Prime Minister, at the close of Question Time.

Thanks to the ingenuity of the technical wizard at school, I was able to see the end of PMQs and the Blair’s trip to Buckingham Palace during lunch time. With a TV possibly built by John Logie Baird himself and a spoon as an antenna stuck into the back of the VCR, he tuned in BBC2.

With all my excoriating of TB, I have to say that I still almost teared up as tributes were paid to him from other parties, especially from normally very dour Ian Paisley. There is something about the high moments in the drama of politics that is emotive.

I think Tony is going to a job for which he is well suited. All sides have praised him for his work in pulling together the agreements in Northern Ireland. Anyone who could bring Ian Paisley to the same table with Sinn Fein has to be commended for it. He may be able to make significant progress in the Middle East.

Too Conservative for the Conservatives? Join Labour

A former member of Iain Duncan Smith’s Shadow Cabinet, Quentin Davies defected today from the Conservative Party to Labour.

He told Tory leader David Cameron, “Under your leadership the Conservative Party appears to me to have ceased collectively to believe in anything, or to stand for anything. It has no bedrock. It exists on shifting sands. A sense of mission has been replaced by a PR agenda.” Sadly, I couldn’t agree with him more. Were I to become a citizen of the UK, until recently I would have never questioned that I would join the Tory Party. I don’t have an affinity for any other party, but the Conservatives have very little that is conservative about them.

Cameron would not publicly address Davies’ defection. He sent shadow industry spokesman Alan Duncan to make an immediate response and to appear tonight on Newsnight. Duncan insisted that Davies has defected because he doesn’t like the Tories green agenda and because he’s “social illiberal”. Yes, it’s true: the Conservative Party is no place for someone not swept up in the green thing and certainly no place for someone with traditional values.

Duncan said this plainly, “The Conservative Party has changed. Quentin Davies is old fashioned and doesn’t like it.” Duncan’s personal disaffection for Davies may have something to do with Davies’ opposition to gay marriage. Duncan is the first voluntarily open gay Tory MP.

A Shame He Can Only Hang Once

If anyone in the former Iraqi regime deserves to hang, it is certainly Ali Hassan al-Majid. If there is a reason the UN never found weapons of mass destruction, it is because Chemical Ali used them all up.

He is responsible for the deaths of 180,000 Kurds, just in 1988. The effects of the chemical weapons used continue to affect certain areas of Kurdistan. There are higher rates of birth defects and cancer where the use of the weapons was most intense.

Thousands of villages were razed and burned. Majid openly admitted during his trial that he ordered troops to execute all Kurds who ignored the orders to leave their villages.

When people suggest things were so much better under Saddam, they do it with very short memories.

Who Should Apologise?

I don’t want to give the impression that the silliness about Salman Rushdie is limited to Iran. Pakistan continues to insist that not only should the British Parliament strip the knighthood, but also apologise for hurting Muslim feelings.

I think a better approach would be for the British Government to withdraw all aid to Pakistan and for the outraged Pakistanis to return all of the filthy Christian and secularist UK money that has been provided to them. The first thing the Government can do is rescind the doubling of development aid over the next three years as announced last November. Why is this £480 million of my tax money being spent on a country that foments terrorism, encouraged by its government ministers? And that’s on top of the €60 million annually from the EU and the $3 billion (plus a $1 billion debt cancellation) from the US.

How about apologising for all the martyrdom of Christians in Pakistan. These are not like Pakistanis who have driven car bombs or strapped them to their bodies and thus become martyrs by taking their own lives and the lives of others. Maybe they don’t get Christian martyrdom since it doesn’t involve hurting others and a lot more than just their feelings.

What about those Christians in Charsadda, a town in North-West Frontier Province who were warned that if they did not convert to Islam by 17 May they would face “dire consequences and bomb explosions”? How about apologising for those hurt feelings?

