Friday, December 06, 2019

Mr Men at centre of sexism row as feminist accuses Mr Clever of 'mansplaining'

It was meant as an innocuous joke to amuse young children. But on Monday Mr Men found itself at the centre of a sexism storm when a feminist academic condemned a gag as an example of "mansplaining".

The claims centre on a conversation between Mr Clever and Little Miss Curious, and a pun about the Forth Bridge in Scotland.

An exasperated Mr Clever explains the Unesco site is so-called because of the Forth River, after Little Miss Curious asks “what happened to the First, the Second and the Third Bridges”

It resulted in a backlash from PhD student Shelby Judge. She accused Roger Hargreaves’ long-running series of perpetuating “antiquated gender roles” and branded its illustrated characters part of a “sexist iconography”.

The 24-year-old academic said Mr Clever’s clarifying comment in the book, Mr Men in Scotland, is an example “mansplaining”, and said the book was telling girls they “need to be stupid”.

The publishers dismissed her concern, saying the pun by the sightseeing fictional creations was nothing more than the characters getting up to their “usual antics”.


A teacher told the child of a gay couple that homosexuality is wrong. She’s been fired

It was a few days before Thanksgiving, and the fifth-grade students were sharing what they were thankful for this year. When one of the students replied that he was grateful he was finally being adopted by his two dads, the substitute teacher interjected.

‘‘Why on earth would you be happy about that?’’ she asked, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Then, as the Utah elementary school class looked on, she launched into a 10-minute lecture about the sins of homosexuality. She refused to stop until three girls summoned the principal.

The unidentified teacher has now been fired over her words, which were detailed in a video shared on social media by one of the boy’s fathers, ‘‘Dancing With the Stars’’ alumnus Louis van Amstel. The staffing company that employed her said in an emailed statement that it had ‘‘made the decision to end the employee’s relationship with Kelly Services’’ after conducting an investigation.

The story received widespread attention. In a video uploaded to Instagram on Monday, van Amstel said he had been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, adding, ‘‘Josh and I and our son, we did not expect how many reactions we would get.’’


Thursday, December 05, 2019

Artist who sparked outrage with his racist cartoon about Samoa's deadly measles epidemic apologises after initially defending his work

Garrick Tremain's cartoon, printed in the Otago Daily Times on Tuesday, depicts two middle-aged white women walking out of a travel agent.

The caption to the cartoon reads: 'I asked "What are the least popular spots at the moment?" She said "the ones people are picking up in Samoa".'

Many people thought it was racist and insensitive as Samoa has just declared a State of Emergency after a measles epidemic has caused 55 deaths across the country - of which 50 were children under five years old.

Mr Tremain apologised for offending people with his work on Wednesday morning after he was slammed online. He said it should not have been submitted to be published and blamed his own 'lack of judgement'.

However, earlier in the day he backed his work, claiming people missed the joke.

'I see nothing wrong with the cartoon. It's not causing any more deaths, it's not laughing about deaths, it's laughing about a stupid misunderstanding by a travel agent speaking to somebody,' he told Radio New Zealand.

'If you've read the cartoon, the basis is a travel agent taking the wrong end of the stick and making a stupid comment. 'It's not making light of the tragedy, in my opinion.'

Samoan health officials announced on Tuesday that 3,881 people have now caught the preventable disease in the deadly outbreak.


What is racist about it?

No Safe Spaces: Free Speech Under Attack

This special Independent Institute event, "No Safe Spaces: Free Speech Under Attack," was held on November 7, 2019, and featured the California and Bay Area Premiere of the acclaimed film, "No Safe Spaces." This video includes the film's official trailer along with a panel of experts with audience Q&A to discuss the issues involved.

Today, college campuses have increasingly become intolerant places for diverse and even conventional viewpoints. The First Amendment, intellectual freedom, and the very idea of free speech are under attack with threats, bans, and even violence. A growing number of Americans don’t even believe you have the right to speak your mind if what you have to say might offend someone, somewhere. They advocate for campuses to be “safe spaces” in which open debate and discussions are not allowed. This disturbing movement has been extending beyond colleges and into the wider world.

"No Safe Spaces" stars comedian Adam Carolla and radio talk-show host Dennis Prager as they travel the country, talk with experts on the right and left, tour college campuses, and work to understand what is happening in America today and what free speech should look like.

With the help of a wide range of public figures, including Tim Allen, Jordan Peterson, Sharyl Attkinson, Alan Dershowitz, Ben Shapiro, Van Jones, Candace Owens, Dave Rubin, Ann Coulter and Cornel West, "No Safe Spaces" explores why the free exchange of ideas is fundamental to a free society, and the attacks on the First Amendment are attacks upon the foundations of America itself.

Introduction by David J. Theroux, Founder and President, The Independent Institute

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Over 300 Trump Video Ads Taken Down by Google and YouTube

Ever since a couple of Facebook ads from Russia convinced 63 million people to vote for Donald Trump, there has been a huge movement from the left to do "something" about political ads. With the 2020 election just around the corner, mainstream and social media have been attempting to batten down the hatches in order to prevent Trump from getting reelected "protect our democracy" from foreign influence and "misinformation."

A report from CBS News has found that Google and YouTube took down more than 300 pro-Trump video ads.

It seemed that the floodgates were opened when CNN chose not to air a Trump ad about Joe Biden, which they unilaterally  (and incorrectly) decided was false and when Twitter announced it would not run any political ads, it seemed inevitable that Google/YouTube was going to be censoring political Trump ads.

In response to concerns raised after the 2016 election cycle, Google and YouTube, like Facebook, keep a searchable archive of political ads that have run on the site.

60 Minutes reviewed the archive to learn more about President Trump's problematic political ads. We found that over 300 video ads were taken down by Google and YouTube, mostly over the summer, for violating company policy. But the archive doesn't detail what policy was violated. Was it copyright violation? A lie or extreme inaccuracy? Faulty grammar? Bad punctuation? It's unclear. The ads determined to be offending are not available to be screened. We found very little transparency in the transparency report.

"As you know, conservatives think that you discriminate against them," Stahl tells YouTube's Wojcicki, who replies: "Well, first of all there are lots of very successful conservative creators on YouTube... Our systems, our algorithms, they don't have any concept of understanding what's a Democrat, what's a Republican. They don't have any concept of political bias built into them in any way. And we do hear this criticism from all sides. We also have people who come from more liberal backgrounds who complain about discrimination. And so I think that no matter who you are, we are trying to enforce our policies in a consistent way for everybody."

After three years of Trump being falsely accused of colluding with Russia (and who can count how many other false attacks, especially from 2020 Democrats), I'd like to know how many of their ads have been removed for false information. That said, I don't think it's Google's place to make that call.

Facts are facts, but the "truth," especially in the realm of politics, is subjective, and becoming increasingly so. Two people can read the transcript of Trump's phone call with Ukrainian president Zelensky and reach two completely different conclusions. Those same people are likely to reach two different conclusions about Joe Biden's admission that he pressured the Ukrainian government to fire their top prosecutor.

There are people who think that Hillary Clinton legitimately won the 2016 election because she won the popular vote. There are people out there who still think Russia stole the election for Trump, despite all the evidence to the contrary. There are people who think Obama was good for the economy and could probably find some statistics to back up their claim, and there are others who could find statistics that show Obama was terrible for the economy. For crying out loud, there are people who actually believe Obama had a scandal-free presidency.

Whatever the claim, there will be people who will argue its validity and others who will dismiss it as a fallacy. Not even Facebook, which has hardly been a bastion of free speech, is fancying itself to be the arbiter of truth in political advertising. As Mark Zuckerberg said, "I don’t think people want to live in a world where you can only say things that tech companies decide are 100 percent true.”

Facebook's record on political speech is not exactly perfect, but they got this right


PC madness: Australian students are urged to avoid using words like 'husband' and 'wife' for the sake of 'inclusivity' - and even 'last name' is on the chopping block

Australian university students are being urged to avoid words such as 'husband' and 'wife' to encourage 'inclusivity' on campus.

Gender neutral words like 'partner' are preferred in classes at Western Sydney University, to 'make everyone feel included'.

The Inclusive Practice guide says: 'Swapping gendered words for gender neutral ones (and using terms like "partner" instead of boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife), can make everyone feel included in the conversation.'

The word choice recognises that not every student identifies as heterosexual or as a man or a woman, the guide explains.  

The University of New South Wales, meanwhile, has advised staff to refrain from assuming 'Western name forms'.

'Family' and 'given' name should be referred to instead of 'last' and 'Christian' name, the Designing Inclusive Environments section of their website reads.  

'If in doubt, ask what students find appropriate in terms of modes of address.' 

A 'diversity toolkit' on the UNSW website, urges teaching staff to implement  experiential activities 'to help students (especially "dominant culture" students) to understand that they too are "raced" and have cultural norms.'

'At UNSW we aim to help students find respectful and culturally inclusive ways of dealing with controversial issues,' the page says.

The University of Newcastle refers to 'derogatory labelling' and 'forms of sexist language' in its Inclusive Language Guide.

