Tag Archives: UK

Dear Oklahoma University and Other Institutions of Higher Learning: Sexism Also Creates a “Hostile Educational Environment for Others”

Tear It Down

A recent story in the UK press relates the challenge of a little girl who was prevented from buying the sneakers she wanted because they were designed “for boys”. At least that’s what she and her mother were told by a Clark’s employee when they went to try on a pair of these shoes, called Stomp Claws. Take a look. Pretty cool, right? Embedded in the heel is a three-toed dinosaur-ish skeleton foot plastic inlay. Stomp the shoes in soft soil, and wow, it looks like a dinosaur (or giant rhea) has been roaming around your schoolyard. What’s not to love?

The prospective purchaser and her mum contacted Clark’s. It turns out Stomp Claws are made for anyone whose feet are small enough to fit children’s sizes. Clark’s apologized and promised to retrain their employee.

If only it were that easy to turn things around when racism and sexism rear their equally ugly heads.

Oklahoma University (OU) is giving changing the former the old college try. Faced with a busload of tanked-up Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) frat boys who sang incredibly offensive songs with racist lyrics – one song dismissively referred to lynchings – the OU president went commando. This article contains a photograph of his letter expelling a member of the fraternity. Note its language. The young man was expelled for his leadership role in “a chant which has created a hostile educational environment for others”.

Goodness.

Bloggers have referenced First Amendment rights. They noted that OU receives federal funding. Others have retaliated, pointing out that free speech has limits. One cannot shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, for example. And like most universities, OU probably created a handbook of expectations for students, expectations that were most likely explained during orientation or the first weeks of freshman year.

Indeed, the letter itself – one can see the lawyers’ hands here – accuses the student not of words, but of his role in leading a “chant” that “created a hostile environment”. Extrapolating, we might assume that had he led a group of students to create a banner depicting lynching (hanging from a tree until dead) in a lighthearted, LOL manner, he would have been similarly expelled. Even where no words were used. Or necessary.

The OU president has used a swift and sure hammer. He is backed up by popular opinion. Millions of people are outraged by what the chanters said and did. The discovery that (we all knew this, right?) OU’s SAE fraternity has been plagued by long-term institutionalized racism is a series of nails in its coffin. The suggestion that that particular chant emanated from an SAE chapter in Texas simply widens the net.

Here’s the question, though, examining what the students did with a different lens:

If their “chant” was derisive of the rape of women, if instead of using the N-word, they used the C-word, would Oklahoma University’s president have taken the same actions?

He should. Right?

Because it’s just as offensive. It’s just as likely to create anxiety and fear. Also just as apt to “create a hostile educational environment”.

So far, college leaders have not recognized the similarities between racism and sexism. Even when generations of writers have pointed to them. Including when the sexism is fomented by people who have racist slurs thrown at their heads. Just because you happen to be a target of racism doesn’t mean you cannot also be sexist. Often, there is potent use of “bitch”, “ho”, the C-word, and other words used with contempt and a deliberate attempt at insult.

Creating a “hostile educational environment” is not the birthright of racists. Anyone can do it.

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Stop Assuming They Think Like Adults

A recent fight within the UK and between that nation and Turkey – a country that seeks admittance to the EU, even though only the small portion of it actually belongs in Europe; the majority is in Asia – has to do with teenage girls from Muslim families. Three of them left the UK the other day. The eldest had stolen her older sister’s passport. The UK does not keep track of who leaves the country. Although the rules state that minors may leave only when accompanied by a parent, the girls (one aged 16, the other two 15) were able to fly to Turkey all by themselves.

Why were they going? To cross Turkey into Syria, there to become the latest in a series of adolescent girls scammed and persuaded to become “jihadi brides”.

It appears now that they have entered Syria, despite their parents’ pleas and the Foreign Service tracking. Turkey, blamed for facilitating both female and male Isis devotees’ border crossing, has in turn become rather stroppy itself, complaining that the UK lost three days in informing Turkish officials of the girls’ intention.

Even the girls’ school has had to defend itself from finger-pointing, noting that it does not permit extremist doctrines and strives to teach its students to accept others. The three girls, it says, were not radicalized on its grounds.

