Thursday, July 31, 2014

Outrage at Upmarket British store after firm stocks 'sexist' beauty products called Fat Girl Slim

Must not mention FAT!

Marks and Spencer has been criticised for selling a range of body toning creams called ‘Fat Girl Slim’.  The products, including anti-cellulite cream and a stomach-toning gel called ‘six-pack’, have been accused of targeting 'insecure women' by campaigners in Brighton, West Sussex.

M&S insisted the name, which is by independent firm Bliss, was simply a light-hearted play on the name of DJ Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook.

But a shopper lodged a formal complaint with the manager of M&S's Western Road store in Brighton, citing the rate of eating disorders among young girls.

Brighton resident Frances Joseph, 41, urged customers to sign a petition which was started more than a year ago calling on Bliss to end its range entirely.

She said: 'Many of us agree that this is deeply inappropriate branding for a cosmetics range.

The firm responded: 'This is part of our Bliss beauty range; the products play on the popular DJ's name and aren't intended to cause offence.'

According to its website, Bliss began in 1996 with a spa in New York and later started marketing its treatments online and in shops. Its Fat Girl Slim range is thought to have existed for at least three years.


'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse': Richard Dawkins sparks outrage during Twitter debate

He was trying to get everyone to think logically.  He failed.  When emotions intervene, logic flies out the window

Controversial scientist Richard Dawkins provoked fury yesterday after referring to ‘mild date rape’ and ‘mild paedophilia’ in comments on Twitter.

Campaigners for women and child abuse victims condemned the prominent atheist’s posts as ‘offensive and damaging’.

Professor Dawkins, 73, became embroiled in the row when he made a point about logical thinking to almost a million followers on the social networking site.

The academic sparked anger by choosing the example of sexual abuse to illustrate the idea.   He began by writing: ‘X is bad. Y is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of X, go away and don’t come back until you’ve learned how to think logically.’

Then he added: ‘Mild pedophilia [sic] is bad. Violent pedophilia is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of mild pedophilia, go away and learn how to think.

‘Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.’

Despite coming under fire from scores of other Twitter users, the evolutionary biologist refused to change the topic.

He went on to write: ‘Mild date rape is bad. Violent date rape is worse. Is it really so hard to understand that that doesn’t constitute endorsement of either?’

The professor finally withdrew from the argument after tweeting: ‘What I have learned today is that there are people on Twitter who think in absolutist terms, to an extent I wouldn’t have believed possible.’

But Peter Saunders, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said the scientist had belittled the ‘devastating’ effect of sexual abuse.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Newspaper Editor Claims Firing Over Anti-Gay Rant Violates His Religious Freedom

Remarks made on his private blog were at issue, not statements made on the job

An Iowa journalist is suing his employer for discrimination after being fired over anti-gay remarks on his personal blog. Robert Dale Eschliman was editor-in-chief of the Newton Daily News, which fired him following a post alleging the Bible compelled him to fight against "the LGBTQXYZ crowd and the Gaystapo" because they were God's enemies.

A conservative Christian group called the Liberty Institute -- formerly the Free Market Foundation —- helped Eschliman file his suit. "There is no question that I was fired for holding and talking about my sincerely held religious beliefs on my personal blog during my off-duty time from the comfort of my own home," wrote Eschliman in his lawsuit. "I would like to have obtained a religious accommodation for my sincerely held religious belief to share my Biblical view with the few family members and friends who read my blog."

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does prevent employers from rejecting, punishing, or firing individuals soley based on their religious beliefs or affiliation.


Court Rules in Favor of Ground Zero Cross, Rejects Atheists' Appeal

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the 17-foot cross beam salvaged from the wreckage of Twin Towers will remain in the National 9/11 Museum, despite the very best efforts of American Atheists Inc.

In “American Atheists v. Port Authority of New Jersey and New York” the group asserted that the artifact's positioning in the museum towered "over any other symbols in the vicinity, expressing Christian primacy." It charged that the Latin cross's dominance violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause and the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

The judges found, however, that the "Ground Zero Cross" is a constitutional and an important symbolic artifact from the terrorist attack. According to the ruling:

    "The stated purpose of displaying The Cross at Ground Zero to tell the story of how some people used faith to cope with the tragedy is genuine, and an objective observer would understand the purpose of the display to be secular...there is no evidence that the static display of this genuine historic artifact excessively entangles the government with religion."

This common sense ruling still comes as a major legal victory. Eric Baxter, Counsel for the Beckett Fund, noted that the court made a very key distinction:

    “Even though the Ground Zero Cross is unquestionably a religious symbol, and holds deep religious meaning for many people—particularly those who found hope and inspiration in its discovery—the government does not violate the Establishment Clause by recognizing and educating others about the actual role played by religion in our history and culture.”

This historic relic will now continue to show the importance of religion in the United States for years to come.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jessa Duggar's strict Christian boyfriend is forced to delete anti-Catholic Facebook rant slamming religion's 'deadly errors'

What this guy said is basic Protestant theology.  Northern Europeans once fought a long and bitter war for the freedom to say all that

Ben Seewald, the staunch Christian boyfriend of 19 Kids and Counting star Jessa Duggar, 21, has been forced to delete an anti-Catholic rant he posted to his Facebook page last week, after it caused a social media storm, reports RadarOnline.

The 19-year-old, from Hot Springs, Arkansas, vented his 'problem' with the Catholic faith, slamming the religion for suggesting that Jesus' mother Mary was a 'sinless being,' and quoting scripture to support his views.

'Where [Catholics] depart from Scripture, I will in no way support, but will call them out because I love them and desire that they be turned from their deadly errors,' the frothy diatribe read.

'I have nothing against individuals who are Catholic,' the post read. 'I know a lot of Catholics who are great people. What I DO have a problem with is the teaching that man can merit God’s favor through his own works or the works of other fallen men.'


Councillor, 70, who called herself the 'n***** in the woodpile' is sent on equality and diversity course

It was once a common expression.  I would have used it myself in the old days

A 70-year-old councillor who called herself ‘the n***** in woodpile’ has been sent on an equality and diversity course.

Convent-educated Elizabeth Peters used the offensive term while speaking to a member of the public after a Stroud District Council meeting.

The grandmother, who runs a bed and breakfast in Brimscombe, Gloucestershire, and organises the village fete, apologised but said the phrase was commonly used when she was young.

She said: ‘I’m 70 and grew up with this kind of thing. It was just something which slipped out. It was not directed at anyone except myself.   ‘There were no foreigners around. I have already apologised to the two people who were upset.

The phrase, used as a metaphor to describe a hidden fact or problem, originally referred to fugitive slaves who hid in piles of firewood in the American Deep South in the mid-19th century.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Why Shouldn’t Tony Dungy Be Allowed To Say What Most People In The NFL Probably Think About Michael Sam?

Tony Dungy is catching all sorts of flack for a comment he made about Michael Sam even though it wasn’t homophobic, cruel or even mean. Believe it or not, Dungy is being attacked for doing nothing more than restating the conventional wisdom about Michael Sam that was being openly discussed on draft day.

"I wouldn’t have taken (Michael Sam). Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it … It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen."

There are 31 teams in the NFL that passed on an opportunity to take Sam and had the Rams not pulled the trigger in the final round of the draft, it’s entirely possible he wouldn’t have ended up on a roster at all. Is that fair? Well, given that the line on Sam was that he was an outstanding college player who would be marginal in the pros, it’s not a shocker that he wasn’t a hot prospect.

In fact, if the Rams had known he was going to kiss his boyfriend on TV after he was drafted and planned to have Oprah following him around, making a documentary about him, he probably would have gone undrafted.

The truth is that Michael Sam seems more interested in being professionally gay than being a pro-football player; so Tony Dungy’s right to say he’ll be a circus. In fact, the reaction to Dungy’s innocuous comments prove it.


