Thursday, June 04, 2009

Muslim team defile British cricket

Typical Muslim petulance

An umpire was beaten with stumps when tempers flared during a cricket match. Police were called after violence broke out during a Sunday league game between Sheffield Alliance Cricket Club and the Shimla Cricket Club, from Bradford. Three members of the Shimla team, apparently unhappy at a decision by the umpire, Matthew Lowson, 19, are alleged to have attacked him at the Phoenix Cricket Club in Rotherham. The attack happened towards the end of the match, when the Bradford side appealed for a catch but the umpire called “Not out”. Players surrounded him and witnesses say that he was punched, kicked and hit with stumps. He escaped serious injury after members of the home team used themselves as human shields.

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman confirmed officers attended the ground at Brinsworth, Rotherham, and said officers were speaking to three people from West Yorkshire but no arrests had been made. She said: “Three men are accused on confronting the umpire and it is believed one of them may have struck the umpire in the face.”

Stuart Granger, chairman of South Yorkshire Cricket League Umpire’s Association and secretary of the English Cricket Board’s Association of Cricket Officials for the South Yorkshire Branch, said: “This club must be banned from all cricket and the players must appear before a disciplinary committee for the league. We shall be seeking to have them expelled. We are not prepared to accept this against a 19-year-old lad.

“This is totally unacceptable in any level of cricket. It is totally against the spirit of the game. Players should have respect for their colleagues, umpires and other players.” The Barnsley-born umpire Dickie Bird condemned the incident and said he hoped that strong disciplinary action would be taken against any players found to have taken part.

He said: “Cricket is a civilised sport played by gentlemen. It saddens me to hear of anyone being attacked on a cricket field over a decision. What is the game coming to?”


Increase in women doctors ‘will put strain on the NHS’

Women doctors will outnumber their male colleagues in a decade but the change is likely to place a strain on the health service, according to a new report.

More than half of all new medical students are women but they are far more likely than men to work part-time and choose specialties where they have set hours, according to the study by the Royal College of Physicians. This could lead to a shortage of surgeons and doctors in obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics or public health, and a need to recruit more doctors overall, the report suggests.

At present women account for 40 per cent of all doctors, 42 per cent of GPs and 28 per cent of consultants. However, they are forecast to make up the majority of GPs by 2013 and the majority of the medical workforce some time after 2017.

“Across the NHS, 43 per cent of all women doctors are under the age of 35, so many will not yet have started families,” it adds. “And the proportion of women of child-bearing age will rise sharply in the next decade as the larger cohort of women medical students graduates.”

Compared with the early 1960s, the number of men entering medical schools each year has doubled, but among women it has risen tenfold.

Most NHS doctors, both men and women, still work full-time, with only about 15 per cent on part-time contracts. But in hospitals, 21 per cent of women are on part-time contracts, compared with 8 per cent of men. At senior consultant level, 30 per cent of women are working part-time.

Only 8.4 per cent of consultant surgeons are women — and women make up only 27 per cent of those opting for a specialty in surgery.

The study adds that there are very few women working as consultants or at the top of the NHS as medical directors and very few chairing professional executive committees.

The Women and Medicine report — which follows a two-year review — said there was no evidence that women were more likely than men to leave medicine entirely. However, a 15-year follow-up of doctors after graduation shows that, on average, and after career breaks and part-time working is taken into account, women fulfil 60 per cent of the role of a full-time doctor while men fulfil 80 per cent.

Sir Liam Donaldson, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer, welcomed the report. “The NHS benefits enormously from the diversity of its staff and the ways in which they reflect the community more widely,” he said. “We will work with the leadership of the medical profession to ensure that women have every opportunity to realise their aspiration when they choose a career in medicine.”


More stupid British immigration rules

Some of the scum of the earth are allowed to remain in Britain and people with virtually no skills are pouring in daily with no realistic chance of being deported but highly talented performers in the arts are kept out

Stringent new visa controls have brought one ballet company to the brink of collapse and threaten dozens of concerts, festivals and exhibitions. Rules designed to prevent illegal immigration have left international performers struggling to gain access to Britain, a report says. Other artists have decided that it is simply not worth the hassle to travel. It is feared that the new rules could destroy Britain’s reputation as a centre for international arts.