That’s probably true. There are too many places online to read radical Islamist philosophy – who needs a brick-and-mortar school?

The parents, rather than accepting responsibility for teaching their daughters that what Muslim men want is more important than the desires of Muslim women, wants the UK to keep track of exits as well as entries. Not a bad idea.

The girls’ aim is to marry terrorists and murderers. Not the actions of sane, healthy women. And even Isis points out that jihadi brides must prepare to be jihadi widows – which means they will in turn be traded off, potentially sold into sexual enslavement, and almost certainly will die (of beatings, suicide, complications of pregnancy and childbirth) in Syria, probably within five years. The parents will never see their daughters again.

There may be good reasons for keeping them from the UK, as escapees from Isis have been indoctrinated in terrorism. Even when their primary role has been support and childbearing, creating more children to be molded into mini-terrorists.

But now comes the argument in The Guardian that the UK should let its adolescents leave because, well, look, they’ve made their decisions. Let them lie in it. Don’t stop them, even if they’re under 18 years old and legally minors to be protected. We’re better off without them. They want to support brutal and murderous regimes? Fine. They’re old enough to know better.

Except they’re not.

What that Guardian writer fails to understand is that although adolescents may look mature, inside they’re still growing. They certainly aren’t mature when it comes to childbearing, which is hugely more risky for teenagers than for women over 20. Even sex is risky, since their bodies have not finished developing. An immature vagina should not be entered by anyone’s engorged penis, including that of a jihadi “husband”.

And we have evidence that inside these girls’ brains, there is a whole lot of re-assembly going on. Dr. Jay Giedd of the US National Institutes of Health, among others, is engaged in longitudinal research on brain development. What he has found through fMRI examination of healthy people is that teenagers’ brains are entirely different from those of adults. The area really should be cordoned off with “Caution: Undergoing Construction” tape. Teens literally cannot think the way grown-ups do, and it’s wrong to blame them when they don’t.

As Giedd has said, “It’s sort of unfair to expect them to have adult levels of organizational skills or decision-making before their brains are finished being built.” Meaning, just because a brain has acquired adult size in terms of its weight does not mean it’s ready for full and complete use. That’s like saying a house that’s just been put under roof — meaning the slates or shingles are attached – is ready to be moved into. Wait a minute. What about walls? Plumbing? Electrical wiring, floor finishes, paint, all the other things we expect of a house? Not there! Well, it’s not freakin’ done, then, is it. Back to work!

No one in their right mind leaves to support Isis. We don’t see long lines of mature women ready to give up their freedom and families, do we? These girls are just the latest in a series from different Western countries who have been groomed and seduced online, who wish to exchange a fairly restrictive family existence for an entirely restrictive and ultimately painful and fatal one, while imagining they are more holy for doing what terrorists bid them do.

Prime Minister David Cameron has urged that more attention be paid to online radicalization by people promoting the “poisonous ideology” of terrorism, and Europol is enhancing cooperation among agencies to connect the dots between extremist recruiters and those who finance their activities.

Families need to make their children’s passports unobtainable. In a deposit box or held by a non-Muslim friend or colleague. In addition, they must have serious chats with their children in order to teach them of the risks of extremism. Also, the UK ought to be keeping track of the people who leave its shores, especially where they look young.

Because kids and adolescents do not, cannot, think like adults.

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The Spiritual Side to Fat-Paring

 

No caption needed, really

 

Once upon a time in America, pastors, priests, rabbis spoke against what are commonly referred to as the seven deadly sins: lust, avarice, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride (translation: intense sexual desire; insatiable craving for wealth; excessive eating/drinking; excessive desire for possessions; laziness; fierce anger or resentment; longing to own something possessed by or achieved by another; inordinate opinion of one’s own superiority).

 

Those sermons don’t often happen these days, and that’s a shame. Especially with regard to excessive eating and drinking, which – apart from causing all manner of medical ailments ranging from shortness of breath and impotence right up to the big C – has knock-on financial effects out the wazoo. In the UK – I’m not kidding with this one – hospitals are paying a premium for extra-wide fridges to store their extra-fat dead bodies before they must be hydraulically lifted on their way to the funeral home. Most of those bodies are chilled not because of old age, in case you thought obesity lengthened life.