Risky to refer to the lost Malaysian airliner

Singapore Airlines was slammed this week for attempting to reassure customers its planes weren’t flying over Ukrainian airspace in the tragic aftermath of doomed flight MH17.

The well-intentioned comments earned them a sharp rebuke on social media, with many deeming it offensive they had dared to tweet something so “insensitive” in the hours immediately following the tragedy.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Welsh outrage as BBC's Hazel Irvine describes their country as a PRINCIPALITY

Since Wales has a Prince it is reasonable to describe it as a principality. Since it is in many ways dependant on England, it is a stretch to call it a country

BBC presenter Hazel Irvine provoked fury last night after she referred to Wales as a principality during the Opening Ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 games.

The Scottish broadcaster made the slip up as Team Wales entered the city's Celtic Stadium during the official opening of the Commonwealth Games last night.

Her words caused fury among viewers of the event - who took to Twitter to voice their anger.

One, Meleri Thomas wrote: 'Distressing to be referred to as 'the principality' at the @thecgf opening ceremony.'

Another, Richard Davies, added: 'Bloody hell Wales is not a principality Hazel Irvine!! #BBC #Glasgow2014.'

Natalie McGarry wrote: 'Hello Wales! Wait, did she just call Wales a principality? I misheard, right.'

The term principality refers to a sovereign state whose ruling monarch is a prince or a princess with an executive role in the state. The Prince of Wales has not held such a position in the country for centuries.

The country is governed by the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government - which was established as separate institutions under the Government of Wales Act 2006.

In 2011, Wales was recognised in the international community as a country following a campaign by south Wales politician Leanne Wood.

The South Wales Central AM lobbied for Wales to be given country status after an International Standards Organisation (ISO) newsletter referred to the country as a principality.


Bribes to suppress speech

British government schools that were quietly taken over by Muslim extremists started easing out non-Muslim teachers.  When the teachers complained, the councils that ran the school paid the teachers serious money to hush it all up

Teachers forced out of three schools at the centre of the Trojan Horse investigation were prevented from raising concerns because of gagging agreements.  One former staff member at a school caught up in the scandal told the BBC that compromise agreements were being routinely used to silence teachers who were being forced out of their jobs.  The unnamed teacher said: “It’s quite clear what the compromise agreement says. It’s clear that I should not speak out about it to anybody or show the agreement to anybody.”

Peter Clarke, the former head of the Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorism branch, also raised concerns about the inappropriate use of compromise agreements in the last of the inquiry reports published this week.  His report found the practice was used at three schools, the first time the extent of such agreements has been detailed.

Mr Clarke, who was commissioned in April by then Education Secretary Michael Gove to investigate allegations of the Trojan Horse plot, said: "Birmingham City Council should review all compromise agreements signed with head teachers in the last five years to consider whether they were appropriate and whether Birmingham City Council should have done more to exercise their duty of care."

Compromise agreements are often used to avoid former staff from bringing damaging employment tribunals against an employer and are often accompanied with a substantial payment in return for their silence.

Mr Mahmood said that former teachers, heads and governors should be allowed to give evidence to the inquiries into claims of a plot by Muslim hardliners to infiltrate Birmingham schools, without risking their pay offs or pensions.

He said: “A number of people I have spoken to are afraid to come forward because they have signed these gagging orders.

He also criticised some teaching unions for allowing members to sign compromise agreements while ignoring more serious concerns they were raising.

Rob Kelsall, senior regional officer with the National Association of Head Teachers, welcomed the Clarke report and said it was time to draw a line under "a five-month ordeal" for senior teachers. He said the city council had "failed in its duty of care to head teachers" in failing to tackle the Trojan Horse issues.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Parents protest over head teacher who 'banned mentioning Christmas and David Beckham'

More than half the teachers at a primary school have resigned in protest at a controversial new superhead who once banned children mentioning Christmas or David Beckham because it distracted them from work.

King's Farm Primary School in Gravesend, Kent, has around 15 teachers and 27 teaching assistants, but 25 of them have announced they will not be returning after the summer holidays.

Parents have been up-in-arms since January when new head teacher Jane Porter, who is also in charge of nearby Whitehill Primary School, was drafted in to King's Farm Primary School by Kent County Council.

Mrs Porter hit the headlines in November last year after she 'banned' all 515 children at Whitehill Primary School from mentioning Christmas before December the 1st. The head said that children would lose their ‘golden time’ if the festivities were mentioned before December. She also banned mentioning David Beckham unless it was in the context of lessons.


Must not donate to Israeli charities

But I do -- JR

He has never been afraid of getting into spats on his reality TV shows, but now Simon Cowell has found himself in the middle of a much more serious conflict.

The X Factor mogul has been bombarded with gruesome images of dead Palestinian children by protesters who accuse him of helping the Israeli invasion of Gaza.

It comes amid fears of growing anti-Semitism across Europe as violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza escalates.

Opponents of Israel's two-week military action have seized on a £90,000 donation Cowell made to the Friends of the Israel Defence Forces (FIDF) at a fundraiser last year.

The organisation, founded by Holocaust survivors in 1981, says on its website that it provides Israeli soldiers with ‘love, support and care in an effort to ease the burden they carry on behalf of the Jewish community worldwide.’

At a fundraiser in Beverley Hills, hosted by billionaire TV magnate Haim Saban, Cowell, 54, publicly gave $150,000 [£90,000] to the cause.

But in the wake of this month’s conflict in Gaza, dozens of Palestinian supporters attacked Cowell on Twitter and posted graphic reminders of the death toll online in an effort to shame him for his generosity.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Must not smile at Auschwitz

An Alabama teenager criticized for taking a smiling selfie during a tour of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp has said she doesn't regret the picture.

Breanna Mitchell defended her actions on TakePart Live on Monday, saying she took the picture in memory of her father, who taught her about the concentration camps.

Criticism of the girl's selfie came during a growing trend of tourists snapping pictures of themselves at memorials, including at Ground Zero in New York.

In Mitchell's case, the teenager said she had made the trip to Auschwitz on the anniversary of her father's death, and had wanted a memento.

The teenager added that she had been shocked by the sudden interest in the picture, and said she had been sent harsh messages and even death threats.


Pat Condell's latest

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Contentious ideological struggle within a mid-town Manhattan Unitarian/Universalist Church:  Must not speak up for Israel

We now have more information regarding Church critic Robert Reiss’s suspension from the Community Church of New York, the former liberal but now increasingly Maoist and anti-Israel Unitarian/Universalist Church.

The meeting on the 15th resulted in a quorum of Board of Trustee members who, flouted both the letter and the spirit of the bylaws of the Church by voting to suspend Reiss for 6 months, barring him from setting foot on Church property – including attending Sunday Services – under threat of police arrest or ejection at the hands of Church Security personnel.

On Sunday, June 22nd, during Church coffee hour at noon, 3 Board of Trustee members, including the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board, beckoned Reiss to accompany them into the intimate “Chapel of Peace.” It was here, Reiss was told of the rogue vote against his membership and was told to comply of this banishment forthwith. Immediately thereafter, Reiss returned to the coffee hour space where he announced to the Churchgoers present before him:

    “Dear Church Friends, I’ve been told just now of my banishment, which is against the bylaws of this Church — simply because of my Israel advocacy. I’ve been a loyal member here since I was 7 years old and do more volunteer work here than almost anyone else — yet I’m to be banished from your company for half a year without any due process.”

While he was addressing the church, the cabal of trustees whispered to Reiss that “we’ve called the police who’ll arrest you if you don’t leave.” An arrangement with the local police precinct was made earlier in the week by Church administration. This was apparently necessary, as the Church’s own security personnel would not be willing to comply. “Robert Reiss tells the truth…” they said, complaining that “Rev. Southworth [the presiding minister] acts like he is the king.”