Among the cancellations were two concerts by the Russian pianist Grigory Sokolov, and the deportation of the Canadian singer Allison Crowe from Gatwick because she did not have a certificate of sponsorship. Her passport has been stamped “barred from entry” and she could find it difficult to perform in Britain again.

Così fan Tutte opened at the English National Opera this week but Abbasa Kiarostami, its Iranian director, has had to run it by e-mail because he could not get a visa in time. He complained of “disgraceful treatment” from British Embassy staff.

The Swansea-based Ballet Russe company, which has been performing for more than ten years, faces closure after months of expensive and unsuccessful negotiations to try to obtain visas for its dancers, who are stuck in Russia.

The visa controls are part of the new points-based system for immigration. The rules for touring artists, which came into force in November, include a requirement for each artist to show £800 of savings, and financial support and constant monitoring by a “sponsor” to make sure that they do not abscond during their visit. Artists must apply for the visa in person, supplying biometric data and a digital picture. That has proved difficult in Africa in particular, with artists being told to travel to countries where biometric equipment is available to obtain their visas. In the past artists have been able to obtain, within a few days, a simple short-term visa to tour in Britain.

The report, UK Arts and Culture: Cancelled by Order of the Home Office, was compiled by the Manifesto Club, which campaigns against red tape. The group said that the report gives the first indication of how many organisations have been affected since the changes came into force. It found evidence that more than 20 major events had been cancelled or badly affected by the new system. Other groups told its researchers that it was becoming impossible for them to invite non-EU visitors to perform or speak.

Tango and salsa dance festivals have been badly hit, with Argentine and Cuban dancers unable to obtain the right paperwork. An International Tango Festival this year has become a “bureaucratic nightmare” according to Simon Whittle, the administrator. Anthony Howell, the celebrated tango dancer, said: “No small venue can afford to pay the fees to the Government on top of the fees for the performers. These restrictions drastically reduce the chances of good Argentine tango dancers being able to enter the country.”

Universities say that lecturers are also finding it impossible to obtain the necessary short-term work visas. Dmitry Vilensky, a Russian academic, cancelled a seminar in January when he was denied a visa on the ground that he was not being paid a fee.

Helen Gilbert, professor of theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London, said that the new laws were turning Britain into a laughing stock.

The UK Border Agency said that it wanted Britain to stay open and attractive for creative artists. “But at the same time we are determined to deliver a system which is among the most secure in the world.”


Big Brother HAS gone too far ... and that's a British ex-spy chief talking

The former head of MI6 has hit out at 'striking and disturbing' invasions of privacy by the Big Brother state. Sir Richard Dearlove, who led the Secret Intelligence Service from 1999 to 2004, claimed some were an 'abuse' of the law. He attacked the 'loss of liberties' caused by expanding surveillance powers and described some police operations as 'mind-boggling.' The former spy chief joins a growing number of high-profile critics warning that individual freedom and privacy are being seriously eroded by the Government's disproportionate efforts to guard against terrorism.

Sir Richard was particularly critical of what he claimed were inadequate laws to regulate some surveillance powers. Commenting on the massive surge in police use of stop-and-search powers in London, he highlighted the fact that Scotland Yard officers have carried out more than 150,000 searches since 2007. This compared with fewer than 300 in Manchester. Sir Richard said: 'That is a mind-boggling statistic. That may well be an abuse of the law. 'I am a great believer in proportionality and as a citizen I worry about the loss of my liberties.'

He questioned the legal constraints on the use of millions of CCTV cameras across Britain, saying: 'We have constructed a society which has great technical competence - and some of that competence isn't particularly regulated. 'I think the important thing in the UK is that there should be very strict legislation and strict legislative oversight.'

Sir Richard, who spoke out during a question-and-answer appearance in front of 800 people at the Hay on Wye Festival, was a career intelligence officer who joined MI6 in 1966. He was in charge of the agency at the time of the September 11 attacks, and oversaw the response to the emerging threat from Al Qaeda. When he left MI6 and became Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge, officials said he would not be giving interviews or making public appearances. But in recent months he has spoken at a number of events.

