Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

UK Supreme Court rules against Christian B&B couple’s conscience rights

Dina sent me this article from the UK Telegraph about a recent Supreme Court decision from the UK.

Excerpt:

The devoutly Christian owners of a Cornish hotel who refused to allow two gay men to take a double room have lost their final appeal to the Supreme Court. It ruled that Peter and Hazelmary Bull had discriminated against the couple, even though they had long operated a rule that unmarried guests had to sleep apart. One of the judges, Lady Hale, said such a case would have been unthinkable less than two decades ago, and it is a measure of how both the law and societal norms have changed that the Bulls should have found themselves in such a predicament.

It is also a pity this matter was not settled amicably when the Bulls made an offer of redress; but campaigners were intent on making an example of them. The aggrieved men, Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who were in a civil partnership, were supported by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The Bulls were perplexed as to why the EHRC should act against them, since their right to exercise their religious beliefs was being set against that of the men not to be discriminated against on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

Dina also sent me this article from the pro-gay Spiked Online.

Excerpt:

[A]s the systematic unequal treatment of gays has ended, so another problem has grown. One pernicious social force has been replaced by another: the willingness of the state to outlaw minority or eccentric views and behaviours. State-backed oppression has yielded to state-backed intolerance.

The Bulls have been hauled before the courts and told they can no longer practise what they preach. To deny a couple the right to make a living in a manner consistent with their Christian values is draconian. The Bulls’ fate is similar to that of Lillian Ladele, an Islington marriage registrar, and Gary McFarlane, a Relate counsellor, who were both sacked after declining to provide their professional services to lesbians and gays. Equality laws did for them all.

The problem here is not, as it appears, merely a slap in the face to Christians. It is a slap in the face to the right of all individuals to act free of state control absent a compelling reason for intervention. As John Stuart Mill put it in On Liberty (1859): ‘The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.’

As if to satisfy Mill’s harm principle, the Supreme Court went in search of Preddy and Hall’s ‘harm’. What they found was that when the Bulls’ house rules were explained to Preddy and Hall, they found it ‘upsetting’ and ‘very hurtful’. Even in the touchy-feely twenty-first century, where self-esteem is seen as so important and so fragile, this is pretty lame.

The Supreme Court judge, Lady Hale, may have been aware that this ‘affront to their dignity’, as she put it, was not the sort of harm, in the Mill sense, that should justify the state’s coercive power. She bolstered her argument by linking Preddy and Hall’s hurt feelings to a bigger historical picture. ‘We should not underestimate’, she said, ‘the continuing legacy of those centuries of discrimination, persecution even, which is still going on in many parts of the world’.

Fascism happens when the normal desire for compassion is taken out of the family context and becomes the policy of a powerful feminist welfare state. And that’s when it becomes a threat to the right of individuals to make moral judgments and to exercise religious liberty.

The EHRC, you’ll remember, was a project of the Labour Party of the UK, which is the socialist party in the UK. There is also a communist party called the Liberal Democrats. The striking thing is that many church-attending Christians not only vote for the Labour Party, but they also vote for the Liberal Democrats, which are even more liberal. A lot of this is because British Christians are so far to the left on economic issues that they sort of go along with the assault on their own religious liberty out of ignorance. They vote for bigger and bigger government, and then they are surprised when they actually get it.

The same thing happened in Canada with the Liberal Party and their introduction of Human Rights Commissions and Human Rights Tribunals, which criminalize offending people with free speech. The very Christians that voted for expanding government to reduce poverty were the ones who were then persecuted by the same big government they voted to create. This goes to show why we need to have better economics knowledge among Christians, because many of us are voting for left-wing parties because we think that private, voluntary charity can be replaced with government-controlled redistribution of wealth. Not only does that not work to reduce poverty, but in the end, we lose our liberties, too.

In the UK, you’ll find a lot of Christians who think that rent control is a good thing, that price controls are a good thing, that raising minimum wage is a good thing, that tariffs on imported goods are a good thing – positions which are generally viewed as incorrect by academic economists across the ideological spectrum. That’s why churches need to teach the Christian worldview, including economics. The UK church should be training Christians to undo this ignorant, patriotic confidence that UK Christians have in their welfare state. We all have a lot of work to do to educate ourselves on how the Bible applies to the real world (e.g. – economics), or else we will end up undermining our own liberties.

