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Saturday, 28 February 2009

The Probability of Jonathan Sacks

Probability theory is the mathematical study of relative probabilities in processes involving uncertainty. However, Jonathan Sacks (pictured), the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, writing the weekly religious propaganda article “Credo” in the London Times, claims on the basis of dubious new books that mathematics can be used to prove the existence of God.

That Jonathan Sacks exists has nothing to do with probability. He is the result of chance, necessity and choice, like everything else. Probability can say nothing about the existence of only one god.

The God of the Hebrews can no more exist than can a square circle. Such a Being is not possible. Who does the Rabbi think he’s kidding?

Oh, Lord!

It’s a rather disturbing prospect that the head of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, the arsehole Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, could be made a lord.

When you think back to how this shite sat on evidence of child abuse, you’ll probably agree with me.

Here’s a timeline from The Times concerning how Murphy-O’Connor covered up the dirty deeds of arch perv Father Michael Hill, who kiddy-fiddled with impunity – till he was rightly slammed up for it:

2000: Investigation into the 1985 appointment of Father Michael Hill to the chaplaincy at Gatwick Airport

July 2002: Revealed that Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor had ignored three letters advising that Hill was likely to reoffend

November 19: Pressure on the Cardinal to resign as Hill admits further charges of indecent assault

November 20: Catholic Church revealed as paying “hush money” to people abused by priests

November 21: Cardinal acknowledges it was a mistake to appoint Hill to Gatwick chaplaincy

November 22: Hill sentenced to five years for abuse of three more boys. The Times establishes that Catholic Church enforced secrecy clauses on the victims of paedophile priests despite denial of “hush money”

So this is the kind of man we’re talking about. He’s also defended the Führer, Pope Twatzinger, for his statement that homosexuality is on a par with destruction of the rainforests. And only recently he was bleating and whining (he must have been taking lessons from Muslims) about how giving people dignity and equality gets in the way of that great advocate of dignity and equality: religion.

The chattering media are banging on about how Murphy-O’Connor – who retires from his current post later this year – would be the first Roman Catholic bishop to sit in the Lords since the Reformation. So what?

If we didn’t have the 26 Anglican bishops who, for believing in invisible people and enjoining others to do so, get to sit in the upper house by default, such a distinction just wouldn’t matter. I’ve no objection to seeing a bishop in the House of Lords, but only one who’s got there via the usual channels. His being a bishop then would be incidental and irrelevant.

Yes, the usual channels to the upper chamber are flawed and corrupt, and peerages are influenced by flawed and corrupt politicians (can we believe otherwise when we see the sort of material that gets there?), but those channels can, in principle, be reformed. Allowing 26 bishops to sit as of right in the Lords may have made some sense in a bygone age, but such a thing now is just anachronistic lunacy.

However, back to the central subject of Cormac bloody Murphy-O’-bloody-Connor. He should not receive a peerage, and the nation – now it has been alerted to the possibility of his receiving one – should be told why. People have short memories. Let us remind them from time to time what these monsters are capable of.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Privilege and prejudice

When will religious nutters get it into their heads that equality is equality, human dignity is human dignity, and anything that religion tries to do to interfere with these things is an imposition?

They seem to think that it’s the other way round: that in the beginning there was religion. And God saw that it was good. And anything – no matter how good for human happiness, human dignity, human rights, human equality – that steps on its toes is wrong.

That arsehole Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, leader of Catholics in England and Wales, has made some sort of valedictory speech in which he bangs on about legislation that is clearly designed to improve people’s lot. But he’s not happy with that.

Accepting that much of the legislation on discrimination is “good in itself” (that’s big of him), he then says that it is “being used to limit freedom of religion in unacceptable ways. The sad and totally needless conflict over the Catholic adoption agencies is one example.”

In his lecture at Westminster Cathedral on the Catholic Church’s future (one is tempted hope it doesn’t have one), Murphy-O’Connor went on to claim that there is “a wider prejudice that sees religious faith as a problem to be contained rather than a social good to be cherished and respected, and which properly and necessarily has a public as well as a private dimension”.

That all depends on what you do with your religious faith, old boy. If it helps you to be nice to people (though goodness knows you could be nice without it), then all the better.

So faith in and of itself need not be contained. And no one is stopping those who go in for that kind of thing from cherishing and respecting it. But why should I cherish and respect your blind faith in invisible people and impossible events? All I need to respect, matey, is your right to believe in this tosh if that’s what floats your boat.

He goes on to say, “I think the greatest danger for us at the moment is to let ourselves believe what secular culture wants us to believe about ourselves, namely, that we are becoming less and less influential and are in decline.”

I doubt you’re becoming less influential. Christianity (not the Catholics, I know) has 26 bishops in the House of Lords, as of right, it has hundreds of schools paid for by the state, it usually gets to lead moments of national mourning and celebration (there always has to be the mojo), it gets disproportionate air space on the world’s biggest broadcaster, the BBC. What more do you want?

When Jesus said something about giving a man your shirt, too, if he asks for your coat, I think he was talking about the giver, not the taker, not the grabber of privileges, such as the churches are.

And it’s secular culture that is important here. Religion is, after all, something of hobby status, no matter how much people feel it’s a part of them. You could say that with stamp collecting. People and their lives come first; religion is something bolted on, and those who don’t want it should not have to feel its influence, whether that’s through adoption agencies or registrars.

Simon Barrow of Ekklesia – linked to in the third paragraph – is, as usual, sensible on the issue.

He says that refusing equal treatment in the public square and trying to cling on to privilege is the wrong direction for the churches to take, both socially and theologically.

“We now live in a mixed-belief society, rather than one dominated by institutional Christianity,” he says. “That may question certain privileges which have existed before, but the removal of these need not be a threat. Rather it is an opportunity to rediscover a more authentic, liberating message and practice; one that has often been obscured or defaced by the collusion of official religion and governing authority.”

Incidentally, let’s return for a moment to that business of privilege. Half of the Catholic adoption agencies that the church threatened to close if they were required to work with gay couples have now adopted the new equality law. But they did so after a period of exemption.

Why was the Catholic Church given any period of exemption? Why, why, why?

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Keep Muslims out, says Wilders

This video is interesting. This interview (click below) went out in the States, and the first thing Geert Wilders – maker of Fitna and banned from showing it at the invitation of British legislators – says is that the USA thinks more of free speech than the UK does.

Given what happened here, he has a point.

British politicians – usually third-rate politically correct careerists worried only about their votes, and therefore their cushy livelihoods and huge expenses packages – don’t want us to hear what Wilders has to say about encroaching Islam.

Watch the video, in which Wilders calls for a stop to immigration into Europe from Muslim countries.

I would make an exception for those fleeing persecution, torture and murder in such countries for being gay, and you can see a disturbing video on that subject here, as it concerns supposedly democratic Iraq. But, generally speaking, I’ll second that. And, while we're at it, let's get rid of the imams, too.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Teachers should not promote equality, say nutters

A group called Christian Concern for Our Nation (CCFON) is getting uppity about the fact that teachers have to promote equality and diversity.

This group of religiously conservative lunatics actually believes that promoting diversity means promoting homosexuality and religions other than Christianity.

It’s issued an “action alert” (I’m signed up to the group’s email alerts, although it’s probably not aware that I’m a spy!), headed “Teacher’s Code Threatens Freedom of Religion: General Teaching Council for England Survey on the draft Code of Conduct and Practice”.

It expresses the group’s concern about a new draft code of conduct from the General Teaching Council for England (published as long ago as last November; perhaps the group has only just noticed it). Under the code, teachers are required to sign a clause saying that they will adhere to it before they can be registered, and the code is used as a standard to judge them by.

Then we get to the nitty-gritty.

It is of concern that the Code requires teachers to “promote equality and diversity in all their professional relationships” in Principle 4. This implies that teachers will be required to promote other religions and/or sexual practices outside marriage and it could lead to censorship. We believe that teachers should be required to respect pupils, parents and colleagues from other backgrounds, but should not be required to promote other religions and sexual orientations such as homosexuality that are contrary to their beliefs. The ordinary meanings of the words “equality” and “diversity” should not cause a problem, but recent cases have shown how these terms have been interpreted to require promotion of values contrary to Christian beliefs. For example, a nurse, Caroline Petrie, was suspended for offering to pray for a patient and a registrar, Lillian Ladele, was dismissed for refusing to carry out civil partnership ceremonies. It is important to respond to this survey because as a result of this draft Code, Christian teachers could face disciplinary action or even dismissal for practising their faith.