Sir Richard's remarks echo concerns voiced recently by terrorism watchdog Lord Carlile who criticised the number of stop-and-searches and said it risked gravely undermining relations with the Muslim community.

The House of Lords Constitution Committee recently called for the state's Big Brother powers to be rolled back, while Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has condemned the spread of surveillance, particularly the UK's 4.5million CCTV cameras. He said Home Office plans for a vast internet surveillance database were 'a step too far for the British way of life'. Sir Richard said he believed the U.S. response to September 11 had been disproportionate.

George Bush's administration detained and tortured hundreds of suspected terrorists in foreign jails under the extraordinary rendition programme. Sir Richard said: 'I'm a great believer in proportionality, and while what happened on 9/11 was a dreadful and serious event, in no way did it threaten the integrity of western civilisation.'

Asked about Britain's involvement in the CIA's rendition programme, Sir Richard told the festival audience that MI6 would have sought ministerial approval of any cases involving British citizens or residents. He said: 'The intelligence and security community act in sensitive situations with political cover'. Sir Richard admitted he had been aware of a number of rendition cases while he was head of MI6, but claimed the Americans had not passed on lists of names. He added: 'Yes, I think we were certainly aware. I mean we were not aware of the detail, we were aware of some individual cases.' He said he had known of no cases involving British nationals, and dismissed suggestions that the UK had run its own rendition programme to move terror suspects abroad to be questioned and tortured.

The former spy chief said: 'No British minister would ever have agreed a rendition action by us because I think the legal advice in the UK would have been that under common law this was very questionable. U.S. lawyers gave different advice.'

Sir Richard insisted Britain's position condemning torture remained secure, adding: 'I do not know of any violations. 'We don't use torture and in instances where we know that, let's say, a foreign government is not handling a case in line with our legal procedures then we would express our disagreement and our disapproval.'


Boys who do sport and after-school activities do better in exams

Rather a contradiction to the "dumb jock" image

Boys who play sport or take part in after-school clubs are more likely to do well in exams, according to research that suggests a healthy body really does lead to a healthy mind. Cricket, orienteering and even bell-ringing improves the academic achievements of pupils at private schools, researchers at the Independent Schools Council (ISC) say. The difference that extra-curricular activities make to boys’ exam performance is more marked than the effect on girls at GCSE, they found.

Andrew Halls, head of King’s College School for boys in Wimbledon, South London, where pupils have activities in place of lessons on Friday afternoons, said that his pupils needed stimulation outside the classroom to do well in exams. “Boys really want a hinterland to their studies. They don’t want to work in a vacuum and need a sense of life beyond the classroom to make the classroom more palatable,” he said. “Girls tend to weather tedium better than boys. If their lessons are boring, girls will compensate for that, whereas with boys it explodes in your face a bit.”

Researchers compared the number of activities on offer at 508 member schools of the ISC with their academic performance at GCSE. Those offering more clubs and sporting opportunities had better results.

Tim Hands, head master of Magdalen College School, Oxford, where 91 per cent of boys achieved As or above at GCSE in 2007, said: “There is a pretty dramatic correlation between those who take on a major activity — whether it is starring in a play or captaining the first XI cricket team — and getting first-choice universities after A Level or doing particularly well at GCSE. People benefit from having commitments across the board. They have got a sense of focus and perspective.”

Schools with 30 different options outside lesson time had 100 per cent of pupils all gaining Bs or above in GCSE, the study showed. Those offering fewer than 20 activities had 10 per cent of pupils gaining Bs or above.

Clarissa Farr, high mistress of St Paul’s School for Girls, said that girls benefited just as much from extracurricular activities as boys. “A broad range of activities is fundamental to academic success,” she said.

Previous studies have suggested a strong positive link between pupil participation in sport and academic achievement but have not found a gender difference. Jacquelynne Eccles, of the psychology department at the University of Michigan, said that her study into the link between sporting activity and academic attainment found no gender divide. “But if there is a difference, it would be in that direction because the boys would be the ones that take up the sports most,” she said.



