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Thursday, 30 April 2009

“Faith” schools and sexuality: PTT’s letter to Balls

We were blogging the other day about how “faith” schools will be able to screw up gay kids’ lives by being allowed to tell them their sexuality is wrong. In fact, if they follow Catholic “teaching” on the subject, they’ll tell the kids that their sexuality is an “intrinsic moral evil”.

This, after all, was what Pope Ratzinger said in August 1986 (while he was still in charge of the Inquisition) in a document called “On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons”. This is so reminiscent of the name of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, which was just the opposite. They say care and they mean hate. They don’t call it hate; they probably don’t even think they’re indulging in hate. But it’s hate. And it’s ugly.

Imagine being a nine- or ten- or whatever-year-old school pupil struggling to come to terms with your orientation in a world that in parts is still hostile towards homosexuality, and hearing that said of you!

Now, this blog’s parent organisation, the Pink Triangle Trust, has written to the Secretary for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, saying that allowing religious schools to say homosexuality is evil is “unacceptable”.

Here is the letter, signed by my fellow blogger George Broadhead, who is the secretary of the Trust:

As a gay educational charity, we were shocked to learn that the new government plans to compel all schools to teach sex education will allow faith schools to educate pupils in line with their religious beliefs.

It seems that a get-out clause for faith schools will permit them to present sex education “in line with the context, values and ethos” of the schools and clearly this will permit them to tell pupils (in line with the teachings in their holy books) that lesbian and gay sexual relationships are morally wrong.

Homophobic bullying plagues the majority of our schools and shocking levels of bullying are meted out to school pupils and teachers who either are gay or perceived to be gay. That is the conclusion of a wide-ranging study carried by the gay equality organisation Stonewall. The study found that nearly two thirds of lesbian and gay pupils reported instances of homophobic harassment and significantly this figure jumps to 75% for those attending faith schools.

When this survey was issued, you yourself pledged to stamp out all forms of bullying in schools.

It is surely unacceptable that a large proportion of our schools should be allowed to tell their pupils that same-sex relationships are wrong with the inevitable consequence that anti-gay bullying will increase.

But religionists will want to put dogma first, people second.

Related links:
Blessed bigotry
Tony Blair tells the Pope – you’re wrong on homosexuality

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

And pigs might fly

It’s amazing what you can “prove”. Swine flu, it appears, was foretold in the Koran. Straight up. No shit.

According to the Italian press agency Adnkronos:

The global spread of the deadly swine flu virus affirms Islam’s teachings and its holy book, the Koran, according to imam Amadia Rachid based in the Italian city of Salerno. “We believe that what is happening shows the truth of our faith,” said Algerian-born Rachid in an interview with Adnkronos International.

Pigs, you see, are considered unclean by Islam.

“Even Muslims who live in Italy are talking about swine flu at the moment,” Rachid is quoted as saying.

Most Muslims, he reckons, are not worried by the disease, because they don’t eat pork and don’t work with pig livestock. Quite how they know they’re not sharing a bus seat with someone who does work with porcine livestock isn’t explained.

“The Islamic faith doesn’t explain exactly why pigs should be considered unclean animals,” he said. “But it’s clear that, for most theologians, it is precisely to avoid the spread of disease that Islamic tradition tends to keep men away from pigs,” he added.

Clear? Clear to whom? Rachid?

“But many believe the disease confirmed the teaching of the Koran.”

How many believe this? Where’s your proof? And, even if you’re right, so what? They believe it because they all subscribe to the same crackpot belief system.

The news report says Rachid claims that scientific truths lie behind the “teachings” of the Koran.

This is almost a version of post hoc ergo propter hoc.

Picture this . . .

No, you’re not seeing things. The camera, as they say, cannot lie, and this picture says that Pink Triangle is the best blog in the blogosphere. There it is, right on the side of the now familiar “atheist bus”.

Actually, you can have a bit of fun by going to this link, and you’ll see what it’s all about.


Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Today, children, we’re going to tell you how evil you are

If you’re a gay young person struggling with your sexuality in a hostile environment, start worrying. Your school – if it’s a “faith” school – could be allowed make your life a whole lot worse for you, and get away with it.

In the Guardian today (among others), we read that a government report says that “faith schools will [. . .] be free to preach against sex outside marriage and homosexuality, under government proposals”.

The plans to make personal, social and health education (PSHE) compulsory from the age of five, published yesterday, include a clause allowing schools to apply their “values” to the lessons and another allowing parents to opt their children out on religious grounds.

It means that all state secondaries in England – including faith schools – will for the first time have to teach a core curriculum about sex and contraception in the context of teenagers’ relationships, but teachers in religious schools will also be free to tell them that sex outside marriage, homosexuality or using contraception [is] wrong. Sexual health campaigners warned that such an approach could confuse teenagers, but Catholic schools welcomed the move.

Yes, Catholic schools would welcome the move. Catholics love to make people suffer. Catholics cause young people to commit suicide.

They believe they’re doing the right thing, of course, but, then, some of the most heinous atrocities in the history of the world were committed out of total sincerity. The fact is, the Catholic Church is an evil organisation that cares more about insentient embryos and uncontrolled, irresponsible procreation than it does about life – about God’s children, if you like (though I suspect most readers of this blog won’t see it that way).

Now we can have kids made to feel totally shitty about themselves, with the blessing of all: the government, the local education authority, the school governors, the school head and the teachers.

The Guardian story goes on:

An optional curriculum in secondaries covering sex, both homosexual and heterosexual relationships, and contraception will be made compulsory – previously schools had to teach only the fundamentals of reproduction, contraception and puberty in science lessons. A new curriculum for primary schools will include teaching five-year-olds about different kinds of relationships, managing their emotions and about physical changes to their bodies in childhood.

Faith schools will be allowed to deliver the lessons in line with the “context, values and ethos” of their religion, the report says. Parents will also retain the right to withdraw their child from sex education lessons, meaning some children will continue to miss out altogether.

And all in the name of religion. At this rate, we’ll be as backward as Islamic theocracies.

The day the music died

So centuries of musical heritage are gone, because religious scum have said so.

This is the sad situation in the Swat Valley, the newly Talibanised area of northwestern Pakistan.

“Musical expressions are completely banned and ruthlessly discouraged,” says, which continues:

The few singers and musicians who remain in the area have shunned their music business and publically [sic] announced that from now onwards they will never indulge in the “un-Islamic” practice of singing. Taliban threats have forced popular singers such as Nazia Iqbal, Gulrez Tabbasum, Gulzar Alam and Shehensha Bacha to publically denounce music and join “Tablighi Jumat”, an Islamic movement that spreads Islamic teachings in different parts of Pakistan and internationally.

How sad! How utterly sad that people are allowing themselves to be swamped by this evil!

The estimated 500 music shops that earlier sold music CDs of all types have been either bombed or looted, and the owners were threatened of dire consequences if they violated Taliban code of morality.

At the same time, CDs and DVDs showing Taliban style “justice” are available in every nook and corner of the district. “People who earlier dealt in music CDs and videos are now selling Jihadi CDs,” says Sher Ali Shah, an NGO [nongovernmental organisation] worker in Mingora.

What a thoroughly sad part of the world to have to live in! Music hath charms, and all that. It’s been part of the human experience since there has been human experience.

But that’s not all. The website story – which talks of a valley “famous for its idyllic beauty, serene environment and centuries[-]old musical heritage” – goes on:

On 19 April, while addressing a large gathering, Maulana Sufi Muhammad, chief of the banned Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (Movement for the enforcement of Muhammadan Law) said that after 20 years of struggle his movement had succeeded to implement pure Islamic law in Malakand.

“Now we will focus on other areas and will bring every sphere of life under the injunctions of Islam,” he maintained. In Maulana Sufi Muhammad’s interpretation of Islam, music is strictly prohibited and source of all sins, and it is expected that the Taliban will now further intensify their campaign against music and singers.