 

If hospitals must pay through the nose for cold storage, it’s obvious they won’t have money for health-promoting programs like monthly well-baby visits. Thus fat adults are harming the health of small children by using up medical resources, even after the adults are no longer alive. My friends, that is a sin.

 

That the US leads the world in adult obesity is well-known. Few American church leaders are willing to chastise their congregation – as, Biblically, they are tasked to do – for the sin of gluttony. In fact, churches have been described as a feeding ground for obesity. In a 2006 scholarly article, the researchers found that overweight or obesity was more common in church attendees. Although they explained the result by referring to “multiple sociodemographic variables”, the simple fact remains that the preachers of these churches failed to remind their fat members, loudly and often, that eating much and exercising little is spiritually wrong.

 

Religions are not created equal. Some church-minded people (Seventh Day Adventists and Mormons, for example) prioritize weight management. Some religious communities have high rates of obesity (Baptist, 30%), while other have very low rates (Jews, 1%; Hindus and Buddhists, less than that). A 2012 study found that religious media use (watching televised religious programming, or listening to it on radio) was very highly correlated to obesity – since those people do not even rise up to go to church.

 

If everyone faithfully monitored their body changes, we would not need cautions from religious leaders – or Weight Watchers, for that matter. Many of us think obese people must be well aware of their condition. Not so! According to a recent survey, 55% of Americans do not perceive themselves as overweight or obese. Yet two-thirds (66%) of us carry way too much fat.

 

That’s a lot of self-deception.

 

The situation is not improved by the American healthcare “system” (really, a market), which recently ranked last among 11 developed nations. That’s right, dead last. We’re the Mississippi of the wealthy-nation world. Not a promising designation, is it?

 

So where are the spiritual people encouraging their flocks to care for their bodies as well as their souls? Largely, they’ve been silent. Partly, that’s because they, too, are toting a pantry around their waists. They’re somewhat embarrassed to talk about what is blindingly obvious. Often, they’ve washed their hands of the matter. “Not my job,” they say.

 

Ah, but it is. Gluttony, see, that’s missing the mark. It’s a mistake.

 

There’s a little light at the end of the tunnel. The huge Saddleback Church pastored by Rick Warren has begun an exercise and fitness program using the Daniel Plan. Co-authored by Warren with the help of several physicians, the plan came about when he realized he needed to let go of 90 pounds. Ninety whole pounds. He did it, too. But that came after confessing to his congregation that he had made eating errors for years (and sat around in meetings too much – another plug for the stand-up meeting), and asked for their support in his upcoming struggle.

 

While it was an unusual act on his part, it was not particularly brave, not on a par with facing down a snarling dog or rescuing a fellow driver from a crashed car that may blow up at any second.

 

In other words, any overweight or obese person of the cloth can do it.

 

They can also tell their congregations, look, enough is enough. What we’re doing (me and you and you and you) is unhealthy. It’s therefore acting against God. Think you’re a good Baptist/Catholic/fill-in-the-blank? Show me. Show us. There are so many ways to let go of unnecessary weight, but doing it with at least one other person is essential. We all need someone to encourage us, help us correct ourselves, call us on our bullshit.

 

Over the first year on the Daniel Plan, the Saddleback Church members collectively lost 250,000 pounds.

 

Go ahead, people behind the altar. Take that step.

 

 

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A Drop In The Bucket

 

Instruments of torture.

 

It is, I suppose, a start.

Unlike France, which has for decades taken a firm stance against FGM, the UK has been wishy-washy at best. Recently, its softly-softly approach – that worked so well against marijuana, didn’t it, when London dealers turned to cocaine? – has given way to thoughts that perhaps, just maybe, they needed to get tougher.

That anti-FGM protests are being made by women who have themselves been cut, and hate it, and have suffered for it, gave them added weight against Britain’s traditional attitude of toleration of religious differences.

Now, finally, a woman has been arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport for conspiring to commit FGM.