Additionally, I find it very frustrating that so many churches are so focused on providing emotional comfort and a sense of community to the people in the pews that they neglect to talk about these religious liberty issues. Pastors don’t want to alert ordinary Christians about how dangerous it’s becoming to take unpopular stands on issues like gay rights in public – it’s scary and divisive and drives people away from church. You’re not going to hear them trying to apply the Bible to moral issues or economic issues, etc. from the pulpit, because that spoils the “experience” and “the show” – the comfort and entertainment that people expect from church. We need to do better at helping Christians to be aware of threats to our liberties. They need to be trained to connect their faith to specific laws and policies in the real world.

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UK business owner on trial for tackling burglars on his own property

From the UK Daily Mail. (H/T Dina)

Excerpt:

A businessman who confronted a burglar raiding his premises appeared in court yesterday accused of attacking him.

Andrew Woodhouse, 43, was chasing thieves off his property when he claims one of them ‘came at’ him with a wooden stick.

Father-of-five Woodhouse allegedly used the stick to injure the man’s legs before holding him down while his wife called the police.

But when officers arrived they arrested Woodhouse and held him in a cell for 18 hours.

He appeared at Newport Crown Court yesterday charged with grievous bodily harm with intent which has a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Andrew Taylor, defending, said: ‘Mr Woodhouse apprehended two of the burglars at his tyre depot.

‘It happened after two or three men decided they were going to remove a large quantity of diesel from his premises.

‘Mr Woodhouse has been interviewed by police and has provided a full explanation about what happened.

‘There is a CCTV recording of the incident and we are waiting to see the footage.’

[...]Woodhouse was in bed with his wife Lisa at their detached home in the village of Govilon, near Abergavenny, when his burglar alarm went off at about 12.30am.

[...]Woodhouse drove to his business premises where the alleged assault happened.

[...]His wife Lisa said her husband was prepared to go through the legal process to clear his name.

She said: ‘But I fail to see where there was any intent on Andrew’s part.

‘He didn’t intend to get up in the middle of the night to assault anyone. All he did was protect his property.

‘People may think he took the law into his own hands but what was he supposed to do, stand by and watch?’

Woodhouse employs six staff including two of his sons at the family business, which was set up 20 years ago.

The firm has lost £15,000 in recent years to thefts of diesel and tools.

Two fuel thieves who stole £50 worth of diesel from Woodhouse’s premises on the night of the alleged assault have been dealt with in court.

Timothy Cross, 31, and Kevin Green, 52, took two jerry cans of diesel from Woodhouse’s tyre depot in Abergavenny.

Cross and Green both admitted theft and were fined £75 by Cwmbran magistrates.

People sometimes wonder why I think that the UK is the most wussified country in the world. This is not an arbitrary opinion that I hold. The UK is a nanny state, where the people in charge treat men as if they are toddlers in day care. This country has the least respect for men and male nature of any country that I am aware of at this time. I don’t see how you could be a man and be comfortable living in a society that basically criminalizes the righteous use of force against evil. It’s so strange to me when I hear complaints from UK women about how men are not taking responsibility any more, or making commitments, or being ambitious. Well, here’s a little newsflash for you. If you treat men like children and resent them using force to defend their homes and businesses, then you are discouraging manliness. The kinds of men you will get then are wussified, feminized men who attempt nothing and defend nothing.

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who lives in the UK recently. She was explaining to me how women who are under a certain age are given government housing if they have babies out-wedlock. What kind of message is that sending? It is telling young women that men are optional, and that they don’t have to choose men wisely in order to get one who can do the provider role. So on the one hand, men are punished by the state for protecting, and on the other, they are punished by the state for providing. The state taxes men with jobs to subsidize the losers who get sex without having to commit first. And I know that young women often prefer these men because they don’t want a man who has authority from having a job to tell them what to do. (See here for some examples)

The UK has been trying to undermine and replace men who perform the traditional male roles for decades. The role of protecting has been demonized by punishing men who protect their families and businesses. The role of providing has been marginalized through higher taxes, socialized medicine and welfare benefits. And moral and spiritual leadership have been dismantled with pervasive moral relativism, multicultaralism and secularism. Everything that a strong, virtuous man could do to be recognized has been marginalized and discredited by the socialist, feminist government of the UK. UK women have no right to complain now when men act like children – they caused it by punishing men who were only doing what good men are supposed to do in any good society.

Just 70 years ago we lived in the time of British heroes like Eric “Digger” Dowling, Guy Gibson, Douglas Bader, Patrick Reid and Tommy McPherson. I learned from watching World War 2 movies as a child that British men were courageous and fierce, and able to defend Western civilization from tyranny with force, if necessary. Now all that is going, going, gone thanks to the British socialist welfare state. Men do understand what messages the feminist welfare state is sending by subsidizing single motherhood, taxing men more when their wives stay home, criminalizing self-defense and capitalism, arresting military heroes for owning handguns, discriminating against boys in schools that are dominated by women, and so on. Men understand the message that’s being sent there, and they do adjust.