Transforming cultural values

“They want to transform local cultural values. The future is bleak for singers and music lovers,” said Zafar Yousafzai, a political analyst based in Islamabad, adding that music has now died in the Swat valley which was once a valley of music, melodies and dances and a great seat of learning in liberal arts.

The capacity that some people have for making the lives of others supremely miserable in the name of religion never ceases to amaze.

My tweet lord

You know the leaders of the Deluded Herd are getting desperate when they actually catch up with the latest, street-credible, cool thing to do.

A few decades ago it was vicars on motorbikes. A few days ago we had a vicar on rollerblades – see Rolling in the aisles.

Now the flock are being told to tweet. For the uninitiated, that’s what you do on one of the newest of those social networking whatnots on the Interweb thing, Twitter. (We have Twitter updates in our sidebar, which also allow us to précis our last ten posts – handy, really.)

Anyway, I read on the BBC’s news website that a cardinal in Ireland is asking his flock to tweet a prayer.

“Make someone the gift of a prayer through text, Twitter or email every day,” says the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Republic, Sean Brady.

But is the Lord going to be happy with a mere tweet? Aren’t we in danger of incurring his considerable wrath by dismissing his Word in a mere 140 characters?

Mind you, it opens up all kinds of possibilities, doesn’t it? Imagine if all the hot air religionists spout could be contained in just 140 characters.

On the Today programme, Thought for the Day could be performed in two seconds while anchor John Humphrys merely clears his throat for the next proper item.

Interviews with the obligatory churchmen at times of national mourning could be out of the way before you can reach for the TV remote.

“Well, Bishop Prong, how do you view today’s events?”

“Well, I'd just like to say that we in the church know that, in the goodness of his heart, God our merciful father, who moves in mysterious—”

“Thank you, Bishop. Finance news now, and . . .”

You can soon use up your 140 characters on Twitter, as anyone who’s used it will testify. I managed to squeeze the Lord’s Prayer into:

Our Dad, wot’s in Heaven, hallowed name, thy will be done, give us some bread today, forgive stuff, it’s your kingdom, Big Man, ever, amen.

And that’s without shortening words, and it includes my final full stop, and I have one character spare. Oh, I had to leave out the “lead us not into temptation bit”, but, hey, what’s left in life if you can’t succumb to a bit of temptation?

Monday, 27 April 2009

More kowtowing to Islamic lunacy

Let’s give a big round of applause to Lisa Ashton.

She was an air stewardess and was told that when visiting Saudi Arabia she had to wear a bin bag and walk behind male colleagues, even though it is quite legal not to do so.

She refused. She told her employer, BMI, to stuff its job right up its cargo hold. She’d been offered alternative flights, but that would have meant a hefty pay cut.

Why should she have to accept a pay cut as an alternative to bowing to the repressive customs of a backward country?

She lost her case at an industrial tribunal in Manchester, UK, when it ruled that there was no evidence that women would regard BMI’s requirements on wearing the abaya – a body-length piece of dignity-destroying cloth – and walking behind men as “placing them under any disadvantage”.


There’s the disadvantage to her status as a human being for starters. The disadvantage to her dignity. The disadvantage to all employees of companies that have dealings in that benighted Islamic state, who could be told by their money-grabbing employers – totally lacking in balls – to conform to the lunacy.

I like – or, rather, don’t like – the way the Telegraph in the above linked-to story refers to Saudi Arabia as “conservative”. The word, in relation to Islam, is used as if we were meant to infer a bit of eccentricity that we must indulge.

Bollocks! It’s repressive. It’s ugly. It’s demeaning. It’s contumelious. It’s debasing and degrading. It’s all of these things, not just “conservative”!

Anyway, 37-year-old Ashton says she may now seek a judicial review of the decision. Knowing the tendency of officialdom to kowtow to Islam, though, she probably won’t get anywhere.

She’s not even getting support from her union, it seems. This is what the Telegraph says:

She was earning £15,000 a year and flying to India, the Caribbean and the United States from her base in Manchester but was horrified to read details of the regulations for staff working on the new route.

Staff were given abayas and required to wear them when leaving the aircraft.