Or what about 18 months ago when 3,000 militants attacked Christians in Sangla Hill, about 80 miles from Lahore, and destroyed Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and Presbyterian churches? They also set alight two houses of priests, one convent, one high school and the houses of three Christian families. This was all because of a false allegation that an illiterate boy had set fire to a special bin used to dispose of scraps of paper that have bits of the Qur’an written on them. This happened because people started to hear announcements from nearly every mosque loudspeaker informing every Muslim that a Christian had desecrated the Qur’an and that because of that Christian houses should be burnt and every visible Christian should be killed. Is anyone apologising for this?

So I agree with the Pakistani parliament that in light of grave offences, apologies are in order. They can apologise any time they like.

Teens, Sex, and Consequences

I’m sure it is coincidental that these stories appeared on consecutive days. Yesterday, we learned that teenagers have pushed the abortion rate to a record high in this country and are having a record number of abortions. Today, Department of Health said it had agreed “in principle” that Gardasil should be given to all girls in the first year of secondary school. Most readers will be aware that this is the vaccine against human papilloma virus.

According the Daily Telegraph:

Despite huge Government spending on contraception education, 19-year-olds are now the most likely of any age group to have an abortion, with 35 in every 1,000 having the procedure, according to Department of Health figures.

A total of 40,244 abortions were carried out on girls aged between 15 and 19 years, and 18,691 on girls aged under 18, including 1,042 on under 15-year-olds, 907 on 14-year-olds and 135 on girls under 14.

In total, 3,990 abortions were carried out on girls aged under 16 – the age of consent – last year.

 There were there were 193,737 abortions in England and Wales last year. This is an increase of nearly 4% over 2005.  And over 21% of these were carried out on babies with mothers 19 and under. (I have to disagree with the language used by the Telegraph – its not the mothers who are aborted.) Teens have now ousted the 20- to 24-year-olds as the biggest age group of aborters.

The Government spent £40 million in tax money on contraception education to bring down the abortion rate. Sadly, the one thing they don’t emphasise is that the only way to avoid pregnancy is to avoid sex. But how can they do that when political representatives are fornicators, teachers are fornicators, parents are fornicators, and the Government pays for entertainment programming on television and radio which openly and aggressively promotes fornication? How is any teenager going to keep their legs closed if everyone they know, see, and respect has theirs splayed open?

Now I am all for preventing cancer. Gardasil works best if it is introduced before girls are sexually active and especially before they are exposed to HPV. It is part of the sad commentary on teen sex that they have to get them at 11 in order to make sure they gotten most of them protected.

And I have to say I’ve no doubt it will serve as another green light to the safeness of sex as a game and a toy. That pubescent boys in an amoral society see it like this is no surprise, but that is exactly how it is viewed by many girls by the time they are even in Year 8 (7th grade).  By Year 10 (when the topics I teach include cohabitation, contraception, and abortion) many of them are aggressive about their sexuality and against any suggestion that there is any reason, moral or otherwise, to curb their appetites. It is truly frightening.

Admitting Bias at the BBC

The BBC has admitted that it is biased. Or at least a report commissioned by the BBC about the BBC has found that it is liberally biased. Even when it isn’t saying liberal things, it is simple censoring out those views that are not.

I have often noted that the media in this country, including the BBC, is very anti-American. This is borne out by the report:

Justin Webb, the BBC’s Washington correspondent, said the BBC and other broadcasters failed to ask serious questions about why the USA is ‘as successful as it is, why the system it invented works. And, in the tone of what we say about America, we have a tendency to scorn and deride. We don’t give America any kind of moral weight in our broadcasts.’ When Webb was asked about ‘a casual anti-Americanism’, he said he consciously tried to redress it.

Likewise issues like abortion have been presented in a one-sided fashion:

One news and current affairs producer mentioned an instance where he had proposed a Newsnight investigation into the extent to which abortion in Britain was available, in effect, on demand. His argument was that there was a conspiracy of silence about this: although it had not been the intention of the legislation, most people in the field knew this was what was actually happening. But he was accused of being ‘anti-abortion’, and a perfectly reasonable – indeed fascinating – programme idea was not pursued.