Rather than a confrontation escalating, Reiss took his leave.

Over many years Southworth never censures or chastises anyone’s articulated anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements; yet he only sought to silence, harass or intimidate the articulation of pro-Israel sentiments.


Dressups banned at S.F. baseball

The San Francisco Giants baseball team is warning fans not to show up at AT&T Park wearing “culturally insensitive attire.”

Culturally insensitive clothes? My head may explode.

Sr. Vice President Staci Slaughter said the Giants’ fan base is one of the nation’s most culturally diverse and the team wants to make sure that Giants’ opponents are the only group in the park whose feelings are hurt on game day.

“We want to make sure that our fans are respectful of each other and the different backgrounds that everyone comes from,” Slaughter said.

The move was triggered by an ugly incident at AT&T Park on Native American Heritage Night.

Several Native Americans showed up in traditional gear. So far, so good. But a non-Native fan wore a headdress, too. He claimed it was a tribute. "Authentic” Indians weren't convinced. One asked the bogus brave to ditch the headdress. He did, but hurt feelings lingered. Hence, the ban against “culturally insensitive clothing.”

It’s bad enough that the government tells citizens what kind of light bulbs to buy and how many gallons are allowed per flush. Now a sports team tells fans what to wear to a game?  Amazing.

A highlight of the ballpark experience is seeing the outlandish outfits sported by some fans. Any of them could offend someone.

Plastic cheese heads worn by Green Bay Packer fans surely offend the lactose intolerant. University of Georgia fans painted like pooches and barking their lungs out must give cat lovers a case of the creeps.

During a recent World Cup soccer match, one dude showed up dressed like the Pope, with marijuana leaves and swastikas embroidered on his robes. Who wasn’t offended by that?

Besides, most of the outfits aren’t mean spirited. I speak from experience. During a Thanksgiving pageant at Edward J. Hynes Elementary School in New Orleans, Kent Davis dressed as a pilgrim. Margie Eggles was a pilgrim-ette. I was an Indian, complete with plastic feather and lipstick war paint.

As the pilgrims frolicked around a table loaded with cardboard turkeys I stood nearby, grinning and saying, “Ugh.” As far as I was concerned, “Ugh” was Choctaw for “I love Tonto.” (Which I did. And still do.)

The San Francisco clothing ban is as dumb as calling white paint racist. And it's not as if the ball park didn’t have bigger things to worry about.

The day before the insensitive clothing ban was announced, a man beat a woman so badly at AT&T Park she had to be hospitalized. Her offense? She rooted for the Giants’ opponent. At least her feelings weren’t hurt.

Speaking of Giants, has the club considered that their nickname might be offensive to people of average or below average height?


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Australia: Toyota dealer slammed for Rolf Harris HiLux ad

A TOYOTA dealer has been slammed on social media for making a poor taste Rolf Harris joke in an advertisement for a used Toyota HiLux utility.  Under the photo of a second-hand HiLux for sale, the description reads: “There’s more hope of Rolf Harris getting a babysitting gig than us finding a better example,” a reference to the 84-year-old Australian entertainer who was jailed for child sex offences in London earlier this month.

The advertisement then matter-of-factly goes on to list details about the vehicle, including the $28,990 asking price and that it is a 4x4 diesel and comes with a steel tray and bullbar.

The advertisement was for Goldfields Toyota in Kalgoorlie, West Australia, and was published by the local newspaper, the Kalgoorlie Miner, about three weeks ago.

Goldfields Toyota general sales manager, Darryl “Shack” Evans, told News Corp Australia: “It wasn’t meant to offend. We try to make our ads a little bit interesting and a little bit lighthearted but we blurred the lines of good taste and bad on this occasion. It was only printed once, but it’s somehow got on social media after someone took a photo of it, even though we’d taken it off the website.”


Australia:  Racial discrimination in Sydney's Chinatown?

IT’S the Shanghai shuffle, the fried price — a Mandarin restaurant in Sydney’s CBD is charging English-speaking patrons more than 10 per cent extra per dish than their Chinese-speaking counterparts.

A serving of fried rice costs $2 more on the English menu than for people who order from the Chinese menu — ­effectively a 12.7 per cent fee on English-speakers.

Yin Li Sichuan restaurant owner Diana suggested it was meant to be a secret among Asian customers.  “The Chinese menu is usually just for Chinese people, they like the Sichuan flavour,” she said.

The Daily Telegraph pointed out the discrepancy in prices to a staff member at the Dixon St restaurant on Thursday night.

“The English menu is new, that’s why it’s more expensive,” she said. Both menus, however, appeared equally worn and dated.

A serving of fried rice with lettuce and beef is $17.80 on the English menu but only $15.80 for Chinese speaking customers. Mapo tofu ($16.80) and dried spicy bean ($17.80) are both $1 more if you can’t read Chinese.

The Daily Telegraph could not find any examples of cheaper dishes for English-speaking customers. The double standards have drawn the ire of the online community, with one customer labelling the restaurant “racist” in a review last year.

“Two menus — one for Chinese (cheaper) one for others (dearer),” wrote tripadvisor reviewer Stephanie. “Will never eat there again or encourage others. Racism (in) its worst form.”  Another wrote: “If you are not Chinese, do not eat here.”

It is against the law to offer goods or services at “less favourable terms or conditions” based on somebody’s race or nationality under Section 13 of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

But Restaurant and Catering Association chief executive John Hart said it was difficult to prove discrimination under the current law.  “It obviously doesn’t sit very comfortably,” he said.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Must not call fish Asian

The Minnesota Senate on Monday approved John Hoffman's (D-MN) bill to change the name "Asian carp" so called because the species originates from Asia, to "invasive carp". Since Asian carp were introduced in the U.S. in the 1970's, the fish have spread to dozens of states causing destruction in the delicate ecosystems of the waterways.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been fighting off the most invasive species, the black carp from China, the Silver carp from Vietnam, and Grass carp from China from spreading into the Great Lakes were the fish could do massive damage the regions fishing industry. While arguing his case on the Senate floor, Hoffman said that referring to the fish as “Asian” was hurtful to some people...


Race row at Cornish festival after pub landlord and his friend 'black up' as tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams

Two friends have been branded racist after 'blacking up' as tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams for a carnival parade.

Kevin Stevens, 50, a local pub landlord, and his friend Jason Luke, 31, a builder, covered themselves in dark fake tan, brown face paint and afro wigs to join a tennis-themed carnival float.

They put on women's sports gear and were photographed posing enthusiastically with tennis rackets at the procession in Truro last weekend. Mr Stevens also sported a pair of fake breasts for the event.

Since the event they have been lambasted by spectators and carnival organisers, who called their costumes 'inappropriate', 'out-of-date and offensive'.

The pair have denied that they are racist and apologised for any offence - though one of the two said he 'doesn't get the racial side of it' and characterised the criticism as 'political correctness gone mad.'

He told MailOnline: 'I'm deeply upset by the story - at the end of the day we were trying to support a local carnival that had died a death and we're trying to revive.

'We're trying to raise a bit of money for children with cancer - a whole bunch of us went as famous tennis players and I really don't see the issue.

'Quite often me might do things a bit close to the bone - but in this case it didn't even enter my head. I don't get it.'


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Must not remind people of Hitler

Pictures have emerged of two members of the conservative Mexican National Action Party which appear to show them dressed up as Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun.

The pictures show Manuel Escobedo Ceballos, 23, secretary of PAN's youth action wing, and his party colleague Karla de la Rosa, 26, in costumes at a Halloween party.

Ms de la Rosa, who is an MP in the Mexican city of Chihuahua, has denied she was dressed as Braun and said her costume was in fact of Greta Garbo, after the images were posted online.