Since when was promoting equality and diversity promoting homosexuality? You can’t promote homosexuality in the sense of making someone want to be a homosexual. The Tory government of the 1980s was under the illusion that you could do that when it introduced the infamous and fatuous Section 28 (of the Local Government Act), which outlawed “promotion” of homosexuality, as if it were a new breakfast cereal.

Religion, of course, can be promoted, and I agree that religions other than Christianity should not be promoted. I also think that Christianity should not be promoted, either. No religion should be promoted. Religions should be learned about in schools as an academic discipline, but they shouldn’t be promoted, although they are, of course, whenever there are prayers in assembly or fairytale nonsense from the Bible or Koran is presented as fact.

CCFON helpfully provides the link to the survey, so you can go and add your opinions. Unfortunately, it closes on Friday. Much of it asks whether you agree or disagree with this or that part of the code, but you do get a chance to add some opinions in text boxes. And you are not asked for your name.

Among the points this silly organisation puts are these:

* All teachers need to be registered, so this means that Christian teachers, who have to agree to abide by the Code, will be signing up for an equality and diversity agenda that is contrary to their core beliefs.

* A teacher’s job is to teach, it is not to be an equality and diversity officer.

A teacher’s job is to teach, and not to be a religious proselytiser by pushing “their core beliefs”.

Being nice to people is clearly not part of your brand of Christianity.

You make me sick.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Failing to root out extremism

Is it any surprise that British mosques are, on the whole, not rooting out extremism when 97 per cent of imams (Muslim mojo men) weren’t born in the UK? Not only that, but – according to a report from the Quilliam Foundation, as reported on the BBC news website – the lecture before Friday prayers in nearly half of British mosques isn’t in English.

Nearly half have no women’s facilities, either.

The Quilliam Foundation’s director, Maajid Nawaz, tells the BBC that the findings show mosques lack the “resilience to challenge Islamist extremists”.

The statistics, he says, are “deeply disturbing”, and he has warned that extremism could not be tackled while imams were “physically in Britain, but psychologically in Pakistan or Bangladesh”.

Easy. Let’s stop them from being physically in Britain and ensure that they are entirely in Pakistan or Bangladesh. Let’s do more than allow the media to do the odd story and then forget about it. Shouldn’t there be a campaign to root out extremist preachers and send them packing, thus sending a message to others who want to try doing the same?

It’s amazing how we can bar Geert Wilders from coming to the UK to show a film that exposes extreme Muslim thinking within the religion’s “holy book”.

We can bar the nutcases of the dysfunctional Phelps clan – of Topeka in Kansas – from this country when they want to wave a few placards outside a showing of the anti-homophobia play The Laramie Project, when even many gay people and liberal-leaning blogs such as this one are against such a ban, believing that free speech should be played out on a level playing field.

But we can’t root out genuinely dangerous, demented, lunatic preachers of the sort we saw on Channel 4’s Undercover Mosque. Need we remind ourselves of that now famous documentary, which found evidence of extremist preaching among hate-filled, rabid preachers?

We blogged on it here, and then again when we discovered that West Midlands Police’s Political Correctness Rapid-Response Unit, having tried to prosecute the makers, found themselves having to grovel in abject apology because they’d got it wrong. Oh, how we did rub our hands!

You can see some of that Undercover Mosque programme by clicking on the link below. This gives part of it. It’s a YouTube clip and, as usual with YouTube, you can go to the site and find several videos relating to the programme with a simple search.

Nailing jelly to a tree

Nailing Christians down to accepting homosexuality as part of nature is like trying to nail jelly to a tree – in the case of many of them, anyway.

But there’s no harm in banging away and trying to get the diehard, redneck, conservative types to grow up and stop acting like petulant children over something they don’t like.

And that’s why a call on them to accept gay lifestyles and gay relationships is to be welcomed. The Ekklesia Christian think tank tells us today that merely condemning hate groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church lot from Topeka in Kansas is not enough.

And that, says Ekklesia, has come from four evangelical groups, which have said that “churches need a positive change of heart and mind on homosexuality”. They want Christian acceptance of gay people.

They have called on churches and Christian organisations condemning an American anti-gay hate group to face up to their own discriminatory policies and behaviour – and to embrace conversion.

Accepting Evangelicals, Courage, the Network of Baptists Affirming Lesbian and Gay Christians and the Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian & Gay Christians, backed by the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, have issued a joint statement saying that opposition to the Westboro Baptist Church USA’s hate-stance towards gay people does not go far enough.

“The real challenge to evangelicals is to face the need for change themselves,” they say. “This means: engaging more fully and openly with lesbian and gay Christians and accepting them as equal under God; examining the way prejudice against gay people has distorted biblical understanding; prayerfully re-thinking church policies of exclusion and acknowledging the harm they cause; and recognising the growing number of evangelicals who have had a heart-change and now affirm faithful gay relationships.”

Needless to say, Ekklesia is backing the call, keeping the think tank still up there with the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement among my favourite Christian organisations.

If all Christians had the Ekklesia approach, there’d be little need for us to campaign against primitive and bigoted ideas on sexuality.

However, there are so many Christians, Muslims and people of other belief systems who are so entrenched in the idea that the scriptures mean this, and if they mean this they can’t mean that, that change is unlikely to happen fast.

What can you expect from Bible literalists and the like?

But it can happen. One day at a time, and all that.

Mild views not respected

Public transit authorities in the cities of Ottawa, Vancouver, and Halifax have decided to censor atheist bus advertisements. Justin Trottier thinks this undermines freedom of expression, and should be opposed. You can read his view here.

It is not only in Great Britain that freedom of expression is under threat. Soft words are no guarantee that mild views will be respected.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Christians and sex

Christians talk about sex. Nothing new there. They obsessively condemn it all the time – unless it fits into a very narrow interpretation (man and woman, missionary position, possibility of issue, that sort of thing).

So you can imagine how refreshing it is to hear of Christians talking about it in a very different way, and calling for something more positive, and for churches to stop obsessing about sex when talking of so-called sin.

“Christian students want a more open and positive discussion about gender and sexuality within the churches, faith communities and college groups to which they belong,” the Christian think tank Ekklesia tells us today.

The call, says Ekklesia’s report, came at an event entitled “Liberating Gender”, which formed the annual conference of Britain's Student Christian Movement (SCM), meeting near Kidderminster.

One thing that catches my eye is the view of the Catholic feminist theologian Tina Beattie, who challenged Christians to find more “truthful and liberating ways of reading biblical texts such as the creation narratives”, says Ekklesia.

“She suggested that when considering sin, churches needed to shift their focus from what could be a rather obsessive concern with sex to the challenge of violence, not least religious violence.”

Sunday, 22 February 2009

What are they plotting?

As Andy Armitage noted on this blog last Wednesday, the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who is a Protestant Christian, is meeting the Roman Catholic Pope again.

Is Mr Brown going to become a Catholic like his predecessor? I think we can discount the thought that the Pope will officially become a Protestant.

Is the Pope giving his support to a merger of his sect with the Anglicans? And discussing with Mr Brown the price to be paid to the Vatican.

If the meeting was to discuss a papal visit to the UK, I hope there will be more opposition to it than the last visit by a Pope. Preparations for opposing it should start as soon as any official announcement is made so that we can get out banners made and perhaps book a poster advertising campaign against it.

No matter how deep the financial crisis gets we can be sure Mr Brown was not telling Pope Ratzinger that the Catholic Church will have to pay its proper share of taxes for the first time and lose its tax privileges as a religion.

Perhaps in exchange for a pledge of no new taxes on the Church and a guarantee that all taxpayers will continue to pay for Catholic schools, Mr Brown was trying to secure a large loan from the Vatican Bank to help Britain avoid bankruptcy.

We must wait and see.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Pots calling kettles black?

A group of churches have condemned the nutty Kansas-based “God Hates Fags” Phelps family – two of whom have been barred from the UK having said they’d picket a showing of The Laramie Project in Basingstoke – but the excellent Christian think tank Ekklesia says they ought to look to their own prejudices.

The six are the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Evangelical Alliance UK, Faithworks, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, the United Reformed Church and Bible Society-funded think tank Theos.

Jonathan Bartley, one of Ekklesia’s co-directors, welcomes the condemnation of the arch homophobes Fred Phelps and his equally nutty daughter (Bartley doesn’t call them that, but I do). But, he says, among those who have condemned the Phelpses’ Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, “are some who preach rejection of faithful gay relationships, who deny their baptism and Christian ministry, and who refuse their wisdom”.

