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Sunday, 31 May 2009

Comparing the incomparable

“What happened at some schools cannot be compared with the millions of lives that have been destroyed by abortion.”

These are the words of a senior Vatican official, Cardinal Antonio Canizares, who was talking about the suffering of thousands of Irish children at the hands of abusive priests and nuns.

It beggars belief. I just can’t get my head around how anyone could make such a comparison, when living, breathing, knowing, sentient beings are beaten and shagged by those who have a duty of care, and this is ranked below the surgical destruction of embryos and foetuses that are aware of nothing.

Well this headcase has now been criticised for this downplaying of the Ireland scandal. Spain’s Health Minister, Trinidad Jimenez, has said it was “very serious” and “irresponsible” by the cardinal to make an “inadequate” comparison between “two completely different things.”
Related link:
Why should we pay? say abusers

Saturday, 30 May 2009

A kiss not to miss

Uh, oh! The BBC are sorely testing the Religion of Peace™.

According to Pink News, it’s going to show another gay kiss in its nightly soap, EastEnders. Shock, horror!

But this time – double shock, horror! – it’s going to be a gay Muslim.

Omigod! Prepare for the streets of London to be marched through with radical idiots wanting to behead BBC producers.

“New character Syed Masood, a Muslim property developer who has a girlfriend, is to fall for openly gay Christian Clarke,” the online sources tells us. That’s a character called Christian Clarke, not a Christian called Clarke. (I had to look it up!) Oh, and Syed Masood is quite a dish. Pink News carries a pic.

It’s bad enough when a gay kiss gets Christian bigots going. But getting bigoted Muslims going is going to be – well, it’s enough to make me want to start watching EastEnders.

As you would expect, Muslims are against it. “[T]he Muslim Public Affairs Committee say that the BBC should have a ‘normal friendly Muslim character’,” says Pink News. Whatever “normal” is! And are gay people by default not friendly?

It just goes to show what sort of world these crazy Islamic tosspots are living in.

Asghar Bokhari of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee has said, “The Muslim community deserves a character that represents them to the wider public because Islamophobia is so great right now.”

Is it any wonder when the “Muslim community” is so homophobic, demanding and whining? Put “Islam” into our search box at the top of this page, and see how many stories this blog alone has carried about how Muslims love to demand special treatment because they don’t like the culture they choose to live in.

This is just the latest. And, if they wanted to try to refute my accusation of homophobia, why should it matter whether a featured Muslim character is gay or straight? If it matters, then the “Muslim community” are homophobic.

They can’t have it both ways.

The Beeb got 150 complaints last year when there was gay kiss – from people who think it’s OK to show a man and a woman snogging each other rotten before the 9 p.m. watershed, but not a kiss between two people of the same sex.

Well, I’m sure I don’t need to tell readers of this blog how ridiculous that attitude is.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Love it or hate it? I hate it!

Oh, God! Not another one!

Faces of Jesus and Mary crop up all over the place – as if anyone had any idea at all what either of these historical characters (if, indeed, they existed) looked like.

This time it’s in South Wales, and it’s in the lid of a jar of Marmite.

Can you see the face of Jesus in that sticky mess? Well, you can make out just about anything you like, really.

And this picture by Wales News Service appears in a story in the broadsheet Telegraph, supposedly a paper intelligent, thinking people read. This is the paper that will win awards very soon for its protracted campaign on thieving MPs and their immoral expenses claims.

Well, it must be a light news day if this is counted as a story. Of course stuff such as Marmite – the salty, yeasty spread with the “Love it or hate it” marketing slogan – is going to form shapes when it’s been in contact with a surface.

And of course people will look at those shapes and see things. It happens all the time: with clouds, ink blots. Remember our recent story about the so-called Virgin Mary, whose “image” was found (or manufactured) on a griddle?

I expect this sort of “story” in the Sun or the Daily Mirror, but not in the Telegraph.

BNP supporters are berks, not bogeymen

You can tell that we are nearing local and European elections, because suddenly there's an eruption of scare stories about the BNP all over the newspapers. This festering boil on the nation's political bottom would just shrivel up and die if we all just ignored it – like we generally do for the other 11 months of the year. Political pundits, puffed up with self-righteousness, are also appearing regularly on political TV programmes, warning us about the "fascist" BNP, the "Nazi" BNP, the "neo-Nazi" BNP and the "I-can't-believe-it's-not-butter" BNP.

Not one of these descriptions is accurate. The BNP is officially an "anti-immigration" and "pro-family" party, not a "racist" or "anti-gay" party, though these important distinctions undoubtedly mask some pretty nasty, un-reconstituted racism and anti-gay prejudices amongst its sweaty-arsed rank and file.

One of their tacky leaflets recently dropped onto my doormat. A riot of clashing colours, type-faces and ugly graphics, it looked like one of Sir Alan Sugar's apprentice wannabes had knocked it up in five minutes at the end of a hard day. Full of pictures of chavvy-looking dullards, it reeks of red-top populism aimed at the kind of disgruntled, pessimistic cynics who feel besieged by modern life, that the whole world is against them, that everyone else is getting a free ride at the expense of "decent ordinary folk" like themselves.

The policies are all built on banal prejudices, myths that masquerade as common sense and the kind of snap judgements dull people make about complex issues when they are too lazy or stupid to trouble themselves with facts or analysis. The iconography of Churchill and World War II is pressed into service, alongside a knee-jerk opposition to the European Union. Other than that, there is support for the Anglican Church, the monarchy, traditional family life and – bizarrely – green issues.

I think there are three main reasons why the main parties are crapping themselves over the perceived BNP threat at the forthcoming local and European elections on June 4th. The first is that our Westminster politicians – even the decent majority of them – are now indelibly associated with corruption and greed, in the wake of the mushroom cloud of anger that erupted over the scandal of MPs' expenses. For those of us who are, or were, "natural" Labour Party supporters, it is disheartening and maddening to discover that so many high profile Labour MP's have busied themselves, not with making our society fairer and a decent, safe place to live in, but feathering their own luxuriously-appointed nests at the tax-payers' expense.

The Conservatives are no better, but you kind of expect it from the "Alan B'stard" type of Tory, while David Cameron's vision of a progressive, reforming Conservatism, is exactly what the country needs right now. The BNP may well reap protest votes among the disaffected and misguided as a result of all these venal "public servants" caught with their snouts in the trough – Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman, certainly seems to think so (Times, 9th May). Her cabinet chum, Hazel Blears, has been a marvellous, if unwitting, recruiting agent for the BNP, no doubt.

The second reason is that the BNP is not run by the knuckle-headed morons of popular imagination, but by shrewd and clever people like Nick Griffin. Look past his comical Harry Potter haircut and and you'll see he is a calculating Oxford-educated lawyer. The BNP leadership has cleverly manoeuvred the party into the position where it actually articulates a lot of common sense that everybody knows to be true, but which political correctness stops most mainstream politicians from admitting.

Yes, immigration is out of control and far too high. Yes, we should do more to secure our borders. Yes, undiluted Islam is problematic and often runs counter to western values. No rational person would disagree. Agreeing with those statements does not mean you agree with the BNP – it means the BNP has cleverly repositioned itself so that it appears to agree with you. No one should be fooled by this cynical ploy, but some disgruntled simpletons will be.

The third reason is that the BNP can now claim the kind of "victim status" that Muslims and other minorities have traditionally manipulated so effectively to their own advantage. Earlier this year, the BNP went bleating to the police after the feminist comedian, Jo Brand – in response to the leaking of the BNP members' list – quipped, live on stage: "Oh good. Now we know who to send the poo to!" At the Royal Mail, the Communication Workers Union is currently backing some of its members who are refusing to deliver the BNP's election leaflets in Bristol (Times, 15th May). One trade unionist is quoted as saying: "Although there isn't anything racist or fascist on it, it does say no to immigration." In other words, the leaflets are perfectly legal and in line with the Representation of the People Act, which stipulates that the Royal Mail has a duty to deliver electoral materials for all political parties, without favour or discrimination.

This follows an unusually forthright condemnation of the BNP from our normally mealy-mouthed Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, after a soppy-looking Jesus appeared on BNP hoardings lending his weight to BNP claims of social and electoral martyrdom. Meanwhile, Nick Barnbrook, the BNP's sole representative at the Greater London Assembly (GLA), has also been "persuaded" not to take Nick Griffin along to the Buckingham Palace garden party, as is his right, as an elected GLA representative. Nick Griffin is portraying this climb-down as "sparing Her Majesty any embarrassment" but, elsewhere, the BNP is already claiming it has been victimised, yet again, by our corrupt liberal-left establishment. They do have a point.

