Friday, May 19, 2017
Austrian parliament bans full facial veils in public
Austria has banned wearing a full facial veil in public places, the latest move by a European country to restrict expressions of Muslim identity viewed as contrary to Western secular values. The decision immediately drew criticism from rights advocates and from representatives of Austria's Muslim community.
Under the new legislation, approved by parliament on Tuesday, women who wear clothing that covers their faces, such as burqas or niqabs, in places like universities, public transportation or courthouses will face fines of €150, or about $225. The measure will take effect in October.
German liberal chancellor Angela Merkel announced she wants a ban on burkas in Germany, ahead of her bid for re-election to a fourth term next year.
The ban is part of legislation aimed at improving the integration of immigrants, according to Muna Duzdar, a state secretary in the office of Chancellor Christian Kern.
Other elements of the legislation include mandatory integration courses, German-language lessons and requirements that asylum seekers do unpaid work while awaiting the processing of their claims. Under the new law, migrants who do not meet the requirements could see their welfare benefits slashed.
Analysts said the new law appeared to be at least partially calculated to try and defuse the growing influence of the far-right anti-immigrant Freedom Party. (On Tuesday, it criticised the legislation, saying it did not go far enough.)
Sevgi Kircil, a member of Austria's Muslim community, said the new restrictions were an infringement on individual privacy and a reckless "intervention in religious freedom and the freedom of expression."
Earlier this year, thousands of Muslim women took to the streets of Vienna to protest the proposed law.
The Austrian Bar Board, which represents the legal profession, said the ban breached the values of constitutional democracy, along with "the fundamental rights of the freedom of conscience and the freedom of private life."
The current coalition government -- which includes the conservative People's Party and the centre-left Social Democratic Party -- is on the brink of collapse, and early elections are expected in October. That could create an opportunity for the far-right Freedom Party to enter government for the second time since it was formed by former Nazis in the 1950s.
The Freedom Party's nominee for president of Austria lost to a moderate in May and December of last year. (The election was ordered repeated because of procedural irregularities in the vote counting the first time.)
The new restrictions come as countries across Europe, buffeted by the rise of far right anti-immigrant parties, have been grappling with how to integrate a large influx of migrants, many of whom come from predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East.
Amid a simmering anti-immigrant backlash, religious clothing has become a proxy for fears that European identity and values are being subsumed by Islamic immigration. That alarm has been magnified by recent terrorist attacks in France, Belgium, Sweden and elsewhere, and by fears that extremists are entering Europe by posing as refugees.
Austria is hardly alone in imposing restrictions on religious garb. Many critics of religious attire say it oppresses women, is physically restrictive and isolates them from mainstream society; many defenders say it is a religious obligation or, in some cases, a matter of individual identity and an expression of one's heritage.
In 2010, the French parliament voted to ban the wearing of face-concealing veils in public places, the first country to do so. Violators face a fine of €150. A woman with a full facial veil was spotted in the audience at Opera Bastille in Paris in 2014 and some of the performers refused to sing. After she was asked to uncover her face or leave, she and her husband left.
A similar ban in Belgium went into effect in 2011.
Germany's parliament this year approved a draft banning women working in the judiciary, civil service or military from wearing face-covering veils, and will come into effect soon.
In December, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her support for the ban, arguing that full facial veils were "not acceptable in Germany." She called for them to be prohibited "wherever it is legally possible."
The European Union's highest court entered into the politically explosive debate in March, ruling that private employers can prohibit female workers from wearing head scarves on the job as long as it applies to religious garb from all faiths.
British Labour Party leader relies on Communist
The Left never learn
Labour's new election chief blamed "Western imperialism" for the rise of Isil and accused Israel of "digging its own grave" in a series of controversial articles.
Andrew Murray, Len McCluskey’s right hand man and a longstanding communist party member who joined Labour in December, was bought in to run the party's campaign last week.
He has spoken on his support for Stalin and of North Korea and voiced his opposition to western intervention in Iraq and Syria.
Yet Jeremy Corbyn praised his "enormous abilities" today and claimed Mr Murray is "a democratic socialist and member of the Labour party like me".
