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6 July, 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.


4 July, 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.


3 July, 2014

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".


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.


2 July, 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.


1 July, 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?


This is Tongue-Tied 2

Posts by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.)

Alternative (monthly) archives for this blog are here

Is the American national anthem politically incorrect? From the 4th verse:
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."


"HATE SPEECH" is free speech: The U.S. Supreme Court stated the general rule regarding protected speech in Texas v. Johnson (109 S.Ct. at 2544), when it held: "The government may not prohibit the verbal or nonverbal expression of an idea merely because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable." Federal courts have consistently followed this. Said Virginia federal district judge Claude Hilton: "The First Amendment does not recognize exceptions for bigotry, racism, and religious intolerance or ideas or matters some may deem trivial, vulgar or profane."

Even some advocacy of violence is protected by the 1st Amendment. In Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), the U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously that speech advocating violent illegal actions to bring about social change is protected by the First Amendment "except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."

The double standard: Atheists can put up signs and billboards saying that Christianity is wrong and that is hunky dory. But if a Christian says that homosexuality is wrong, that is attacked as "hate speech"

"I think no subject should be off-limits, and I regard the laws in many Continental countries criminalizing Holocaust denial as philosophically repugnant and practically useless – in that they confirm to Jew-haters that the Jews control everything (otherwise why aren’t we allowed to talk about it?)" -- Mark Steyn

A prophetic comment on Norwegian hate speech laws: As Justice Brandeis once noted, repressive censorship “breeds hate” and “that hate menaces stable government,” rather than promoting safety; “the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies.”

Voltaire's most famous saying was actually a summary of Voltaire's thinking by one of his biographers rather than something Voltaire said himself. Nonetheless it is a wholly admirable sentiment: "I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it". I am of a similar mind.

The traditional advice about derogatory speech: "Sticks and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you". Apparently people today are not as emotionally robust as their ancestors were.

Thomas Jefferson on free speech: “It does me no injury for my neighbors to say there are 20 gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my legs.”

The KKK were members of the DEMOCRATIC party. Google "Klanbake" if you doubt it

A phobia is an irrational fear, so the terms "Islamophobic" and "homophobic" embody a claim that the people so described are mentally ill. There is no evidence for either claim. Both terms are simply abuse masquerading as diagnoses and suggest that the person using them is engaged in propaganda rather than in any form of rational or objective discourse.

Leftists often pretend that any mention of race is "racist" -- unless they mention it, of course. But leaving such irrational propaganda aside, which statements really are racist? Can statements of fact about race be "racist"? Such statements are simply either true or false. The most sweeping possible definition of racism is that a racist statement is a statement that includes a negative value judgment of some race. Absent that, a statement is not racist, for all that Leftists might howl that it is. Facts cannot be racist so nor is the simple statement of them racist. Here is a statement that cannot therefore be racist by itself, though it could be false: "Blacks are on average much less intelligent than whites". If it is false and someone utters it, he could simply be mistaken or misinformed.

Categorization is a basic human survival skill so racism as the Left define it (i.e. any awareness of race) is in fact neither right nor wrong. It is simply human

Whatever your definition of racism, however, a statement that simply mentions race is not thereby racist -- though one would think otherwise from American Presidential election campaigns. Is a statement that mentions dogs, "doggist" or a statement that mentions cats, "cattist"?

Was Abraham Lincoln a racist? "You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this be admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated. It is better for both, therefore, to be separated." -- Spoken at the White House to a group of black community leaders, August 14th, 1862

Gimlet-eyed Leftist haters sometimes pounce on the word "white" as racist. Will the time come when we have to refer to the White House as the "Full spectrum of light" House?

The spirit of liberty is "the spirit which is not too sure that it is right." and "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it." -- Judge Learned Hand

Mostly, a gaffe is just truth slipping out

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.

It seems a pity that the wisdom of the ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus is now little known. Remember, wrote the Stoic thinker, "that foul words or blows in themselves are no outrage, but your judgment that they are so. So when any one makes you angry, know that it is your own thought that has angered you. Wherefore make it your endeavour not to let your impressions carry you away."

"Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with less danger, scout into the regions of sin and falsity than by reading all manner of tractates, and hearing all manner of reason?" -- English poet John Milton (1608-1674) in Areopagitica

Hate speech is verbal communication that induces anger due to the listener's inability to offer an intelligent response

Leftists can try to get you fired from your job over something that you said and that's not an attack on free speech. But if you just criticize something that they say, then that IS an attack on free speech

"Negro" is a forbidden word -- unless a Democrat uses it

"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper

Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts

Leftists don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

When you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

The intellectual Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) could have been speaking of much that goes on today when he said: "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

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