Democracy requires a full spectrum of opinion, including barking mad right-wingers like the BNP and their equally barking mad left-wing counterparts. If extremists want to put up candidates, then that is their right and we have the right to vote for them (or not), as well as demonstrate against them (or not). We don't need limp liberals or shrill left-wingers telling us what we must think and do.

Two years ago, I remember seeing the former London Mayor, "Red" Ken Livingstone, on the TV. He was touring Barking (appropriately), where the BNP was hoping to win some council seats. Collaring a Vicky Pollard look-alike who was considering voting for the BNP, he tried to remind her that the parents and grandparents of today's Londoners "fought against fascism and being taken over by people like the BNP". Of course, that is nonsense-on-stilts. What the parents and grandparents of today's Londoners were actually fighting for was to protect their neighbourhoods from – oh dear! – being invaded by foreigners. Thanks to decades of mismanaged immigration, a lot of those parents and grandparents must look around those same neighbourhoods and wonder why they bothered.

After Ken Livingstone's monumentally ineffectual visit, the citizens of Barking & Dagenham went on to elect 10 BNP councillors (more than any other London borough), while the out-of-touch socialist grandee was swept out of office by London's electorate just a year later.

In fact, our society is perfectly well-equipped to deal with bunk from all sources, including the BNP, without the efforts of self-regarding socialists and other tiresome do-gooders, because we have a free press and other vigorously independent institutions. Independence of mind is, ironically, part of the collective British psyche, together with a huge dollop of tolerance and feisty good humour (nothing is more un-British, in a sense, than the narrow-minded British National Party). We Brits, diverse as we are, have a collective nose for people who are either intolerant, greedy, or fraudulent and we don't suffer fools gladly either.

However, most fair-minded people also recognise that the BNP has no terrorist wing, unlike, say, Sinn Fein, while it also eschews, or at least disassociates itself from, other forms of violence – unlike some parts of the Muslim community. As long as the BNP operates within the law, genuine freethinkers and democrats, gay or straight, must defend its right to participate in the democratic process, while campaigning, legitimately, against a lot of what it stands for.

On June 4th, we can be confident that the BNP will be the huge electoral flop it always has been, even in working-class boroughs like Barking & Dagenham. Let's not dignify BNP members' thinly disguised racism and anti-gay prejudices by denouncing them with yet more hysterical left-wing wank. That just plays into their hands. These people are just berks and jerks – not the big bad bogeymen of liberal imagination.
Related links:
When is right wrong?
Behind closed doors

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Copulation without population

Some of the world’s richest people have been discussing how to improve things.

One thing that’s exercising them is the size of the population, and the planet’s ability to sustain it.

In my humble opinion, one way of doing that is to force the Catholic Church to reverse its ridiculous ideas on birth control. It influences millions of people worldwide, and, while a lot of Catholics stick two fingers up to the Vatican’s views on birth control, many more go along with them.

How “educated” cardinals and a pope can honestly believe their sky fairy wants this planet to continue to groan under the weight of a population that’s set to peak at more than 9 billion, goodness only knows.

When their god told people to “go forth and multiply” it was a time when Earth had a very small population, and most of the planet was not even within the consciousnesses of the people who, for political and survival reasons, made that up and told their people that God had said it.

It’s time the Catholic Church felt enormous political pressure to tell its people to stop breeding in such large numbers, to use condoms or whatever family planning is available.

That is not a plea for abortion. That, too, has its place, but shouldn’t be used willy-nilly as a means of contraception.

No, it’s a plea for sanity and for Catholic leaders to stop using their unfair, ridiculously excessive influence to hurt those who would rather see a planet capable of sustaining its population, rather than one that’s going to be crushed by it as more and more chase less and less, leading to all kinds of unrest.

But don’t hold your breath. They’re Catholic leaders, after all. Read “morons”.

Governments should also use fiscal measures to encourage people to have fewer children. They should then tell any religious objectors to go and stuff themselves.

But they won’t. They’re so afraid of the religious, whether it’s out of a sense that religion is somehow “good” by default or a recognition that there are a lot of votes there. However, if all political parties agreed that this was something that was urgently needed, there would be no religious votes for one party over another.

It takes imagination, political will and balls.

Losing face

How far should we tolerate women who hide their faces and say it’s their religious duty?

Matthew Parris writes in The Times today under the headline, “Please uncover your face. It’s our custom”. That says it all, really.

He talks of how he would not knowingly offend someone. He took off his shoes when visiting Middle Eastern mosques. Fair enough. There’s a Chinese custom of spitting in public, but we in the UK (most of the West, I suspect) consider that unacceptable behaviour (although you see yobs doing it often).

He says further that he wouldn’t knock back booze in the streets of a Muslim country or walk about skimpily dressed.

So why is it that he sees “more women with their faces covered in Tower Hamlets than I did in Damascus”?

He goes on:

Would it be wrong to try to convey to communities in Britain who adopt the full hijab that, though it is a woman’s legal right to dress as she chooses, she should recognise that she’s in a country where many people will find a masked face disturbing, and that (without meaning to) she is acting in a culturally inappropriate manner, which may offend? Do the masked women I see in the street in Whitechapel actually know this? I cannot say, because I’ve never spoken to them; or, rather, when I do, they look away and walk away.

This too, in Britain, is rude. Do they know? Shouldn’t they?

In a word, “Yes”. Of course they should know. And, yes, the thought of having to try to communicate with someone whose face is hidden behind cloth is rather disturbing, and I for one, if wanting to ask directions, say, would shun that woman in favour of the one whose face is not covered.

But, then, that’s the point, I guess. The former woman would not wish to have any conversation with me (or would feel religiously or culturally prevented from doing so).

The point is, however, that, in our culture, we should not be made to walk streets where a large percentage, in some areas, have their faces hidden. If I wore a mask I might be stopped by the next cop who happened along.

We even get Muslims demanding the “right” to hide their faces in court – and misguided civil-libertarians supporting that demand.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

BNP bishops

Earlier this week, as editor of the UK’s only gay humanist magazine, Gay & Lesbian Humanist, I weighed into the debate over calls by two of the country’s leading churchmen for people not to vote for the British National Party (BNP).

The Archbishops of both Canterbury and York, Rowan Williams and John Sentamu, say voters should not let the current scandal over MPs’ expenses drive them to vote BNP.

In recognising the public’s anger over the Westminster expenses debacle, the two churchmen warned, “This is not a moment for voting in favour of any political party whose core ideology is about sowing division in our communities and hostility on grounds of race, creed or colour.”

However, I deplore the hypocrisy of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, warning the public of the socially divisive doctrines of the BNP on the grounds of “race, creed or colour”, and imploring the public not to vote for this political party.

What the archbishops forget to mention is that the church has a great deal in common with the BNP, as both the BNP and the Christian church are vehemently homophobic and cast gay people as sinners, second-class citizens and perverts who should keep their distasteful predilections in closeted privacy.

Indeed, people should be aware of the socially divisive evil of BNP doctrine, but equally they should be aware that the Christian church shares some of the most repugnant beliefs of the BNP.

Decent people who care about equality and fairness in our diverse and complex modern British society should shun the BNP and the church – for the same reasons.

Proposition Hate – it's here to stay

California – the state we Brits tend to associate (rightly or wrongly) with free love, freedom of choice, sunny smiles, easy lifestyles, liberal attitudes and all the rest – has said same-sex marriage is wrong.

The state’s Supreme Court has decided that Proposition 8 is to be state law, thus banning same-sex marriage in the state.

The judges decided 6–1 that the ban was constitutional. However, those already married will stay married.

Tellingly, the only judge who wanted Proposition Hate struck down was both gay and the only Democrat.

The ruling says:

In a sense, petitioners’ and the attorney general’s complaint is that it is just too easy to amend the California constitution through the initiative process. But it is not a proper function of this court to curtail that process; we are constitutionally bound to uphold it.

Gay marriage was legalised in California in May 2008, but then along came Proposition Hate, defining marriage as between a man and a woman, completely ignoring the natural phenomenon of same-sex couplings. That such a notion is Bible-inspired cannot be refuted.

Watch now for the crowing of the religious right.

Update: We learn that some churches in California have condemned the decision.
Related links:
How Brown brown-nosed gays
How to rub it in
Proposition 8's terminator
Interesting times

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Why should we pay? say abusers

You wouldn’t think it could get much worse in the Irish priestly sex-abuse scandal. But The Times (UK) reports today that religious orders are refusing to hand over more cash for compensation – happy, presumably, to let the Irish taxpayer foot most of the bill.

The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has clashed with the religious orders involved in child abuse over the amount they are willing to contribute towards compensating victims. Eighteen Catholic congregations defied calls from Cardinal Sean Brady to be more generous in their dealings with those who suffered abuse.