In France, parents know that if their minor daughter’s genitals are cut, no matter who does the act or where it is performed, the parents will be held responsible, charged, tried, and also jailed. The first parental incarceration for FGM was in 1993. This history gives France a great deal of credibility.

Britain is still discussing whether the government has the right to examine minor girls to see if they have been mutilated.

Yes. It does. In France, every girl is inspected at least once a year.

It’s anti-health not to do so, regardless of “cultural sensitivities”. Consider the girls’ pain and horror – and occasional deaths through shock and septicemia. Consider the adverse effect FGM has on their health and the condition of future pregnancies. Reflect on the fact that if these girls were pale of skin, and Christian, outrage would be loud. But since they are the progeny of immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, they do not seem to count. Their parents get to do as they like.

FGM originated thousands of years ago in the Egypt of the pharaohs. There was likely no valid reason for it then, there certainly is no valid reason for it now.

Britain, your girls need you to protect them from violation and cutting. No matter who does it or orders it done.

It’s time to follow France’s lead.

 

 

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All Breakdowns Cost . . . Not Just Marital Ones

 

A Telegraph story quotes UK Welfare Minister Lord Freud about couples cohabiting without being married: “Those couples are four times more likely to split when their child is under three than if they are married.” He promises to support marriage (by which he really means heterosexual unions, as being more likely to produce children who need looking after) and reduce payments to single parents – most often, of course, female parents.

 

It’s awfully nice that Lord Freud cares so deeply about children. Would that the rest of the Conservative Party did. If only they had not removed the benefits that married couples received, years ago. If only, too, they acknowledged that marriage, even heterosexual marriage, in undergoing a revolution. It will never again be the 1950s-style union the Tory Party would like to recall, even those Tories who have no memory of the 1950s because they were born after that era.

 

Caring for children, giving them loving guidance, is an essential task of society. So why do the UK and US make it so difficult?

 

The BBC reports here that many parents are paying more for childcare than they are for their average mortgage. Another report here points out that London parents, in particular mothers, cannot afford annual childcare costs of approximately $18,000, so they are leaving work – at a time when many politicians blame non-working parents. Whether there are two parents or one paying hardly matters, when the issue is the high price of quality childcare. Is Lord Freud addressing that? Hardly.

 

In Sweden, many parents are unmarried and stay that way. It is not marriage that keeps them in the home and caring for their children – it is the sense of family, of responsibility and partnership, which are supported by Swedish national policies.

 

When bad marriages create pain, why keep them intact? It is not just spouses that suffer from the evil actions of the adult they’ve married. Children suffer, too.

 

As a child, Sir Patrick Stewart witnessed his father repetitively beat his mother. He has never forgotten. “As a child, I heard in my home doctors and ambulance men say, ‘Mrs. Stewart, you must have done something to provoke him. Mrs. Stewart, it takes two to make an argument.’ Wrong. Wrong! My mother did NOTHING to provoke that — and even if she had, violence is NEVER, ever a choice that a man should make. Ever.”

 

Now that he is, as he says, “an old white man” who will be listened to, he has been speaking out against domestic violence because that kind of breakdown costs. His work for Refuge, a nonprofit that helps women whose husbands and partners mauled them, is proud and essential work. Yes, Sir Patrick survived. He has done well. How many others have not? How many former children never got over the trauma of their parents’ treachery? How many perpetrated violence themselves?

 

That, Lord Freud, is a family breakdown.

 

There are married parents who stay in the home and abuse and rape children, either hiding it from the other parent or threatening the spouse with murder, mayhem, deportation if word leaks out.

 

That is a breakdown of the family.

 

What about the parents – heterosexual, married – who subject their daughters to the horrors and continuing pain of FGM? Who beat their children for talking to a friend of a different religion or caste? Who arrange marriages of underage children to people they have never even met, often much older than they? Who perpetrate or condone dishonorable killings of their own children?

 

Lord Freud, what more horrible evidence of family breakdown is there?

 

You think this does not cost???

 

In terror, in mental illness, increased violence, suicide, intergenerational conflict, arrests, lawsuits, trials, convictions, prison time? In fear, blame, shame, in children wondering where help lies, whom can they trust, dare they tell a teacher?