It was interesting that tonight, in the wake of this report, the ten o’clock news did a piece on abortion that was much less biased than before. It still finished on a solid note about the law still protecting a woman’s right to choose.

On the theme of life and death there is the issue of capital punishment.

At the seminar, David Jordan cited capital punishment. ‘I challenge anybody in here to mention the last time that the Today programme did capital punishment and didn’t sound as if they were completely against it in principle – or, even in a non British/American context, had somebody on who was in favour of it.’

The report runs 80 pages. Will it change things at the Corporation? Time will tell.

Disestablishmentarianism

In just a week’s time, a member of the Church of Scotland will have the right to appoint the bishops in the Church of England. However, it is a rare thing when a politician wants less power. Gordon Brown has no interest in controlling appointments in the C of E, not because of his own Presbyterianism, but because he wants to reform the whole relationship between Church and State.

He realises that this is something that should be introduced gradually, feeling the temperature of the water before plunging in. The General Synod will be meeting next month. It will vote on whether to remove the appointment of cathedral deans from the patronage of the Prime Minister.  If this is successful, more changes will be plausible.

Eventually, this will probably lead to disestablishment. First the deans, then the bishops, then the removal of the senior bishops from the House of Lords – it will all take time. Certainly outside the C of E there will be little resistance, but there is no need to provoke a Constitutional crisis.

This is typical of what I expect from a Brown premiership. There will still be change and the crumbling of the traditional institutions. Unlike with Blair, this will be more methodical. When Labour came into power, Blair fell all over himself trying to change everything at once. Brown has the same values but a different approach.

Insanity in Islam

Christianity may have its share of crackpots, but if you are looking for the best value in insanity, pound for pound, you won’t find more than in Islam.

The British Government, in the name of the Queen, has made Salman Rushdie a knight of the realm. Now we could argue about whether his services to literature are really such that this is a deserving honour, but that would involve rational discussion and considered opinions, with diverse views on tastes for various genres of fiction. But how very un-Islamic of us to think this way in a post-Christian secular nation (albeit where Christianity is still the established religion).

Can you believe that the Government of this country considered honouring a Muslim citizen of this country without getting the approval of the religious courts and authorities of another country? How dare we.

You think I’m being silly and sarcastic. I wish I was. I wish I was talking nonsense. According to Pakistan’s religious affairs minister, the bestowing of the knighthood was so grave an offence that any Muslim anywhere in the world is be justified in taking violent action. He specified, “If David’s Daily Diversions › Edit — WordPresssomebody has to attack by strapping bombs to his body to protect the honour of the Prophet then it is justified.”

This wasn’t just an off-hand comment. It was made to the Pakistan National Assembly. Later he told a news agency that Pakistan should sever diplomatic ties with Britain if it did not rescind the knighthood. He actually said:”We demand an apology by the British government.” In case you aren’t clear on this, Rushdie is not, nor ever has been, a citizen of Pakistan.

This didn’t stop about 100 Muslim students in the city of Multan burning effigies of the Queen and Rushdie and shouting, “Kill him, kill him”. Burning effigies. Shouting for murder. Sane? Hmm . . .

And it isn’t a matter of one loose cannon in government. The Majlis-e-Shoora, the Pakistan Parliament, voted unanimously in favour of a resolution calling on Britain to withdraw the knighthood because it is an insult to “the sentiments of Muslims across the world” and has created religious hatred. I will agree that it has exposed religious hatred, but I really think that a problem for the haters and not the hated. I’m afraid that the idea that someone else is causing hatred and causing suicide bombing is patently nuts. In that the entire unanimous Pakistani Parliament is nuts, I’m afraid this is evidence that Islam has an awful lot of insanity on offer.

Leaving a Mark on Society

If you spank your child hard enough to leave a mark in this country, you can go to prison for five years. That’s the way the law was left in 2004 after an attempt to ban all chastisement whatsoever. But they’re back. The Government has announced a full review of the law.

There will be a public consultation period. It will include polling to assess whether attitudes to smacking – and the limits of state intervention in parenting – have changed in recent years.