This is one that won’t go away, and the people of Ireland are livid.

The nine-year Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, headed by Mr Justice Sean Ryan, published its conclusions last week, and the Irish Justice Minister, Dermot Ahern, said yesterday that a senior garda officer was examining the report to see whether criminal charges could be laid. “The report identifies about 800 abusers,” says The Times, “among them nuns, priests and monks, principally members of the Christian Brothers. Only a handful have been prosecuted and convicted.”

You’d think there would be a means of seizing all assets. Perhaps there is, but the authorities have not yet shaken off Ireland’s historical sense of misplaced reverence for the priesthood.

And things could get nasty:

Public anger over the deal has increased. Thousands of people have queued to sign a “solidarity” book at Mansion House, Dublin, with some signatories angrily declaring that the guilty priests, nuns and monks who raped and tortured children in their care for decades should be hunted down “like Nazis”.

If this affair doesn’t totally discredit the Christian Brotherhood for ever, nothing will. It ought to be declared an illegal organisation.
Related link:
How not to cooperate with the law

Monday, 25 May 2009

Baying for blood in Bonnie Scotland

The so-called traditionalists within the Kirk have really got it in for gay people.

Although Scott Rennie – the openly gay minister who was accepted by his own parish but not by many of the Kirk's more extremist hatemongers – has now got the approval of the executive body, the General Assembly, there are still bigots who want blood.

A story in the Scotsman tells us:

The Assembly met on Saturday night to consider the legality of Aberdeen Presbytery’s move to call Mr Rennie to become minister of the city’s Queen’s Cross Church. It had been claimed by objecting members of the presbytery that to appoint an openly gay minister was at odds with the Kirk’s current code of ministerial conduct [and] would create a precedent that would force it to take a stance that departed from biblical teachings.

After four hours of debate and evidence, the Assembly voted by 326 to 267 to uphold Mr Rennie’s appointment but also said the decision would not set a precedent affecting any further cases.

A group of evangelical idiots called Forward Together are now speaking of how the Assembly’s decision has brought “great shame” on the church.

The only shame is that there are people like the Forward Together group associated with it. If there were no objection to natural human traits, there would be no shame, because shame would simply not be an issue. The shame is brought by the bigots.
Related link:
Questions of interpretation

The right to criticise

How much should people be able to talk publicly about homosexuality, even if that talk is potentially hurtful? I personally see no reason why it shouldn’t be discussed in churches within a biblical context if that’s what takes the fancy of the priest.

But there are those in government here in the UK who seem to believe no criticism should be allowed. I cite a piece in yesterday’s Observer saying, “Church of England bishops are on a collision course with the government over its plans to amend the incitement[-]to[-]hatred laws, claiming they will stifle what they believe is legitimate criticism of homosexual lifestyles.”

It goes on to quote Andrea Williams, director of the homophobic, Right-wing Christian Concern for Our Nation, as saying, “No reasonable person supports the stirring up of hatred of any kind.

“However, in 21st-century Britain we must find a way of being able to live peaceably alongside one another allowing for free and robust debate around every aspect of life, including reasonable criticism and discussion of all forms of sexual behaviour.”

It’s that word reasonable that’s key. I’m confident enough to know that any reasonable debate about homosexuality between a homophobic Christian (or other religion fan) and a freethinking, intelligent logical interlocutor will see a convincing win for the latter.

I also want a situation whereby I am free to examine and criticise religion fans – or at least their ideas and beliefs – even if they take offence. Provided I’m not inciting actual violence, what does it matter? If they’re sure of their cause, they should be able to take all the knocks dissenters what to deal out.

The trouble with a lot of religion fans is that they like to hand it out but can’t take it when the shit heads in their direction.

By way of explanation, last year an offence of “incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation” was created in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act. Then a group of peers successfully got an amendment to that, saying people shouldn’t face prosecution just for saying homosexuality is wrong and trying to persuade gay people to refrain from nookie.

But a new clause inserted in the Coroners and Justice Bill would see this defence dropped, and that’s what’s worrying the God botherers. The Observer tells us:

The Lord Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, the Right Rev. George Cassidy, told parliament last week “that people should be protected from inflammatory and intimidating behaviour towards them on the basis of their sexual orientation”. However, he added: “Our concern is with the potential application of the law to restrict legitimate discussion and expression of opinion about sexual ethics and sexual behaviour.”

I’m finding myself – some might say paradoxically – agreeing with him. But we must be allowed to knock religion, too, whether that’s in debate or humour – with all the usual caveats about incitement and shouting “Fire!” in a crowded, fire-free theatre taken into account, of course.

It’s probably a storm in a teacup, anyway, if Derek Munn of the gay-rights group Stonewall is correct. The paper quotes him as saying that the threshold for prosecution under incitement-to-hatred laws is set so high that there is no danger that people who criticise homosexuality will find themselves investigated by the police if the clause in the Criminal Justice Act is dropped.

“People must be free to express their views in temperate terms,” he says. “We do not accept that people should be able to incite violence or hatred. This risks offering a defence to those who incite hatred.”

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Unable her cross to bear

God moves in mysterious ways. He always seems to have it in for those who wear the symbol of his only begotten son’s execution.

The latest is in Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, where a member of the blood-collecting department, Helen Slatter, was warned she’d be sent home if she didn’t remove a Christian cross on a chain.

The hospital says it’s nothing to do with religion. It’s about heath and safety. The gewgaw could harbour germs, and it could be grabbed by a desperate patient, thus causing harm to the member of staff.

Forty-three-year-old Slatter had to be called to a disciplinary hearing on Friday, according to the BBC. It doesn’t say whether she flatly refused to remove the item, but that’s what it looks like.

A hospital spokesman is quoted as saying, “The issue is not one of religion: the [healthcare] trust employs a uniform policy which must be adhered to at all times. This policy applies to all staff employed by the trust and who wear a uniform on duty.

“Necklaces and chains present two problems: firstly, they provide a surface that can harbour and spread infections; and, secondly, they present a health and safety issue whereby a patient could grab a necklace or chain and cause harm to the member of staff.

“As an employer, the trust has a responsibility to ensure that all staff are provided with a safe environment to be able to go about their duty.

“Jewellery is restricted to one pair of plain or unobtrusive studs in the earlobes only and no other facial piercings are permitted, including tongue studs. One plain ring or band is permitted on the ring finger.”

How the ring is exempt from the possibility of harbouring nasties is anyone’s guess, but maybe it’s because it gets a good wash whenever the hands are washed, and isn’t exposed when surgical gloves are worn.

You can bet your bottom, though, that the religionists will be bleating about religious freedoms.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Wilders faces trial

The Dutch politician and filmmaker Geert Wilders has lost his appeal to the Supreme Court, and will now go on trial on charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims.

He says, “It is a political trial. I am being prosecuted for saying about Islam what millions of Dutch people think. Freedom of speech is in danger of being sacrificed on the altar of Islam.”

We reported in January that he faced a lengthy legal battle. Now it’s confirmed.

Our friend Monitor over at MediaWatchWatch reckons Wilders is probably secretly quite pleased at the prospect.

He will, of course, be dismissed as just a Right-winger. I’m not too fond of the Right myself, but we must not let emotion cause us to conflate the message with the messenger.

Wilders’s film Fitna – at the bottom of this post – looked at verses in the Muslims’ hate manual, the Koran, and juxtaposed what he took to be matching examples of atrocities and human-rights abuses.

Shamefully, he was banned from the UK by NuLabour, even though he’d been invited by a member of the House of Lords to show and talk about his film.

(You wonder how they can find the time to worry about such things as a banning order when keeping their snouts in the trough and taking advantage of an overgenerous expenses system must take up a lot of energy.)

My gravy train runneth over

Some interesting stats on the British noses-in-the-trough scandal at Westminster come in a poll from the Christian think tank Ekklesia today.

– 78% say independents should stand where MPs have behaved “unethically”

– 63% believe British democracy would be strengthened if there were more independent MPs

– 53% say they would “seriously consider” voting for an independent candidate at the next general election

The poll, says the think tank, has challenged the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent suggestion that democracy will be damaged by the revelations about MPs expenses.

Rather than damage democracy, says Ekklesia, the poll seems to show that the expenses scandal has brought a “new interest in politics and a willingness to back new political initiatives such as independent candidates”. Its news release says:

The survey [. . .]suggests that 78% of the public believe independents should stand where MPs have behaved “unethically”. 63% said that they thought democracy would be enriched if more independent MPs were elected to Parliament.

This compares with just 61% who voted at the last general election.