The successor to the Kyoto Protocol will be negotiated in large part at the United Nations Climate Change Conference hosted in Copenhagen this December, and as such the lobbying, horsetrading and politicking has already begun in earnest. Judging by the early entries, the theme seems to be Massive Estimates of Death.

The St James's Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium last week compared global warming to all-out nuclear war. Meanwhile, the Global Humanitarian Forum, headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, released a 103-page report ('Anatomy of a Silent Crisis') estimating that 'every year climate change leaves over 300,000 people dead, 325 million people seriously affected, and economic losses of US $125 billion.'

These are genuinely alarming, sit-up-and-pay attention sort of figures. The problem is that once you've sat up and paid attention enough to examine them a bit more closely, you find that the means by which the figures were arrived at isn't very compelling. Referring to the 300,000 souls, page 1 of the reports states: 'These figures represent averages based on projected trends over many years and carry a significant margin of error. The real numbers could be lower or higher...' before going on to say, 'These already alarming figures may prove too conservative.' Or not, as the case may be.

Later, in the section entitled 'Attribution of weather-related disasters to climate change', it says 'there is not yet any widely accepted global estimate of the share of weather-related disasters that are attributable to climate change' before going on to make one up by the unusual expedient of using earthquake disasters as a proxy for the weather. (See page 86 for the full explanation.)

This is just a snapshot, but it's fairly representative. The report contains so many extrapolations derived from guesswork based on estimates inferred from unsuitable data sets that you have to ask some serious questions about the methodology. Cryptically, Mr Annan states in the introduction: 'Humanity is facing a rare challenge. But it is a common challenge.' Like the report itself, you know what he's driving at, but have to ask yourself if there wasn't a better way of putting it.


A small thought about climate change

We've just had a crowd of Nobel Laureates telling us all how urgent is the need to do something about climate change. And we've also just had a group of not scientists telling us that hundreds of thousands are already dying from the effects. That latter used some, umm, creative methods to reach that conclusion, for I was previously entirely unaware that earthquakes were indeed caused by climate change.

However, this leads to me to ponder a little on what Lord Stern told us. That was that we could sort this all out for the remarkably low price of 1-2% of GDP, spent year by year over the next few decades. Given the size of the UK economy this means some £14 billion to £28 billion a year. And we're also told that this amount should be used to correct the price system, so that matters currently external to the markets become internal to the pricing system. This so called Pigou taxation.

This makes sense, I have to say, as the amount of damage, by Lord Stern's figures again, done by Britain's emissions are again in this sort of range: £14 billion to £28 billion.

Now whether I actually swallow all of these numbers is a different matter, but let's take them at the logic of their proponents. We know the problem, we know how to solve it, we know how much the problem costs and we know how much the solution costs. Excellent.

But, but....well, how much are we already paying in such green taxes? That depends a little on exactly how you want to calculate what is a green tax but adding up landfill tax, air passenger duty, the petrol tax rises from the fuel duty escalator and so on we get to a figure of....£14 billion to £28 billion again. Which means that, by the logic of the Stern Review, we've actually already solved climate change.

No, not even I think that to be actually correct, as Lord Stern himself doesn't. For he keeps telling us that we must do much more, much more quickly, in order to solve the problem, as those Nobel Laureates were also telling us last week.

Which, sadly, leaves us with one inescapable conclusion. We're not going to crack this at that low cost of 1-2% of GDP per year over the decades. It's going to be much much more expensive than that: which means we really need to reopen the calculations of whether we want to stop climate change or would prefer to adapt to it.


Must not make health claims for green tea if you are a tea company

But it's fine if you are a health faddist or a publication-hungry medical scientist

An advert for Tetley tea has been banned because it misled viewers into thinking that a cuppa has health benefits. The TV commercial shows a young woman who decides not to go jogging and instead drinks a cup of green tea. A voiceover says: 'For an easy way to help look after yourself, pick up Tetley Green Tea. It's full of antioxidants.'

The advertising watchdog ruled that this implied the tea was beneficial to health, when in fact there is no evidence to suggest it is better for you than water.

Four viewers complained that the advert suggested Tetley Green Tea had the same or similar health benefits as exercise. In the commercial the woman is seen warming up for exercise. She opens her front door, as if to go for a jog, but sees it is raining she goes back inside. She is then seen making a cup of tea as the voiceover is heard and the words 'As part of a healthy diet and lifestyle' appear on screen.