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Former soldiers arrested by UK police for defending their business from burglar

So this news story from the UK Daily Mail should come as no surprise to anyone who reads British writers like Theodore Dalrymple or James Hannan or Peter Hitchens.

Excerpt:

Two men were dragged to court for apprehending a Romanian they caught burgling their business.

A nine-month ordeal ended for Steven Iliffe, 54, and son Daniel, 26, yesterday when a judge threw out the case against them.

They had begged police to go on a roof to arrest career criminal Petre Ilie.

But officers were barred by their superiors, via their radio, due to health and safety rules.

Eventually, the father and son, both former soldiers, went on the roof themselves to tackle the armed man.

They were stunned when the police later arrested them on suspicion of attempted murder – and later charged them with the lesser offence of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Yesterday, the pair said they were considering legal action against Leicestershire Police.

Mr Iliffe senior said he had suffered a heart attack in a cell triggered by the stress of his arrest at their scrap metal business in Hinckley, Leicestershire, last December.

He added: ‘We had suffered a string of burglaries and went up onto that roof only because the police had refused to do so.’

The criminal is in the country illegally, too:

Leicester Crown Court was told yesterday that Ilie, 39, already had ‘a number of convictions for burglary, failing to surrender and breaching court orders’ in the UK under the name Christopher Tudor.

In 2010 he was deported but sneaked back into the UK.

He was then arrested again alongside the Iliffes.

I hope that the United States doesn’t ever get to the point where the government prevents law-abiding citizens from defending themselves from criminals. The UK is a very liberal country, so they are very much into the idea that evil is good, and good is evil, so that everyone is “equal” and liberals can feel compassionate.

I know that formerly liberal countries like Canada have been pushing back hard against crime, with measures like abolishing the long gun registry, a tough “omnibus” crime bill, and renewed protections for self-defense. I guess that’s why their crime rates are at a 40-year low. Canada is serious about stopping crime. They do what works, and then they get the results that they expect to get.

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Can you trust big government to take care of your health?

Let’s take a look at another story about socialized medicine from the UK, from the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

The picture Sarah Fleming took of her husband Stewart is one that will haunt her for ever.

Taken on her mobile phone, it shows him sitting in a hospital cubicle, a hand clutching his stomach, his face a vivid reflection of the agony he was in, as he waited to be seen by doctors.

Tragically, that picture is a heartrending reminder of the circumstances leading up to the railway signalman’s death. It is also a vivid illustration of the turmoil unfolding in overstretched hospital emergency departments.

For the father-of-two, 37, from Rainham, in Kent, had to endure a six–hour wait to see a doctor in A&E at Gillingham’s Medway Maritime Hospital. He had a letter from his GP asking him to be admitted immediately.

He had been to see his GP that day because the antibiotics he had been taking for flu-like systems had failed to work. He was referred straight to hospital. But when he arrived, on December 15, 2008, the hospital was facing an unusually busy period. Staff sickness, a cold weather snap and an increase in GP referrals meant the hospital was under pressure.

He was admitted at 5.30pm, but was not seen until 11.15pm. By then, the mystery virus Stewart had contracted was attacking his heart, kidneys and liver. Despite being transferred to London’s Harefield Hospital, where he was placed into a drug-induced coma, he died on December 27.

And another from the same article:

She was a frail woman who deserved to be treated with dignity and kindness. Instead, Ethel Martin, 91, died after developing deep vein thrombosis having spent 16 hours on a trolley at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

The great-grandmother was admitted to hospital on April 17, 2006, complaining of feeling breathless. Her family were with her when she was put in a curtained-off bay in the overstretched A&E department — the hospital saw 365 patients in A&E that day — at about 5pm.

They returned home in the early hours, assuming she would be cared for, but were shocked when they came back the next day at 9am and found her in the same position. She hadn’t slept because the trolley was so uncomfortable.

After Mrs Martin, of Chorlton, Greater Manchester, was found a bed, her condition deteriorated and she was diagnosed with DVT. She was treated with blood-thinning drugs but died on May 1, following a cardiac arrest.

At an inquest into her death, pathologist Dr Richard Fitzmaurice said lying on her trolley could have contributed to her death. ‘Immobility is a recognised factor in the build-up of deep vein thrombosis.’

A coroner recorded a verdict of misadventure, on the grounds Mrs Martin’s death was the unintended consequence of medical treatment.