PAN spokesman, Alfredo Pinera, said the the sharing of the photos was a PR stunt by party rivals at PRI as part of a bid to gain more votes in the next election in 2015.

He said: 'The pictures were taken out of context and designed to damage the image of these young politicians.'

Ceballos declined to comment on the pictures but a friend confirmed that they were taken at a Halloween party and repeated the suspicion that rival politicians had leaked them to the media to damage the reputation of his party.

He said he felt Ceballos dressing up with a Hitler-style moustache and cropped hair, and also with a military costume similar to the one worn by Hitler, including a swastika, was appropriate for a Halloween party.


French blogger fined £1,200 after negative review of restaurant

A French blogger has been fined £1,200 after a judge ruled a negative restaurant review appeared too high on Google searches.

Caroline Doudet was also ordered to amend the title of her review, written in August 2013, which described the restaurant as 'the place to avoid in Cap-Ferret.'

Owners of the Il Giardino restaurant, in the Aquitaine region of southwestern France, sued Ms Doudet claiming the review, which appeared fourth in Google searches, was hurting their business.

Ms Doudet told the BBC: 'This decision creates a new crime of "being too highly ranked [on a search engine]", or of having too great an influence.

Ms Doudet's blog, Cultur'elle, has about 3,000 followers, which the judge said had exacerbated the damage caused to the restaurant.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Court rules in favor of Confederate battle-flag display

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit that had been filed against officials who had rejected a group's petition for a customized Texas license plate featuring the Confederate battle flag.

The Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued in 2011 after the state Department of Motor Vehicles Board rejected its application for a specialty license plate. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2013.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled Monday the Texas board violated the group's First Amendment rights by rejecting the license plate request.
The case was sent back to an Austin federal court.

The group says its design honors the memory of Confederate soldiers and represents Southern heritage, but the board concluded it would offend many residents.


Australia: Sexist, misogynistic and racist slogans are set to be painted over by controversial hire company Wicked Campers following public outcry

Wicked Campers has come under increasing pressure this week after an online petition kicked off by Sydney mother Paula Orbea gained national attention, triggering widespread calls for the company to remove explicit slogans form its vans.

The petition - launched after Ms Orbea's daughter spotted a Wicked van in the Blue Mountains with "In every princess, there's a little slut who wants to try it just once" written on the back - now has more than 100,000 signatures.

Ms Orbea has since received an email from the company, offering a personal apology and informing her that the slogan had been removed.

"Wicked Campers Owner, John Webb wishes to acknowledge the prevailing community opinion by REMOVING the slogan in question and making a commitment over the coming six months to changing slogans of an insensitive nature," it read.

Ms Orbea described the company's change of heart as a "people power win".

"The kind of sexism and misogyny on those Wicked Campers vans may seem trivial, but it's not – it's degrading to women, harmful for our children to consume, and condones a rape culture that sees one-in-three Australian women sexually assaulted in their lifetimes," she said.

A motion to stop the company "promoting violence against women" with slogans painted on its vehicles was also passed unanimously in the Senate this afternoon.

Greens Senator Larissa Waters had moved the motion earlier in the day following the petition.  Senator Waters told SBS that it was a clear cut case that the slogans in question were “entirely sexist and misogynist”, as well as “basically inciting sexual violence”.


This firm has been controversial for a few years but the police  ruled that they were not breaking the law.  So it is interesting that a public outcry succeeded where the law did not.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Only Muslims can say that their religion is the one true faith

The writer below reserves his condemnation for a Christian pastor who thinks he has the one true faith

I called the pastor to make sure I had heard him correctly. He confirmed that I did, and kindly elaborated by explaining that the followers of the Koran – the Muslims – do not pray to the same God. He explained that their God is a hateful God.

The pastor continued by saying, “if you go to the doctor with cancer, you expect the doctor to tell you the proper treatment.” He explained that the treatment prescribed might be a “tough pill to swallow,” but the doctor has to tell you the truth. He continued by saying that if spiritual growth, salvation or eternal life are being sought, then it is his duty to describe the one and only avenue to enlightenment, and that is only through Jesus Christ. All other avenues are false.

I explained to the pastor that my experience listening to his sermon was negative and that I felt his theme was divisive and judgmental. I felt he was teaching hate and fear.


Must not refer to men who are Chinese as Chinamen

Two California politicians have called for a host of Fox News Channel's "The Five" program to resign over his use of racially charged language, saying Bob Beckel's use of the term "Chinamen" was offensive.

The pundit is facing criticism for using the word on air last week as well as for suggesting Chinese computer science students come to study in the United States only to pose a security threat.

Beckel responded to the backlash from his comments by saying on a Monday evening episode of “The Five” that he was sorry he had “apparently offended some people,” but that he was not sorry for the remarks he made about China.

“I will continue to warn the American people about how dangerous China is to the U.S. security and to our business community,” Beckel said. “To those who were offended, I am sorry. I do not apologize to the Chinese government or for their habits or for their murders.”


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Topshop Selling Racist Necklace

The incorrectness of history again

Didn’t think jewelry could be offensive? Think again. Topshop is under some pretty strong criticism after a customer found a necklace that displays 19th century racist depictions of East Asians. According to reports, when the customer questioned the store manager about the offensive nature of the necklace, he defended it by saying it was “vintage” and, therefore, not racist. Yeah. You know. Like your grandma who was born in 1912. Sure thing.

The (naturally) offended customer then took complaints to Twitter and, in normal Twitter fashion, people responded pretty quickly — and no one is too pleased with Topshop.

Although the item (and it’s matching bracelet and earring set…) have since been removed from the Topshop website, photos of the necklace are floating around social media accompanied with various versions of “shame on you” messages directed toward the massive UK brand responsible for the offensive jewelry.


Ad about some black children being poorly fed arouses ire

 A South African children's charity has been forced to apologise after running a controversial advertisement which showed a white woman feeding a black child like a dog.

The one-minute video features the child sitting on the floor almost begging for food as the woman feeds him from the table.

Later, child is seen below the dining room table getting fed by the woman like a dog

The controversial advert was scheduled to be broadcast between news programmes in South Africa.

It claimed that the average domestic dog was better fed than millions of impoverished children in South Africa. 

The charity said that the real message of the advert got lost in the controversy. 


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Facebook Removes Teen's Hunting Pictures; Keeps Up Page Advocating for Her Murder

Texas Tech student and aspiring TV host Kendall Jones has been under fire as of late for her posts on Facebook with various big game animals she has hunted. Facebook removed those photos yesterday, claiming that they violated the site's community standards. Something apparently does not violate those community standards, however, is a page advocating for the murder of Kendall Jones.


Criticism of Chinese Communism is racist (?)

The College Board apologized for a "culturally and racially insensitive" T-shirt and some comments made at its Advanced Placement World History exam grading event last month.

On the front of the shirt are caricatures of Chinese politicians with the words, "Chinese Communist PARTY!!!" On the back is an image of Mao Zedong and text in what critics of the T-shirt call a "chop suey font."

"It hearkens to this history of racist imagery," said Hannah Kim, an assistant professor of history at the University of Delaware and one of the AP exam readers, in an interview with USA TODAY Network.


The iconography on the shirt is a direct borrowing from Communist iconography.  It is historically accurate.

Monday, July 14, 2014

UK: Leftist hate speech again: Socialist paper mocks death of Eton schoolboy in polar bear attack

A socialist newspaper has faced calls to apologise after it ran an article mocking the death of a 17-year-old public schoolboy killed during an Arctic expedition, saying it was “another reason to save the polar bears”.

Horatio Chapple, a pupil at Eton, was mauled to death by a polar bear in 2011 while on an adventure holiday. Two other pupils and two leaders on the trip were hurt before the bear was shot dead during the night-time attack. An inquest into his death opened on Monday.