Writing in the Morning Star newspaper in 2015 Mr Murray said: "Imperial interventionists in both major parties have been smarting ever since. The rise of Islamic State (Isis) to control much of Syria’s territory — a consequence of the civil war fostered by the Western powers, among others — seemed to offer another excuse for intervention."
And in a 2012 Stop the War Coalition speech, an organisation he chaired, he expressed "solidarity with the heroic Palestinian people in Gaza” and added: “Palestine stands today undefeated and unbowed despite the bloody aggression by one of the greatest military powers on earth."
He added: "We have a message for the Israeli embassy, the Israeli government… every time you kill a Palestinian child, you are digging your own graves."
Asked about his appointment by The Guardian newspaper Mr Corbyn said: "Andrew Murray is a member of the Labour party, and he is an official at Unite and he is temporarily helping us with the campaign.
"He is a person of enormous abilities and professionalism and is the head of staff of Unite the union. To manage a very large union and a large number of staff tales special skills and Andrew has them.
"I don't believe that Andrew is anything other than a democratic socialist and member of the Labour party like me."
Mr Murray started at the party’s campaign headquarters on Friday, prompting a row between existing staff and the leadership team about why he has been appointed.
It followed the embarrassing leak of the party's election manifesto which prompted critics to warn Jeremy Corbyn is seeking to take the country back to the 1970s by nationalising energy infrastructure, the railways and the post office.
A Labour source said the move to employ Mr Murray had caused widespread disquiet in the party’s headquarters where staff are increasingly worried that the campaign has been taken over by the hard-left.
There are fears that Mr Corbyn is seeking to shore up the party’s structures with his supporters to stave off a leadership challenge after the vote in June, which he is expected to lose.
Karie Murphy, the executive director of the leader’s office, had been in charge of the campaign but is said to be furious at the decision to sideline her in favour of Mr Murray.
The source added she was “conspicuously absent” from the party’s offices on Friday, Mr Murray’s first day.
Another source added: “Murray hasn’t even been a member for a year, he is ineligible to be a councillor, by-election candidate or general election candidate but is somehow running Labour’s election campaign.
Bravo to the Offensive Truth: Let’s Reclaim Reality of Male and Female Sexual Difference
The problem with basing a diagnosis and irreversible treatment on people’s feelings, no matter how deeply felt, is that feelings can change.
A recent New York Post article tells the story of a Detroit mom named Erica who changed into a transgender dad named Eric. If that is not enough, his son had already changed genders: born a boy, he transitioned to living as a girl. Thus, mom became dad and son became daughter. Similarly, back in 2015, a fifty-two-year-old Canadian man made the news when he traded in his wife and seven kids to fulfill his “true identity” as a six-year-old transgender girl.
Stories like these remind us that transgender identity is a product of LGBTQ social ideology, not of each human person’s innate identity as male or female. Transgender identity is not authentic gender but man’s attempt to socially engineer the family, sex, and gender identity.
What Makes a Person Trans?
The accepted LGBTQ standard for being a “real” trans woman or trans man is simply that a person desires to self-identify as the opposite of his or her biological sex and to be socially accepted as such. If a person feels distressed about his or her birth gender, then the politically correct action is for everyone to affirm the new and “authentic” gender identity—the one that exists only in the trans person's feelings.
In a recent interview on Fox News, transgender lawyer Jillian Weiss, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, was asked repeatedly by host Tucker Carlson, “What are the legal standards to be transgender?” Finally, the legal specialist admitted, “There are no legal standards.”
That’s right—no legal standards or legal definitions of transgender exist. Yet, as Carlson pointed out, $11 billion of federal money is spent on sex-specific programs, such as the Small Business Administration investing in businesses owned by women. Without a legal definition, these funds become easy prey for, as Carlson puts it, “charlatans” who will claim to be women simply to get the money.
When people feel that their biological sex doesn’t match their internal sense of gender, they are typically diagnosed with gender dysphoria. This is defined as “discomfort or distress that is caused by a discrepancy between a person’s gender identity and that person’s sex assigned at birth.” In other words, the medical diagnostician simply listens to and affirms the patient’s own verbal self-identification and self-diagnosis.
No objective tests can prove that the transgender condition exists. No physical examination, blood test, bone marrow test, chromosome test, or brain test will show that a person has gender dysphoria. It is a condition revealed solely by the patient’s feelings. Yet the recommended treatment is extreme—cross-gender hormones and sex-reassigning surgery.