Mr. Stewart probably paid into the NHS his entire life before he needed care, and was denied it. That’s wow socialized medicine works. You pay into it. The government takes your money and buys votes from young people, by providing contraception, breast implants, HIV drugs, abortions, IVF and sex changes. When you get old, and need care, then you get in line behind people who have never paid a dime into the system. By that time, you’ll have no money of your own to get treatment from a private hospital. In Canada, you would have to leave the country and pay out of pocket for immediate care. That’s what the left thinks is such a great idea.

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How Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, saved Britain

Here’s an article from the UK Daily Mail with some more details about her.

Margaret Thatcher stood almost alone in driving through the tough policies now credited with saving the economy, secret papers reveal.

The Tory Premier had to take on her predecessor Harold Macmillan, Bank of England governor Gordon Richardson and even her own Chancellor Geoffrey Howe to push through the policies which pulled Britain back from the brink of economic chaos.

Documents released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule show the pressure Mrs Thatcher faced from the Establishment behind the scenes – and the extent to which she was isolated.

In 1980, the year after becoming Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher embarked on a controversial programme to revive the moribund economy through deep public spending cuts and strict control of the money supply, intended to stamp out inflation.

He warned that while her programme of cuts might give a ‘sense of exhilaration’ to her supporters, the country was heading for industrial collapse and ‘dangerous’ levels of unemployment.

Macmillan, then 86, sent the letter following a meeting with the Prime Minister at Chequers in August 1980.

He criticised her for abandoning ‘consensus politics’ to pursue radical reforms and ‘divisive politics’, which he said went against the ‘essence of Tory democracy’.

It was Macmillan who coined the phrase ‘you’ve never had it so good’ in 1957 during the long post-war economic boom.

His brand of consensus politics is now credited with contributing to the economic malaise that brought Britain to its knees in the late 1970s.

Years later, in her memoirs, Mrs Thatcher poured scorn on consensus politics, writing: ‘What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner “I stand for consensus”?.’

[...]In 1981, 365 economists wrote to The Times urging Mrs Thatcher to change course and limit the damage caused by the recession.

But she was unmoved, and her tough stance succeeded in reducing inflation from 27 per cent to four per cent in four years, putting Britain on the road to recovery.

Mrs Thatcher’s economic views were heavily influenced by the right-wing Cabinet minister Sir Keith Joseph, with whom she set up the free market think tank the Centre for Policy Studies in 1974.

Both drew on the work of the influential American economist Milton Friedman whose monetary theories challenged the post-war consensus on economic thinking.

I recommend reading the whole article for some more articles where Lady Thatcher had to stand against everyone and hold onto her convictions in the teeth of the majority.

Here’s an article from Forbes magazine that summarizes her effort to turn Britain around.

Excerpt:

It’s hard to appreciate today how desperate Britain’s condition was before Thatcher took office.  Its economy was a laughing stock, the perennial sick man of Europe.  Strikes were endemic and union bosses effectively governed the country.  Her Conservative Party had long ago made its peace with the welfare state and the ethos of high spending and high taxes. While the previous Tory Prime Minister, Edward Heath, wanted to revive Britain, he hadn’t a clue how to do it. In a make-or-break showdown with the coal miner’s union, Heath called a special election under the banner “Who Governs Britain?”  Heath lost and unions’ dominance in Britain seemed secure.

Great leaders have an astute sense of taking advantage of circumstances. Even though Heath had lost two elections, none of the senior party officials would challenge him.  At the time, Thatcher was not regarded as one of the party’s major figures.  But she was the only Tory who firmly believed in free markets and in Britain’s ability to become again a proud nation based on the principles of liberty. She was a devotee of Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman and of the idea of paring back big government and giving free enterprise room to flourish. Astonishingly she beat Heath in a leadership fight in 1975 and led the Tories to victory in 1979.

Immediately she began slashing income tax rates and reining in galloping spending and fighting inflation.  She also exhibited that critical sense of timing. When she took office, she was faced with a potential strike of nurses whose union was demanding huge pay increases. Thatcher compromised in a way that some thought she didn’t have the backbone to turn Britain around.  Instead she was exhibiting a great politician’s sense of knowing when to pick a fight.  Thatcher eventually pushed through major labor union reforms and made it clear she would not tolerate any union riots or violence.  Shortly after Thatcher won reelection, the coal miners union, which had destroyed Heath, decided to take her on. But unlike Heath Thatcher was fully prepared.  The big showdown ensued and Thatcher beat the coal miner’s union resoundingly. It never recovered from that defeat.