Terms which discredit minority groups, like the use of 'whingeing poms', should be avoided to ensure language on campus is inclusive.

The University of Newcastle says women are often invisible in language, due to the use of 'masculine pronouns' and words like 'mankind' and 'man made'.

'Where these terms are never varied to include reference to women, the absence/unimportance of women is reinforced,' the guide says.

'Alternatives are needed if language is to challenge the implication that women are either absent or less important. 

To avoid sexist language, the university urges using alternatives like 'humans' and 'human beings' to 'man'.

Further, gendered word order can be varied to challenge the established order.

This reminds 'the reader of the equality of men and women rather than reinforcing – even subliminally – the perception that men are more important than their female counterparts'.

Bella d'Abrera, an Institute of Public Affairs researcher, told The Daily Telegraph the vocabulary was changing how students think - but not necessarily in a good way.  

'They are turning into totalitarian institutions where people will soon be too terrified to use words like 'husband' or 'wife',' she said.

'By changing language, you change thought. Without adequate words, people can't formulate ideas and describe what is going on around them.

'By reducing vocabulary, you are reducing their ability to think. It's exactly the opposite to the core business of the university.'

Western Sydney University and UNSW declined to comment when asked about their inclusive language guides when contacted by The Daily Telegraph. 

A spokeswoman from Newcastle University said their inclusive guidelines encourage students and staff to think about their language use.   


Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Canadian Comedian Ordered to Pay $35,000 over a Joke

Canadian comedian Mike Ward has lost his appeal and has been ordered by a Quebec judge to pay $35,000 because of a joke he told about a disabled boy.

Ward was ordered to pay $35,000 to Jeremy Gabriel, who suffers from a genetic disorder that causes facial deformity and affects his hearing, due to a joke the comedian told at shows between 2010 and 2013.

The joke in question was regarding Gabriel’s disability. In 2005, Gabriel sang to Pope Benedict and Celine Dion to flesh out his dream of becoming an international singer.

Ward’s jokes called Gabriel a bad singer, stating that he was “terminally ill” and that Gabriel not passing away meant that his “Make a Wish” was invalid. Gabriel was not actually terminally ill, as Gabriel’s genetic disease—Treacher Collins syndrome—does not generally have an effect on lifespan. He was also not a Make-a-Wish kid, as Ward was embellishing the story for the sake of the joke.

Ward’s jokes make have been tasteless, but does that mean he should have to pay $35,000? I don’t think so, but the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruled the joke was discrimination against Gabriel and his parents and ordered Ward to pay damages for “making discriminatory comments regarding Jéremy Gabriel, infringing his right to equality.”


Humorous VW ad banned for stereotyping

The ad depicts a man in a mall while women are in a "feeding frenzy" amid a shoe sale. A complainant found the ad "extremely sexist".

The ad depicts a man in a mall who is accompanying his shoe-shopping female partner. The voiceover reports from the scene:

“It’s dusk and you’re in unfamiliar territory, surrounded by predators hunting for fresh prey. And they found it. 50% off all shoes. They attack, lunging mercilessly. As you guard the 12 shopping bags, seated on a bench alongside the other men, you watch the feeding frenzy take place.

This is Shoe Sale Country and you don't belong here, man. This is not your habitat, so go where you belong in the V6 Amarok... Visit your Volkswagen dealership for great Amarok V6 offers today, man.

Professor Susan Goldstein from the School of Public Health at Wits lodged a complaint with the ARB, calling the ad “extremely sexist”.

She submitted that the commercial is gender stereotyping and, in an environment of toxic masculinity and among the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world, this is harmful.

For its part, Volkswagen said the ad was intended as a parody, which does not promote or depict any violence against one gender. Volkswagen said it’s a “harmless exaggeration of a real-life scenario intended to amuse listeners”.

They submitted that the reference to “Shoe Sale Country” makes it clear that this is a fictional world and no reasonable person would assume that Volkswagen's use of the paradoxical scenario is intended to create a negative gender stereotype. The ad also does not promote or depict any violence against one gender. Also - only one person complained.


Monday, December 02, 2019

Air New Zealand staff troll 'racist' customer who took issue with the greeting 'kia ora' because she isn't Maori

I would have thought it reasonable for an English-speaking person in an English-speaking country to ask to be spoken to in English

Air New Zealand staff have trolled a customer on the company's social media page after she took issue with the airline using the greeting 'kia ora'.

The customer took to the Air New Zealand Facebook page to ask when the Wellington domestic Koru Club would be completed.

'Kia ora (hello), our team are working hard to finish our amazing lounge for customers. We hope to have more information regarding this shortly,' the airline wrote back.

The customer seemed unhappy with the response and sent a blunt reply stating 'I'm not Maori'.

The Air New Zealand social media worker then trolled the customer by responding with even more Te Reo - one of New Zealand's official languages, typically spoken by the nation's indigenous population.

'We do not expect this lounge to be re-opened within 2019. However, taihoa koe ka kite (you'll soon see) all the amazing improvements we have made, FC,' the airline replied.

But the customer did not take the joke well and said again they were not Maori and asked for the airline worker to translate it to English.

Shortly after Air New Zealand fired back again: 'We've done a bit of digging for you, and it looks like the lounge will be open just before Kirihimete (Christmas)! We can't wait to open the doors again, then you'll get to see all the amazing improvements we've made, SM.'

The post was quickly taken down but has since circulated on social media with many praising the airline's response.


The lie that destroyed a conservative donor

Last year, John Schnatter was forced out of the company he founded following news reports that he used the N-word. On Tuesday, he condemned this ouster as based on a "farce" and blamed his successors at Papa John's for having "destroyed the company."

"Steve Ritchie, Olivia Kirtley, the board of directors all used the black community and race as a way to steal the company," Schnatter told WDRB News. "They stole the company, and now they've destroyed the company."

He predicted that "the day of reckoning will come."

The Papa John's founder said his successors have taken the heart and soul out of his company.

"They've hurt people that wake up every day and make this company great," he said. "I mean, it's a miserable place over there ... They're losing all of their good people. The key to this business is good people."

The product has gone downhill, too, he insisted: "I've had over 40 pizzas in the last 30 days, and it's not the same pizza. It's not the same product. It just doesn't taste as good."

"The way they're making the pizza is just not fundamental to what makes a Papa John's pizza," Schnatter lamented.

As for the two Papa John named, Ritchie was Schnatter's handpicked replacement, but the two are now estranged. Ritchie resigned as CEO last year. "Everybody knows, last year, that Steve Ritchie got $6 million plus $2.8 million to leave and be quiet, and (employees) got zero bonus," he said.

Kirtley is a current board member.

"Olivia Kirtley and Mark Shapiro should be in jail. It's that bad," Schnatter insisted. "What they've done is just wrong, and they've hurt a lot of people."

"I never dreamed that people that I cared about, that I loved, that I made multimillionaires, would do what they did," the founder added.

According to WDRB News, Schnatter said the May 2018 conference call that led to his ouster was "all made up." The news outlet did not directly quote him on this, and it seems what the founder really said was that the reports about his supposedly racist comments were "made up."

Schnatter admitted he had used the "N-word" during an internal conference call, but he said he used it in order to convey his hatred of racism. "This is all a farce," he said. "Nothing sells like the truth, and the truth, sooner or later, all comes out."

Indeed, the founder was forced out of his company after two statements falsely condemned as racist. In November 2017, he blamed the NFL players' kneeling protest for a drop in pizza sales. He suggested protesters drove fewer people to watch football, meaning fewer people ordered pizza for the big game.

Naturally, since Schnatter is a Republican and major conservative donor, his remarks were condemned as racist. In reality, it was an innocuous — and most likely false — claim. Even so, Papa Johns' stock dropped, and both the company and Schnatter issued apologies. Then Schnatter stepped down as CEO.

Then in May 2018, the founder used the N-word in a conference call between company executives and the marketing agency Laundry Service. The call "was designed as a role-playing exercise for Schnatter in an effort to prevent future public-relations snafus," Forbes reported. PR training is a common thing for CEOs and executives.

On the call, Schnatter was asked how he would distance himself from racist groups online. He downplayed the significance of his NFL statement, but then threw in some PR scandal history. "Colonel Sanders called blacks n-----s,” Schnatter said, before complaining that Sanders never faced public backlash.

Schnatter also reflected on his early life in Indiana, where he decried the racism he witnessed in his youth. He lamented that black people were dragged from trucks until they died. Although Forbes recorded these remarks as Schnatter attempting "to convey his antipathy to racism," the magazine did not explicitly quote his remarks. Most likely, Schnatter denounced this racism as evil. Even so, individuals on the call reportedly found the comments offensive.

Laundry Service did not try to help Schnatter polish this response, which it was hired to do. Instead, the company moved to terminate its contract with Papa John's. Then Schnatter apologized and stepped down as chairman of the board.

In other words, Schnatter was ousted over a questionable political statement and an off-color remark on an internal PR training call. He was indeed destroyed by a "farce."