Don’t be duped when trans activists conflate the unrelated condition of intersexuality with transgenderism to gain sympathy for a trans agenda. People with intersex conditions are not the same as self-identified transgender people. Being intersex is verifiable in the physical body; being transgender is not. People who identify as transgender usually have typical male or female anatomies.
How to Become Transgender
The wikiHow article entitled “How to Transition from Male to Female (Transgender)” outlines a simple five-part system for men who want to become women. Here is a small sample:
Seek a qualified therapist. … Ask your friends in the trans community to recommend a therapist. Browse the internet in search of a therapist experienced working with members of the trans community… .
Receive a diagnosis. Over the course of a series of sessions, your therapist will evaluate your individual situation issuing a diagnosis. After determining that you have consistently experienced symptoms such as disgust with your genitals, a desire to remove signs of your biological sex, and or a certainty that your biological sex does not align with your true gender, your therapist will likely diagnose you with Gender Dysphoria.
These instructions are typical of the advice offered to those who believe they may be transgender. I myself followed a similar series of steps. Yet, in hindsight, after transitioning from male to female and back again, I see that many important topics are ignored by such advice, placing vulnerable people at risk. Four crucial omissions are most obvious and problematic.
First, these instructions fail to caution the reader about therapist bias. Asking friends in the trans community to recommend a therapist guarantees that the therapist will be biased toward recommending the radical step of transitioning.
Second, no mention is made or warning given about sexual fetishes. If a person has been sexually, emotionally, or physically abused or is addicted to masturbation, cross-dressing, or pornography, he could be suffering from a sexual fetish disorder. As such, he is probably not going to be helped by gender dysphoria treatment protocols.
Third, the high incidence of comorbid mental conditions is not mentioned. Those who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, oppositional defiance behaviors, narcissism, autism, or other such disorders need to proceed cautiously when considering transitioning, because these disorders can cause symptoms of gender dysphoria. When the comorbid disorder is effectively treated, the gender discomfort may relent as well.
Fourth, regret after transition is real, and the attempted suicide rate is high. Unhappiness, depression, and inability to socially adapt have been linked to high rates of attempted suicide both before and after gender transition and sexual reassignment surgery. My website gathers academic research on this topic and reports the personal experiences of people who regret transitioning.
Standards of Care?
In theory, the medical community follows certain standards of care for transgender health, now in the seventh revision, which were developed by The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). The standards provide guidelines for treating people who report having discomfort with their gender identity.
People think that because standards exist, people will be properly screened before undergoing the radical gender transition. Unfortunately, the overwhelming theme of these standards is affirmation. Again, clinical practitioners do not diagnose gender dysphoria. Their job is to approve and affirm the client’s self-diagnosis of gender dysphoria and help the patient fulfill the desire for transition. The standards also advise that each patient’s case is different, so the medical practitioners may (and should) adapt the protocols to the individual.
The patient controls the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. If a gender specialist or the patient wants to skip the screening protocols and move forward with hormone treatment and surgical procedures, they are free to do so. The standards of care do not come with any requirement that they be followed.
For example, the standards do, in fact, recommend that patients be pre-screened for other mental health conditions. But I routinely hear from family members who say that obvious comorbid conditions, such as autism or a history of abuse, are ignored. The physician or the counselor simply concludes that the psychological history is unimportant and allows the patient to proceed with hormone treatment.
When Real Looks Fake
As simple as it is to become a “real” transgender person, it’s even easier to turn into a fake one. “Fake” transgender people like me start out as real, but when they eventually see through the delusion of gender change and stop living the transgender life, transgender activists give them the disparaging label of “fake.”
If someone comes to the difficult and honest conclusion that transitioning didn’t result in a change of sex, then he or she is perceived as a threat to the transgender movement and must be discredited. Name-calling and bullying ensues. To be considered real, the transgender person must continue in the delusion that his or her gender changed. The problem with basing a diagnosis and irreversible treatment on people’s feelings, no matter how sincerely held, is that feelings can change.