Thatcher knew the deadweight on the economy of excessive taxation. She cut the top income tax rate from 98% to 40%. She cut the corporate income tax rate from 52% to 35%.

One of Thatcher’s greatest innovations was the systematic selling off of the government’s business assets, dubbed privatization.  After World War II Britain nationalized enormous swaths of the economy which actions subsequent Conservative governments left largely untouched.  Thatcher sold government companies off and her example has been followed by countless nations around the world.

In the area of privatizations, she did two remarkable things. She sold off much of Britain’s public housing.  An enormous number of Britons, far more than in the U.S., lived in these government-owned buildings. Thatcher pushed the sale of these apartments to occupants at low prices and on very advantageous terms. The purpose was to begin to shift the mentality of people and their dependence on government. Her other smart move was in the privatization of government-owned companies:  offering a significant number of shares to workers at very low prices.  Union leaders hated privatization but their opposition was undermined as their members realized that they could do very well buying cheap shares in these newly-privatized entities.  Here again she was changing peoples’ thinking:  pro-big government workers now saw themselves as share owners, taking on more of a capitalist mentality.

Before Thatcher, many social observers thought that Britain had an ingrained, unchangeable, anti-commercial culture that would forever stand in the way of the country becoming an economic success. Yet within a decade of her taking office, Britain had the most vibrant, large economy in Europe, one even more dynamic, innovative than that of Germany’s.  London became a magnet for entrepreneurs from France, Sweden and elsewhere.

One unchangeable characteristic of a great leader is courage and that means taking career-breaking risks.  Thatcher demonstrated her mettle in the Falkland Islands crisis.  When the Argentinean military dictatorship seized Britain’s Falkland Islands, most military experts felt the Sceptred Isle simply did not possess the military means to take them back. Defying almost the entire political establishment which was haunted by both Britain’s current weakness and the memory of the Suez Canal debacle in 1956, Thatcher declared that the seizure would not stand and that Britain would go to war to take the Islands back. Thankfully she received critical help from the U.S. thanks to in large part the unrelenting efforts of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger (who years later became Publisher and Chairman of Forbes). To the surprise of experts, Britain’s military expedition succeeded. The Argentinean military dictatorship fell and democracy was restored in that country.  For Britain the Falklands war was a huge boost to a demoralized nation. To the world it meant that once again tyranny would be resisted.

I recommend reading that whole article. It’s hard not to smile at a woman who clearly loved her country and worked to save it from poverty.

Why good men love Maggie

And now I must offend everyone. See, I have a theory about women. I think that women generally tend to be more beholden to the opinions and fashions of the crowd than men are. It’s not absolute, but it’s maybe two-thirds to one-third, in my experience. I think that it is generally hard for them to hold to their convictions in the face of peer pressure. That’s why so few young, unmarried women are conservative after graduating from college. As soon as they reach college, they are swayed towards liberal views by their need to feel good about themselves and their need to be liked by others. Their views at home were not rooted in real knowledge, they were just fitting in with their families and churches and saying whatever words they were expected to say. And then they go off to college and learn other words to say from another community that uses praise and blame to replace their former convictions with new convictions.

But Maggie Thatcher wasn’t like that. And here’s why:

John Ranelagh writes of Margaret Thatcher’s remark at a Conservative Party  policy meeting in the late 1970′s, “Another colleague had also prepared a paper arguing that the middle way was the pragmatic path for the Conservative party to take .. Before he had finished speaking to his paper, the new Party Leader [Margaret Thatcher] reached into her briefcase and took out a book.  It was Friedrich von Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty.  Interrupting [the speaker], she held the book up for all of us to see.  ‘This’, she said sternly, ‘is what we believe’, and banged Hayek down on the table.”  (John Ranelagh, Thatcher’s People:  An Insider’s Account of the Politics, the Power, and the Personalities.  London:  Harper Collins, 1991.)

Policies like unilateral disarmament, wealth redistribution and redefining marriage sound good to many women – especially in college, and especially when only one side is presented and the other side is demonized. The only way to resist ideas that feel good and ideas that get you peer-approval is to have formed your own views through independent study. Lady Thatcher’s economic policies were formed through a study of real economists like Nobel-prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek and Nobel-prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. The reason why she was able to hold to her principles is because she knew what she was talking about, and her opponents did not. She didn’t care about feeling good. She didn’t care about what other people thought of her. She knew was right, and that was enough to sustain her in trying times. She had the knowledge, and her opponents couldn’t change her core convictions by trying to shame her. It didn’t work.

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