He adds: “Some have attempted to negotiate opt-outs from equalities legislation so they can themselves discriminate against lesbian and gay people in employment and in the provision of goods and services. The Evangelical Alliance in particular removed the Courage Trust from its membership when the Trust made a Christian commitment to affirming lesbian and gay people.

“The six churches and groups have said with one voice: ‘We believe that God loves all, irrespective of sexual orientation.’ We invite them to reflect these words in their actions.”

Evangelicals? Nice sentiments, Jonathan. I doubt that they will, though.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

How New Labour is nibbling at our freedoms

Oh, well. The bloody government didn’t listen to what I had to say in my last post. Ho hum. They’ve banned a pair of Phelps nutters from coming into the UK.

Fred and his daughter were due to come to the UK to protest at a staging in Basingstoke of the much-acclaimed play The Laramie Project.

But we learn from a late-breaking story in the UK’s Telegraph (online only at the moment, although I suspect it’ll be in the next print edition) that these fruitcakes are likely to be a threat of some sort.

A UK Border Agency spokesman is quoted as saying, “The Home Secretary has excluded both Fred Phelps and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper from the UK.

“Both these individuals have engaged in unacceptable behaviour by inciting hatred against a number of communities. The government has made it clear it opposes extremism in all its forms.

“We will continue to stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country. That was the driving force behind the tighter rules on exclusion for unacceptable behaviour that the Home Secretary announced on 28th October last year.

“The exclusions policy is targeted at all those who seek to stir up tension and provoke others to violence regardless of their origins and beliefs.”

And who is going to decide, every time, what will and what will not “stir up tension”? Won’t a proposed visit by Pope Ratzinger stir up tension if he comes to the UK? You can bet your sweet arse it will. It’ll stir up tension in me, that’s for sure.

Will they ban the bastard? Like hell will they!

I don’t like the Phelpses, but free speech for me means free speech for them (I was going to say “within the law”, but it looks as if our laws will now forbid free speech on the flimsiest of grounds). If they’re likely to break laws concerning public order, and therefore be a threat to life and limb and property, then that’s one thing. Standing outside a building with placards? Well that seems pretty harmless to me.

How long will it be before all protests are banned because any of them might stir up tension? That’s what protests are for. Tension makes people think. Is this the thin end of the wedge? Is the UK government nibbling away at our freedoms to protest by starting with foreigners? If so, how long will it be before we’re all banned from holding up a placard?

We’ve already seen the former head of MI5, Dame Stella Rimington, point out that creating fears of terrorism is just an excuse for the government to stamp on our freedoms.

A manufactured fear of some threat to social harmony is doing the same thing.

Whence spring dystopias. Beware!

Gays want to ban Laramie protest

Typical New Labour. Now its own LGBT group wants to start banning people from protesting.

What’s more, in asking the UK Home Office to ban members of the loony Phelps family from Topeka, Kansas, from protesting at a production of The Laramie Project in Basingstoke tomorrow, LGBT Labour actually cites the banning of the Dutch politician Geert Wilders last week, when he had been invited by members of the House of Lords to show his anti-Koran film Fitna.

What?

Well, I can’t speak for my fellow bloggers, but I for one say let the bloody nutjob Phelpses come and protest. If they look like breaking the law and actually causing a public nuisance, that is the time for the authorities – in the form of the police – to pounce. And what is an LGBT organisation – which ought to know better – doing seeming to applaud the banning of Wilders, who has been showing up with his film some of the atrocious things Muslims are told to get up to by their Dark Ages scriptures?

As I and many others have said many times, once you begin to curb free speech just because you don't like what's being said, it's only a matter of time before someone's curbing yours. So grow up, LGBT Labour!

Pink News tells us:

In a letter to Immigration Minister Phil Woolas, LGBT Labour co-chair Simon Wright referred to the Home Office decision to ban a Dutch MP who is critical of Islam from entering the UK because he would harm community relations.

"As the government refused entry to the UK to Geert Wilders last week, it is hoped that the same laws can also be used to prevent this family from entering the UK to spread their hated of homosexuality," said Mr Wright.

The fact that the nutjobs are unlikely to show up, anyway – having threatened to picket in Australia, Canada and Sweden in the past and been nowhere in sight – is neither here nor there.

Shame on LGBT Labour. But, then, they are New Labour.

Meanwhile, best of luck to the actors at that school theatre who are putting on this play. Or, as they say, break a leg!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Top booking

Just when you think you’ve seen all the appeasement to religion that you can stomach, we now learn that British libraries are having to put “holy” books on the top shelves, because to have them lower would be to demean them.

Pardon me while I puke.

So our libraries are now becoming places of worship, not learning, since it seems that the books are there to be venerated, not studied.

In one sense, I’m all for putting these old scriptures where people are less likely to see them, but, really, it’s not a good idea, since they’re there for reference and, if I wanted to check something for an article in, say, St John’s Gospel, or to look up a sura in the Koran, I’d be peeved that I always had to stretch or ask for the stepladder.

But it’s to appease the religious, you see, especially – yes, you guessed – Muslims.

According to the Daily Telegraph, “Muslims have complained that the Koran is often displayed on the lower shelves, which is deemed offensive as many believe the holy book should be placed above ‘commonplace things’.”

Oh, “commonplace things” such as Shakespeare, great classical and modern literature, science, poetry, music and stuff? Those commonplace things?

This idiotic move has come in bureaucratic guidelines, the paper tells us, “despite concern from Christian charities that this will put the Bible out of the reach and sight of many people”. These guidelines have come from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. The Telegraph adds:

It said Muslims in Leicester had moved copies of the Koran to the top shelves of libraries, because they believe it is an insult to display it in a low position.

A report into the issue said the city’s librarians consulted the Federation of Muslim Organisations and were advised that all religious texts should be kept on the top shelf.

The guidance states: “This meant that no offence is caused, as the scriptures of all the major faiths are given respect in this way, but none is higher than any other.”

Let’s just get this offence thing out of the way before we move on: offence would be taken, not caused.

Anyway, thanks to the bumbling bureaucrats who are pandering to the pathetic whinings of wacky religionists, it’s religious sensitivities that once again get the long straw (in that religion is being put above everything else, both literally and figuratively), while said bureaucrats’ real remit – books, culture, learning – gets the short one, in that those books are harder to get at for someone who wants to refer to or study them, not pray to them.

But there’s an irony here: fewer casual browsers are likely to stumble across a bible or copy of the Koran and – well, browse it. Is that what the religious nutcases really want?

As I say, that’s fine by me to an extent – but why should the serious student be made to stretch, just because Muslims have chosen to? After all, the book belongs to the library and through that to your ordinary Joe and Jane Bloggs. It’s paper and ink, dammit!

The only reverence one should pay to it is the reverence one should pay to all books (especially those that are to be used by others): that’s keep them clean, free of dog ears and bits of your lunch, and leave them how you would wish to find them.

(Off topic here, but I do hate people who fold down corners of library books to keep their places. I come across it all the time. Use a bookmark, for goodness’ sake! It need only be a piece of scrap paper.)

Brown-nosing

Why on earth are we paying for our Prime Minister to have talks with someone whose way of life is intrinsically evil, and who is morally suspect?

Off he goes to Italy tomorrow to chat to Berlusconi, but he’s dropping off at some point to chinwag with Pope Ratzinger. According to Scotland’s Herald, it’s to discuss “development issues”, whatever they are.

Brown has already repeated an invitation made by his bizarrely superstitious predecessor, Tony Blair, to visit Britain. Who will be paying for that? Who will foot the bill for all the security? Yep, the British taxpayer.

And why the hell does the Herald talk of his having “an audience” with the evil Ratzo? They’re having a meeting, aren’t they? Is he having “an audience” with Berlusconi, too? Does his secretary have “an audience” with Brown when taking him his morning coffee? Or ministers when they pop in for a chat?

Ratzo is not granting “an audience” to Brown: he’s having a meeting with him. It will just happen to take place in or near the old bastard’s luxury abode, that’s all.

To all depraved sons and daughters of Adam

The UK’s Daily Telegraph seems to have been having a lively email exchange with those nutters in Topeka who run the Westboro Baptist Church – a dysfunctional family called Phelps.