The Socialist Worker carried a report in its latest edition under the headline: “Eton by bear? The inquest begins”.

The piece, in the newspaper’s “Troublemaker” diary column, concluded with the lines: “Troublemaker has long supported campaigning for the environment. Now we have another reason to save the polar bears”.

The article was described as “incredibly tasteless” after screenshots of it were published on Twitter. Many users called on the Socialist Worker, a free paper produced by the Socialist Workers Party, to apologise.

Ed Simpson said on Twitter: “Socialist Worker apparently delighted by the horrific death of a teenager because of the school he attends. Lovely.”


Australia: Football  commentator apologises for on-air 'gay slur'

A Channel Seven AFL commentator has apologised for referring to Geelong defender Harry Taylor as a "big poofter" on live television.

Veteran personality Brian Taylor, who played for Collingwood and Richmond, made the remarks during the coverage of the Sydney v Carlton game after file footage was shown of the Geelong defender celebrating his 150th game last week.

“I don’t know whether you guys down there can hear me or not. I am up here getting ready for the game and I’ve just seen that crap from Harry — he’s a big poofter,” Taylor said.

At half-time, Taylor apologised for the remarks, which caused widespread outrage on social media.


"Poofter" is the Australian version of "faggott" but is not as offensive.  It can mean simply someone who is a bit weak or foolish in some way, which was the probable meaning in the episode above.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Journalists Say Obama Administration’s ‘Censorship’ Threatens Free Press

A coalition of 38 journalism advocacy groups penned an open letter to President Obama urging him to better foster transparency and curb systemic censorship within his administration and the federal government.

Released yesterday, the letter chastised the president for failing to live up to his own promises, and endangering the critical role of a free press in a free society.

“The stifling of expression is happening,” the letter states, “despite your pledge on your first day in office to bring ‘a new era of openness.’”

The letter decried and outlined dubious federal policies and practices designed to limit the free flow of information. Providing general examples and specific instances, the letter denounced such practices as vetting journalist questions, monitoring interviews, and stemming access to government officials.

The coalition characterized “these restrictions a form of censorship—an attempt to control what the public is allowed to see and hear.”

David Cuillier, president of the Society of Professional Journalist, heralded the letter as a historic development. In a press release, Cuillier wrote that “Never before has such a broad-based coalition of journalism and good-governance organizations spoken out on this issue.”

This sentiment resonates with Geoffrey Lysaught, group vice president of strategic communications at The Heritage Foundation. Lysaught explained that the administration’s continued “efforts to hide the facts for political gain” threatens the existence of free society.


Australia:  Arabs can't handle the truth

Premier Mike Baird has publicly reprimanded the chair of the NSW Community Relations Commission, Vic Alhadeff, over “inappropriate” remarks that accuse Palestine of war crimes and appear to gloss over Israeli violence.

But critics say the rebuke to Mr Alhadeff, who is also chief executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, does not go far enough and say he should be removed from the government-appointed position.

In an email to members of the Jewish community this week, Mr Alhadeff condemned acts by Palestinian militant Islamist group Hamas during conflict ignited by the murders of three Israeli students last month.

The incidents triggered a suspected reprisal killing of a Palestinian teenager, followed by riots in East Jerusalem and the exchange of rockets between Israel and Gaza.

Mr Alhadeff's email, titled “Israel Under Fire”, criticised the “Hamas terror organisation” for launching rockets on Israeli towns, saying families had been forced into shelters and “children kept from summer camp”.

Israel would “do whatever is needed to defend its citizens. All options are on the table”, he said.

He accused Hamas of “war crimes” for “indiscriminately” attacking civilians, claiming in contrast, Israel uses “care to avoid civilian casualties” and “pinpoint technologies to hit the targeted infrastructure”.

The statement triggered outrage amongst Arab leaders in NSW, including Joseph Wakim, former Victorian Multicultural Affairs Commissioner and founder of the Australian Arabic Council, who described the views as “biased and provocative”.


Friday, July 11, 2014

NYC: Pols Promise a Solution Against ‘Elmo Bullies’

Though complaints about Times Square can fill an entire encyclopedia, at the latest Times Square Alliance’s Midtown conditions meeting, one issue took center stage: how to deal with Elmo, Hello Kitty and Spiderman, among other costumed characters.

Costumed characters that panhandle or offer pictures in exchange for money have proliferated in Times Square, as noted by the Wall Street Journal, adding to the usual commercial chaos of the famed town square.

And while they may seem cuddly, elected officials said the characters are a serious problem.

“This is a cancer on Times Square that has to be excised soon. It spread from the West Coast, where it began in Hollywood, outside of Mann’s Chinese Theater,” State Senator Brad Hoylman said. “The panhandlers are exploiting the First Amendment, but I don’t think you have a First Amendment right to harass and threaten people as some of these characters have done.”

The alliance’s director, Tim Tompkins, said they’re not all bad — but their presence, and the number of complaints, has grown in the last two years.

“The problem is not with the folks that are out there making kids happy in an appropriate way, the problem is the folks that are both subtly and not so subtly intimidating and harassing people,” Mr. Tompkins said.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told reporters she was open to examining a slew of possible solutions.

But she said those characters who are not doing the right thing have become a real problem for tourists and children.

“They accost people. I’ve seen it with my own eyes — they ask to take a picture, they ask for money, they chase people to the ATM sometimes for money. They are very aggressive and it doesn’t show a good picture of New York,” Ms. Brewer said.

Councilman Andy King has already drafted a bill that proposes a licensing scheme and will present it at the next stated meeting at the City Council. Mr. King said he knew his bill would have to be sensitive to First Amendment rights.


The first Amendment does not support bullying so it should not be too hard to draft a bill penalizing it that would be upheld in the courts

Hobby Lobby Hatred surges out from the Left

And it needed just the picture below to ignite it

To show support for the recent  Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, Holly Fisher – aka “Holly Hobby Lobby” – posted a photo of herself wearing a “pro-life” T-shirt and holding a Chick-fil-A cup in front of one of the arts-and-crafts chain’s locations in West Virginia. The Army wife and mother of three became an instant Internet sensation, attracting intense attention from both sides of the debate over Obamacare, abortion, and religious freedom.

Within hours, Fisher’s picture went viral on Twitter, garnering thousands of hateful comments

Some critics on Twitter began calling her “the new face of the American Taliban.”  Others referred to her as a “Jihad Barbie.”

“I have always been extremely conservative and passionate about my views,” Fisher told when asked why she originally tweeted the Hobby Lobby photo. “The last few years of the growing hate and intolerance among the ‘tolerant’ left has made me want to stand up and speak out.” She added


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Australian model Samie Robinson accused of racism after posting insensitive blackface photo on Instagram

An Australian model has found herself at the centre of a race row after she shared a photo of a woman in blackface on her Instagram account.

Samie Robinson, from Sydney, who signed with IMG Models, upoloaded the shot on Wednesday of herself and friend Lillian Garrett, who was in costume to look like rapper Lil Wayne, which included blackface make-up - an old fashioned theatrical technique deemed highly offensive.

After posting the shot and captioning it with a birthday shout-out to Lillian, some of the 18-year-old's followers pointed out the cultural insensitivity of the photo.

Blackface is considered offensive given its origins in America in the 1800s when it was used in thetrical productions to portray stereotypical black characters, proliferating racist ideas.

But Samie hit back at the detractors, defending the photo and her friend Lilly who was wearing the make-up.  '[I] don't see how [it's racist], [Lil Wayne] is clearly black and she has painted herself this way to portray him,' she wrote.  'Would it not be more racist to portray him as a white man, which he clearly isn't?'