Ekklesia co-director Jonathan Bartley said: “Rather than turning people off politics, our survey suggests that the expenses scandal has brought a new revival of interest in politics.

“The poll suggests that the real problem has been an old party-dominated system which has been inaccessible. In contrast the fallout from the expenses scandal has clearly brought hope of a new system and new ways of political engagement that people feel they can connect with.”

Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow added: “It is right to be concerned that an orgy of self-vindicating finger-pointing may detract from the urgent need for radical renewal of public institutions, and from the awareness that the seeds of corruption are not just in one place or in ‘that lot’. But, beyond the intense anger that many rightly feel, there is perhaps more critical awareness than the archbishop credits.

“The gap between governed and governors is the really dangerous one, because it allows both to blame the other while nothing changes. Our poll indicates that the appetite for change is now real, and should not be missed.”

If comments on forums, in TV programmes such as Question Time and in vox pops conducted in the streets of Britain are anything to go by, the public would like to see most of the culprits hanged, drawn and quartered.

At the very least, there should be an immediate general election, while the shameful misdeeds are still fresh in the minds of constituency parties and the electorate.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s claim that it would be unwise to have an election while the government is dealing with the economic crisis is just specious bollocks: the world’s biggest democracy, India, has just had one, and so has the USA. If we had strictly regular elections (every four years, say), the government would have to have gone to the country.

As this row has gone on, it’s become clearer and clearer to most of us (I would humbly suggest) that MPs are living in a totally different world. Theirs is a world of the expectation of privilege. Nay, the demand for privilege.

Many landed Tories have it already, and it’s hardly surprising that one Tory MP, Anthony Steen, thought the public had no right to know how he spent their dosh.

“In a breathtaking display of arrogance,” says the Daily Mail, “he said the public had no right to know how he spent taxpayer-funded allowances. ‘As far as I am concerned, and as of this day, I do not know what the fuss is about,’ he said.”

Well, someone with that amount of wealth, the man whose house, on his own admission, looks like Balmoral, the man who claimed about £80,000 in expenses for work at this £1 million mansion, doesn’t have much of an inkling of the real world, it seems, and the man ought to be publicly shamed, thrown out of the party, denied the right to stand for public office for the rest of his life and put into the public stocks every Christmas and twice on his birthday and pelted with rotten tomatoes.

Not for what he did, but for saying that. What an absolutely arrogant, supercilious, self-important, conceited, pompous, toffee-nosed scoundrel! What an utter dick!

This is the man who said , “I have done nothing criminal. Do you know what it’s all about? Jealousy. I have got a very, very large house, some people say it looks like Balmoral [. . .] but it’s a merchant’s house of the nineteenth century. It’s not particularly attractive, it just does me nicely.”

I bet it does!

I single out this reprobate because he exemplifies what the others have been up to, but with more of the toffee-nosed arrogance. Whatever all these snivelling public servants say about being “within the rules”, let’s not forget who wrote the rules.
Related link:
How good the gravy tastes when it’s to your own recipe!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Prepare to seethe

Hats off, folks. We’ve gotta respect religion. Why? The new Arsehole-in-Chief of the Roman Catholic Nuthouse in England and Wales says so, that’s why.

The Telegraph today reports on Vincent Nichols’s installation do.

Under a headline that talks of an attack on secularists by this spaced-out idiot, the paper says, “The new Archbishop of Westminster has launched an attack on secularists, warning that they threaten to undermine society in Britain.”

He called for “a greater respect of religious belief”, writes Jonathan Wynne-Jones, the paper’s religious affairs correspondent.

Of course, anyone with half a brain would say that respect of belief depends entirely on the belief. It’s quite something else to respect someone’s right to hold such beliefs, provided holding them doesn’t lead that person to antisocial acts, violence or other nasty things.

The problem with religious belief in the hands of people in influential positions – people such as Nichols, whom prime ministers will listen to in their willingness to be bamboozled and conned – can be dangerous.

“Let us be a society in which we genuinely listen to each other, in which sincere disagreement is not made out to be insult or harassment, in which reasoned principles are not construed as prejudice and in which we are prepared to attribute to each other the best and not the worst of motives.”

The archbishop played a leading role in fighting the introduction of gay rights laws in 2006, which now make it illegal to discriminate against gay couples when placing children for adoption.

Thank you, Telegraph. You’ve made my point. This arsehole wants sincere disagreement not to be construed as prejudice. Yet he’s happy to encourage prejudice against gay people by pretending there’s a sky fairy who doesn’t like gay relationships.

He talks of “reasoned principles”. Reasoned? From a sky pilot? What is he on for goodness’ sake? (Skunk, probably.)

Anyway, read the piece. Prepare to seethe.

The Right – on rights

You’ve gotta laugh. We think we’ve got it bad in the UK with our religious right – such as the nasty Christian Institute we spoke of yesterday – but this blog is worth a look.

The blog is called Hatewatch, and it keeps an eye on the radical Right.

“Once Again the Religious Right Lies About Hate Crimes Law”, says its headline above a post about the Illinois Family Institute and its wacky claims.

It goes on to talk about a “proposed new federal hate crimes law [that] would allow prosecution of crimes motivated by bias against homosexuality or ‘gender identity’, among other characteristics, and provide funding for the feds to go after hate criminals who local authorities fail to investigate or prosecute”.

But in their alternate universe, religious-right anti-gay groups have seized upon the act’s language protecting Americans of all “sexual orientations” to claim that it’s all a stealth operation aimed at legally protecting people with deviant sexual fetishes, including necrophilia and bestiality.

The legislation says no such thing, says the website. Even after being contacted by a group that keeps a watch on such propaganda, the Illinois nutjobs issued a correction, but did’t take the offending piece off their website, or bother to edit it!

The piece goes on to tear apart the arguments of the hatemongers, and it’s worth reading, rather than that I try to précis it here.

You’ll either laugh or seethe.
Hat tip: Stuart Hartill of Clinging to a Rock.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Out with the old, in with the old

Catholic leaders never fail to amaze me. Vincent Nichols, the new head of the nutters in England and Wales, says priests who have owned up to abusing children in Ireland’s church- and state-run institutions are displaying “courage”, according to the Telegraph.

This is akin hearing a judge praise a murderer or serial GBH offender for pleading guilty as charged.

Nichols’s comments come after a damning report on the activities, which shows that there was a “catalogue of disturbing and chronic sexual, physical and emotional abuse inflicted on thousands of disadvantaged, neglected and abandoned children by both religious and lay staff over the last 70 years”.

The dangers to the children were not taken into account, the inquiry found in a report which caused outrage at the news that no abusers will be prosecuted as a result.

The report found: “The risk [to children], however, was seen by the congregations in terms of the potential scandal and bad publicity should the abuse be disclosed.”

This Nichols idiot is quoted as saying, “It’s very distressing and very disturbing and my heart goes out today first of all to those people who will find that their stories are now told in public [. . .] Secondly, I think of those in religious orders and some of the clergy in Dublin who have to face these facts from their past which instinctively and quite naturally they’d rather not look at.

“That takes courage, and also we shouldn’t forget that this account today will also overshadow all of the good that they also did.”

Yes, Archbishop, but some torturers are probably good dads and sing in the local choir.

And – horror of horrors! – they “have to face these facts [. . .] which instinctively and quite naturally they’d rather not look at”.

Was it because of holding sentiments such as these that your predecessor turned a blind eye to child abuse, Archbishop? And could it be a pointer to the future, on your watch?

Don’t you just love these religionist scumbags!

Here we go again: religionists wanting to defy the law on the grounds of – well, being religionists.

A headline in the UK’s Telegraph bleats that “Law will ‘force churches to employ gay staff’ ”

Oh, dear! The world will surely fall in. God will send out the lightning bolts of his wrath. He will send another deluge that even a latter-day Noah, with the ability to cram two of every species on Planet Earth onto a wooden boat, cannot defy.

What’s happened, in a nutshell, is this: “Religious groups are to be forced to accept homosexual youth workers, secretaries and other staff, even if their faith holds same-sex relationships to be sinful.”

Just those in relationships, then? I doubt that, somehow – not that it should matter whether a gay person is in a relationship or not.

“Christian organisations fear that the tightened legislation, which is due to come into force next year, will undermine the integrity of churches and dilute their moral message.”

So let’s try this for a bit of logical thinking. The churches have a moral message. They have a moral message because they consider themselves to be moral. They preach a moral message.

OK so far?

Right, they must, therefore, believe that all people and organisations should conduct their affairs by this same moral message.

Ergo no one will ever be employed if he or she is homosexual and gives vent to the natural sexual urge and happens to mention it. The alternative is to remain in the closet for life.

This is the absurdity of nutjobs such as the Christian Institute, a near-fascist (when it comes to sexuality) organisation cited in the Telegraph story.