The Phelpses run the God Hates Fags website (which at the moment welcomes you with “Welcome, depraved sons and daughters of Adam”) and claims that the Almighty does just what it says on the tin: hates fags.

(We’ve chosen a picture of student demonstrators kissing in front of Phelps nutcases back in 2000. Well, in view of the diatribe you’re about to read, we had to redress the balance somehow!)

The Westboro lot plan to picket a production of the anti-homophobia play The Laramie Project at a school theatre in Basingstoke, Hampshire, here in the UK, tomorrow.

The Laramie Project is an award-winning play (on which a film was subsequently based) depicting the life and death (in October 1998) – at the hands of homophobic thugs – of Matthew Shepard, a student at the University of Wyoming. You can read about the tenth anniversary of that here.

Yesterday, the Telegraph published the full text of the email exchange it’s had with Fred Phelps’s daughter (I think she’s his daughter – judging by the nature of that family you’d think they were so inbred that Fred is his own mother), Shirley Phelps-Roper.

Here’s just a part of it. All the ugly capitalisation, the grammatical errors and the dodgy punctuation are in the original. Roper-Phelps was asked why they objected to The Laramie Project, and this is her response:

We don’t object to it, we see it as a glorious preaching moment. It creates a PERFECT backdrop for us to help YOU connect the dots. From the least to the greatest of the people of the UK, including your lamenting and rebellious and disobedient Gordon Brown. You taught your children FOR GENERATIONS now that God is a big fat liar and that HIS standards are on the table to dispose of. You BROKE their moral compass.

The prophet said - WHAT WILL YE DO IN THE END THEREOF. That is to say for you rebels - WHAT will you do when you get to the end of this road of your filthy disobedient manner of life and find that you have incurred the wrath of God and you find that his promises to make your people to be ALTOGETHER WORTHLESS, GOOD FOR ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! And what will you do when you all land in hell FOR EVER where the worm that eats on you NEVER dies and the fire is NEVER quenched and the smoke of your torment ascends up for ever and ever and ever and ever and ever - never ending. So we go to the place where the Laramie Project is playing and you look at us, then you look at the so-called “counter-picketers” and the young people that you have taught that they can live like the very devil himself and it is JUST FINE, because even though the Bible CLEARLY says that God HATES people and it is a perfect hatred - a determination to send the UNREPINENTANT to hell for ever.

So I say - you can look at the faces of each of these groups, and you see that these young people of WBC [Westboro Baptist Church] - as you already know, have no confusion and they have bright shining minds and they are happy and well adjusted and content, living sober, righteous and godly in this present world, while you are busy in GREAT lament over the fact that you have a 15-year-old girl having the baby of a 13-year-old boy (who was 12) when they embarked upon this glorious plan, because YOU brutes taught them that God is a liar. Now suddenly you see that they have NO standards! And then you can add to this pleasant little happy UK family moment that another 13-year-old boy has arisen to dispute paternity! Oh yea baby - you UK rebels truly have it goin on! You are like the Doomed american rebels - just a big shameful MESS!! I say we are dot connecters! THAT is our job! We use the Laramie Project to tell you unambiguously and unapologetically that your DUTY is to fear God and keep his commandments and that you are required to give the glory of all his judgments that he is executing RIGHT UNDER YOUR NOSE, TO HIM! The God Smacks are HIS WORK!

Wow! That’s tellin’ ’em.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Hurricane fan Wagner turns down job offer

The priest who appeared to delight in the devastation meted out by Hurricane Katrina, seeming to think it vindicated his ideas of divine punishment for either being gay or approving of gay relationships, will now not accept the assistant bishop’s job Pope Ratzinger handed to him a while back.

According to a story in Pink News, Father Gerhard Maria Wagner, who was to have become assistant bishop of the Austrian city of Linz in Austria, has told the radio station Oe1, “Ever since I was nominated, I sensed opposition that often was carried out in a merciless and unkind way.”

Oh, merciless and unkind, is it? Is this the Father Wagner who wrote, mercilessly and unkindly, in a parish newsletter that the death and destruction caused by Katrina was divine retribution for New Orleans’s tolerance of homosexuals and permissive sexual attitudes?

Even though he’s declined the post, of course, it doesn’t let Ratzinger off the hook for giving it to him in the first place. He obviously has no problem with a guy who holds such views.

But, then, as we can see from that first linked-to post above, Ratzo revoked the excommunication of a Holocaust denier.

Twatzo!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Public opinion – i.e. a few “fairly senior people” – back Dumbledore’s lunacy

The Archbishop of Cant, Rowan “Dumbledore” Williams (pictured), reckons society is now coming round to his lunatic idea that sharia law could be allowed into aspects of proper law.

It’s a year ago now that he made this fatuous, dangerous suggestion, but, according to the Telegraph, he has “defended his controversial comments about the introduction of Islamic law to Britain and claimed that public opinion is now behind him”.

Like hell it is! Ask your average bloke or woman in the street and they’d probably tell him where he can stick sharia law.

What he says is that “a number of fairly senior people” share his view. But “fairly senior people” aren’t usually the woman in Bolton who’s had her inheritance taken away by some jumped-up religious “court” – a scenario painted in the Telegraph story.

His “fairly senior people” are probably as out of touch as he is. Go and talk to the woman in Bolton, Archbishop, and see what she says!

“The Archbishop, the most senior cleric in the Church of England, faced calls to resign last February when he said it was likely that elements of the religious principles based on the Koran, concerning marriage, finance and conflict resolution, would be enshrined in British legislation one day,” says the paper.

These joke courts don’t stop at minor family disputes, as can be seen from this post (look at the second indented extract).

Why must we continue this kowtowing?

Well, there are votes in it, that’s one reason why. Then there are the PC brigade who think the ideal of multiculturalism should trump our laws and our culture.

Why some Christian parents should go to hell

We’ve talked a lot about free speech on this blog lately. Just search on “Wilders” and heaps of stuff will come up. Or click here for the latest story, and from it you can leap to other posts.

But what are we to make of this? A five-year-old schoolgirl tells her pal that she’ll “go to hell” if she doesn’t believe in God.

Little pal wails and gets very upset. Headteacher tells little girl she’s out of order, and has a word with little girl’s mum, who happens to be the school receptionist.

“Gary Read, head of Landscore Primary School, Threshers, in Credition [UK], explained to the 5-year-old and her mother, school receptionist Jennie Cain, that the behaviour was unacceptable after it caused another pupil to burst into tears,” says a story on the excellent Ekklesia website.

The story became local and national news after it got into the hands of the media and of campaigners who repeatedly claim Christians are being “persecuted” in Britain when public bodies implement diversity policies.

Ekklesia tells us that the local paper, the Express and Echo, was guilty of some dodgy headline writing when it proclaimed on 13 February, “Five-year-old girl is told off at school for talking about God”.

Crap journalism again. She didn’t just talk about God: she talked about going to hell. We can’t blame the little girl, since she’s too young to appreciate the possible consequences of talking to another child like that. But we can blame the parents, for putting stupid notions like that into the head of their offspring.

The acid test with free speech usually goes like this: free speech is fine, but it’s wrong to shout fire in a crowded theatre when there isn’t one. That’s a bit of free speech too far.

Well, Gary Read has been getting lots of support, I’m glad to say. Perhaps a lot of people agree with me that, although the little girl didn’t know it, she was effectively shouting fire – in this case hellfire – in the theatre of her little friend’s head, with resultant panic.

The story linked to above cites another story on the site, in which Ekkesia’s Simon Barrow says:

[T]hose Christians who object to the school wanting to maintain a non-threatening environment should ask themselves how they would feel if a son of theirs ended up crying after being told by an atheist pupil that religious people are nuts and should be locked up? Or if their daughter was upset by a Muslim telling her she would suffer eternally for not believing in Allah and his Messenger?

Well your second example, Simon, is much the same as the one that’s caused all the kerfuffle. And I suspect some Christian parents – the nuttier kind of Christian parents – would object, even though the first example doesn’t come anywhere near either the Muslim one or the hell one. The two aren’t comparable, because the atheist pupil in your example does not say that religious people will burn in hell. Calling them nuts is one thing; saying they’ll go to hell or “suffer eternally” is quite another. Saying they should be locked up is not saying they will be locked up.

But you can bet your bottom dollar that some Christians would object to the atheist as much as to the Muslim – probably more so.

So the school is right to have taken some action, and should counsel all pupils that there is no hell, and that no one is going to go there and burn if they don’t believe in God. The idea of God and heaven and hell should be left until such a time as children can understand the concepts, and nutcase parents should keep such notions out of children’s minds.