A number of well-meaning completely misguided children’s charities favour a complete ban. Colette Marshall, the UK director of Save the Children, said: “Children are vulnerable and are currently treated unequally.”

The key piece of information Ms. Marshall is missing is that children are treated unequally because they are, in fact, unequal. Ms. Marshall is missing the very same information as a number of students I teach. I am sometimes told, “You can’t speak to me like that!” or “If you can this, so can I!” I frequently have to explain that I am an adult and they are a child; that I am a teacher and they are a pupil; that I’m in charge and they are not. This seems to come as a complete surprise to some. They seem incredulous that different rules apply to me than to them.

It is this idiocy – complete barmy lunacy in the face of empirical evidence – on the part of the left that has led to the smacking ban in schools and motivates the same move to ban it in the home. We might as well remove the age limits to buying alcohol and tobacco, for driving, and for voting as well. In fact, we probably put society in less danger by doing this than by furthering the smacking ban.

Killing in Iraq

Someone else’s bad news may be good news. I came across a liberal blog that was complaining that Congressional Democrats have withdrawn legislation to require abortifacients to be stocked on all military bases. Foeticide activists are outraged.

“The situation is unconscionable,” says Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation (NAF). “If you are a military woman in Iraq, and you are raped, it is this country’s obligation to make sure you have access to emergency contraception.” Something tells me that Saporta would feel the same way if you are a military woman in Iraq and can’t keep your legs closed. After all, you wouldn’t be surprised to know that the NAF favours the absolute right to abortion on demand.

Saporta is concerned about this because a survey paid for by the US Defense Department found that almost a third of military women reported being the victim of rape or attempted rape during their tenure in the military. Of course this raises two issues that she doesn’t address – why aren’t a third of male soldiers being charged with rape or attempted rape and what are women doing in a war zone? Resolving the latter might solve some of the problem – forget the silliness that women belong in combat situations with men.

But back to the main issue. Cases of pregnancy from rape are very rare. Nonetheless, this is always dragged out as an excuse for protecting foeticidal rights. It’s emotive, but philosophically useless. One crime is unrelated to the other. If every new life is uniquely its own, the circumstances under which it was created are irrelevant.

I suppose the NAF can’t make an strong a case if they say men and women living together in close proximity, in an emotionally charged atmosphere is asking for at least the same level of fornication as you get in civillian society. They don’t want to say that if we are going to pander to those who can keep their pants on outside the service, then we should at least equally provide for them in the service.

I just have to mention one other thing about the NAF. Their website has lots of information on how to stop Crisis Pregnancy Centers.  Instead, the NAF has a toll-free hotline which “offers women unbiased, factual information about pregnancy and abortion in English, Spanish and French.” Did I mention that the NAF is, openly and by its own admission, a professional association of abortion providers. Surely they have no vested interested in shutting down CPCs and anything they tell you about abortion (except about the wads of cash they are stuffing into their pockets and what they do with the chopped up little bodies) is trustworthy.

The Truth About Migrant Workers

For all of it’s wonderful rural positives, the Shire is a very ethnist (what the papers and the Government would erroneous call “racist”) place. Whenever the subject arises in lessons (and it often does, even when we are not particularly studying racism) large numbers of pupils have been programmed from home to say nasty things about migrant workers.

The other day, one of them said, “My dad said we shouldn’t buy local produce, because that just brings in more illegal immigrants.” When I said, “What illegal immigrants?” She didn’t know what to say. I noted that the Russians and Urkrainians work here under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme and the Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks are free to live and work here like any citizen of any EU country. In fact, because they are from the new A8 countries, they have to work. The French, Spaniards, Germans, and Belgians can show up and loaf about if they want, yet still enjoy all the benefits of the socialist state.

A 2005 study showed that the per capita revenue to the Government generated by immigrants (£7,203) was higher than that for the UK born (£6,861). The study went on to show that government expenditure per capita on immigrants was lower (£7,277) than for the UK born (£7,753). So the pay more taxes and they use fewer services.