A spokesman for the Christian Institute, a religious charity, said that many churchgoers [we’re not told how many, or even whether or how he knows] had deep concerns about how the bill would be enforced and accused politicians of hypocrisy.

“It would be absurd to pass a law demanding that the Labour Party employ card-carrying Conservative members, but that is effectively what churches are being told to do. We just want the same exceptions as political parties,” he said.

Prat! Of course it isn’t. The question of Conservative versus Labour (not that there’s much difference these days) is political; employing gays (one of many minorities) is not. While a gay person in a position of authority could influence the organisation he or she is working for, so could anyone who wants to bring influence to bear, for whatever reason, driven by whatever agenda.

This is naked bigotry. It’s just hate. There are a lot of Christians who simply would not recognise it as what being human is all about. Let’s continue:

“Christians are sick to the back teeth of equality and diversity laws that put them to the back of the queue. We are quite prepared to accept that people will take a different view to use on moral and ethical questions, but that should not mean we have to withdraw from public life.”

The back of which queue, you snivelling snotbag? Just which queue in this country that bends over backwards to accommodate your ridiculous beliefs are you at the back of?

And who is asking you to withdraw from public life? It might be a relief to many if you did, you prat, but there would be no need for that.

You’d just be expected to act like a decent human being instead of like a knuckle-dragging fascist.

There’s a Catholic spokesman – they’re just as crazy, of course – against it, too, and a Church of England spokesman has reservations.

I sometimes wish there were a God. He, she or it would surely smite down these waste-of-space morons.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Being human – and not

Hundreds of Catholic priests are expected to be implicated in alleged child-abuse in Ireland in a major report due out today.

You can read about it in the Telegraph, here, but we all know the story; we don’t need the actual details. Priests are sworn to celibacy and fiddle with little kids.

Do they do it because they’re starved of what comes naturally? Do they do it because they’re of a mindset that draws them to the priesthood, and the two are somehow linked in the psyche?

God knows! I don’t.

But it’s rich in light of this that the man who’s retiring from his post of the head of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, said atheists were somehow less than human (see the YouTube video below).

To be fair, he was probably saying that people who don’t think about the bigger questions are not maximising their humanity. Maybe he has a point. But he seems to be saying that being an atheist or agnostic automatically means we don’t use our human potential to the full.

That’s bollocks. Many atheists have come to their atheism from a position of belief precisely by examining the bigger questions. Many of those who have never believed will have nonetheless examined the bigger questions – and, in the case of questions concerning the existence of sky fairies, found those questions not worth asking.

Why are these sky pilots so arrogant? Why is it that only they have the answers?

And how can they possibly profess to know the supernatural, when the supernatural, by its very nature, is unknowable and at best can be only speculated on?

Why is Murphy-O’Connor such a twozzock?

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

When the Reaper calls

Half of Britons are afraid – in one way or another – of dying.

According to a report discussed by Christian Today, a fifth fear the way they will die and death itself; nearly a third said they fear the way they’ll die but not death itself.

The research was carried out the think tank Theos, whose director, Paul Woolley, says the findings indicate a need to discuss death more.

Damn right!

But he, presumably, would not like it discussed in a sensible, freethinking way that would allow us also to consider how we’d prefer to go, and when.

“The proportion of people fearing death in society could be explained by the breakdown of an overarching religious narrative in the culture,” he says. “It might also have something to do with the lack of experience people have in dealing with death.”

Religious narrative? That we go to heaven (or, in some religionists’ idea of things, hell)?

It’s only a “religious narrative” that can make people afraid of death itself, i.e. being dead. Anyone who believes that death is just the absence of life, a blank, will not fear death itself.

As for the manner of death, we need to embrace the idea of a good exit strategy, and it’s largely the religious lobby that is holding that back.
Related link:
Dying with dignity – and those who want to prevent it

Monday, 18 May 2009

The poet who dared

I must say, I wasn’t aware till a couple of days ago about the death of James Kirkup.


Well, he may not be in the news much lately, but he certainly was in the late 1970s, when his poem “The Love That Dares to Speak Its Name” (full text here, linked also at bottom of post) appeared in the fortnightly British publication Gay News and caused one helluva stink.

That self-appointed defender of our morals, Mary Whitehouse, then heading what was called the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association (now Mediawatch-UK), brought a prosecution, and the paper was convicted, along with its editor, the late Denis Lemon, of blasphemous libel. Whitehouse died in 2001.

Kirkup died aged 91 – the same age as Whitehouse at the time of her death – at his Andorran home. He was an internationally celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, playwright and translator.
Related links:
Gay News on trial
The Love That Dares to Speak its Name” (full text)

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Lambs to the slaughter – it's not over yet

Something I hadn’t appreciated when I wrote recently about ritual slaughter on religious grounds was that all is not lost. Well, not necessarily.

We reported that the European Parliament had voted to allow shechita ritual slaughter (that’s without prestunning) – and, I daresay we can assume that this would further legitimise the Muslim halal, too, which amounts to the same thing – and we quoted the gloats of the website on the issue.

But Israel National News reported some days ago that fans of cruel methods of slaughtering animals – against, as far as the UK is concerned, the advice of its Farm Animal Welfare Council – may be celebrating too soon.

Even after EU vote, European shechita still in danger, says the headline. The story reports:

It was reported [. . .] that the European Jewish Community “hailed” the European Parliament’s vote to legalize the traditional Jewish method of slaughter into European law. However, it was later clarified that in fact, the Parliament only has consultative status in this case, and that the European Union’s Council of Agricultural Ministers will have the final say when it convenes next month.

[. . .]

Though the EU Parliament vote represents a significant victory for the coalition of the European Jewish Congress, as well the Conference of European Rabbis and Shechita EU, the fight is far from over. The Parliament resolved only to “introduce laws” that would be binding across Europe to allow animal slaughter “in accordance with religious rites.”

However, the final text of the proposed amendment to EU law will be brought before the above-mentioned Council in June – but not necessarily in a manner favorable to Jewish interests. The Council, which will convene on June 22–23 in Brno, Czech Republic, will vote on a proposal to require that all animals be pre-stunned before slaughter.

And, if that vote is passed, member states would ban shechita, which is at the moment not permitted in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, although Switzerland permits the practice for poultry only.

Rabbi Michael Melchior, former Chief Rabbi of Norway and a former Knesset Member, is quoted as saying, “I won’t say this is the only motivation, but it’s certainly no coincidence that one of the first things Nazi Germany forbade was kosher slaughter.”

Non sequitur. This suggests that the banning of shechita was some kind of prerequisite to all the shit that happened to the Jews after that. But that just ain’t necessarily so, and is clearly being used by Melchior to stir up emotion.

It will be interesting to see what happens in June.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Moscow violence – your magazine speaks out

Gay & Lesbian Humanist editor Mike Foxwell has written a robust letter to the organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest following arrests of gay campaigners today in Moscow.

For background, see here, here and here. And see this BBC video of police action.

In his letter, Foxwell calls on organisers to protect the thousands of gay people who are attending today’s Eurovision Song Contest, and to make a public gesture to show their anger. If they can’t intervene, he says, the show should be postponed or cancelled.

Here is his letter in full:

I am alarmed at reports on the news this morning of the violent suppression of the Slavic Pride event in Moscow. While I acknowledge that the Pride event has been banned by the Mayor of Moscow – an outrageous enough act in itself – what concerns me is the safety of the thousands of gay people in Moscow at this time for the Eurovision Song Contest.

I cannot understand how the President of Russia is able to guarantee the safety of one set of gay people in Moscow, while at the same time another group are being meted out violence, tear gas and the rest.

I believe that the safety of the gay people attending the Eurovision Song Contest is now demonstrably in grave jeopardy, and that the European Broadcasting Union must intervene at once to secure an assurance from the Mayor of Moscow that violent treatment of all gay people in Moscow will stop immediately. And, if this assurance cannot be obtained, then the contest should be postponed or cancelled; or, at the very least, the EBU should make a very robust and formal public condemnation of what is happening.

Gay people have always played an enormous part in making the Eurovision Song Contest the great spectacle that it is, and for the EBU to stand by and watch gay people being violently oppressed at the same time and in the same place as the Eurovision Song Contest final is totally unacceptable.

Furthermore, the EBU should, in light of what is happening in Moscow, consider barring contestant countries that do not have acceptable human-rights policies. The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual event of enormous significance, and, as such, has the potential to wield great power for good. It must not shrink from this responsibility.

Mike Foxwell
Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazine (UK)

Pride? Shame, as gays arrested in Moscow

Peter Tatchell has sent this bulletin from Moscow, where, he says, he and 35–40 Russian LGBT campaigners have been arrested.