Filling sensitive heads with ideas of eternal damnation is mental child abuse, and any parent who is guilty of it should be ashamed of him- or herself.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Religious crimes against humanity – committed out of certainty

Anti-Vatican campaigners marched in London yesterday – but, as our friends at the Freethinker bemoan today, you wouldn’t know it, judging by the coverage on the BBC.

Maybe Auntie has done more by the time I write this. I haven’t monitored every news bulletin.

But it’s amazing that so-called journos can often ignore such protests, because it’s the cuddly Catholic Church that’s in protestors’ crosshairs. And that’s religion. And it’s just not on to criticise religion. Especially on the religiose BBC.

Anyway, this event mirrored one in Rome, and the gay- and human-rights campaigner and G&LH contributor Peter Tatchell says of it:

Our aim is a Europe where people are free to practise their faith but where no religion has privileged legal status and unique access to political power and influence.

We are appalled by the Pope’s repeated attacks on the rights of women and gay people and by his wilful opposition to life-saving condom provision. The Italian government too often allows itself to be bullied by the Vatican, on issues such as same-sex civil marriage and sex education in schools.

If Catholics suffer discrimination I will be the first to defend them. Equally, when the Pope supports discrimination against women and gay people I will be the first to oppose him. That is the difference between me and the Pope. I oppose all discrimination, including against Catholics. He supports sexist and homophobic discrimination whenever it suits his intolerant interpretation of the Christian faith.

And is it just mischief on the part of Pope Ratzinger that makes him such an evil twat? Nope. It’s certainty. Some of the most heinous crimes in history have been committed out of a conviction that one’s actions are right. Ratzo believes it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an intrinsic evil on the part of someone who is seriously morally disordered, as he surely is, to bring influence to bear that discriminates against gays, women’s rights over their fertility and potentially lifesaving research.

And the latest issue of G&LH is now available online, and it’s religious certainty that is its major theme. Here’s an excerpt from its editorial, which gives you a taste of what’s inside (and there's plenty of it, so, if you thought you'd skim through it in your lunch break, think again!).

In particular, we examine the Pope's extremely homophobic Christmas message, but certainty is not confined to Christianity, as our articles from the writer and activist Maryam Namazie and M A Khan of Islam Watch testify.

Namazie writes of a new report in the UK from the Centre for Islamic Pluralism, showing that Muslim women suffer discrimination and gross bias in sharia adjudications – a report that has been welcomed by, among others, the new One Law for All campaign.

She also tells us of an event organised by One Law for All that is being held on 7 March in aid of International Women’s Day.

Staying with Islam, Khan discusses Islam Watch, a website set up by a group of Muslim apostates who left Islam when they discovered that it is not a religion at all. Khan, one of its founders, tells us of the group’s mission and describes the challenge ahead for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Popes and prattle

As for popes, the latest papal prattle to have caused a stir was that of Joseph Ratzinger (a.k.a. Pope Benedict XVI) who likened same-sex relationships to wrecking the rainforests when it came to the destruction of mankind.

He was taken to task over it by many people, including George Broadhead, veteran campaigner, G&LH contributor and a founder and vice-president of GALHA, who shares his views with us in this issue.

Another look at popekind comes from Matthew Thompson, whose article from G&LH’s 2005 issue has been chosen as our “Out of Print” feature this time. That was at the time when Karol Józef Wojtyla (a.k.a. Pope John Paul II) had just gone to a better place and Ratzinger had taken over. “The Pope is dead – long live the bigotry”, we said, as Thompson examined why Catholics have so many hang-ups about sex in spite of the lack of corresponding edicts in the gospels.

The Doctor in Dubai

“Surely this most progressive of programmes should not be filming one of this year’s specials in such an unsavoury place.” The words of journalist Gareth McLean in his Guardian TV blog.

He’s referring to the decision by BBC Wales producers to film part of a Doctor Who special in Dubai (“with its dubious human rights record, appalling treatment of migrant workers and flagrant disregard for the environment”), and he finds the whole thing abhorrent. Doctor Who fan and G&LH contributor Stephen Blake looks at McLean’s article.

Way out

Should those with terminal illnesses that are causing pain and distress be allowed to choose when to depart this life – and have help in dying if that is necessary? Is helping someone to commit suicide as simple as it sounds? Could a law permitting such an act cover all the bases? Or would it be a legal and moral quagmire? Neil Richardson looks at the issues for this issue of G&LH.

Doubt and certainty

In another article, Richardson, an ordained Anglican priest, explores our running theme of religious certainty when he says he doesn’t understand those who live with certainty about the mysteries of life and death, whether religious or scientific. There are those with all doubt and no faith, and those with all faith and no doubt.

Gays and the Nazis

Auschwitz Liberation Day was marked on 27 January. Many gay men were sent to the notorious concentration camp, and, in an article based on a recent talk, Colin de la Motte-Sherman – campaigner, writer and campaigner for Amnesty International – reflects on homosexuals under the Nazis.

New cop at the top

Peter Tatchell is doubtful, too, but this time it’s about the new commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Paul Stephenson, who has already been accused of being soft on homophobia. In a follow-up to the article “Murder Rap” – which we ran in our November 2008 issue – he explains why he thinks the new police chief, who approved and facilitated a London concert by Jamaican murder-music rapper Bounty Killer, is a hypocrite when it comes to hate crimes.

Tatchell has also been busy writing to the new American President, Barack Obama. It’s an open letter, written in the hope that a new broom can sweep clean when it comes to creating a better climate for gays and lesbians. We bring you his entire letter.

Doing it without God

Staying with Obama, we also have an article by Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, who believes that his new president is living proof that good character and values do not have to come from religion.

And nor does morality, argues another of our contributors, Roy Saich, who runs the Humanists website (which is a recipient of a Britannica Internet Guide Award, having been selected by Britannica.com as one of the best on the Internet when reviewed for quality, accuracy of content, presentation and usability). [See this blog’s sidebar for a link.]

Saich takes as his starting point ads saying “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake” – sponsored by the American Humanist Association – which have appeared on buses in Washington, DC, over the past few weeks.

What’s in a word?

In common with several royals, Prince Harry got himself into hot water again recently – this time for using the word Paki to refer to a friend and fellow officer. It was said with affection, we’re led to believe. (He’s also used the word queer – see our News section.)

But is the prince really guilty of any more than a bit of “youthful gaucherie”? Diesel Balaam thinks not, and tells us why.

On the gripe Vine

People often phone in to Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2 with their opinions and gripes. He had one of his own recently: he said he found it embarrassing to talk of his Christian faith, lest he be branded a nutter.

But should one have to be embarrassed by talking of one’s belief – or, indeed, lack of belief? The editor of the Freethinker, Barry Duke, and G&LH’s very own Andy Armitage found themselves on a Radio Wales phone-in on the subject: Duke as a guest, Armitage as a phoner-in. We bring you the audio.

Obituaries

We say goodbye to two notables in this issue: the playwright and robust nonbeliever Harold Pinter, who famously accused Tony Blair – during a huge rally in Hyde Park against the coming invasion of Iraq in 2003 – of being a “hired Christian thug”; and Harold Blackham, thinker, writer, campaigner and author of several books, whom the veteran humanist campaigner Barbara Smoker honoured with a collection of his thoughts, Blackham’s Best, which we revisit.

Not an obituary, exactly, but a tribute nonetheless is made to another notable figure and comes in Peter Tatchell’s review of Edward Carpenter – A Life of Liberty and Love, by Sheila Rowbotham. Carpenter (1844–1929) was a prophetic gay English author, poet, philosopher and humanitarian, and, Tatchell believes, “the true pioneer of the LGBT rights movement in England”.

We feature another book review as our “Gossip from Across the Pond” feature this time, as Warren Allen Smith looks at an important new offering that is filled with acerbic humour, and is a valuable reference source and a joy to read. It’s God and the Philosophers and is by the late Paul Edwards.

And the rest . . .

We have our regular features, of course. In “Airings”, Stephen Blake takes a look at the supernatural – and pronounces himself unhappy with ITV’s latest offering of camp vamps and dodgy demons.

We have cartoons from the author of the Jesus and Mo strip and from Peter Welleman, an illustrator who has created artwork for books, board games, magazines, museums and websites, covering a broad range of subjects.