Australia:  Bogan controversy mayor 'will not stand down'

"Bogan" is difficult to define.  An uncultured and ignorant working class person is about it

Glamorgan Spring Bay Council Mayor Bertrand Cadart has said he will not stand down, even if his fellow councillors declare they have lost confidence in him.

Councillor Cadart is facing a vote of no confidence next week, after making national headlines for calling members of his council area "the most bogan of bogans".

The mayor said his comments had been taken out of context.

"Because English is my second, obviously not my mother tongue," said the French-born mayor.

Some councillors and local residents were upset after the mayor told a magazine that Triabunna [the town at the centre of the Glamorgan Spring Bay area] was ugly and he did not care about the people living there.


Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Racial comments from Soccer fans are likely to continue

Unpunished German fans

At 10.32am, Rio time, Fifa dignitaries gathered at the Maracana to launch a “Say No To Racism” video, featuring Lionel Messi, David Luiz and Pele, which will be shown on screens at World Cup quarter-final stadiums on Friday and Saturday. Within 20 minutes, Fifa was ripping itself apart over the speed, direction and strength of its anti-racism campaign. Fifa ended the session standing accused of not wanting to acknowledge the ugly side of the ‘Beautiful Game’.

The genesis of the schism was simple. The Fifa task force against racism headed by Jeffrey Webb was aghast at the Fifa disciplinary committee’s failure to punish discriminatory acts by Mexico, Croatia and Germany supporters in Brazil.

Webb, the president of Concacaf, sat next to Claudio Sulser, the former Swiss international and current chairman of the disciplinary commission, at the Maracana. They made awkward neighbours.

“It is obvious there is a disconnect between what we in the task force deem as racism and discrimination and what the disciplinary committee deems as racism and discrimination,” Webb said. Ouch. Sulser stared straight ahead and defended his committee’s inactivity, retreating into the more obscure parts of the rule book for justification.

On the eve of the tournament, Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, campaigned for this to be the “anti-racism” World Cup. Sadly, Mexican fans chanted “puto” (“faggot”) at opposing keepers


Vet Could Lose Home For Displaying Small US Flag In Front Yard Because It Violates Home Display Rules

A veteran could lose his home because of a small American flag he has placed in a flower pot in front of his home.

Larry Murphree explained that his homeowners’ association in the Sweetwater community wants him to remove the flag because it violates home display rules. Furthermore, he is facing $8,000 in fines if he doesn’t take it out of his flower pot.

“I want it to go away. It’s such a minor little thing and they keep coming after me,” Murphree told WAWS. “They just sent me a letter that says I owe them around $8,000 and they put a foreclosure lien on my house.”

Murphree has 30 days to pay the fines and remove the flag or the homeowners’ association will move forward with the foreclosure.

The veteran had a similar fight with the homeowners’ association last year and he filed a lawsuit which was settled out of court. Now the homeowners’ association flag display rules have been rewritten since then.

Florida statute 720.304 section 2a states that “Any homeowner may display one portable, removable United States flag…in a respectful manner…not larger than 4 1/2 feet by 6 feet…regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the [homeowners'] association.”

Murphree said he won’t stop until he can fly his flag freely at his home.


Looks like the law is on his side

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Wicked South African word not allowed in Seattle

Instead of looking for kaffir lime leaves when cooking Southeast Asian or Indian recipes, try just asking for lime leaves.

That’s how the ingredient is now classified at PCC Natural Markets, just days after staffers saw an article on racist connotations behind the original name. “The k-word is akin to the n-word in South Africa and some other African countries,” reporter Mia Stainsby wrote in The Vancouver Sun, noting a social media campaign to use the less common term “makrut lime” instead.

PCC now refers to them simply as “lime leaves,” a term approved by the Oxford Companion to Food, said PCC food writer Jill Lightner, who saw the original article and worked on the changes.


Since there are many different types of lime, referring to kaffir limes as just "limes" is very uninformative

The myth of Islamophobia

UK:  Nine years on from 7/7, the much-anticipated anti-Muslim backlash is yet to appear.

Children as young as 10 are among those racially abusing Muslims in Britain’, shouted the Daily Mail last week; ‘Women targeted in rising tide of attacks on Muslims’, asserted the Observer; ‘Action needed to tackle “rampant” Islamophobia on social media’, urged the Metro. It is apt, perhaps, that on the ninth anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings, the spectre of Islamophobia has once again been looming large in the UK media. After all, the assumption that in Britain, and in the West in general, anti-Muslim sentiment is on the Mosque-burning, veil-ripping march has been one of the most persistent political and cultural narratives over the past decade or so.

Again and again, the idea of a seething, popular mass of anti-Muslim sentiment is invoked by politicos and pundits (some Muslim, some not). And again and again, this seething, popular mass of anti-Muslim sentiment never actually shows its face. The not-very-racist reality has consistently failed to live up to the burning-and-bigoted hype.

Just look back: after every terrorist attack carried out by assorted jihad-espousing, al-Qaeda fanboys, there has been no shortage of politicians, commentators and so-called community leaders warning of an imminent surge in anti-Muslim attacks. And yet each time, the surge never came. A few months after 9/11, for instance, a spokesman for London’s Metropolitan Police told spiked: ‘There isn’t really evidence of an increase [in assaults against Muslims].’ Again, in the year after the 7/7 bombings, the Crown Prosecution Service revealed that, out of the 43 cases of religiously aggravated crime, just 18 of them were against Muslims (or ‘perceived’ Muslims) – a decline from 23 anti-Muslim crimes in 2004-2005.

Even the recent headlines about a rise in Islamophobia following the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich by two wannabe jihadists are largely based on a rather dubious source called Tell Mama (an acronym for ‘measuring anti-Muslim attacks’). For those who don’t know, Tell Mama first made the news last summer when it claimed that there had been over 200 ‘Islamophobic incidents’ in the weeks following the Woolwich killing. ‘The scale of the backlash is astounding’, Tell Mama’s founder, Fiyaz Mughal, told the BBC at the time. Yet, what Tell Mama didn’t reveal was that several reports were unverified, the vast majority of ‘Islamphobic incidents’ consisted of postings on social media (some of which didn’t even originate in the UK), and no one who was involved in a real-world attack had required medical attention. The whole operation, from the conflation of rude tweets with attempts to set fire to mosques to the willingness to take reports at face value, looked like a desperate attempt to create the problem of Islamophobia out of resentment-thin air. Which is largely what it was.

It seems, then, that this widespread anti-Muslim sentiment exists not so much in British society as it does in the minds of those determined to conjure it into being as a problem, from state-backed campaign/community groups to achingly liberal commentators.


Monday, July 07, 2014

Australia:  Socialist Alternative withdraws violent cover graphic of PM

The Leftist hate never stops. Hating is what they do

The Socialist Alternative has withdrawn its newspapers featuring a violent image depicting Tony Abbott getting his throat cut following a public backlash.

The image was accompanied by the headline "One cut we'd like to see” and was on the front page of its paper Red Flag.

The organisation posted the image last night on its Facebook page, prompting more than 200 comments, most of them negative.

One user said: "Oh ... not cool. I’m no fan of the LNP — policies, parties, associates or leader — but this seems unnecessarily violent.”

Another said: "dreadful picture. DO NOT CONDONE violence to anyone. Even Abbott. You LOST me off this page and as a supporter.”

The Socialist Alternative released a statement this morning saying it would withdraw the cover, citing "legal concerns”.


UK: Criticising someone's height should be socially unacceptable, says shortass

John Bercow has suggested making fun of someone because of their height should be as socially unacceptable as homophobia or racism.

The Commons speaker, who has previously been referred to as a “stupid sanctimonious dwarf” during a debate in the House, said his height did not bother him.