The Advertising Standards Authority said the commercial breached codes dealing with evidence and accuracy. A spokesman said: 'While it did not imply the tea had the same or similar health benefits to exercise, it did imply that the tea had some general health benefits beyond hydration, in particular because it contained antioxidants. 'As we had not seen any evidence to demonstrate that green tea, or the antioxidants in it, had general health benefits, we concluded that the ad was misleading. 'The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Tetley not to imply that a product had greater health benefits than it did if they did not hold substantiation for the implied claims.'

Tetley said the advert had promoted tea as part of a healthy lifestyle, 'hence the inclusion of the on-screen text and the depiction of a young, fit woman who clearly led a healthy lifestyle'.


A Modern Witch Trial

By Theodore Dalrymple

Men may be created equal, but not all murders are equal. Some are quickly forgotten, except by those immediately affected by them, while others--by no means always political assassinations--have a lasting political impact. Among the politically significant kind was the murder of Stephen Lawrence, a young black man, in a London suburb on the evening of April 22, 1993. Five or six white youths set upon Lawrence and a friend, Duwayne Brooks. One of the attackers supposedly shouted, "What, what, nigger?" immediately before Lawrence was stabbed to death. Brooks managed to evade the attackers, who ran away.

Despite considerable circumstantial evidence against several suspects, the perpetrators escaped conviction. The police investigation into the murder was a model of incompetence of the kind that every Briton now expects of our boys in blue. Over the investigation there also hung a pall of suspected corruption, for one suspect was the son of a rich drug trafficker who, on a previous occasion when his son stood accused of a stabbing, had tried (unsuccessfully) to bribe and threaten the victim into altering his evidence.

But the Lawrence murder took on a wide social significance because of its racial overtones. The botched investigation became a cause celebre--the presumption being that racism alone could explain the police's failure to bring the perpetrators to justice--and the government launched an official inquiry to "identify the lessons to be learned for the investigation and prosecution of racially motivated crimes." There followed a festival of political and emotional correctness the likes of which have rarely been equaled. It would be impossible, at less than book length, to plumb the depths of intellectual confusion and moral cowardice to which the inquiry plunged. In 1999, it released a report of its findings that won almost universal praise despite its risible shortcomings.

This year, on the tenth anniversary of the report, the press and professional criminologists are celebrating it for, as one put it, bringing about a "paradigm shift" in the sensitivities of British police about "diversity"--police now think about race all the time, it seems. The report's real effect, however, was to demoralize further an already demoralized police force, which, immediately after the report appeared, retreated from stopping or searching people behaving suspiciously and watched street robberies increase 50 percent.

Perhaps the fact that the inquiry was open to the public had something to do with the nature of the resulting report. The public gallery regularly overflowed with activists and extremists, who did not hesitate to jeer and mock the witnesses with whom they disagreed; the head of the inquiry, Sir William Macpherson, rarely admonished these spectators, thus creating an officially sanctioned atmosphere of intimidation. Among the self-congratulatory sentences that opened the report ("We believe that our procedures did ensure fairness"; "The contributions of the Inquiry's Advisers to the Report and to the conclusions to the Report . . . have been imaginative, radical and of incalculable worth") was the following, a flash of lightning in the darkness: "We thank the officers from the Walworth Police Station, who in difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances have helped to keep order when emotions ran high." An incipient riot is not a situation in which the truth is likely to emerge or to be uppermost in people's minds.

The report's contention was that the mishandled Lawrence case illustrated the "institutional racism" of the London police force. Poor Sir William tied himself in knots trying to explain the notion of institutional racism, relying in part on that great moral authority on race relations, Stokely Carmichael, the onetime "prime minister" of the Black Panthers. As Macpherson admitted, he could point to no actual instance of racist behavior by the officers involved in the case, though evidence of incompetence and delay was abundant. But if he had concluded from the lack of evidence of racist behavior that the police were not racist, he doubtless would have become an object of execration by all the people who think the right thoughts. Thus Macpherson's redefinition of racism: "Failure to adjust policies and methods to meet the needs of policing a multi-racial society can occur simply because police officers may mistakenly believe that it is legitimate to be 'colour-blind' in both individual and team response to the management and investigation of racist crimes."