If Schnatter is correct and Papa John's is headed to ruin, the pizza company was destroyed by a lie.

But why did the company leaders think they could oust the founder with so measly a weapon? Schnatter's stance as a conservative donor makes him an easy target in America's increasingly liberal corporate climate. When North Carolina took the basic step of protecting the privacy of women and girls by restricting public multiple-stall restrooms and locker rooms to members of the same sex, nearly 100 business leaders sent a letter threatening economic ruin over the bill.

When corporate America chooses a political slant, it makes this kind of ouster more likely. CEOs face a great deal of pressure. They are held accountable for the success or failure of a company — much of which is far outside of their hands. The social justice warrior cancel-culture only makes this worse, and empowers unscrupulous board members to force a visionary entrepreneur like Schnatter out of the company he founded.


Sunday, December 01, 2019

Air New Zealand staff troll 'racist' customer who took issue with the greeting 'kia ora' because she isn't Maori

I would have thought it reasonable for an English-speaking person in an English-speaking country to ask to be spoken to in English

Air New Zealand staff have trolled a customer on the company's social media page after she took issue with the airline using the greeting 'kia ora'.

The customer took to the Air New Zealand Facebook page to ask when the Wellington domestic Koru Club would be completed.

'Kia ora (hello), our team are working hard to finish our amazing lounge for customers. We hope to have more information regarding this shortly,' the airline wrote back.

The customer seemed unhappy with the response and sent a blunt reply stating 'I'm not Maori'.

The Air New Zealand social media worker then trolled the customer by responding with even more Te Reo - one of New Zealand's official languages, typically spoken by the nation's indigenous population.

'We do not expect this lounge to be re-opened within 2019. However, taihoa koe ka kite (you'll soon see) all the amazing improvements we have made, FC,' the airline replied.

But the customer did not take the joke well and said again they were not Maori and asked for the airline worker to translate it to English.

Shortly after Air New Zealand fired back again: 'We've done a bit of digging for you, and it looks like the lounge will be open just before Kirihimete (Christmas)! We can't wait to open the doors again, then you'll get to see all the amazing improvements we've made, SM.'

The post was quickly taken down but has since circulated on social media with many praising the airline's response.


DC Comics Yanks Batman Poster After China Complained It Showed Support For Hong Kong Protests

DC Comics is the latest entertainment company under fire for submitting to the will of the Chinese government after they pulled a promotional poster for a new Batman run after the Chinese complained that it showed support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Variety reports that DC Comics “yanked a poster for a new Batman title” by Frank Miller that showed Batman “throwing a Molotov cocktail against a backdrop of hot-pink words spelling out the new comic book’s tagline, ‘the future is young.'” The DC Black Label comic, “Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child,” is slated to hit shelves December 11th and is hotly anticipated.

Pro-government Chinese commentators pointed out the similarities between Batman’s actions on the cover and actions taken by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, who recently holed up in the city-states colleges and universities for a showdown with Hong Kong police, armed with a number of home-made defenses including Molotov cocktails. Demonstrators managed to hold off law enforcement for nearly two weeks before being forced out under threat of arrest and potential interrogation by Chinese-backed forces (and an uncertain future that could include life in prison or worse).

“Is Hong Kong really becoming Gotham City? But Hong Kong rioters are not Batman. Instead, they are the criminals of Gotham City,” one user of the Chinese social media site, Weibo, commented, according to Newsweek. Others, who could have been Chinese officials sent to foment opposition to the Hong Kong protests among the Chinese population, accused DC Comics of encouraging violence.

“[T]he poster came under fire from Chinese internet users who contended that it contained coded messages in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests,” according to Variety. “They said that the Molotov cocktail alluded to young Hong Kong protesters’ more violent tactics, that the ‘dark knight’s’ choice of black attire referred to the black-clad Hong Kong protesters, and that the ‘golden child’ of the book’s title was a veiled reference to the color yellow, which was taken up by previous pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong five years ago.”

Batman, of course, typically wears a black suit (though some iterations have been shades of blue or purple). Molotov cocktails are a generally recognized symbol of guerilla warfare and street-level resistance. And the “Golden Child” reportedly refers to an Earth-bound boy with extraordinary super powers.


Friday, November 29, 2019

It Can’t Happen Here? Muslim Organization Wants International Law Criminalizing Criticism of Islam

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which is made up of 56 nations plus the Palestinian Authority, met Thursday in Jeddah and called for the adoption of an international law criminalizing criticism of Islam. But that kind of law could never be adopted in the United States, could it? Think again.

The OIC’s secretary-general, Dr. Yousef al-Othaimeen, called upon the nations of the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to crack down on speech that was “insulting religions or prophets.” It was clear, however, that al-Othaimeen couldn’t have cared less about speech insulting Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism or Buddhism or any of the revered figures of those religions. He cared only about criticism of Islam.

“There are laws against anti-Semitism and racism,” said al-Othaimeen. “So we request a law against mocking religions.” He didn’t explain why laws against racism should lead to laws against criticizing belief systems, since, after all, contrary to the assumptions of Rachel Dolezal, Shaun King, and Elizabeth Warren, one cannot change one’s race, but one can change one’s beliefs, including religious beliefs. Al-Othaimeen likely knows this, but cited racism because he knows how to pull the right strings to get the Western intelligentsia to do what he wants.

“Islamophobia,” he continued, “is a sentiment of excessive fear against Islam that is transformed into acts of intolerance and discriminations against Muslims and even violent crimes against people with Islamic attires.”

No one should discriminate against Muslims or anyone, and genuine intolerance, when it shades over into illegal activity, and violent crime should always be prosecuted. But the OIC wants to go much farther than that, and get Western societies to criminalize criticism of Islam altogether.

Al-Othaimeen added: “These issues are of great importance, to be worked on in collaboration not only with governments, but also with people and non-profit organizations, to prove to everyone that Islam is the voice of mercy, moderation and coexistence with Muslims and non-Muslims.”

Yes, everyone who remembers 9/11, and the Fort Hood jihad massacre, and the Boston Marathon bombings, and a host of other jihad attacks, all carried out in accord with Islamic teachings, knows all about Islam’s “voice of mercy, moderation and coexistence with Muslims and non-Muslims.”

But this muzzling of criticism of Islam could never happen in America, right? Wrong. In fact, this is a lot closer to happening than most people realize. In October 2009, the Obama administration joined Egypt in supporting a resolution in the U.N.’s Human Rights Council to recognize exceptions to the freedom of speech for “any negative racial and religious stereotyping” (a highly subjective category). Approved by the U.N. Human Rights Council, the resolution called on states to condemn and criminalize “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.” Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton affirmed the Obama administration’s support for this on July 15, 2011, when she gave an address on the freedom of speech at an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference on Combating Religious Intolerance. “Together," she said, “we have begun to overcome the false divide that pits religious sensitivities against freedom of expression and we are pursuing a new approach. These are fundamental freedoms that belong to all people in all places and they are certainly essential to democracy.”

But how could both religious sensitivities and freedom of expression be protected?

Clinton had a First Amendment to deal with, and so in place of legal restrictions on criminalization of Islam, she suggested “old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.” She held a lengthy closed-door meeting with OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu in December 2011 to facilitate the adoption of measures that would advance the OIC’s anti-free speech campaign. But what agreements she and Ihsanoglu made, if any, have never been disclosed. Still, the specter of an American Secretary of State conferring with a foreign official about how to restrict the freedom of speech in order to stifle communications deemed offensive to Muslims was, at the very least, chilling.

Nor was that a singular case. In July 2012, Thomas Perez — then the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, was asked by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.):

Will you tell us here today that this administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?
Perez could have simply answered yes, and maybe even cited the First Amendment. Instead, Perez refused to answer the question directly. Franks persisted, ultimately asking it four times. Perez at one point responded that it was a “hard question.” He simply refused to affirm that the Obama Justice Department would not attempt to criminalize criticism of Islam.

This is today’s Democratic Party. If a Democrat wins the presidency in 2020 or thereafter, will that president advance the Left’s assault on the freedom of speech and move to implement Sharia restrictions on criticism of Islam in the United States? You can bet on it.

In that eventuality, I hope some of y’all will visit me in prison.


Piers Morgan backs Irish bar that posted jokey 'snowflake' job ad for 'self-entitled, over sensitive individual who can take offence from the most innocuous things', but then had to say sorry after snowflakes complained

Piers Morgan has applauded a Dublin bar that advertised for a 'full-time snowflake' to join their team - but was left exasperated by those who complained about it.

Oscars cafe bar in the Irish capital posted a joke advert for the role on social media last week.

Staff said they would only be accepting 'self-entitled, over sensitive' people who 'take offense from the most innocuous things imaginable'.

Praising the stunt today on Good Morning Britain, host Piers said: 'Next time I'm in Dublin, one of my favourite cities, I will go to the Oscars café bar.

'And I urge all like-minded souls who believe in free speech and who are anti-snowflake to go and support them through this difficult time.'