But Mr Bercow, who is 5ft 6ins tall (1.7m), said it was unacceptable that people were criticised on the basis of how tall they are, and this could be taken as offensive.

"Whereas nobody these days would regard it as acceptable to criticise someone on grounds of race or creed or disability or sexual orientation, somehow it seems to be acceptable to comment on someone's height, or lack of it,” he said.


Sunday, July 06, 2014

BBC receives more than 170 complaints over Mark Lawrenson's 'sexist' commentary during World Cup match

BBC commentator Mark Lawrenson has come under fire for a 'sexist' comment made during the Argentina versus Switzerland World Cup game.

Switzerland striker Josip Drmic's weak shot at goal during their round of 16 clash with Argentina on Tuesday evening prompted Lawrenson to state Drmic 'should have put a skirt on'.

Lawrenson's comment caused a storm on social media and has triggered 172 angry complaints to the BBC with claims it was offensive and sexist.

Unhappy listeners were quick to voice their disdain with his quip, made during live commentary, and took to Twitter to voice their anger.

The BBC confirmed it had received 172 complaints regarding the incident.

A spokesperson also apologised on behalf of Lawrenson, saying: 'The remark was inappropriate and we apologise for any offence caused.'

Broadcasting watchdog OfCom said it was also aware of the incident.

It had received six complaints but had not yet decided whether it be formally investigating.


Censorship by the mob

The relatively small amount of explicit state censorship today shouldn’t be taken as a sign that we live in a more free society, but rather speaks to something quite terrifying - that the state doesn’t really need to enact laws that police our words at a time when there are so many mobs willing to do that dirty work on its behalf.

In Australia over the past week, there have been two striking examples of outsourced censoriousness, which reveal how this new phenomenon works and how damaging it can be.

In the first case, a Georgian opera singer, Tamar Iveri, was hounded out of Opera Australia (OA) after it was revealed she once made homophobic comments on her Facebook page. Ms Iveri had been due to perform in OA’s production of Otello, which opens in Sydney next month. But then someone exposed that, a year ago, she had said on FB that she was glad Georgian protesters had spat on Gay Pride marchers in Tbilisi, and had asked the Georgian president not to let into Georgia what she called the ‘West’s faecal masses’ - that is, homosexuals. Oz’s left-leaners, small-L liberals and artsworld inhabitants decided that such a person was not fit to perform in Australia, and so they used their considerable influence - their newspaper columns, their social-networking pages, the financial leverage of their patronage of the arts, which they made clear could be withdrawn - to put pressure on OA to drop Ms Iveri. They won. Ms Iveri was cast out, dumped by OA on the basis that her views were ‘unconscionable’. And thus was Australian opera made morally pure once more.

In the second act of outsourced censorship, the annual Sydney-based Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) dropped from its programme one Uthman Badar, a member of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, after the title of his talk, ‘Honour killings are morally justified’, caused outrage. Mr Badar says he wasn’t actually intending to justify honour killings, only to explain why some people in some societies believe they are justified. But it was too late: he, too, had been cast out, thrown off a public platform not by the state’s heavies but rather under pressure from a fuming Twittermob. Mr Badar’s views were intolerable in the eyes of this informal network of policers of speech, who used anger, pressure and thousands upon thousands of irate tweets - the modern incarnation of the rotten tomato - to have him expelled from a conference line-up.

In both cases, individuals were hurled off public platforms not by state censors, but as a result of self-censorship brought about by offended mobs. Both OA’s craven dismissal of an opera singer whose only crime was failing to possess the same moral views as most of the Australian artsworld, and the Festival of Dangerous Ideas’ expulsion of a speaker whose idea was just too dangerous, were shameful episodes of self-gagging, of institutions kicking out individuals in response to the censorious clamour of small but noisy groups who found those individuals repulsive. Who needs the state to blacklist morally suspect artists when now the mob is willing to do it? Who needs the state to say which political ideas can be expressed at public conferences, and which most definitely cannot, when there exists an informal Inquisition who will make such decisions on the state’s behalf? There’s no need for laws decreeing what it is morally right to think and politically acceptable to say when ban-happy vigilantes are willing to enforce informally such strictures, through demanding, and very often winning, the censoring of those they judge to be beyond the Pale.

Of course, a lynch mob never thinks of itself as a lynch mob; it always convinces itself that it is simply a dispenser of right and proper moral justice. So the largely left-leaning arts types who successfully had Ms Iveri shamed out of Australia would balk if you compared them with, say, the McCarthyites of 1950s America. And yet what they are doing - expelling from Australian public life an artist who possesses what they decree to be unacceptable moral views - is indistinguishable from the McCarthyites’ insistence that creatives of too hard a left-wing persuasion should have been blacklisted from Hollywood. In both instances, artists are judged, not on the basis of their talents, but on the basis of their moral worldview; and in both instances, artists are censoriously blacklisted for failing to be morally and politically correct.

Likewise, if you were to compare the mishmash of right-leaning anti-Islamists and left-wing concerned feminists who successfully agitated for the no-platforming of Mr Badar to the mobs in Britain who in the late 1980s screamed for Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses to be banned, they’d probably be outraged. But the similarities are striking. In both instances, small, informal gangs gathered to demand the removal from public view of something they considered to be deeply offensive and harmful: today’s Aussie mob wants an Islamist speaker dumped from a public platform, yesteryear’s Muslim mobs wanted a book dumped from bookshops and libraries. Both of these agitated crowds believed they had the right to shut up a speaker/writer whose words they believed to be socially harmful. Or is it only the religious and the uneducated who can be a mob? If well-educated writers and inhabitants of Twitter holler for the removal of something that makes them nauseous, are they just ‘expressing themselves’ rather than being mob-like? I’m sorry, but an educated lynch mob is still a lynch mob.


Friday, July 04, 2014

No Complaints Over 'Redskins'

Before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board stripped the Washington Redskins of trademark protection, the organization received exactly no correspondence (i.e., zero complaints) from the general public about the football team's brand.

In an investigation by The Washington Times, "A Freedom of Information Act request ... asking for any communications from Congress or the public produced just 13 pages of records. Six of those pages were a handwritten, meandering letter from a man in Lubbock, Texas, whose position on the team name controversy isn't clear.

Another writer congratulated the appeals board after its decision but questioned whether the judges would 'go after' the United Negro College Fund.

Both letters were sent after the ruling.

But the trademark appeals board did listen to someone -- namely, the shrill voices of 50 liberal senators with nothing better to do than foment politically correct bitterness.


America: Home of the perpetually offended

By Rick Manning

I'm offended.

I'm offended that a politician like Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wastes time worrying about whether a professional football team's name is appropriate rather than doing his job and moving already House-passed economic revitalization legislation through the Senate.

I'm offended that every time anyone criticizes one of President Obama's many failed policies, someone plays the race card. Failure knows no color, creed or sex, and those who deliberately conflate significant and meaningful policy disagreements with race are despicable in every way.

I'm offended that someone at the A&E network felt that the traditional Christian viewpoints held and espoused by Phil Robertson warranted his suspension. If the gay rights movement is so thin-skinned that it cannot stand honest disagreement done without condemnation, that is more a reflection on them.
I'm offended that in Houston, an American veteran has been told that he cannot fly his American flag by a homeowner association because it might be dangerous.

I'm offended that in northern California, a high school prohibited wearing shirts adorned with the American flag on May 5, because the Mexican students in the school were offended.

I'm offended that some people, under the guise of contraceptive rights, think I should pay for their birth control and abortions. This is not a moral judgment on whether they should use birth control or have abortions, it is a moral objection to their having the government force me to pay for their choice.

I'm offended that atheists have sued to eliminate the inclusion of the beams from the World Trade Center that formed a cross in the 9/11 memorial. These beams brought hope out of despair for many in that trying time, and to not include them would be a travesty.