His bulletin is in full is below.

Meanwhile, Gay & Lesbian Humanist editor Mike Foxwell has written to the organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest, calling for them to take action to protect the thousands of gay people who help to ensure that Eurovision is such a successful annual spectacle. We’ll be publishing his letter in full here within the hour.

Here’s Peter Tatchell’s bulletin:

Sources from Moscow have reported that police have used violent and oppressive tactics to break up the peaceful Slavic Pride march in the city.

The march had been outlawed by Moscow city authorities, but permission had been given for counter-demonstrations by far right ultra-nationalists.

Between 35 and 40 Russian LGBT activists have been arrested, including British human rights activist Peter Tatchell and Chicago LGBT activist Andy Thayer. Pride organiser Nikolai Alekseev was held down by 5 fully armed riot police and arrested.

European Embassy diplomats witnessed the violence are said to be planning a joint diplomatic action.

Slavic Pride organisers have called on the artists and performers of Eurovision to boycott tonight’s showpiece event in solidarity with the beaten and arrested protesters.

Organiser Nikolai Alekseev said:

“I call upon all of the artists who are due to perform at tonight’s Eurovision to boycott tonight’s event and send a message that Russia’s state oppression of human rights is not acceptable.

“The Russian Government is using this years Eurovision in Moscow as a gala showpiece to show the world how far the country has improved since the early 1990’s. However, what was witnessed this afternoon on the streets of Moscow shows the world just how little Russia has travelled when it comes to supporting fundamental human rights.

“The police brutality that we witnessed here this afternoon is shocking. We planned a peaceful march to highlight the dire state of LGBT rights in Russia today. The police, given violent legitimacy by the openly homophobic Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, did not hold back with their weapons, despite the world’s media watching.

“We were defending the often violated human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Russians. We demand the same legal protection against discrimination and hate crimes that none LGBT people enjoy.

“This episode has shamed the Russian Government and Moscow authorities before the world.”

Pink into red

We spoke too soon, it seems. We’ve just heard from the Beeb that police in Russia have broken up a march by gay-rights activists in Moscow.

It was being staged to coincide with the final of today’s Eurovision Song Contest.

“Several dozen campaigners [including the British campaigner Peter Tatchell] had gathered near a university in defiance of a ban and several were dragged away by police when they tried to shout slogans,” says the BBC website.

“The city authorities had outlawed the parade saying it was morally wrong. Permission has been given for a counter-demonstration by nationalist and religious groups.”

No surprises there, then. Religious groups can get a demo going, but not gays.

Moscow in the pink

Despite threats to bash and arrest the marchers, British gay human-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell intends to be at today’s Moscow Gay Pride parade – this year renamed Slavic Gay Pride to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality struggles in all Slavic countries, Russian and non-Russian.

The parade is scheduled to take place at lunchtime, and coincides with the final of the Eurovision Song Contest, which is being held tonight, also in Moscow.

The Moscow authorities have said the parade is banned and have threatened “tough measures” against anyone who tries to march. In addition, says Tatchell, there is the likelihood of mob violence against the marchers by neo-Nazis, skinheads, ultra-nationalists and Christian fundamentalists – as happened in 2006 and 2007.

“I am joining the parade to show my support for the courageous Russian gay campaigners. All year round they risk arrest, imprisonment and queer-bashing attacks. These men and women are absolute heroes. I salute them,” says Tatchell, who is the human-rights spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales and the Green Party parliamentary candidate for the university constituency of Oxford East in southeast England.

“International solidarity is hugely important [. . .] This parade is in defence of human rights.”

He says he’s appealing to President Medvedev, Prime Minister Putin and Mayor Luzhkov, saying that gay people are no threat to Russian society.

“Be magnanimous. Uphold democratic rights and freedoms. Allow the Slavic Gay Pride parade.”

At Moscow Pride in 2007, Tatchell was severely beaten by right-wing extremists, while the police stood by.

“They then arrested me,” he says. “I spent several hours in police detention before being released without charge. My attackers have never been arrested, even though they were clearly identified in photos and film footage.”

More about Slavic Pride here.

Meanwhile, Baltic Pride has been saved after Riga’s Administrative Court lifted a ban imposed by the city council on tomorrow’s Pride march.


Related links:
Mayor bans “Satanists”
For all your fury, Yuri, Moscow will go pink

Unions join religious groups to fight homophobia

The UK’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) will be joining human-rights organisations, academics and religious groups today at a conference in London to address the growing problems of homophobia and transphobia.

The TUC-sponsored conference – Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia and Human Rights – follows up an initial meeting on homophobia among religionists in 2007, which was supported by 52 organisations and attended by 250 delegates, according to UK Gay News.

“The conference aims to build an alliance between people of faith and those concerned with social equality.”

See more here.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Amazing grace

They’re not happy with saying grace before meals at Cambridge University’s all-women Newnham College.

So they’ve brought in a nonreligious version.

The traditional version addressed thanks to “Jesum Christum dominum nostrum” – Jesus Christ our Lord.

The new grace reads: “Pro cibo inter esurientes, pro comitate inter desolatos, pro pace inter bellantes, gratias agimus.”

That means, “For food in a hungry world, for companionship in a world of loneliness, for peace in an age of violence, we give thanks.”

But who’s receiving the thanks? The world, Earth, Mother Nature, Gaia, presumably.

It hasn’t pleased everyone. Mary Beard, who is a fellow of Newnham, said the change was an insult to Latin.

Writing online, she said, “The undergraduates’ rewrite was a classic case of disguising a load of well-meaning platitudes in some posh dead language, which was actually an insult to that dead language.

“Could we imagine getting up and saying this in English? No. Well don’t say it in Latin, then.”

She said the old version at least had the “virtue of hoary tradition”.

On the grounds of what you might call aural aesthetics, she has a point. You don’t have to believe you’re saying thanks to a two-thousand-year-old dead person, any more than you’re literally calling for his (or his dad’s) blessings when you say “Bless you!” to a friend who’s just sneezed.

IDAHO a-go-go

Every day, almost everywhere around the world, transsexual, transgender, intersex people face violence, abuse, rape, torture and hate crimes, according to the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).

“The only motive: they are not conforming to social stereotypes about the way they should appear and behave in society as men or women,” says an ILGA news release about IDAHO, the International Day Against Homophobia.

The organisation continues:

Be it out of ignorance, prejudice, fear or hate, Trans people overwhelmingly face daily discrimination, which results in social exclusion, poverty and poor health care, with little prospects for employment.

Far from protecting Trans citizens, States and International bodies reinforce social transphobia through short sighted negligence or reactionary politics:

To have their preferred gender identity recognised by society, if at all possible, they have to undergo forced sterilization or other major surgery. Yet, States do little to ensure Trans people get proper access to the health care they want or need. Adding insult to injustice, the World Health Organisation still classifies them as “mentally disordered”.

On May 17th 1990 (almost 20 years ago!,) the same World Health Organisation took homosexuality off the list of mental disorders. This is the reason why May 17th was chosen to celebrate the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, the IDAHO. Actions now take place every year in more than 50 countries.

On this symbolic day, a group of organisations working to promote fundamental human rights for lesbian, gay, transgender, transsexual, intersex and bisexual people launches an international appeal to the WHO to take transsexualism off the list of mental disorders.

The appeal also calls for all states to enforce legislation that ensures respect for trans people’s human rights, and calls for the UN human rights bodies to effectively address the situation.

This appeal has already been signed by more than 300 organisations in more than 75 countries across all world regions, from Fiji to Kyrgyzstan, China to the USA, Serbia to Brazil.

Major international institutions have expressed their support, such as UNAIDS, the International and European Trade Union Confederations, the International Gay and Lesbian Law Association, the Gay and Lesbian Intergroupe of the European Parliament, the Global Justice Ministry of Metropolitan Community Churches or the Sydney Mardi Gras. So have political parties such as the French socialist, communist and green parties or the Meretz Party in Israel.

And we are proud of the support of three Nobel Prize laureates, Elfriede Jelinek, Françoise Barré-Finoussi and Luc Montagnier, and of other people who have signed the text, like Doudou Diène, former rapporteur special in the UN on racism (Senegal), Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission, Gérard Onesta, vice-president of the European Parliament, Bertrand Delanoë, mayor of Paris, several ministers or former ministers, and many members of Parliament around the world.

We now invite all citizens, activists, organisations, political parties, local authorities and all other concerned groups or individuals to join this appeal by signing the petition on, where you will also find the complete up to date list of signatures.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Gay supporters are like Nazi supporters, says halfwit

A Scottish God botherer seems to be comparing supporters of homosexuality to the Vichy government of World War Two.