But Oscars was forced to remove parts of the joke advert after members of the LGBT+ community complained about the section on gender pronouns.

The original social media post read: 'Typing skills are essential as this role will involve ALOT of typing such as leaving one star reviews on Tripadvisor because the server in the Restaurant did not address you with the correct pronoun.'

Commenters were outraged with one saying: 'Wow. It just gets worse as you read. We all love a joke about people's pronouns...'

Owner Ronan Flood said he regretted the reference to pronouns and has always supported the LGBT+ community, hosting events for Dublin's Pride festival. He told The Sun: 'The reference to pronouns was an ill judged inclusion which I regret.

But Piers said the 'world has gone nuts' and lamented that the 'snowflakes' forced an apology out of the bar.


Thursday, November 28, 2019

Academic at prestigious Sydney university is accused of harassing HERSELF after reporting 'fake threatening letters to police'

That's happened many times in America

A UTS lecturer has been charged after allegedly faking a harassment campaign against herself.

The academic, 49, claimed she was getting threatening letters and that her clothes were being stolen from her backyard.

But police arrested her on campus two weeks ago after allegedly discovering she was faking the whole thing.

The saga began in May when the woman told police she had received threatening letters about the cancellation of a university course.

Police launched 'significant' security measures to protect her as they investigated.

Between May and August, the woman claimed she had got four threatening letters.

The woman was arrested on 15 November and taken to Day Street Police Station.

She was charged with dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception, give false information person/property in danger, and false representation resulting in police investigation.

Police will allege in court that the woman sent the threatening letters to herself.


Trump Under Fire for Using Male Pronouns to Describe Conan the Hero Dog

Forget the alleged quid pro quo with Ukraine, Trump has a new controversy on his hands which might actually succeed in getting him impeached: referring to the hero dog Conan, who took part in and was injured during the al-Baghdadi raid, with male pronouns.

Conan, a Belgian Malinois, was at the White House for a ceremony honoring her role in last month's raid when Trump made the unforgivable error.

Naturally, the mix-up launched a lot of social media buzz, with people posting photos of Conan and noting the situation on the dog's underside.

As comforting as it is that people are acknowledging the biological reality of the presence of certain sex organs and how that correlates to gender, the amount of digital ink and time spent on this rather simple mistake seems excessive.

For starters, I was originally shocked to learn the name of the dog was Conan because Conan is a male name—or at least generally it is. Of course, in my experience, people generally assume dogs to be boys.

I have a beagle-bulldog mix named Zuzu, and people who meet her have been incorrectly referring to her as a boy for eight years. "What his name?" "How old is he?" "What breed is he?" etc. etc. Even people who have known her for years occasionally slip and use male pronouns.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Video: How the Left Weaponized Language

Andrew Klavan explains that the Left understands that language is a weapon.


Canadian man sues parliament after claiming bubblers made him feel like a ‘second-class citizen’

A French-speaking Canadian is a richer today after claiming water bubblers in his country’s parliament building made him feel like a “second-class citizen”.

Montreal man Michael Thibodeau took the Senate to court earlier this year, claiming the English-labelled drinking fountains — with the word “push” embossed into the metal button — had violated his language rights.

Canada’s Federal Court ordered the Senate to pay Mr Thibodeau $C1500 ($A1659) as compensation and his court costs — $C700 ($A774).

In his judgment delivered last week, Federal Court Justice Luc Martineau ruled Canada’s parliament had “failed to meet its obligations” under the country’s Official Languages Act, CTV News reported.

Other bubblers in Canada’s Parliament Hill precinct had been embossed with braille for blind people but none had the word “poussez” — French for push — on them.

Mr Thibodeau, who is well-known for claiming his language rights have been violated in court, initially filed a complaint with the Senate in September 2016 after working in the buildings as a public servant since 1997.

In response to Mr Thibodeau’s initial complaint, the Senate quickly installed bilingual signs above the bubblers that read, “to activate the water fountain, please push the button”, in both English and French.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

63% Support Religious Freedom at Work, Survey Finds

Most Americans support a broad definition of religious freedom and accommodation of minority religious beliefs in the workplace, despite a growing sense of polarization in the public square, according to a new study.

The Religious Freedom Index reports that 63% of those surveyed said they support someone else’s freedom to practice religion at work or elsewhere in life “even if it creates an imposition or inconvenience for others.”

The findings of the study, from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, underscore widespread consensus in favor of accepting and accommodating cultural and religious differences in a variety of contexts, even as national polls report that religiosity in general is declining in America.

“Most Americans recognize that the freedom to live and work according to our beliefs is an unalienable human right,” Emilie Kao, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, said in an email to The Daily Signal. “All Americans lose when the government is empowered to punish citizens for living out their deeply held religious beliefs in the public square.”

The Becket report says the willingness of a majority of Americans to accommodate religion in the workplace extends to expressions of minority faith practices, such as not eating pork (81%). It found that 74% of those surveyed said they support co-workers who decline to work on the Sabbath or who express their faith by wearing clothing such as a hijab, turban, or kippah.

The study says its findings contradict the perceptions of many Americans. Of those surveyed, for example, 71% overestimated the level of religious discrimination faced by people of faith, with only about 1 in 3 saying that society as a whole is accepting of religion.

When asked to estimate how often people of faith are discriminated against, the percentage of respondents who said “a few times a year/all the time” was double what people of faith actually reported to Becket.

In yet another surprising twist on common media narratives, 7 in 10 respondents said they support a hands-off government approach to religion in the workplace.

Amid headlines about florists or bakers facing lawsuits and government infractions for refusing to compromise on their faith, the Becket report shows that most Americans are in favor of business owners running their organization according to religious beliefs and of faith-based groups making employment decisions without government interference.

The Religious Freedom Index surveyed a representative sample of 1,000 Americans age 18 and older using an online annual poll. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1%.

The findings come amid reports that Christianity is declining in America. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 65% of those surveyed described themselves as Christians, down 12 points since 2009. The percentage of self-identified religiously unaffiliated people, by contrast, rose by nine points during the same period.

The Becket study finds that despite this decline in religiosity, support for religious freedom as a fundamental right remains strong—with a majority willing to accommodate beliefs they personally find offensive.

“The freedom to disagree with the government,” Kao said, “ensures that our diversity does not become divisive and that our pluralism is peaceful.”


A Catholic nun who was told she could stay in a retirement home in France only if she stopped wearing religious clothing was wronged

PARIS — A Catholic nun who was told she could stay in a retirement home in France only if she stopped wearing religious clothing was wronged, French officials say, in a case that they say misinterpreted the country’s laws prohibiting religious attire in some public spaces.

The nun, who is older than 70 and has not been publicly identified, had been living in a convent in southeastern France when she decided to retire in Haute-Saône, her native region farther north.

Her application to live in a unit in a publicly funded retirement home in Vesoul, a town about 55 miles northeast of Dijon, was accepted in July. But the home, which is run by the local authorities, specified that she would have to accommodate the other residents by not wearing her religious habit or veil.

In a letter sent to the nun, and seen last week by the news outlet Agence France-Presse, the retirement home told her that “all ostentatious signs of belonging to a religious community cannot be accepted in order to guarantee everyone’s serenity.” “Religion is a private matter and must remain so,” the letter said.

The nun did not agree to go without her habit, and the local parish helped her rent a private apartment instead.

Officials now say that the retirement home wrongly applied France’s secularism laws, and Alain Chrétien, the mayor of Vesoul, apologized in a statement Tuesday.

“This error of judgment is very regrettable,” Chrétien said, adding that he was “personally” committed to finding the nun a spot in a public retirement home if she so wished.

France has faced numerous heated debates over the place of religion in society in recent years, centered on the concept of laïcité, a policy of state secularism that first emerged during the French Revolution and took form in the 19th century, culminating in a landmark 1905 law on the separation of church and state.

A cultural aversion to public expressions of all faiths still holds strong, but in recent years, it has focused on Muslim attire, especially women wearing head scarves. Recently, a local politician asked a Muslim mother on a school trip in Dijon to remove her hijab, igniting weeks of vitriolic nationwide debate.

The nun’s case had gone unnoticed until last week, when the Rev. Florent Belin, the parish priest in Vesoul, mentioned her in his monthly newsletter, lamenting that she had been forced to find her own apartment.

“People harp on with principles of laïcité that are not understood,” Belin wrote. “Old demons, mismanaged fears are blocking situations.”

Last week, Claude Ferry, the head of the public organization that manages the retirement home, told France Bleu, a network of local radio stations, that the nun had declined the spot in the home because she “did not want to accept the rules, which are the same for everyone.”

But French officials say those rules are a misguided use of France’s national policy.

Nicolas Cadène, a senior member of the Observatory of Secularism, an agency that helps the government enforce laïcité, said that France’s religious neutrality restrictions applied only to state employees and other public servants on the job, not to the general public.

Cadène said in a telephone interview that the nun’s case was “the very demonstration” of a “wrong interpretation of laïcité.”