 

We understand. For you, money is the only counter, and your party does not want to pay for other people’s children. We get it, you think it essential that both biological parents care for all their children within the context of a legal marriage.

 

But seriously, Lord Freud, the lack of marriage is not the problem here. It’s the lack of structure. The lack of hope. It’s a society that has turned its back on loving guidance – both of those words equally stressed. It’s condoning violence within the home, financial shenanigans that remove jobs, unlimited immigration (and in the UK, giving immigrants benefits no other society allows, simply for arriving) that pits very different cultures against each other. It’s the lack of respect for schools and teachers coupled with an economy so shaky that no one knows when they might be downsized or sacked, where entrepreneurship is sometimes the only logical answer.

 

It’s not the lack of marriage alone. If it were, Sweden – with its thousands of unmarried yet diligent parents – would bubble with unrest.

 

 

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A Horror Story

What normally happens right after birth.

 

A man visits another country on a two-week work training trip. While there, he has a panic attack and a mental breakdown. Rather than return him to his own country, whose medical services stand ready to help, social workers in the host country decide to detain him for treatment. In doing so, they determine that for the man’s own good, he must have major surgery that carries a risk of death through anesthesia or malpractice. A judge agrees with social services, and – again without consulting medical personnel in the man’s own country – surgeons operate on him without his consent. They then take what they removed from his body and place it on display, but permit him to go home.

 

Sounds like a dystopian novel, does it not? Brave New World, 1984, Bladerunner.

 

It is not fiction. It happened to an Italian visiting England last year.

 

Only two things were altered in the above account: The Italian was not male, but female, and she was pregnant.

 

What was forcibly removed from her body in a Caesarean done without her consent, was her fetus. That fetus is now a 15-month-old girl who was not permitted to breastfeed nor stay with her mother, nor return to Italy with the woman who gave her life, but was instead placed in an English foster home by English social services – the same people who ordered that the mother undergo risky, early, forced surgery instead of giving birth naturally when labor began.

 

This is probably the most egregious case of human rights abuse perpetrated by UK social services.

 

The family courts in Britain have been allowed for many years to operate under a blanket (or, if you like, a fog) of confidentiality. This supposedly protects the identity of the child at issue. What it actually does is permit bureaucrats and jobsworths to get away with corrupt actions that would be repellant to right-minded, caring people.

 

Now that the story has been brought into the light, caring people all over Europe are outraged. The Italian government is roundly condemning the actions of English social services. So are reasonable people in Britain.

 

One newspaper reported an English lawyer’s words: “‘I have never heard of anything like this in all my 40 years in the job. I can understand if someone is very ill that they may not be able to consent to a medical procedure, but a forced caesarean is unprecedented.’”

 

The Italian is trying to get her daughter – this is her third child – back to join the family. The English authorities are attempting to make the baby girl adoptable. They maintain that the child will be at risk in Italy because the mother may have a relapse – ignoring Italian medical services available to her – and have rejected the offer of a family friend to care for the child because there is no “blood tie”.

 

There would be no blood tie with an adoptive UK family, either, a point that seems to escape the bureaucrats’ scrutiny.

 

The whole story smacks of vile abuse, of regarding the woman as a container to be opened at will, with no subsequent right to her own child.

 

She has attorneys going to bat for her, and it is likely they will file suit against every single British person involved, including the obstetrician who, Nazi-like, operated on her without her consent simply because a judge had signed an order to do so.

 

“Oh, brave new world, that has such people in’t.” That line, from Shakepeare’s “The Tempest”, is said by Miranda. From her excited perspective as one of two human inhabitants of an island, other people look miraculous. What she sees, however, are sailors drunkenly staggering from their storm-tossed, rock-wrecked ship.

 

In the story above, the offending Britons created a hellish world where any pregnant woman can be forced to submit to surgery, and, if she survives, lose all claim to her child.

 

They, too, were drunk . . . drunk on power.

 

They, and others like them, must be stopped. The girl should be immediately returned to her Italian mother, with no follow-up by UK social services, and the public servants responsible for such horror (social workers, attorneys, judges, physicians) must be named, shamed, and sacked.

 

 

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