According to Pink News, the Rev. Ian Watson “compared the failure of the French Army to stand up to the Nazi annexation of the Rhineland in 1938 to the current battle in the Scottish Church between supporters and opponents of Rev. Scott Rennie”.

Rennie, as we blogged last month, has been backed overwhelmingly by the congregation of Queen’s Cross Aberdeen to be their minister. But the usual suspects don’t want that.

Have a gander at what this prat said in a sermon he delivered at Kirkmuirhill Church in Lanark, as quoted by Pink News. “[Hitler] guessed correctly that the French had no stomach for a fight. If only they had, then the tragedy of a Second World War might have been avoided.

“To claim that the homosexual lifestyle is worthy of a child of God; to demand that a same-sex partnership be recognised as on a footing with marriage; to commend such a lifestyle to others is to deny that Jesus Christ is our only Sovereign and Lord. It is to turn the grace of God into a licence for immorality.”

Well, actually, you berk, most of us do deny that Jesus is our only Sovereign and Lord. We’re agreeing on something there.

This moron continues, “Such people will not inherit the kingdom of God. And therefore they must be resisted [. . .] Let me assure you, neither I nor like-minded minsters enjoy conflict [. . .] But have we learned nothing from history?

“Remember Hitler and the retaking of the Rhineland. He got away with it. No one stopped him. So next it was Austria, then Czechoslovakia, and then Poland and only then world war.”

So the corollary of what you’re saying is that appeasers of homosexuality are just like the appeasers of Nazi Germany.

What a plonker! It’s just as well that most people listening to you and reading your words will think you’re an arsehole who can’t be believed.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Is the priesthood a gay vocation?

Now here’s an interesting question. If a Catholic priest, sworn to celibacy, decides he needs a bit of rumpy-pumpy, does it matter whether it’s with a man or a woman?

Surely, it shouldn’t matter either way. He’s sinned, and that’s that.

It’s being discussed in USA Today’s “Faith and Reason” section.

Indeed, it’s being posited whether the Catholic priesthood is a predominantly gay vocation. Chances are that it is, along with Anglicanism. If gays are not in a majority, they’re certainly well represented, and I did hear it said recently, but forget where, that, were it not for the gay men in the Anglican priesthood, the whole edifice would fall apart.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

App zap

Apple has banned an iPhone app that allows users to plonk their own face in the place of what is purported to be Jesus’s face. It thinks the idea has “objectionable content”, according to the UK’s Telegraph.

Apple reckons the app, called “Me So Holy”, is in violation of a section of the iPhone agreement, which states, “Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.”

Oh, so anyone can judge anything offensive, then, and have it removed? Is that the idea?


Didn’t think so.

Just religious stuff, then?

Hmm, thought so.

I can understand all that about porn and libel and stuff. But religion? What is it for if not for taking the piss out of? It’s just an idea.

Anything can be judged offensive to some people. The fact is, taking the rise out of an idea isn’t hurting anyone, whereas defamation could do so, and banning porn is understandable, whether you agree with it or not. And it perhaps shouldn’t be downloadable when these things can be used by kids.

But it’s time they were allowed to see challenges to religion, be they humorous or serious debate. They have it shoved down their throats in school often enough.

About Brian

Remember the fuss over Monty Python’s Life of Brian and how it took a former cast member who is also the mayor of a Mid Wales town to get it shown in her patch 30 years on?

Here’s a reminder, anyway.

You may be interested to know that there’s a programme about it on TV tonight (Tuesday) – but you’ll need to be in Wales to see it.

It’s on BBC1 Wales at 10.35 (repeated on BBC2 on Friday at 10 p.m.) and the blurb says:

How the ban on screenings of Monty Python’s Life of Brian was lifted in Aberystwyth, thanks to the actions of city mayor and former actress, Sue Jones-Davies.

Oddly enough, there are still people around who are against its being shown.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Don’t let this arsehole into Britain

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has written to Prime Minister Gordon Brown to protest against any invitation to Pope Ratzinger to make a state visit to the UK.

And with good reason, too. Ratzinger is an arsehole of the first order. And a dangerous one at that.

The BHA’s letter sets out some examples that make the honour of a state visit by the Pope “inappropriate”.

“These include the Pope’s recent comments that condom use aggravates the problem of HIV/AIDS,” says the association in an emailed bulletin to yours truly (and, no doubt, others, too). “Such comments are highly irresponsible and directly undermine the struggle in Africa and elsewhere to reduce the death toll from AIDS and bring the epidemic under control.”

The bulletin continues:

The prohibition on contraception, which condemns millions of people in the developing world to a life of desperate poverty and has a significant impact on maternal and children’s health, and also affects children's access to education[,] was discussed in the letter.

The letter also detailed the Vatican’s opposition to decriminalising homosexuality and to protecting gay people from discrimination and the Pope’s recent comments that the threat from homosexuality was greater than that from destruction of the rainforests. By inviting the Pope to make a state visit it appears that the British Government endorses such attitudes or at least asserts their legitimacy.

It was made clear in the letter that the BHA does not object to a visit by the Pope to the UK, but to his visit being a state visit, and to his being invited as a head of state with all that implies, clarifying that the BHA fully recognises and respects the rights of Catholics to practi[s]e their beliefs and would not condemn individuals who follow their Church’s doctrine. The BHA’s concerns regard the Pope and the Vatican[,] whose behaviour and views are not necessarily supported by or representative of the majority of Catholics in the UK.

The fact is the man’s a monster with views that ought to get him locked up in the loony bin.

Ministers (when not fiddling expenses claims) have managed to prevent a shock jock from entering the UK, and, some weeks ago, barred a Dutch MP and filmmaker.

Ratzinger has perpetrated or perpetuated more harm than Michael Savage or Geert Wilders, not to mention fleecing his followers of money that allows him and his cardinals to live in luxury and travel in style when they wish to (wearing the most outrageously gorgeous drag).

The man’s a danger to humanity, an outrage, a festering boil on the arse cheek of humankind.

But Michael Savage (while maybe believing in a god) did not represent cuddly, can’t-do-a-thing-wrong religion.

And Geert Wilders (while maybe believing in a god) did not represent cuddly, can’t-do-a-thing-wrong religion.

But Ratzinger will no doubt be welcomed in because he does both. Well, we’re led to believe he believes, but it could all be a charade for a luxurious lifestyle and lots of wank-off power for all we know. Oh, they don’t do that, do they? Oops!

More “religious discrimination” in the workplace!

Here’s another person who refuses to do his job because of some religious nonsense. If his religion (it’s the Religion of Peace™, of course, as you would expect) prevents Hasanali Khoja from doing the job of catering manager for the Metropolitan Police, why did he take it on in the first place?

Now he’s bleating about religious discrimination because he needs to handle pork products, according to a story in Scotland’s Herald newspaper.

The paper continues:

An informal agreement has been reached but Mr Khoja, who launched his claim last year, wants it to be formalised.

An employment tribunal in Watford will consider his claim in a hearing which is expected to last two weeks.

Mr Khoja, who has worked for the force since 2005, had previously worked at Hendon Police College in north west London, but was excused from touching pork products due to his religion.

As a senior catering manager, he does not cook on a regular basis, but is expected to handle food, his lawyer, Khalid Sofi, said.

Yes? And pork is not food? To carnivores is is. Within catering parlance it is. He’s a catering manager. So, as far as this whiner’s job is concerned, he’s paid to handle pork.

Given the way our country is forever appeasing encroaching Islam and its alien ways, he’ll probably win his case.
Related links:
Muslim sues Tesco over booze
Whingeing Muslim loses employment case

Sunday, 10 May 2009

How good the gravy tastes when it’s to your own recipe!

I suspect not many MPs and ministers will listen to the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord (George) Carey, who’s laid into them today for, effectively if not in law, stealing from the taxpayer.

He’s told media that the UK Parliament’s moral authority has slumped to its “lowest ebb in living memory”.

Oddly, they’re willing to listen to leaders and former leaders of the Deluded Herd when it suits them, dishing out money right, left and centre for “faith” schools and continuing to allow advantageous tax status to religions just because they’re religions.

However, Carey – rather homophobic when he was in office, probably still so – is right to have a go. Given that he held a high rank within the terms of our unwritten constitution – whether we like it or not – he might as well take advantage of that platform.

MPs and ministers have, of course, been stealing. I use the word quite deliberately. They may well have all been “within the rules”, as they all claim, but who decides the rules? Why, MPs and ministers, of course!

The gravy train is nice, but it’s nicer still when you’ve built it to your own blueprint. A joy to ride, indeed! And our MPs and ministers have been fleecing the taxpayer something rotten.