“Under the rule of law, you don’t ban something because it displeases this or that individual. You only ban it if it is objectively disturbing public order,” he said. “And that is obviously not the case when you have simple citizens who are wearing religious attire and who don’t represent any public administrations.”

Chrétien, the mayor of Vesoul, said in an interview published by the magazine Le Point on Wednesday that the retirement home’s staff had committed a “big blunder” but that state employees were sometimes “paralyzed” when dealing with the “inflammable” issue of secularism. “The topic is not consensual, because everyone has their own definition,” he said.

For Cadène, that is partly because debates over Muslims in France have led to a “great confusion” about secularism laws and have shifted public discourse toward a stricter understanding of laïcité.

“By constantly trying to extend neutrality, first by targeting a specific religion, it always winds up extending to other religions and beliefs,” he said. “It’s a real danger.”


Monday, November 25, 2019

Kamala Harris Says, 'In the Year of Our Lord' in the Debate. Twitter Loses Its Mind

During the Democratic Debate on Wednesday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Flailing) spoke about the gender pay gap "in the year of our Lord 2019." People on Twitter noticed it, and didn't know how to respond.

Charles Lane, a Washington Post opinion writer, suggested the phrase — a reference to the system of dating years in relation to the birth of Jesus Christ — is "colonialist."

"'The Year of our Lord 2019' is a colonialist concept isn't it?" Lane tweeted.

Author Caroline Moss thought it was a joke. Then she said it was "so embarrassing!!!!!"

"I use Year of Our Lord as a joke all the time, but I'm an atheist," Robyn Pennacchia, a writer for Wonkette and Patheos's Friendly Atheist blog, chimed in.

Matt Lewis, a senior columnist at the Daily Beast and political commentator for CNN, noted that Harris said "the year of our Lord" instead of "Common Era." He asked, "What happened to the party that booed God?"

Roman Catholic New Yorker Ryan James Girdusky tweeted, "Thank you [Kamala Harris], but that's not going to win you the religious black vote."


UK: Putting the thought police on trial

A legal challenge against the police’s Orwellian attacks on free speech is long overdue.

In January this year, Harry Miller, a 53-year-old docker [longshoreman] and former police officer, was investigated by Humberside Police for retweeting a supposedly transphobic poem. Speaking to a police officer on the phone, Miller asked whether he had committed a crime, to which came the ominous response: ‘We need to check your thinking.’

His retweet had been reported as a ‘non-crime hate incident’ – essentially offensive speech or behaviour which police often investigate and record in cases where no crime has been committed.

Previously unaware that Kafka and Orwell had written training manuals for police officers, Miller decided to bring a court case against the College of Policing, whose Hate Crime Operational Guidance (HCOG), issued in 2014, forms the basis of current practice. As Miller has argued at the High Court this week, ‘the idea that a law-abiding citizen can have their name recorded against a hate incident on a crime report when there was neither hate nor crime undermines principles of justice, free expression, democracy and common sense’.

This action is long overdue. The HCOG instructs officers to record hateful incidents ‘irrespective of whether there is any evidence to identify the hate element’. The government’s website on hate crime also includes an overview of ‘hate incidents’, which are described as ‘behaviour which isn’t a crime but which is perceived by the victim, or anybody else, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on the five protected characteristics’ (race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and disability). Note the use of the word ‘victim’ rather than ‘complainant’ – the presumption of innocence so casually dismissed through rhetorical sleight-of-hand.

This is, in part, the legacy of Keir Starmer’s tenure as Director of Public Prosecutions (from 2008 to 2013) and the subsequent politicisation of the Crown Prosecution Service. The presumption of guilt and the pressure to convict people for political reasons has been particularly corrosive in rape cases. Police and prosecutors have withheld evidence that would exonerate innocent suspects. The presumption of guilt was also the reasoning behind the disastrous Operation Midland, which wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money pursuing fabricated stories of child murder and sexual abuse at the heart of Westminster. Investigators judged the fantasies of the accuser, Carl Beech, to be ‘credible and true’ without a shred of evidence.

While the recording of so-called non-crime hate incidents in cases like Miller’s does not lead to criminal prosecution, it nevertheless reflects this broader trend towards the politicisation of our criminal-justice system.

When the police fail to act in a politically neutral manner, they inevitably veer into authoritarianism. We saw this last March with the conviction of Markus Meechan (the YouTuber known as ‘Count Dankula’) for his ‘Nazi pug’ joke. In fact, over 3,000 people are arrested each year in the UK for offensive comments posted online. Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 criminalises online speech that can be deemed ‘grossly offensive’ by the courts (without any requirement for a prosecutor to prove that there was any intention to cause offence). It is a grotesque infringement on civil liberties.

It sometimes seems as if police departments are engaged in a competition to see who can behave in the most menacing manner on social media. ‘Think before you post or you may receive a visit from us this weekend’, tweeted Greater Glasgow Police in 2016. Not to be outdone, South Yorkshire Police called on the public last year to ‘report non-crime hate incidents, which can include things like offensive or insulting comments’.

Such a sinister approach to police work suggests that the divisive and illiberal ideology of ‘social justice’ has infected our law-enforcement agencies. The investigating officer in the Harry Miller case, for instance, made a startling statement when he spoke to Miller on the phone in January. ‘I’ve been on a course’, he explained, ‘and what you need to understand is that you can have a fetus with a female brain that grows male body parts and that’s what a transgender person is’. Since when is it the role of the police to uphold such pseudo-scientific belief systems?

This is one of the more incoherent aspects of the extreme wings of gender ideology. On the one hand, we are told not to question the biologically essentialist view that trans people are born with a brain that is gendered in a way counter to their anatomy. And on the other, we are told that gender is entirely socially constructed. This week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated that: ‘Men who get their periods are men. Men who get pregnant and give birth are men.’ The dogmatic tone suggests a reluctance to engage in any kind of debate on this most contentious of issues. The vast majority of people understand that gender is, in reality, a complicated relationship between biological and social factors. In making such bold assertions, the ACLU is mistaking its own arguments for proof.

The chilling of public discussion on these matters is counterproductive for all concerned, not least for the majority of trans people who have little in common with the more pugnacious activists who claim to speak on their behalf. Matters can hardly be expected to improve with the police involving themselves in such a high-handed and partisan way. In October last year, comedy writer Graham Linehan was given a verbal warning by police for failing to use a trans activist’s preferred pronouns on Twitter. In February, Kate Scottow was arrested and locked in a cell for the crime of ‘deadnaming’ (referring to a trans person by the name he or she used before transitioning). In this kind of climate, how is anyone ever likely to be persuaded one way or the other?

This is why Harry Miller’s case against the College of Policing is so important. It should go without saying that the police have absolutely no business investigating citizens for ‘non-crimes’, yet there seems to be little appetite among our politicians to do anything about it. In a sense this is understandable. To stand up for the principle of free speech takes real bravery. It means defending the rights of bad people to express their bad ideas. As Mr Justice Knowles, the judge in the Miller case, has pointed out: ‘Freedom-of-expression laws are not there to protect statements such as “kittens are cute” – but they are there to protect unpleasant things.’

We need to repeal all legislation that criminalises speech, whether it is public-order laws, communications laws or hate speech-laws. And we need to throw out the police’s ludicrous guidance on hate incidents. In a liberal society, citizens should be free to express themselves however they see fit. The consequences of offensive or abusive speech should be criticism, protest, counter-argument and ridicule. To investigate, arrest and prosecute people simply for speaking their minds is the behaviour of a police state.


Sunday, November 24, 2019

UK: Primary school backs down after atheist parents claimed daily prayers breached children’s human rights

A primary school has backed down in a fight with atheist parents who claimed that holding daily prayers breached their children’s human rights.

Lee Harris and his wife Lizanne bought a judicial review against Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST) after arguing that Burford Primary School is acting “unlawfully”.

They alleged that since ODST took over the running of the community school in 2015, they noticed “harmful aspects of evangelism spreading into assembly” and other parts of their pupils' education.

In the first case of its kind, they argued that this interferes with their children's right to receive an education “free from religious interference”.

ODST is a multi-academy trust that runs 33 schools, all of which are Church of England bar four, including  Burford Primary, which are designated as non-religious “community schools”. 

The trust says on its website that it “operates within the family of the Diocese of Oxford” adding: “We are motivated by our Christian values to serve our local communities, but we do not impose those values”.

This week, ODST reached a settlement with Mr and Mrs Harris and made a series of concessions including  that they will provide “age-appropriate inclusive materials/activities” to the children as an alternative to “collective worship”.

Mr and Mrs Harris said they are “delighted that the school has backed down and agreed to provide our children with an alternative, inclusive assembly of equal educational worth”.


Cambridge University students cry fowl over 17th century painting that upsets vegetarians

It is a rather unpleasant painting

Some Cambridge University students might consider it a privilege to eat beneath a 17th century oil painting. But not if the students are vegetarian or vegan, and the work features animals bound for the dinner table.

The Fowl Market, from the studio of the 16th century Flemish artist Frans Snyders, has been removed from the dining room of Hughes Hall following complaints that it was putting non-meat-eaters off their food.