It’s never too late for a visit to the Doctor (that is the Doctor, you understand), and Steven Dean looks at Matt Smith – and then looks again, and finds him easy on the eye. Smith will be the eleventh incarnation of this 46-year-old (or 950-year-old, however you look at it) iconic figure from the world of sci-fi. Mind you, Smith would not have got the job without the intervention of Gran.

We also feature some letters to G&LH, plus news of upcoming events, plus “On the Blog” (a look at what Pink Triangle, our sister publication, has been serving up lately), and “Blogwatch”, which this time features a blogger known as Citizen Warrior, a vigorous campaigner against encroaching Islam.

And, of course, there’s our usual look at some of the news stories here in the UK and, in “World Watch”, wider afield.

All in all, we hope you agree, it’s a packed lunch with a punch, but you’ll need more than your lunch break in which to read it.

And don’t forget our archive if you missed our previous online editions, and please share us with your friends. You don’t even need to buy them a subscription, just send them the URL:

www.gayandlesbianhumanist.org

Finally, as always, we hope you’ll feel the urge to write for us if you have something to say. Please see our Contact page for details of how to get in touch. We would be particularly interested to hear from you if you have an article or letter you would like published.

So enjoy the magazine, let us know your thoughts. Whatever you think, we’d love to hear from you.

Remember: you can always get to the latest issue of the magazine by clicking on the logo in our sidebar.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Keys to equality

A member of the Isle of Man parliament – the House of Keys – has been getting it in the neck from all sides this week after he spoke out against a Bill that would extend rights to transgendered people.

One transsexual has even called on John Houghton to resign, as a point of common decency.

A member of the House of Keys, Peter Karran, said he was “appalled by the outburst”, saying: “It’s what the Nazis used to say about the Jews. I thought we had got away from this Island being seen as a Fascist, reactionary backwater.”

And the island’s Education Minister, Anne Craine, said Houghton’s “approach, his attitude, his bigotry is disgusting”.

Pink Triangle reader Stuart Hartill – of the Clinging to a Rock blog we link to on our sidebar – says in an email to me:

Incidentally, because of the furore over Houghton’s comments, a behind-the-scenes amendment no doubt arranged by the churches isn’t getting publicity. This is to fit in with an upcoming Marriage and Civil Registration Bill – promised a year or so ago but not appeared yet.

Last October, the Council of Ministers monthly meeting minutes say:

“Council further agreed that paragraph 2 of Schedule 2, be amended to exempt a clergyman from the obligation to solemnise the marriage of a person if the clergyman reasonably believes that the person has changed gender.”

Anne Craine, our Education Minister, agreed at that meeting to move an amendment, which as presented on the day becomes:

“No clergyman is obliged to solemnise the marriage of a person whose gender has become the acquired gender in accordance with the Gender Recognition Act 2008.”

A point I wonder about is that the Bill begins:

“(1) The Chief Registrar shall maintain in the General Registry a register to be called the Gender Recognition Register.

(2) The form in which the Gender Recognition Register is to be maintained shall be determined by the Chief Registrar.

(3) The Gender Recognition Register shall not be open to public inspection or search.”

On that basis, I wonder how a clergyman has a “reasonable suspicion” that someone has changed gender unless someone has, illegally, passed information to him from the register!

Yes, highly suspicious.

Thanks to Stuart Hartill for pointing this out to us.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

More publicity for Fitna

I’m listening to PM, Radio 4’s drive-time news programme, as I write this, becoming more irate by the second.

They’re discussing the Wilders scandal. Geert Wilders has been banned by our joke of a Home Secretary after a peer, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, moaned – as Muslims do – because this right-wing Dutch politician and filmmaker wanted to show his film Fitna to peers in the House of Lords.

The film was screened this afternoon, but Wilders was barred from the UK, and, when he tried to enter the country anyway, was stopped at Heathrow Airport. Thus, he was unable to present the film himself and answer questions.

Ahmed is speaking as I write. He’s full of non sequitur in some attempt of a defence of his Islamofascist view that Islam ought not to be criticised. He’s hiding behind security concerns when he knows damned well that it’s his fellow religionists who are the bigger threat to security, not a few peers and a politician from Holland. He also knows full well that the shit he’s stirred up will do far more harm to the Muslim cause than just letting things take their course.

It’s sickening. But the silver lining in this particular cloud is that Fitna – which Ahmed conveniently reminded listeners was available on the Internet – will now get more viewers than it might have done without this publicity.

That, however, does not let our politicians off the hook. Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, was praised by the Foreign Secretary, an equally politically correct appeasing nutcase, David Miliband, who claimed Wilders was breaking the law because there are laws against religious hatred and Fitna stirred up hatred.

Anything has the potential to stir up hatred. Muslim bleating has the potential to stir up the hatred of otherwise rather nice people who pat dogs and help old ladies across the road, who give to charity, say good morning to their neighbours and keep cats.

In the Wilders case, it’s not the film but the Koran that is more likely to stir up hatred. It’s a hate manual, much like parts of the Old Testament. Now, thanks to the moans of whingeing Muslims, it’s more likely to do just that.

Fitna uses startling imagery – the 9/11 attacks, a beheading, Muslims shouting hatred, the aftermath of suicide bombings, that sort of thing – to make a point. It does this by juxtaposing these images with appropriate passages in the Koran. That’s what artistic expression is about.

Whether you find Fitna a work of cinematic art is another matter. However, it makes its case in this way because that is what it is: a film, using images to put forward an argument.

Intelligent people viewing it will make up their own minds as to how effectively it does this. They’re not going to go out into the street and kill the nearest Muslim, because this is not – as Miliband fatuously claimed – like someone shouting fire in a crowded theatre when there isn’t a puff of smoke in sight.

Were Wilders addressing a meeting and stirring people to action with hateful speech – inciting violence, in other words – that would be a different matter. But people viewing a film on the Internet, as most people have done with Fitna, have done it at home or at work on their computer screens, and are hardly likely to arm themselves with torches and pitchforks and go on the rampage.

As well as the link above, see the rest of our most recent coverage here, here, here and here.

And, once again, we give you a one-click viewing of the film below.

Pink Triangle Trust speaks out on Wilders ban scandal

The gay humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) – under whose name this blog and its sister publication G&LH are published – had declared its strong opposition to the ban imposed by the UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith on the Dutch MP Geert Wilders entering Britain. In his film Fitna, Mr Wilders is highly critical of Islam. In a news release, the Trust says:

The PTT’s secretary George Broadhead said: “We maintain that in a free society anyone should have the right to criticise religion without being banned, dubbed racist or, even worse, threatened with death as the humanist author Salman Rushdie was over his book The Satanic Verses. As gay activist Peter Tatchell has been at pains to point out, Mr Wilders has never threatened violence towards Muslims.

“There can be no doubt from reading its holy books, the Qur’an and the Hadith, that Islam is a homophobic religion, which at worst has lead to the barbaric torture and murder of LGBT people in Islamic theocracies like Iran and Saudi Arabia. But it also oppresses women and is vehemently hostile to apostates and unbelievers like humanists.

“As the website the Skeptic’s Annotated Qur’an indicates, virtually every page is a manifesto for intolerance. It is chock-full of the dire punishments in store for those who don’t adhere to its beliefs.

“Those politicians who bend over backwards to portray Islam as a religion or tolerance and peace are either abysmally ignorant or deliberately ignoring the facts.

“Moreover, Jacqui Smith’s decision to ban Mr Wilders is in blatant contrast to her decision to allow Ibrahim Mousawi, chief spokesman of the Lebanese group Hezbollah, a militant Islamicist if ever there was one, to enter Britain last May – a clear example of double standards.”

Meanwhile, if you search on key words, you’ll find a lot happening. This ambassador is not happy, that politician is critical of Jacqui Smith, and so it goes on. This won’t go away in a hurry.

See our previous recent posts here, here, here and here.

Hang your head in shame, Ms Smith

“So let’s get this straight,” muses Melanie Phillips in today’s Daily Mail. “The British government allows people to march through British streets screaming support for Hamas, it allows Hizb ut Tahrir to recruit on campus for the jihad against Britain and the west, it takes no action against a Muslim peer who threatens mass intimidation of Parliament, but it bans from the country a member of parliament of a European democracy who wishes to address the British Parliament on the threat to life and liberty in the west from religious fascism.”

Yup. That’s about it, Mel.

She’s referring, of course (in an article that first appeared online in the Spectator), to the insane ban by an insane Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, on Dutch politician Geert Wilders’s entry into the UK to show his anti-Koran film Fitna to some members of the House of Lords who had invited him to do so.