My message attempts to help others avoid regret, yet the warning is not welcome to the advocates whose voice for transgender rights rings strong and loud. Some will find my words offensive, but then the truth can be offensive. Personally, I cannot think of anything more offensive than men diminishing the wonder and uniqueness of biological women by suggesting women are nothing more than men who have been pumped with hormones and may or may not have undergone cosmetic surgery.
Cheers and bravo to the offensive truth. Let’s reclaim the beautiful reality of male and female sexual difference and reject transgender ideology.
The number of foolish statements made by men and women who consider themselves feminists is essentially equal to the number of people who strongly identify as feminists.
I write “strongly identify” because if asked, “Are you a feminist?” most women will say yes.
They will do so for two reasons. One is that there is no social price paid for saying that one is a feminist, while there can be a huge price paid — on a college campus, for example — for saying that one is not a feminist. The other is that a great number of women define feminism as “belief in women’s equality.” And by that definition, who isn’t a feminist? I certainly am.
Intelligence varies among these women and men as much as it does among members of any group of people; there are both brilliant individuals and dummies who say they are feminists. But the women today — I am not talking about suffragettes in the early 20th century — whose identities are wrapped up in being a feminist are nearly all dummies. That doesn’t mean they all lack brainpower. There are many people with a fine brain who are fools. Indeed, such individuals dominate our universities.
This realization occurred to me again when reading a CNN column written last week by Jill Filipovic, one of CNN’s feminist writers. (Does CNN employ a non-feminist female writer?)
The column was about Australian Sen. Larissa Waters, who breast-fed her child in the parliamentary chamber while Parliament was in session. The CNN writer, as would be expected, lauded the parliamentarian: What could be more beautiful or natural than breast-feeding in Parliament?
Among the writer’s arguments defending Sen. Waters was one in which she said, “Yes, for many people, breasts are sexually alluring or arousing — but so too are lips and hands, and having those out in Parliament doesn’t bring on sexual chaos.”
This was similar to the argument advanced by the highest court in the state of New York in a 1992 ruling that said women could go topless in public because men can, and there is no difference between a man’s chest and a woman’s. In the court’s words, the law that prevented them from doing so “discriminates against women by prohibiting them from removing their tops and exposing their bare chests in public as men are routinely permitted to do.”
Now back to our feminist at CNN who compared the sexually alluring and arousing nature of visible lips and hands with visible breasts.
It is difficult to overstate the foolishness of that comment. For one thing, the only inference to be drawn is that women in parliament and all other public spaces should uncover their breasts just as they do their lips and hands. But what is truly absurd is the equation of seeing women’s breasts with seeing their lips and hands. Is the author unaware of the fact that men pay to enter “topless” bars in order to look at women’s breasts wherever on Earth it is permitted?
Now, why is that?
Some will say it’s only because women’s hands and lips are visible, while their breasts are covered. If all women were to wear gloves in public, the argument goes, men would pay to see women’s bare hands.
I trust that most readers find such an argument risible.
Men from Saudi Arabia, where women’s lips are regularly covered, go to the West and pay to see women’s breasts, not their lips.
Because in virtually every society, heterosexual men have found the female breast a particularly sexually alluring part of a woman’s body.
Evolutionary psychologist Carol Jahme, a science columnist for the left-wing pro-feminist publication the Guardian, summarized a whole host of academic studies. She wrote: “The full, plump bosom seen in the human ape is an anomaly. No other primate has a permanent breast. … The sex appeal of rounded female buttocks and plump breasts is both universal and unique to the human primate.”
So, then, the sole purpose of women’s breasts is not for nursing babies. It is also to attract and arouse men.
Yet, whoever argues that women’s breasts are there to arouse men, not just to provide a baby with milk, is dismissed by feminists as a sexist heterosexist patriarchal pig, a product of a sexist culture that renders women and their baby-feeding mammary glands sexual objects.
But it turns out that science, not just common sense, rejects the feminist argument.
So, how does a CNN columnist, along with myriad other feminists, not know this? Why did my grandmother, who never went to high school, know this, while a vast number of graduates of our universities do not?
The answer is that today’s universities — especially women’s studies and gender studies departments — generally make people stupid.
The only remaining question is: Did anyone at CNN find this column absurd? I suspect not.
And that’s more than absurd. That’s frightening.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.