The painting features a collection of dead animals, including a swan, a boar, a deer and various game birds.

It had been on long-term loan from the university’s Fitzwilliam Museum. After its return in December last year, it underwent conservation treatment and is about to go on display as part of a new exhibition, Fast & Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500-1800.

A museum spokeswoman explained: “Some diners felt unable to eat because it was on the wall. People who don’t eat meat found it slightly repulsive. They asked for it to come down.

“This exhibition makes the points that the debate about vegetarianism, about veganism, is nothing new. It dates back to the 1500s.”


Friday, November 22, 2019

Northwestern Administrators Slap Down Left-Wing Activists Following Sessions/Journalism Firestorm

If you missed this firestorm over student journalists at Northwestern University apologizing for their journalistic acts covering Jeff Sessions' recent on-campus speech, in the face of heavy pressure from left-wing student activists, go back and read this piece

At the tail end of my original post, I linked to a relatively strong and clear-headed statement released by the Dean of the journalism school, which systematically dismantled the Daily editors' groveling and upbraided the woke mob for their bullying. A taste of what he wrote:

"Let me be perfectly clear, the coverage by The Daily Northwestern of the protests stemming from the recent appearance on campus by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in no way beyond the bounds of fair, responsible journalism...

I am deeply troubled by the vicious bullying and badgering that the students responsible for that coverage have endured for the “sin” of doing journalism...

I have also offered that it is naïve, not to mention wrong-headed, to declare, as many of our student activists have, that The Daily staff and other student journalists had somehow violated the personal space of the protestors by reporting on the proceedings, which were conducted in the open and were designed, ostensibly, to garner attention...

I patently reject the notion that our students have no right to report on communities other than those from which they hail, and I will never affirm that students who do not come from marginalized communities cannot understand or accurately convey the struggles of those populations.

[The editors were beaten] into submission by the vitriol and relentless public shaming they have been subjected to since the Sessions stories appeared. I think it is a testament to their sensitivity and sense of community responsibility that they convinced themselves that an apology would effect a measure of community healing...

I might offer, however, that their well-intentioned gesture sends a chilling message about journalism and its role in society. It suggests that we are not independent authors of the community narrative, but are prone to bowing to the loudest and most influential voices in our orbit. To be sure, journalism has often bowed to the whim and will of the rich and powerful, so some might argue that it is only fair that those who feel dispossessed and disenfranchised have their turn at calling the journalistic shots. But that is not the solution...

waging war on our students on social media—threatening them both physically and emotionally—is beyond the pale."

The Dean also appeared in a CNN segment over the weekend in which he stressed the difference between journalism and activism -- conceding that many students arrive at the Medill school with the mentality of journalism as activism:

Many of our students, when they start, think of journalism as advocacy as well, and we quickly try to disabuse them of that notion

I appreciate this message, though recent events suggest that the 'disabusing' process he mentions may need to become more rigorous and urgent than it currently is. I also believe that journalism schools, in general, need to better equip and prepare their students to withstand attacks on their work, particularly from the powerful campus Left and other extreme groups.

I also appreciate the response from university president Morton Schapiro (with whom I've had my occasional disagreements) to a ludicrous open letter signed by dozens of woke young alumni in the aftermath of this controversy. Here is a portion of their melodramatic tantrum:

"We are writing this open letter to express our extreme shock and dismay at the university’s violent and repressive response to last Tuesday evening’s student protest of Northwestern University College Republicans’ (NUCR) Jeff Sessions event. Namely, we are appalled at the ways in which NUPD officers brutalized multiple student protestors in defense of Sessions and the fascist ideologies for which he stands. We write as alumni, as former student activists, and as those in community with the students brave enough to directly challenge the vitriolic hatred of the right wing, even in the face of the university’s intense suppression...we know that NUPD officers forcefully grabbed and shoved students, and multiple students were pushed onto the ground...

Northwestern’s administration has historically cited freedom of expression and academic thought as rationale behind allowing dangerous entities to be present on campus, including ICE, [and] a string of right wing political pundits and figures...However, we believe it is irresponsible and dangerous for you, Mr. Schapiro and Mr. Lewis, to prioritize such freedoms over the lives and safety of marginalized students. In doing so, the university has consistently posited the humanity of marginalized students as an intellectual playground or site of political debate. In allowing these same students to be physically punished by police, Northwestern has sent a loud and clear message: speech is free, but only for the powerful.  The violently racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, and homophobic hatred that Jeff Sessions spews has real-life deadly consequences for marginalized communities."

Cartoonishly ridiculous. Fortunately, it was tersely dismissed as such by Schapiro:

Crucial to breaking the fever of mind-coddling 'social justice' insanity on campuses is adults asserting their adulthood and authority. More of this, please.


Are hate crimes up or down? The government has no idea

by Jeff Jacoby

ON TUESDAY, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its annual report on hate crimes in the United States. The total number of such crimes tabulated by the bureau in 2018 was down from the year before — it dropped from 7,175 to 7,120 — so you might have thought the report would be covered as a good-news story. But hate crime statistics are invariably spun as evidence that things are getting worse, and the headlines fit the usual pattern:

New York Times: "Hate-crime violence hits 16-year high, FBI reports"

Los Angeles Times: "Latinos and transgender people see big increases in hate crimes, FBI reports"

CNN: "Hate crimes remain at heightened levels, FBI report finds"

New York Daily News: "Anti-LGBTQ violence in U.S. is rising, according to FBI's hate crime report"

The headlines aren't wrong. The FBI tally does show that crimes against individuals (as opposed to property-related crimes, such as vandalism or arson) rose to 4,571 in 2018, an 11.8 percent increase from 2017. The number of reported offenses targeting Latinos did increase from 427 to 485. Hate crimes motivated by sexual-orientation bias were up, accounting for nearly 19 percent of the total.

But do those statistics actually tell us anything reliable about hate crimes in America? Arguably not.

To begin with, all of the crimes included in the FBI report amount to less than a rounding error in US crime statistics. In 2018, according to the bureau's overall report on crime in America, there were more than 1.2 million violent crimes and nearly 7.2 million property crimes. All of the hate crimes in the new FBI report taken together constitute only 0.08 percent, or eight of every 10,000 crimes, nationwide. Murder alone accounted for more than 16,200 of the nation's violent crimes in 2018. But only 24 murders are included in the hate crime survey.

That survey, moreover, is notoriously incomplete. The annual hate crime numbers are drawn from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program, which compiles data submitted voluntarily by state and local enforcement agencies: police departments, sheriff's offices, public safety bureaus, highway patrols, and so on. There are more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, of which 16,039 sent data to the FBI for 2018. But the overwhelming majority of those agencies, more than 14,000 of them, "reported that no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions in 2018," according to the new FBI document. In at least two states, Alabama and Wyoming, no agency reported even a single crime motivated by bias.

With so few local agencies contributing hate-crime information to the FBI, even a tiny shift in the number of participating police departments can sharply change the bottom line. Dozens of large cities — including Newark, N.J., St. Petersburg, Fla., and Laredo, Tex. — either shared no data at all with the FBI or reported zero hate crimes for 2018. If only a handful of those cities provide more complete information for 2019, next year's report will likely show a jump in the prevalence of hate crime, even though the underlying reality may be unchanged. "We know less about this topic than we imagine," writes legal scholar Walter Olson.

Adding to the dubiousness of the hate crime report is the Justice Department's annual National Crime Victimization Survey. Unlike the FBI reports, the victimization survey is produced by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which annually interviews residents of about 95,000 households. Based on those interviews, the federal government estimates that 250,000 hate crimes occur in America each year — a difference of two orders of magnitude from the FBI report. And whereas the FBI's yearly hate crime statistics show significant fluctuations in the types of offenses or groups experiencing attacks, the national victimization survey's estimate has held steady for years.

That isn't all.

The FBI's definition of hate crimes has changed over time, making it harder to identify real changes or trends in crimes motivated by bigotry. In the last few years, new categories of bias were added, the elements of rape were broadened, and the separate listings for race and ethnicity were combined.

But perhaps the most serious problem of all is with treating "hate crime" as a definable term in the first place.

Violent crimes motivated by bigotry against a victim's race, religion, or sexual orientation are unquestionably repugnant. But aren't violent crimes motivated by other kinds of bigotry or hatred just as repugnant? Is it worse if predators brutally assault people for being Asian or Muslim or disabled — categories of bias covered by the FBI report — than if they attack people with equal brutality because they are homeless or prolife, or anti-Nazi protesters, categories that are not recognized under the Hate Crime Statistics Act? Is it more terrible to open fire in a synagogue because you hate Jews than to do the exact same thing because you get a thrill from killing innocent people?

Meanwhile, how many ordinary offenses get reported as hate crimes merely because of an insult or slur yelled in the heat of an argument?