On the very next page, however, Sir William quoted approvingly the assertion of an association of black police officers: "Institutional racism leads officers to act, albeit unconsciously, and for the most part unintentionally, and treat others differently because of their ethnicity or culture." In other words, if you treat people the same, you are racist; but if you treat them differently, you are racist. It is clear that we are here in the realm not of the rule of law but of the Malleus Maleficarum, and that Macpherson is acting not as judge but as witchfinder-general.

The evidence of institutional racism that Macpherson uncovered would be laughable, had the liberal press not taken it so seriously. For example, when the police arrived at the murder scene, Brooks snarled: "Who called you fucking cunts anyway, pigs, I only called an ambulance." That the police did not feel entirely reassured that Brooks was a respectable, upright citizen, and ignored the fact that he was also a victim of the attack, became for Macpherson a sign of their racist stereotyping, not a natural response to such vile abuse, which is not a normal way for the law-abiding to address the supposed guardians of the law--or, indeed, anyone else.

Further evidence, in Sir William's view, was that some of the detectives refused to accept that the Lawrence murder was "wholly racist," though none denied at least a racist element. Of course, since no one had actually been convicted of the murder, the murderer's motive could not be known for certain. And even if the suspects--a violent group, certainly--were indeed the culprits, was racism the sole, or even primary, cause of their violence? One suspect--David Norris, the drug trafficker's son--was almost certainly guilty of that earlier stabbing in which his father became illegally involved, as the report observed. But there the victim was white. Norris and two other suspects in the Lawrence murder had also been suspects in another assault, this one on two brothers, both white. In both instances, Norris got off because of incompetent prosecutions.

Macpherson did not draw the obvious inference, and if he did, the liberal intelligentsia would not have applauded.

Let us assume that Norris was indeed one of Stephen Lawrence's murderers. If the prosecution of Norris's earlier crimes had not been so incompetent, and if he had received an adequate sentence if found guilty (an unlikely outcome in contemporary Britain), then Lawrence would now be alive.

At one point, the inquiry listened to secretly recorded conversations among the Lawrence suspects. The conversations were racist in the crudest possible way, but they were not purely racist. Norris said, for example, "If I was going to kill myself, do you know what I'd do? I'd go and kill every black cunt, every Paki, every copper, every mug that I know." The police in London are not predominantly minorities; it is also unlikely that "every mug" that Norris knew was a minority. Norris's propensity to racism was probably caused by his propensity to violence, rather than the other way around.

So on every possible ground, the police who dismissed the idea that the murder was "wholly racist" were right, at least factually. Their error was political or even metaphysical--beyond the realm of mere empirical evidence. On Macpherson's view, the police should act more as defenders of politically correct orthodoxy than as keepers of the peace and searchers after the truth.

Further confirmation of Sir William's moral cowardice was his uncritical acceptance of everything that Stephen Lawrence's mother said. Now, Mrs. Lawrence had lost her son to murder, and the police had failed to solve the far from insoluble crime; she was understandably distraught and angry. But that did not make her the arbiter of truth; common sense, indeed, should have suggested the contrary. One might have hoped that a judge would have shown some judgment.

At the beginning of the report, Macpherson defended the unusually "adversarial" manner in which the inquiry was conducted. "Cross-examination of many officers was undoubtedly robust and searching," he wrote. A few pages later, without noticing any contradiction, he mentioned that when one Mr. Gompertz, the counsel for the police, was questioning Mrs. Lawrence, "The nature and content of the questions made Mrs. Lawrence protest that her perception was that she was being put on trial. Wisely Mr. Gompertz desisted." In short, only the accused could be questioned.

Mrs. Lawrence had already demonstrated that, no doubt in her distress, she was willing to go beyond the facts. In her statement to the coroner's court, she said (and later repeated the assertion to Nelson Mandela when he visited London): "In my opinion what had happened was the way of the judicial system making a clear statement to the black community that their lives are worth nothing and the justice system will support any one, any white person who wishes to commit any crime or even murder against a black person, you will be protected, you will be supported by the British system."