According to the Treasury, whilst foreign-born migrants make up 8% of the population, they generate 10% of our Gross Domestic Product. So they produce more that’s worth more. Where exactly is the problem?

They have substantially lowered the age profile in the Shire and in the country, because most migrants are between the ages of 18 and 34. This means there are more workers to pays the taxes that pay the pensions of all the UK born over 34s who will soon become over 65s.

If you go into the Hooterville city centre, you here lots of Russian, Polish, and various other Slavic-sounding languages. Why? Because they are spending money. They are investing in the local economy (or the economy of Tesco, M&S, Woolworths, and other national chains).

People complain because they nick stuff from shops. All the shops have shoplifting warning signs in multiple languages. A third of the shoplifting is reported to be by Eastern Europeans. This means that two-thirds is by UK born people. Of the proportion of prime shoplifting-aged people, this is probably fairly representative of the population. The difference is that of they are Russians or Ukrainians they can be deported. We’re stuck with the locally bred riff raff.

But despite all the positives migrant workers have brought to the community, you don’t have to ask around very much to find plenty of people more than happy to slag them off.

A Father’s Love

By and large, or at least stereotypically, Kurds are moderate Muslims. It’s easy to look at it that way when Shi’ites and Arab Sunnis are blowing each other up constantly in Iraq.

Kurds are not westerners and they are not Christians. Culturally many of them, even after moving to the West, retain certain traditional family values. One of these values is that if your daughter or niece is dating the wrong person, she needs to be murdered.

Sure you can beat her constantly for two weeks, but if she still loves a fellow Kurd who is from the wrong region, you have to strangle her with a bootlace, strip her naked, cram her into a suitcase and dump her below a pile of bin bags, a rusting fridge and a discarded television in a back garden in Birmingham. What father would want anything different for his daughter?

Most British newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph, have the full story.

And they say all cultures are equal.

Online Regulation

Tony Blair is taking his final pot shots before leaving office in a fortnight. He unloaded on the media today.

What worries him most is the online media. He wants a new online journalism regulator.  He said it in such a logical way. Currently the newspapers have the PCC and the broadcasters have OFCOM. As Tony said, “As the technology blurs the distinction between papers and television, it becomes increasingly irrational to have different systems of accountability based on technology that no longer can be differentiated in the old way.” He called online reporting “more pernicious and less balanced”.

The problem is that the newspapers are owned by huge media companies. Likewise, the broadcasters are huge organisations. Once it covers online journalism, every blogger becomes subject to Government regulation.

Once Government regulation steps in, freedom of the cyberpress is in danger. It is not big media giants that will be stepped on – the Government has to grovel at their feet to assure that they are favourably reported. For the small fry, the protection is not there. For a Government that has shown increasing tendency toward totalitarianism with an emphasis on the restriction of, and tailoring of, information, the temptation to squash objectionable independent reporting and commentating may prove too strong.

The Next British Invasion

It would seem that Britain’s biggest retailer isn’t rich enough and the US doesn’t have enough supermarkets.

Tesco is expanding in the States, with an ambitious plan to open three stores each week until it has 50 stores by next February. That’s just the first phase. The next will see another 50 stores. There will be 30 Tescos just in Phoenix.

You would think their presence in 12 other countries would be enough, but I suppose the US market is just too tempting. Tesco hopes to eventually have as many store there as in the UK.

In the UK, there is no need for any sort of unique selling point. It’s just a matter of “We’re here, we’re everywhere, and we have everything.” There are already plenty of chains in the US doing that, so Tesco’s own-label products will have no artificial colours, flavourings or trans-fats. They will promote healthy living. Too bad they don’t do that here.

With £7.2 billion in annual sales, I suppose they aren’t too worried if their £250 million per year American experiment doesn’t break even by the end of the second year as planned.