"This appears to have actually happened, perhaps many times," writes law professor Gail Heriot in a report published Wednesday by the US Commission on Civil Rights. She cites a case from Santa Monica, Calif., in which "an African-American woman parked her car in two spaces and an 80-year-old white man got into an argument with her. The argument boiled over when the man began engaging in childish name-calling and kicking. . . . While the man used a well-known racial epithet, there was no evidence that he harbored actual ill feelings toward African-Americans as a group. The 'group' he really had a beef with was people who take up two spaces with one car. But Santa Monica College police took him into custody (rightly, since he committed a battery) and the act was classified as a hate crime (without more facts, perhaps wrongly)."

Singling out and adding up hate crimes is a subjective task, one the FBI has never managed to pull off successfully. Maybe it's time the government stopped trying to draw such distinctions at all, and left the analysis of hate crimes to scholars and private organizations. The focus of law enforcement should be on criminals' evil deeds, not on the evil thoughts behind them.


Thursday, November 21, 2019

Free speech for therapists threatened -- and beaten

The story begins in 2018, when the New York City government passed a law that determined what types of conversations therapists can have with their patients.

The news came as a shock to Dr. Dovid Schwartz. Dr. Schwartz has been a licensed psychotherapist for more than 50 years. He has served thousands of patients during that time with great success.

But New York City’s law threatened to change all that. Put simply, the law made it illegal for Dr. Schwartz to help patients address unwanted same-sex attractions or confusion over gender identity in a manner consistent with his faith—and theirs.

Dr. Schwartz is a member of the Lubavitcher Orthodox Jewish Community in Brooklyn. Most of his patients share his Jewish faith.

Dr. Schwartz walks his patients through all kinds of struggles, from addiction to anger to family issues. Most of them are looking for help to live more consistently with the teachings of their Orthodox Jewish faith. By simply having a conversation with his patients—and offering some suggestions—Dr. Schwartz has helped a number of them pursue and achieve their personal goals.

But because of the New York City law, if any of these individuals came to Dr. Schwartz asking him to help them move away from same-sex attraction or feel more comfortable with their biological sex, he would have had to either turn them away or face fines up to $10,000—per patient!

The law was blatantly unconstitutional. It violated Dr. Schwartz’s freedom of speech and threatened the religious freedom of his patients who were seeking to live consistently with their religious beliefs.

Dr. Schwartz knew he could not stand by and tell his patients that he couldn’t help them, or that there was no hope. So he reached out to Alliance Defending Freedom.  We were able to help Dr. Schwartz challenge this unconstitutional law in court.

And in an amazing turn of events, Dr. Schwartz’s lawsuit triggered the New York City council to repeal the law. What a win for freedom!

Via email from ADF

Bonds's racy new Christmas campaign showing same-sex couple sharing a kiss is slammed as 'inappropriate' and 'disgusting' with some critics calling for a boycott

It would put me right off buying a Bonds product -- JR

Australian retailer Bonds has sparked debate for featuring a same-sex couple embracing in a passionate kiss in its new Christmas campaign.

The playful ad, titled 'It's the Bonds that make the season', shows a real-life couple sharing an intimate moment in the kitchen while sporting the brand's briefs.

The advertising campaign was posted on Instagram and Facebook on Monday, with the caption: 'It's the little moments that make the Christmas season so special.'

While many fans praised the underwear brand for promoting 'love is love', others described the ad as 'inappropriate' and 'disgusting'.

Some people questioned whether it was 'necessary' to show 'sexualised behaviour'.

'Unnecessary... Why do they need to be so sexual? Before anyone gets tingles in their pants and jumps down my throat I would be saying the same if it was a man and a woman. I don't see why they need to have their tongues intertwined,' Mel said.

Kelley said: 'If it was a man and woman making out it would be flagged inappropriate and too much, but the double standard of it being deemed appropriate because they're gay... it's too much.'

Others even threatened to 'boycott' or 'unfollow' the brand on social media.

'Why Bonds? Would have been just as horrified if this was a straight couple. Unfollowing,' Melanie said.

An Ad Standards spokesperson confirmed to Daily Mail Australia it 'received less than five complaints about the campaign which are currently being assessed'.


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Academics are now being fired for using the n-word in an entirely educational way

It’s no longer surprising but still has the capacity to shock: an attorney for a state university in Texas lost her job because she quoted a verboten word during a discussion of free speech. In a doomed effort to explain that language widely considered hateful is constitutionally protected, she said: ‘It’s impossible to talk about the First Amendment without saying horrible things. “You’re just a dumb nigger and I hate you.” That alone, that’s protected speech.’

She was out of a job in less than 24 hours, despite immediately offering an abject apology: ‘I just want to sincerely apologise. I did not mean by any means [to] offend anyone. I wish I had censored that word, it came out without thought. I sincerely apologise. I literally have never said that word in a public setting before… I did not mean to, I was trying to be real.’

Still the university president condemned her language and the student government association president demanded her resignation as a demonstration of the school’s commitment to anti-racism.

But refusing to distinguish between using an epithet and merely quoting one, especially during a discussion of free speech, is not anti-racism – it’s anti-reason, denoting a gross failure of critical thinking. Discussing racist speech is simply not the equivalent of trafficking in it. That used to be obvious, even to left-wing critical-race theorists who helped initiate the current crusade against free speech some 30 years ago. Back in 1993, law professor Mari Matsuda, who advocated banning bigoted speech, suggested making exceptions for people who quoted it for purposes other than ‘hate-mongering’, like ‘news reporters who repeat racist speech in reporting the news of its utterance [or] law professors who repeat racist words in hypotheticals for class discussion of the First Amendment’.

That was then. Today, language phobias abound, making the mere sound of certain words presumptively traumatic, regardless of meaning or context. Is this assertion of extreme emotional fragility sincere or simply a power pose – a tactic framing censorship as an act of virtue, not a self-serving assault on individual rights? Perhaps it’s both. I suspect that many have been convinced by woke culture of the damage done by the mere utterance of certain syllables, but that they also recognise the power of their presumptive fragility. From the always aggrieved Donald Trump to the denizens of woke culture, the self-proclaimed harassed and oppressed effectively employ the political uses of victimhood.

So, today, people who quote verboten words, in any context and for any purpose, instead of referencing them by their initials, are routinely vilified. Five years ago I was accused of committing an act of racial violence for quoting the racist language of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn during an academic discussion of free speech, literature and law. I was also condemned for quoting the word ‘cunt’ instead of referencing ‘the c-word’, (which, from my perspective, is ‘censorship’). I exacerbated my sin by defending it, instead of apologising.

But if we’re not allowed ever to utter words deemed racist, sexist or homophobic, even to condemn their use or explain free-speech law, why should we be able to say ‘c-word’ or ‘n-word’, calling the unspoken words to the minds of our listeners, effectively asking them to traumatise themselves? Soon, progressive censors may condemn and cancel us for making any coded references to verboten words. Given their speech phobias, and the power those phobias confer, why shouldn’t they?


Is God punishing Australia with drought and bushfires?

As an atheist, I cannot agree with that.  But in Australia you are allowed to say that, despite much condemnation. See Israel Folau's words below.  His beliefs are part of a resilient Christian tradition that sees God's hands in earthly events.  Many Christians do, for instance, see God's protective hand in their own lives.  And that is a great source of comfort and reassurance to them.

And seeing Bible passages as prophetic of world events is also common.  Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists have been doing so for well over hundred years -- and there is always some fervent Christian somewhere doing it. Seeing the book of Daniel as prophetic is particularly common.  So what Folau is saying is simply one part of the Christian tradition, a part that is evidence of a fervent Christian committment.

Even Jesus did it. His words in Matthew 24 are usually seen by Christians as prophetic of the Roman invasion of Jerusalem

Sacked Wallabies star Israel Folau’s claim the bushfires that have devastated Australia and left six dead are God’s punishment for legalising abortion and same-sex marriage has sparked a furious reaction.

Dumped by Rugby Australia after warning homosexuals and other sinners they will go to hell unless they repent, Folau has doubled down on the stance in a video sermon posted to the Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney.

During the 10-minute recording, the 30-year-old says the timing of the bushfire crisis is no coincidence but only a taste of God’s judgment should nothing change.

“I’ve been looking around at the events that’s been happening in Australia, this past couple of weeks, with all the natural disasters, the bushfires and the droughts,” he says.

He then reads from the Book of Isaiah in the Bible: “The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.”

“The events that have happened here in Australia, in the last couple of years – God’s word says for a man and a woman to be together … they’ve come and changed this law,” he says.

“Abortion, it’s OK now to murder, kill infants, unborn children.”

Folau says he believes the scripture is talking to Australia. “Look how rapid these bushfires these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time. Do you think it’s a coincidence or not?

“God is speaking to you guys. Australia you need to repent and take these laws and turn it back to what is right.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has weighed in and quickly denounced the comments from Folau. “I thought these were appallingly insensitive comments,” Morrison said.

“They were appalling comments and he is a free citizen, he can say whatever he likes. But that doesn’t mean he can’t have regard to the grievous offence this would have caused to people whose homes have been burnt down.