I'm offended by those who are trying to remove "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency.

But overall, I'm offended by those who are perpetually offended. Our nation is turning into a bunch of whiners looking for reasons to find offense rather than shrugging things off and moving ahead. So, if this piece offends you, all I have to say is: Get a life.


Thursday, July 03, 2014

Muslim group's fury over 'sacred symbol' in perfume advert

Gazing suggestively at the camera, Georgia May Jagger’s modelling campaign for Just Cavalli perfume certainly looks provocative.

However, it’s not the 22-year-old’s sultry pose that has triggered controversy, but the H-like symbol on her wrist.

The advert featuring the model daughter of Mick Jagger, part of a campaign by Italian fashion house Roberto Cavalli, has been singled out by followers of a branch of Islam, who said it ‘cheapens’ and ‘degrades’ one of its holiest symbols.

The pictures of Georgia May – daughter of the Rolling Stones frontman, 70, and model Jerry Hall, 57 – have prompted demonstrations by Sufi Muslims in London, outside Harrods, as well as in Dusseldorf, Germany, and Los Angeles, since they were first released in the middle of last year.

The campaign – put together by Italian fashion house Roberto Cavalli to promote a designer fragrance – shows Miss Jagger with an ornate H-like symbol on her skin.

It’s similar to a sign Sufis use to refer to Allah and representatives of the community have said it is ‘heartbreaking’ to see it used to make money.

There are an estimated 500,000 adherents of Sufism worldwide and they are demanding the symbol, which they have previously had trademarked, be removed from the adverts.

Roberto Cavalli, which has used the image in campaigns since 2011, claims the symbols are not the same. It is a stance supported by the EU, which last month rejected a request by Sufi groups to ban the company from using the sign.


Australian State government  fails to toughen hate speech law

The state government has shied away from a long-planned crackdown on racist speech, prompting claims the dispute over changes to national anti-discrimination laws has stymied reform in NSW.

The government was this week due to respond to recommendations by a NSW parliamentary inquiry that would have removed obstacles to convicting people for racial vilification, but has delayed its response indefinitely.

Radio presenter Alan Jones had decried the inquiry as "beyond ludicrous", while conservative commentator Andrew Bolt said the idea was "straight out of the Leninist playbook".

The inquiry was referred by former premier Barry O'Farrell, who was concerned there had been no successful criminal prosecutions in the history of the laws.

The inquiry recommended that serious cases of racial vilification be referred to police for full investigation and possible criminal prosecution, rather than consent being sought from the Attorney-General.

It called for an increase in the period within which criminal complaints can be lodged to a year, a review of penalties for serious racial vilification, and police training about the offence.

The government was due to respond to the recommendations on Tuesday this week, more than six months after they were handed down. In a three-line response, it said it "continues to consider" the report and the issues raised.

NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Stephen Blanks said the government's response was "terribly unsatisfactory and sends a signal that it is not prepared to take appropriate action against racism".


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Appeals Court Orders Atheists to Justify Lawsuit Against 9/11 Cross

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered American Atheists to justify its claim that placing the Ground Zero Cross at the National 9/11 Museum in New York City constitutes a “particular and concrete injury” to atheists and "marginalizes them as American citizens."

“Plaintiffs’ brief should, at a minimum, clarify both the injuries alleged and legal theories relied on to support standing,” the court order said.

“The Constitution does not guarantee citizens a right entirely to avoid ideas with which they disagree," the court added, giving American Atheists until July 14 to respond.

The order was issued after the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed an amicus brief in the case, asking the court to look into the validity of the group’s claims, including one that said some atheists had experienced “stress, headaches, and indigestion” after reading about the display.

The Becket Fund says it filed the amicus brief because other defendants failed to address American Atheists' "frivolous" claims. “Courts should not allow people to sue just because they claim to get ‘dyspepsia’ over a historical artifact displayed in a museum," it said in a press release.

“Lawsuits for violations of the Establishment Clause should be limited to circumstances where the government is truly coercing people to engage in religious activity,” said Eric Baxter, a lawyer for the Becket Fund. “The Constitution is not a personal tool for censoring everyone’s beliefs but your own.”

The 17-foot tall cross consists of two steel beams found in the World Trade Center rubble by a construction worker. In the days following the deadliest attack on American soil, it provided a source of solace for many of the rescue workers and was eventually placed on a pedestal and blessed by a Franciscan priest. It was later placed in the 9/11 museum as a historical artifact of that day.


Must not remind people of diabetes

It's conventional wisdom that overeating causes diabetes but most fat people don't have diabetes so I am awaiting a u-turn on that

IT’S a decadent tower of cinnamon jam cronut, peanut butter ice cream, dulce de leche caramel and a rich espresso shot.

Sweet tooths vouch for the delicious dessert, one claiming it was “literally the best thing that happened to me this week,” and another reporting it put her into “a food coma”.

But the cafe responsible for the dish is under fire for naming the dessert “Diabetes”. Customers, diabetes sufferers and critics of The Paramount Coffee Project in Surry Hills, Sydney have openly criticised the cafe on its Facebook page, many leaving scathing reviews.

“Horrified at your insensitivity and ignorance,” one woman wrote. “You should educate yourselves before posting such hurtful and inaccurate things on behalf of your business.”

“Shame on you! I put my child to bed every single night praying she wakes up in the mornings,” another woman said. “No disease should mocked or treated lightly, especially one that so very many children suffer from. My daughter isn’t diabetic because she ate one of your horrid desserts.”

But other customers have no issue with the name.  “I think the name suggests what you might get for having eaten this dessert albeit tongue in cheek. I find it rather comical,” one reader wrote. “We all suffer from various illness or disabilities in our lives, learn to laugh as it is the best medicine.”

“My daughter is diabetic. I do not find any offence in the naming of the dessert nor does she. She is just a little disappointed that there are limited sugar free options for diabetics when they go out that are interesting and tasty,” commented another woman.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Banning adverts for “junk food” is censorship

"On Sunday, UK campaign group Action on Sugar (AoS) published its Childhood Obesity Action Plan. As puffed up as, well, a sugar puff, AoS declared that the plan had been requested by the secretary of state for health, Jeremy Hunt. The seven action points in the plan aim to tackle the 'food environment,' which is, apparently, entirely responsible for obesity.

Implementing the plan will require the government to provide 'strong leadership to bring about a sea-change in the philosophy of the whole soft-drink and food industry.'

There is plenty to criticise in the AoS plan, which is stuffed full of ideas for lifestyle interference on the word of self-appointed experts. But one idea stands out: 'a total ban on advertising of ultra-processed foods that are high in saturated fats, sugar and salt, and sweetened soft drinks, to protect children.'"


Policing social media: A full-time job in Britain

"An extraordinary announcement was made this week by Chief Constable Alex Marshall, head of the College of Policing. The announcement should have come as a shock -- sadly, however, it did not. Marshall told the BBC’s Law in Action programme that around half the complaints received by front-line police now relate to online activity. ...

He also indicated -- in a detail that could have come from an episode of Brass Eye -- that many of these complaints relate to entirely trivial behaviour, such as people being 'unfriended' on Facebook. So why is this unsurprising, however ludicrous? Because it is the inevitable result of our increasingly punitive approach to internet speech."

According to Marshall, there are 6,000 police officers currently being trained to deal with anti-social behaviour online. Marshall warns that many are still trying to understand the point at which insults on social media become crimes. Maybe I can help them with that: they don’t. To conflate credible threats of violence on the one hand, with trifling insults on the other, is absurd. The purpose of the police can never be to ensure complete interpersonal harmony in a country of 62million people. The notion is preposterous in concept, and any attempt at its execution will be dystopian in effect. Even if we could, would we really want to spend our days in some insipid echo-chamber of perpetual accord?