“It is he, not them [sic], who is considered a ‘serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society’,” she continues. “Why? Because the result of this stand for life and liberty against those who would destroy them might be an attack by violent thugs.”

It will be interesting to see whether he carries out his threat to come to the UK, anyway. (See yesterday's posts on this sorry state of affairs here, here and here.)

Meanwhile, our friends over at MediaWatchWatch tell us that the Quilliam Foundation has issued a statement condemning the ban.

Maajid Nawaz, director of the Foundation (which describes itself as a counterextremist think tank), says, “Banning Geert Wilders from the UK is not the solution. Just as the ideas of nonviolent Islamist groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir should be tackled through debate and argument, so should those of Wilders and others.

“Freedom of speech should be protected – so long as people do not use this freedom to call for violence against others.

“Wilders has evidently been convinced by the words and actions of Islamists and jihadists that Islam is inherently violent and intolerant. We therefore challenge him to an open debate in which we will argue that Islam is not an inherently violent religion and that, contrary to what he apparently believes, Muslims are not a threat to Europe and its values.”

Ed Husain, the co-director of the Foundation, says, “Geert Wilders is undoubtedly an ill-informed, hate-driven bigot with many unpleasant views but he is not directly inciting violence. As a result, unlike in the case of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, I do not support the decision to ban him from the UK. By threatening parliament with a mob, Lord Ahmed [the Muslim peer who objects to free speech] is contributing to the negative portrayal of Muslims and their religion.”

An “ill-informed, hate-driven bigot”? You could almost say that about the New Labour politician – Jacqui Smith – who clearly doesn’t want people to discuss Islamic extremism within the hallowed portals of our legislature. She’s quite happy, as Melanie Phillips says at the top of this post, to allow marches in our streets by Islamic thugs (and one she didn’t mention was after the Jyllands-Posten Motoons row, when Muslims were openly inciting violence with their placards), but not to let a filmmaker show his work to our peers.

The disgraceful behaviour of these politicians is nothing short of disgusting.

In a Mail news story, meanwhile, there’s talk of a diplomatic row over the ban.

So there should be. Let Smith be hounded and vilified and embarrassed until she either resigns with her head hung in shame or resigns with her head hung in shame. Either will do.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

More on 1984 and all that

“The Home Secretary [Jacqui Smith] is guilty of gross hypocrisy. She gives visas to demagogues who incite violence and murder, while banning from the UK a Dutch MP who has never incited violence against anyone,” says the gay- and human-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell today.

Quite right, too.

A news release from Tatchell today concerns the subject of our last two posts, here and here, about Geert Wilders and pusillanimous British politicians who bow before the tyrannical knee of spreading Islam by preventing him from showing his film Fitna to members of the House of Lords (it will be shown, apparently, but he will not be allowed to present it and, therefore, answer questions). Tatchell goes on:

Jacqui Smith has refused Dutch MP Geert Wilders permission to enter Britain on the grounds that his presence would damage community relations and threaten public order. I do not agree with Mr Wilders, but he has never threatened violence against Muslims.

The Home Secretary regularly grants visas and work permits to Jamaican reggae singers who openly incite the murder of lesbian and gay people. Incitement to murder is a very serious criminal offence. The Home Office and Metropolitan Police also allow radio stations and record stores to promote their murder-inciting CDs.

Last November, Jacqui Smith gave Jamaican reggae singer Bounty Killer (Rodney Price) permission to perform at a concert in east London. He had been banned from Guyana earlier in 2008 over his murderous lyrics, but the British government said he was welcome to sing in the UK.

It is double standards to ban Geert Wilders and not Bounty Killer.

Even if I disagree with certain political and religious leaders, I do not support their being banned from the UK, unless they incite violence. That is why I oppose the exclusion of Geert Wilders and others such as Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam in the US. It is more effective to challenge and defeat their ideas in open debate, than to suppress them via the bureaucratic ruse of a banning order.

Bounty Killer encourages and glorifies gang violence. At a time when so many young people have been murdered in gang-related gun and knife crime, it is reckless and obscene for the Home Secretary to give Bounty Killer a visa and work permit.

Rewarding with concerts maladjusted singers who incite violence sends the wrong signal.

Bounty Killer helps reinforce and legitimate gang violence by encouraging, glorifying and celebrating the killing of gay people. His negative impact goes way beyond the gay community. He psyches up a whole generation to see hatred and violence as cool and street cred.

For the sake of parents whose sons have been murdered in gang attacks, it is time we closed the door on Bounty Killer and similar murder music singers.

1984 confirmed!

Well, it’s confirmed. Geert Wilders, maker of Fitna, has indeed been banned from the UK by the snivelling bastards who would claim to be protecting our freedom of speech.

What a load of spineless, bollockless twats!

Odd how Ken Livingstone was able to bring in the Islamofascist Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who advocates violence towards women and suicide bombing. Indeed, our publisher, the Pink Triangle Trust, has called for this evil bastard to be put on a blacklist.

It just goes to show that, when it comes to Islam, idiotic ideas that advocate treating women as tenth-rate citizens, that advocate killing apostates, that advocate shoving gays off the tops of cliffs and that advocate a gradual spreading of Islam like an oil slick until the entire world is tainted with its toxicity, can win out over hard-fought-for Western ideals of freedom of expression.

The BBC tells us that the bleating, whining, moaning Muslim peer who ran to the powers that be when Wilders’s film was first set to be shown, New Labour’s Lord Ahmed, has welcomed the ban.

But, then, he would, because Muslims (well, those we constantly hear from, at least) cannot stand the thought that someone might say something bad about them in public; and, of course, New Labour will back him, because few people in New Labour wish to see freedom of expression, either, if it involves criticising religion, and especially the Islamic religion.

It’s called political correctness. A cliché, yes, but it’s real.

“It would be unwise to have him in the UK because this man’s presence would cause hatred,” Ahmed said.

No, you blithering idiot. It is you and your followers who cause hatred. Enjoy the party while it lasts, because people here won’t put up for ever with this appeasement.

I despair. I really do. This is so fucking unfair.

So here it is again (just click below). Enjoy – if that's the right word.

1984

What thoroughly snivelling bastards our politicians can be when it comes to doffing their hat to Islam! If, that is, Geert Wilders is correct in assuming that he’s been effectively barred from showing his film Fitna to members of the House of Lords in London.

Quick chronology: Fitna was to have been shown at the House of Lords.

Then it wasn’t.

Then it was.

Well now it probably isn’t.*

Wilders has told Dutch television that he had letter from the British government saying, “The secretary of state is satisfied that your statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in your film Fitna and elsewhere, would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the United Kingdom.”

If this is true, then it’s disgusting. Just what “community harmony” is going to be threatened by showing the film to selected people at the invitation of a member of the British House of Lords?

Just how much more censorship will it take before Islamisation creeps so far into our lives that it takes over? It’ll take time, but if this goes on – this constant kowtowing, this appeasement – it will happen.

If it is true that Wilders has been barred from entering Britain, then we are truly living in 1984.
__________
*It is now likely to be seen by the Lords, but of course Wilders will not be allowed to present it. See our later post here.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Together and apart

A lesson – should one be needed – in the lunacy of forced superstition in schools comes to us from Sheffield in Yorkshire, where the headmistress of a primary school is accused of racism for scrapping an assembly that was for Muslims only. (Yes, racism – that idiotic conflation of race and religion again.)

Julia Robinson inherited the silly two-assemblies practice when she took over at Meersbrook Bank Primary School, where the majority of pupils are white British. So she ordered a review.

About a fifth of the kids are from ethnic minorities, and a weekly assembly just for Muslims was being led by a parent.

So she set up a working group to look at alternatives. This was on local authority advice, according to a story in the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

Robinson told staff she wanted assemblies to suit all faiths (I would add “or none” – in other words, superstition-free gatherings held to discuss important matters – but I guess you can’t have everything).

But a number of parents complained. She’s now resigned.

A sympathetic member of her staff said Robinson had done all she could to bring about assemblies to suit everyone (except the nonreligious, it seems). She did the right thing and took advice from the local education authority, but, when she tried to stop the assemblies, she was accused of being a racist.

No prizes for guessing which religion the complaining parents were from.

Doesn’t this just make the case for getting religion out of schools altogether? Crises like this can probably be found – but with less attendant publicity – in schools throughout the country.