Folau says he is sharing the message “out of love” but he stirred up a hornet’s nest as his comments were picked up by news outlets across the world.

Anglican minister Peter Kurti said Folau was wrong. “If God really was going to punish us for changing the law on abortion (and) changing the law on marriage, it’s the Parliament House in Macquarie St and the Parliament House in Canberra that should have been the target of God’s wrath — not the mid-north coast and south Queendland,” he told Sky News. “If God was angry, God’s aim was off.

“These are outrageous views and they are up there with the religious fanaticism of the Greens. But … we live in a free country and if this is what Israel Folau believes — and he’s not a politician, he’s not voting resources … he’s a preacher talking to his congregation — surely in Australia we want to defend his right to do so even though we can think the views he expresses are completely wrong and offensive.”


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Google 'DOES blacklist sites, has targeted conservative news sites and changes its algorithms to favor big businesses,' claims new report - despite the tech giant's denials

Google is secretly blacklisting certain sites to prevent them appearing in search results - despite publicly denying doing so - according to an investigation.

The Wall Street Journal report claims that the search giant has been blacklisting certain spam sites since the early 2000s, as well as those featuring child abuse or copyright infringement, to prevent them appearing in search results.

The newspaper also reported that conservative publications have been blacklisted in Google News, and said that it had seen documents to support this claim, fuelling cries of political bias.

Right-wing websites The Gateway Pundit and The United West included on a list of hundreds of websites that wouldn't appear in Google News or featured products - although they could appear in organic search results, it said.

A Google spokesperson said the company does 'not manually determine the order of any search result.' However, she said sites that don't adhere to Google News 'inclusion policies' are 'not eligible to appear on news surfaces or in information boxes in Search.'

Google has said repeatedly it doesn't make decisions based on politics, and has previously said in congressional testimony that it doesn't use blacklists. And former employees claim there is no political bias involved in decisions.

In a 2018 hearing whether the company had ever blacklisted a 'company, group, individual or outlet…for political reasons,' Karan Bhatia, Google's vice president of public policy, responded: 'No, ma'am, we don't use blacklists/whitelists to influence our search results,' according to the transcript.

According to a the draft policy document from August 2018 seen by the WSJ, the purpose of the blacklist is 'to bar the sites from surfacing in any Search feature or news product sites'.

The policy instructs engineers, known as 'maintainers', to focus on sites that actively aim to mislead - such as 'a publisher misrepresenting their ownership or web properties' and having 'deceptive content' - rather than those that have inaccurate content.

Any changes or additions to the blacklist must be made by at least two people - one to make the change and another to approve it - according to the person familiar with the matter.

The WSJ report also claims that Google made algorithmic changes to its search results that favour big businesses over smaller ones, and in at least one case made changes on behalf of eBay, which is a major advertiser.

The company also boosts some major websites, such as Amazon and Facebook in search results, according to people familiar with the matter.

Google's engineers have also created blacklists to weed out more-incendiary suggestions in auto-complete, the feature that predicts search terms as the user types a query - particularly those relating to controversial subjects such as abortion or immigration.

The WSJ compared Duckduckgo and Google autocomplete results in Joe Biden, and found that 'creepy' was suggested every time by the former but never by Google.

In response to the report, a Google spokesperson told Mail Online: 'We have been very public and transparent around the topics covered in this article, such as our Search rater guidelines, our policies for special features in Search like Autocomplete and valid legal removals, our work to combat misinformation through Project Owl, and the fact that the changes we make to Search are aimed at benefiting users, not commercial relationships.

'This article contains a number of old, incomplete anecdotes, many of which not only predated our current processes and policies but also give a very inaccurate impression of how we approach building and improving Search.

'We take a responsible and principled approach to making changes, including a rigorous evaluation process before launching any change -- something we started implementing more than a decade ago.

'Listening to feedback from the public is a critical part of making Search better, and we continue to welcome the feedback.' -- Google spokesperson


SPLC Targets Franklin Graham for 'Hate Group' Speech

Few evangelical Christians are as well-known or as influential as Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, and head of both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international charity Samaritan's Purse. Yet the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) ventured to attack this mainstream Christian evangelist for a speech he gave to a Christian organization the organization smears as a "hate group" — for pushing back against transgender activism.

"Influential evangelical leader Franklin Graham has continued his anti-LGBTQ associations by speaking to a hate group that brands 'trans' activists as guilty of harming children," the SPLC's "Hatewatch" blog reported.

The evangelist spoke at the Illinois Family Institute's "Faith, Family, and Freedom" annual fall banquet and defended President Donald Trump amid the Democrats' impeachment effort.

The SPLC gained its reputation by suing the Ku Klux Klan and affiliated hate groups into bankruptcy. The group's co-founder, Morris Dees, pioneered the KKK attacks as a successful fundraising strategy, and SPLC staff actually resigned in protest because they thought the KKK lawsuits were distracting from more important legal work helping the less fortunate. As the KKK largely vanished, the SPLC expanded the "hate group" fundraising, demonizing conservative and Christian organizations by accusing them of being "hate groups" on par with the KKK.

The SPLC has accused both the Illinois Family Institute (IFI) and American Family Association (AFA) — of which IFI is an independent state affiliate — of being "anti-LGBTQ hate groups." The liberal group justified this smear by citing IFI's statements that homosexual activity is "medically, emotionally and spiritually unhealthy" and its warnings against the "ravenous, pro-'trans' behemoth." IFI warned that transgender activists are "propagandizing, grooming, and mutilating children."

"The Illinois Family Institute holds theologically orthodox, historical Christian views on volitional homosexual activity, marriage, and cross-sex identification," Laurie Higgins, IFI's cultural affairs writer, told PJ Media. "We also hold theologically orthodox views on love, which is inseparable from truth. We believe genuine love--as opposed to what passes for love today--entails seeking for others that which is true and good. Genuine love as demonstrated by Christ does not entail affirming all the feelings, beliefs, and volitional acts of others."

Traditional Christianity, based on Jesus' teachings in the Bible, holds that sexual activity outside of marriage — one man, one woman, for life — is sinful, and that God made human beings male and female. Christianity also teaches that sinners can be redeemed — every Christian is a redeemed sinner.

For these and other reasons, IFI opposes LGBT activism and especially the idea that children who may be confused about gender should be subjected to experimental hormones and "puberty blockers."

"If these ideologies are false, then denying them is the antithesis of hatred," Higgins said. "Believing an assumption is wrong, or believing a volitional sexual act is immoral does not constitute hatred of persons who believe differently and act in accordance with their beliefs." There is a world of difference between saying that homosexual activity is a sin and encouraging harassment or violence against LGBT people, which IFI does not do.

"Perhaps SPLC hatewatchers hate everyone who holds different beliefs and moral precepts than they do, but they ought not impute their habits of mind to others," she quipped. "We at IFI, like many other people, are fully capable of loving those who believe differently and act in accordance with their beliefs--even false and destructive beliefs. And we will express our beliefs with the boldness and clarity that the sanctimonious deceivers at the SPLC express theirs."

The SPLC went on to attack Franklin Graham's statements on LGBT issues. The liberal group contrasted these comments:

“I just believe as a Christian, we are to show love; we are to show compassion to people, not to point the finger, not to do this, but to do this  – to love them, to welcome them, to embrace them.”

"So I want the gay and lesbian people to know that if they repent and turn from those sins, God will forgive them and heal their hearts. But I'm not going to accept it and say what they're doing is fine. It's not fine. It's not fine with God and they'll stand before him one day."

Hatewatch suggested that the expression of Christian love stood "in stark contrast" to the remarks about repentance. This misunderstanding underscores the reason why the SPLC and other groups interpret conservative Christianity as hateful. Jesus teaches that all human beings are sinful and therefore must repent in order to be reconciled to God. Yet because Jesus died on the cross, He paid the penalty for sin, making redemption possible.

Meanwhile, LGBT people have indeed faced harassment and violence. Christians should and do condemn this — all people are made in the image of God and Jesus commanded His disciples to love their enemies. Yet activists claim that the only way to prevent harassment and violence is to embrace LGBT identities and behavior, to celebrate "pride." Orthodox Christians cannot do this, because they do not want to encourage people to sin. Hate has nothing to do with it.

Samaritan's Purse, which Graham runs, is often first on the scene after a hurricane or other natural disaster. The charity also sends shoeboxes packed with Christmas gifts to impoverished children across the world. The SPLC did mention some of this work, but warned that "the charity has faced criticism for using its Operation Christmas Child donation program to try to convert children in majority-Muslim countries to Christianity."

Rather than condemning Franklin Graham for speaking to a Christian organization, the SPLC should take this opportunity to reconsider whether its "hate group" accusation against IFI is correct. If this organization's smears lead it to attack such a man, perhaps the problem is the SPLC's bias, not the Christian views it demonizes as "hate."

Then again, if the SPLC reconsidered its "hate group" smears against mainstream conservative and Christian organizations, it would escape many of the defamation lawsuits it now faces. One such lawsuit cost the organization $3.375 million. Maybe the SPLC likes the controversy.