And rotten is probably the word. They’re rotten to the core, and those who have not taken advantage of the expenses system are being tarred with the same brush as are the greedy bunch of acquisitive, avaricious, rapacious thieves who are running our country.

So all power to Carey’s elbow! I never thought I’d say that.

You can read perhaps the most comprehensive accounts of how our ethical, scrupulous, virtuous, decent and honest ministers and MPs have stuck “within the rules” to milk the expenses system at the expense of the taxpayer in the UK’s Telegraph. You can make a start here.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

The art of political correctness

I suspect it’s the old PC gone mad again. A hospital in London has told artists who were encouraged to submit paintings for its walls that depictions of good old British churches are not allowed because they might offend people of other religions.

Jesus Christ on a stick!

The story’s been around for a few days, but I thought it was one worth sharing with you, in case you haven’t seen it. The Daily Mail is one of the papers that have it, as you would expect.

“In an unsolicited letter, Havering council in East London made it clear it would accept pictures of any subject – except churches,” says the Mail, which continues:

Many artists could not understand why images of Christian buildings were banned, but those of other religions were welcome.

Jo Delaney, the council’s arts development officer[,] wrote to art groups in Havering about hanging paintings in Queen’s Hospital, Romford.

She wrote: “Whilst the building is spacious, it has many plain black walls which are crying out to be brightened up!

“The matron of patient environment is keen for local artists to use the space as a gallery.

“The hospital has asked artists not to submit paintings of churches as they have to be mindful of all religious denominations.’

Just more kowtowing to the beliefs of non-indigenous religions. It’s bad enough when Christianity is appeased for no good reason, but at least it’s the established religion of this country, whether we nontheists and secularists like it or not. As a historical phenomenon, it’s part of our culture.

And churches are more than places for talking to invisible people: they’re often historical buildings. This hospital would not have, for instance, a painting of St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s totally pisspottical.

In favour of animal suffering

Europe’s food animals are going to have to continue to suffer because of religion, thanks to MEPs.

“Attempts to ban the production of kosher meat in the UK were dealt a major blow this week after the European Parliament voted in favour of declaring shechita a legitimate form of animal slaughter,” gloats the website.

Shechita, like Muslims’ halal, is a means of killing by hauling the terrified animal up and slitting its throat while it is conscious and can see its life literally flowing away; under conventional slaughter arrangements, the animal has to be stunned before the throat is cut, thus rendering it insensible.

In 2003, Britain’s Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) decided this type of slaughter was unacceptable. To please the superstition lobby, our politically correct bunch of toadying NuLabour appeasers decided to ignore FAWC’s recommendations in favour of more suffering for the animal. (I suspect a Tory or other hue of government would do the same, since they’re politicians, after all.)

The story says that, “in the wake of scientific evidence from lobby group Shechita in March 2005, the government acknowledged the method of slaughter was humane”.

This evidence was impartial? It was from a lobby group, for goodness’ sake! A lobby group called Shechita!

That makes it highly suspicious from the start, since, whoever actually carried out whatever investigation was done, Shechita was never going to submit a report that would suggest animal suffering actually existed in this brutal method of slaughter, was it?

Can you imagine religionists such as crazy Orthodox Jews or “devout” Muslims actually admitting they’re wrong about something, and changing their practices?

No? Didn’t think so.

FAWC, on the other hand, has no religious affiliation. It conducted a scientific investigation, paid for by taxpayers, which the government ignored. No doubt ministers had their eyes on votes and political correctness, as usual.

A spokesman for Shechita UK, Shimon Cohen, is quoted as having told Jewish News, “This is a helpful reinforcement. It won’t stop other groups from putting forward their views, but we’re used to that.

“But the British government, which has always been so helpful in protecting these rights [my emphasis] in the past, will be bound by this decision in the future to continue that protection.”

And for halal slaughter, too, of course.

But “rights”? When did you get the “right” to kill an animal in an unnacceptable and cruel manner, you religion-soaked nutcase? It’s a privilege – a privilege granted at the cost of better care of the animal.

You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
Related link:
Animals suffer to appease Muslim prisoners

Friday, 8 May 2009

Head case

Oh, dear! Yet another scheme for wasting taxpayers’ dosh in order to appease the Deluded Herd.

Scientists, we’re told in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, are developing bulletproof turbans so that Sikhs can work as certain kinds of cop.

“Sikhs are currently barred from becoming firearms or riot police because their religion does not allow them to remove their turbans to put on protective headgear,” says the Telegraph.

“I think there needs to be a recognition from the Home Office that would allow Sikh officers to carry out these roles,” bleats Inspector Gian Singh Chahal, of Kent Police, who is also and vice-chair of the British Police Sikh Association.

No, Mr Chahal, there doesn’t. You can carry out the roles if you wear the proper headgear. Why should there be more money spent making Kevlar head rags just to satisfy some superstition?

No Butts: do your job or go

Another case of a Muslim who won’t do his work for some crazy religious reason comes to us today in, among others, the UK’s tabloid Daily Mail.

This chap’s been at it before, too, it seems.

He’s a 32-year-old dentist called Omer Butt, who’s telling female patients that they have to veil their heads if he’s going to operate on them, and male patients to remove gold jewellery.

He says he wants to prevent Muslim patients from committing some sort of religious sin, so is he insisting on the dress code only for those who follow his religion? It would seem so, but it’s still outrageous, since there are Muslim women who have nothing to do with their fellow religionists’ outmoded and repressive ideas of women’s places in society.

One tells the Mail how she’s spent a year looking for a dentist in the area. And, for those readers outside the UK who aren’t familiar with our National Health Service (NHS), we are entitled to free healthcare at the point of asking.

However, the great and good have always, for reasons that are more to do with saving money than with logic or in the interests of healthcare, put dentists in a different category, and, if you can’t claim an exemption, you get cheaper treatment than if you went private, but you still have to pay.

If it were an ingrowing toenail you’d get treatment for nothing. If it’s a problem in the mouth, you have to pay. It’s all healthcare.

Because we have an incompetent buch of morons in charge at Westminster, we’ve been without dental places – even private ones – in some areas, and many, your humble blogger included, have had to wait years to get one. Yet the NHS is paid for out of our taxes.

This goes some way to explain why a government that can give banks billions of pounds but can’t fund a decent dental service has caused the woman mentioned above to have had to wait for a year to get to see a dental practitioner.

Right, with that out of the way . . .

This chap Butt should, as an NHS dentist, not refuse his services to anyone unless there are exceptional reasons. A patient causing disruption, for instance, could well be a suitable case for eviction.

But, as far as we know, these patients were not causing disruption, upsetting staff, performing extreme morris dancing in the waiting room or fondling Kalashnikovs

Butt was in trouble a couple of years ago for something similar. He’s up before the General Dental Council, and the case is continuing.

A Savage blow to free speech

The ban on US shock jock Michael Savage’s entry into the UK is being seen by at least one commentator as a direct result of the UN’s decision to pass its silly anti-defamation-of-religion resolution.

I would say it is also much to do with give-us-your-votes-at-any-price politicians who are so afraid to say boo to Islam and its followers, both for the reason referred to in my rather long adjectival phrase and out of a woolly sense of political correctness.

Charles McVety, writing in Canada Free Press, says Savage was “the first American to be penalized for criticizing Islam when British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith banned Mr Savage from entering Britain”.

Given this country’s kowtowing to the Dark Ages religion, it’s hardly surprising. I think there are one or two other things on the list of reasons why the UK government’s hired gag, Jacqui Smith, is afraid of allowing Savage into the country, but criticism of Islam is probably the most prominent of them.

We can’t criticise the Religion of Peace™, now, can we?

“Today it is Michael Savage, tomorrow it will be you and me,” says McVety. He goes on:

In March 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed Resolution A/HRC/10/L calling for the “creation of laws in member states to prevent criticism of religions”.

The UN’s anti-blasphemy resolution was written by Pakistan and presented by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The UN Council, with a vote of 23 countries supporting the measure, 11 opposed and 13 that abstained, passed it in March, 2009.

He quotes Smith as saying to the media, “[Mr Savage is] someone who has fallen into the category of fomenting hatred, of such extreme views and expressing them in such a way that it is actually likely to cause inter-community tension or even violence if that person were allowed into the country.”

And we all know where the violence, or threats of it, would come from. And it wouldn’t be from Mr Savage. We have seen evidence of it on our streets before, as we see in our picture after the Danish cartoons fiasco.

McVety goes on:

The irony is that this UN resolution directly contradicts the UN Declaration of Human Rights Article 19 that states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” All free societies are based on fundamental freedom of speech, thought and expression.

Case made, Mr McVety. Admirably.