Simply keeping religion out of schools (except as an academic subject) would solve the problem in one fell swoop. Assemblies can bring about community cohesion only if everyone who takes part is singing from the same song sheet.

And that song sheet should be about matters that affect the school, that affect the kids’ lives and their education and their community. It should allow kids to explore what holds them together, to share thoughts, to hear school announcements, to make suggestions about how their school is run and feel they are making a contribution and playing a part, whatever – not having totally useless mumbo-jumbo forced down their throats.

Instead, there was a separate assembly for a handful of the children of Muslim parents and another one for mainly kids who don’t give a monkey’s, with perhaps a few Christians in the mix somewhere – assuming kids of that age are yet able to grapple with the ideas that go to form a religion and can actually be said to be Christian.

Surely, this situation strengthens the case that, even for the children of religion-soaked parents, a nonreligious assembly is best.

And of course there’s the very obvious fact that having two assemblies rather goes against the idea of having an assembly at all. What is the point of an assembly if the school doesn’t assemble – in its entirety?

We can’t be merciful without religion, says prat

Tony Blair spoke at a “prayer breakfast” (I do find that creepy) in Washington the other day. At first I chose to ignore it. Blair speaks at prayer breakfast. Wow! Paint dries! Well, I never! The Pope’s a Catholic. You’ve got to be kidding! You’ll be telling me next that bears—

Anyway, during the course of some no doubt scintillating stuff about his imaginary friend, he proceeded to damn humanists with faint praise. Get this: “Neither do I decry the work of humanists, who give gladly of themselves for others and who can often shame the avowedly religious. Those who do God’s work are God’s people.”

Er, hang on. You may regard yourself as God’s person, Mr Blair, but please don’t speak for the rest of us. You did enough of that when you were our Prime Minister. By implication, you’re saying that those who don’t believe in sky fairies are just misguided, that God’s there really, even if they don’t believe it. He goes on:

I only say that there are limits to humanism and beyond those limits God and only God can work. The phrase “fear of God” conjures up the vengeful God of parts of the Old Testament. But “fear of God” means really obedience to God; humility before God; acceptance through God that there is something bigger, better and more important than you. It is that humbling of man’s vanity, that stirring of conscience through God’s prompting, that recognition of our limitations, that faith alone can bestow.

We can perform acts of mercy, but only God can lend them dignity. We can forgive, but only God forgives completely in the full knowledge of our sin. And only through God comes grace; and it is God’s grace that is unique.

The limits of humanism, you religion-soaked prat, are only the limits of human beings.

And what greater dignity is there that a person can perform an act of mercy for his or her fellow human being? What’s this shite about how only God can lend such acts such dignity?

Why is this madman being reported in serious media, except in terms of ridicule? Why is he being given so much credibility?

This is the man who, six years ago, relied on questionable “intelligence” to take us into an immoral bombing of Iraq. It seems that the Bible was the original dodgy dossier.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Tick here if you're gay | straight | bi | don't know

I’m not sure about this. On the surface it seems a victory for LGBT rights – or at least a happy compromise. What do you think?

A charity called Pilgrim Homes, which runs an old folk’s home in Brighton, UK, got into hot water by claiming that its Christian principles prevented it from asking residents four times a year whether they were gay or not.

The local council withdrew funding, but, according to Pink News, Pilgrim Homes will now get its money back if it undertakes to ask about sexual orientation – but now it needs to do so only when residents first apply for a place instead of every three months.

OK, so residents can refuse to answer the questions at all, one assumes, but is asking them about their sexuality not going to skew any possible result? Most of these people are over 80. If they’re asked whether they’re gay, bi, hettie or unsure, aren’t most of them going to put heterosexual?

First, you’re probably not going to admit to being unsure. That leaves straight, gay and bi. Many people – especially older people – are going to feel uncomfortable about answering questions about their sexuality, and simply refusing to answer could, in some people’s eyes, indicate that they have something to hide (even if that’s a gay sexuality that need not be hidden, anyway, because there’s nothing wrong with it).

Better by far that the home (and to hell with its Christian ethos) be made to cater for gay people if they wish it, and that gay residents be given every encouragement to state their sexuality and any needs that it throws up if they wish to. If gay people are made welcome and seen to be made welcome, those who feel the need to discuss their sexuality will be more likely to do so.

Having tick boxes or whatever in the name of a diversity policy – put in place by the local council to comply with the Equality Act 2006 and Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 – seems to be unnecessarily intrusive.

Gay or straight, would you wish to be asked four times a year whether you’re gay, straight bi or don’t know? Imagine what the neighbours would say if you admitted to not knowing your sexuality!

Of course, the Christian fundies have given their four penn’orth. Mike Judge, a spokesbigot for the Christian Institute, which backed Pilgrim Homes’ case, says, “Christians pay their taxes too and they should have equal access to public grants without being required to drop their Christian ethos. I hope other councils take note.”

Well, while, as I say, I’m unsure about the four-times-a-year stipulation, Mr Judge, just what has Christian ethos got to do with people’s rights? It’s so-called Christian “ethos” that has ensured people have been denied their rights in so many cases. And that goes for other oppressive religious cults, too.

Try thinking in terms of basic humanity and stop believing that everything has to be decided based on the ancient writings of nomadic Middle Eastern goatherds.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

When is right wrong?

Should anyone be barred from joining a far-right political party? I ask this because I heard on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme this morning that Church of England priests could be prevented from belonging to the British National Party (BNP).

During the course of the programme we were told – although we knew this anyway – that British cops were not allowed to join. I suspect there are other employee groups likewise forbidden.

Now, I fly no flag for the BNP. OK, some of its policies – especially on the environment – seem good, and, if they were truly about questioning and, if necessary, reducing immigration without the racist overtones one cannot help but detect, they would be more acceptable. You still might not agree with them, but, then, you would not agree with some of the policies of any given political party that isn't exactly your bag.

But racist overtones there are, along with a somewhat thuggish image (much of it left over from earlier times, I suspect, when it was more associated with the Natinal Front). And the BNP is avowedly antigay (search on “What is your attitude to homosexuals?” in that link). Oh, it’s moderated its stance on that of late, but it’s attitude is still that of the 1968 Sexual Offences Act: keep it behind closed doors, don’t talk about it. In other words, continue to feel dirty about it.

So, in many respects, a despicable bunch of people. In others, well, they just do politics, and you might find yourself agreeing with some things, disagreeing with others, as you would with the Tories, New Labour or the Lib Dems.

The BNP is a recognised political party. It can field candidates in elections. It’s not a proscribed organisation. Therefore, in law, anyone can join.

I also recognise that it would look bad for cops to be members. There are still associations drawn – maybe a few of them justified, though I suspect less so these days, when many British cops are to be seen in Gay Pride parades – between the police and authoritarianism.

But there’s still this niggle. The BNP is a legal entity. Yet some organisations are preventing their employees from joining. It may be bad to be seen to support it, for all kinds of reasons, but is it wrong, actually wrong, to belong to it? Or should it be left up to individuals, who would, of course, know that they would be exposed to ridicule, perhaps, to opprobrium certainly in many quarters and maybe, at best, debate as to why they chose to join?

I haven’t put forward an answer, but I can’t help feeling that, as with censorship, we should tread carefully.

This blog has railed against censorship, believing (well, in my case, anyway – let the others speak for themselves) that, short of defamation and incitement to do violence, we should allow issues to be debated; that they’ll stand or fall by that debate; that, once we start on the road to the suppression of anything we disapprove of, we invite the same treatment for ourselves.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Gay to Z

This should raise a laugh. It’s a video called The Gay Alphabet – all matters gay from A to Z (as you would expect), mildly and lovingly lampooning the gay lifestyle and, by implication, knocking those who oppose it, such as homophobic Christians.

See it at YouTube – or click below.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

March date in the Golden State to dump Proposition Hate

Those same-sex couples in California who missed out on getting officially spliced and being able to called it marriage should know soon whether they can do so after all.

You may remember that some evil people with weird ideas and lots of money decided that having two girls or two guys get married was in some way some kind of threat to something or other. They even wanted the 18,000 couples who got married while they legally could in the state to lose that status now that the legality of same-sex marriage has bitten the dust with Proposition 8 – the measure that sought to change the State Constitution to make marriage strictly a man–woman affair.

Now, Pink News tells us that the State Supreme Court has announced that legal challenges to a ballot measure that denied gays the right to marry in California will begin oral arguments on 5 March.

Get ready to rub those hands.