Finding Fertility

Britain may be below the replacement rate in the birth to death ratio, but at least things are moving in the right direction thanks to immigrant mothers. A fifth of all babies born in the UK last year were to mothers who were born outside of it. Many of these are to mothers of Eastern European origin, from societies that have not fully learned to treat children as a nuisance. They haven’t discovered that the important thing for women to do is smash through the glass ceiling and compete outside the home. Children should be had if and when they are convenient, because there are always IVF clinics out there to exploit older women and take thousands of those hard-earned pounds.

The other advantage for population is the higher birthrate amongst the Muslim population. It is three times higher than the national average. Mohammed (or Muhammad) is the second most popular boy’s name in the UK. It may soon overtake Jack as the the most popular.

According to the Daily Telegraph, “Mohammed” is the most popular spelling variation, with 2,833 registrations last year, followed by “Muhammad” is the second most popular, with 1,422 registrations. This also indicates that most Muslims in this country are non-Arab. Mufti Abdul Barkatullah explained that different spellings: “It is essentially about translating the sound of the Arabic into English. A non-Arab Muslim would have the name ending in -ed while an Arab Muslim would adopt the -ad ending.”

Muslims currently make up about 3% of the UK population. Without more Eastern European immigrants and native born non-Muslims having babies, that percentage will grow significantly.

It’s Not Fair

I have heretofore refused to say anything about that cranial vacuum known as Paris Hilton. However, yesterday’s antics were just too much.

I don’t even mean Paris’ own histrionics in the courtroom, though I have to say I don’t think I ever had a client behave like that when being sent down. You would think she was going to the scaffold, but even those facing death have almost always done it with more dignity. She has been sentenced to 45 days in an jumpsuit. I guess orange just isn’t her colour.

She is only going to jail because she was driving on a suspended license after two alcohol related convictions, the second of which resulted in probation, and both picked up within four months.  The only reason she was pulled over the third time, within six months of the first offence, was because she was doing 70 in a 35 in the dark with no headlights. Yet despite this she had to be dragged from the courtroom screaming, “Mom! Mom! Mom! It’s not fair! It’s not right!”

She is right – it’s not fair. She should have had more consequences sooner. It’s not fair that people with lots of money can buy their way to leniency. It’s not right that the sheriff was either conned or paid to let her out on a false medical pretence. No, Paris, life isn’t fair.

But that’s not the worst bit. Like I said, who should care about a rich little airheaded bimbo spending six weeks in the Gray Bar Hotel? No one. Certainly not every TV network. This is worse than when I was in the States at Easter and watched the coverage to find out who fathered Anna Nicole’s baby. I watched it because there was nothing else on. The eyes of the world were focused on finding the lucky fornicator.

The leaders of the seven richest nations (and their belligerent little Russian friend) are meeting in Germany to develop coordinated policy on a variety of world issues and the live coverage is about someone best known for their acting in front of bedside camcorder.

And it’s not like the UK is immune to this. Every newspaper and television news programme has covered this. Why? Why do people care? What does this say about the values of western society?

Hands Down

Reading the Mail on Sunday while traversing the English Channel yesterday, I was lead to believe that Education Secretary Alan Johnson said I shouldn’t have students raise their hands to answer questions any more. I looked at the DfES website tonight and – whew! – what a relief – it appears this only applies to primary schools. It appears that the omniscient apparatchiks who feed Johnson the wisdom he’s supposed to share with us still find it okay have pupils raise their hands once they reach age 11.

However, before they arrive at big school, letting children raise their hand and give an answer to a question is damaging. Not so much to the hand-raiser, but to the “invisible children”. This does not refer to a belief in some sort of incorporeal presence of multiple learners – though there are loonies at DfES who might believe in such things – but rather to those who are not as eager to participate in the didactic process.

What the DfESians must not realise that a classroom teacher knows best what works for their groups. Most teachers do spend some of class discussion time calling on those who are less willing to volunteer. However, they shouldn’t take away from those who are more actively involved in the lesson. Otherwise you will just end up with lowest common denominator lessons. But I suppose that is the point of socialism: if you can’t pull everyone up, then drag everyone down. Equality is all that matters.

But it gets worse.

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