Even if we leave aside the question of why she bothered to participate in the system at all if it really was as she described it, she ought to have known that she was exaggerating. I quote from the report, which sought to show that Lawrence's was not the only racist murder in the area:

In February 1991 a white man named Thornburrow murdered a young 15 year old black youth named Rolan Adams. . . . He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

On 11 July 1992 an Asian boy called Rohit Duggal was stabbed to death by a white youth named Peter Thompson. . . . Thompson was found guilty of the murder in February 1993.

Mrs. Lawrence should have known about these sentences. If she did not, she was ignorant; if she did, she was lying. But all that Macpherson said of her incendiary charge was that it showed the depth of her feeling--not that it was inaccurate and misleading. Her victimhood had to be immaculate.

Mrs. Lawrence further said that she felt condescended to by the police and ascribed this condescension to their racism. Macpherson showed--surprisingly, for a judge--no recognition of the obvious difficulties in accepting such feeling as evidence of anything. He did not even demand that her feelings have some objective correlative: if she felt condescended to because of racism, she was condescended to because of racism.

Among the report's many pernicious recommendations was the following: "The definition of a racist incident should be any incident which is perceived as racist by the victim or any other person." Nothing could be better designed to destroy the possibility of easy--dare I say normal--relations among people of different races. For the notion that racism is so pervasive and institutionalized that it is everywhere, even where it appears not to be, induces in the susceptible a paranoid state of mind, which then finds racism in every possible situation, in every remark, in every suggestion, in every gesture and expression. It is a charge against which there is no defense.

Two incidents in my clinical experience illustrate this nonfalsifiability. In the first, the lawyers for a black defendant asked me to appraise his fitness to plead. The defendant faced charges of assaulting another black man, out of the blue, with an iron bar. The man was obviously paranoid, his speech rambling and incoherent; his lawyers could obtain no sensible instructions from him. I argued that he was unfit to plead. Whereupon the man's sister denounced me as a racist: I had reached my conclusions, she charged, only because her brother was black. Her 15-year-old daughter started to describe to me her frequent difficulties in understanding her uncle, only to be told to shut up by her mother. The lawyers had been unable to obtain instructions from the defendant only because they were white, the sister persisted. Give her brother black lawyers, and he would be perfectly reasonable. Of course, if I had said that he was fit to plead, she could have claimed with equal justice (which is none) that I came to that conclusion only because he was black.

The second case, far more serious, ended in a man's death; the blame was partly mine. A black man in his mid-twenties arrived at our hospital with severely cut wrists. He was nearly exsanguinated and needed a large blood transfusion; his tendons also needed an operation to repair. By all accounts, he had been a perfectly normal man, happily employed, a few weeks before, but suddenly he had stopped eating and become a recluse, barricading himself in his house until police and family broke in to reach him. His suicide attempt was not one of those frivolous gestures with which our hospitals are all too familiar. If ever a man meant to kill himself, this man did.

His mother was by his bedside. I told her that her son should remain in the hospital for treatment (you'd hardly have to be a doctor to realize this). At first she was perfectly agreeable; but then a friend of the young man, himself young and black, arrived and instantly accused me of racism for my supposed desire to lock the patient up. I tried to reason with this friend, but he became agitated and aggressive, even menacing. Whether from conviction or because she, too, felt intimidated, the mother then sided with the friend and started to say that I was racist in wishing to detain her son.

I could have insisted on the powers granted to me by law--asking a court to have social services replace the mother as the patient's nearest relative for the legal purpose of keeping him in treatment. But I did not fancy the process: the young friend had threatened to bring reinforcements, and a riot might have ensued in the hospital. Instead, I agreed to the demand that I let the patient go home. The two said that they would look after him, and I made them sign a paper (of no legal worth) acknowledging that I had warned them of the possible consequences.

This piece of paper they screwed up into a ball and threw away immediately outside the ward, where I found it later. I had made copies, and it was one of these that I sent to the coroner when, six weeks later, the young man gassed himself to death with car exhaust. The notion of ubiquitous, institutionalized racism resulted in his death; and I resolved that it would never intimidate me again.


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