A document circulated to staff said: “It is expected that female crew members will walk behind their male counterparts in public areas such as airports no matter what rank.”

Miss Ashton, a practising Christian, was advised by union officials that the abaya was considered part of the uniform and she could face disciplinary action if she did not wear it.

Why isn’t her union fighting for her? Or is it? The story doesn’t say. But the use of the word advised suggests that the union told her not to rock the boat.

If so, is this what trade unions have come to in this country? Why isn’t it flying the flag for equality and for Lisa Ashton?

Countering the bullshit

Well, they can’t say they haven’t been asking for it.

There could well be a counter to enforced religion in British schools, if an organisation backed by Professors A C Grayling, the philosopher, and Richard Dawkins, the biologist, is a success.

According to the UK’s Telegraph, atheists are “targeting schools” in a campaign to challenge “Christian societies, collective worship and religious education”.

The way it is worded by Jonathan Wynne-Jones, the Telegraph’s religious affairs correspondent, is indicative of criticism, as if this countermeasure against brainwashing were an all-out assault with Scuds and tanks and AK-47s in every school playground and on every college campus.

I may be wrong (and he does quote the nontheist side in his piece), but why does he have to say “targeting schools”? If they’re about giving an alternative to the religious indoctrination that’s aimed at school pupils, of course they’ll target schools. What does he think they’ll do? Target branches of the National Secular Society?

The organisation is called the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (AHS). The paper says:

The federation aims to encourage students to lobby their schools and local authorities over what is taught in RE lessons and to call for daily acts of collective worship to be scrapped. It wants the societies to hold talks and educational events to persuade students not to believe in God.

Chloë Clifford-Frith, AHS co-founder, said that the societies would act as a direct challenge to the Christian message being taught in schools.

She expressed concern that Christian Unions could influence vulnerable teenagers looking for a club to belong to with fundamentalist doctrine.

Is that phrase “to persuade students not to believe in God” in the federation’s articles or rules? Somehow I doubt it. I suspect – though may be wrong – that this wording is that of Jonathan Wynne-Jones, who is, after all, writing for a right-wing, Establishment, pro-religion newspaper.

In particular, says Clifford-Frith, some students are being told that homosexuality is a sin and that they should believe the Biblical account of creation.

“We want to point out how silly some of these beliefs are and hope that these groups will help to do that,” she said.

The Telegraph says the number of groups reported by the AHS to be active on campuses has risen from seven in the 2007/8 academic year to twenty-five in 2008/9, including societies at the universities of Oxford and Durham.

Of course, the religionists are taking it all in their stride and welcoming the chance of debate. Not! Well, not if this claim is true:

Leeds Atheist Society claims to have experienced discrimination, vandalism, theft and death threats from religious groups on campus, who oppose the open expression of an atheist viewpoint and blasphemy.

The paper quotes Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute as saying, “Atheists are becoming increasingly militant in their desperate attempts to stamp out faith. It is deeply worrying that they now want to use children to attack the Christian ethos of their schools.”

You can’t help but feel sorry for anyone who can utter this drivel and believe it. What Calvert and his ilk can’t see is the irony of the phrase “they want to use children”. What, Mr Calvert, the way religionists use children all the time, right from baptising them without their consent at the age of a few days or weeks, to indoctrinating them with fairy stories as truth right from an early age in schools?

That sort of using children?

And "use children to attack" Christianity? Is that what these societies are about: attack? Not just providing a means for like-minded pupils and students to resist the brainwashing?

I doubt very much that atheists and agnostics and freethinkers on school and college campuses are going to disrupt religious groups. If they do, then they’re bang out of order. All groups should have the right to hold gatherings and believe what they wish to believe – religious groups included.

Presumably, these societies of nonbelievers want there to be debate and an opportunity for young people to feel they’re getting support if they want to rid themselves of fantastical stories about sky fairies told as fact.

As things stand, most nontheist schoolkids are pretty much on their own. If they have a school society they can belong to, they can counter religious nonsense in their schools with whatever means are open to them – such as (in the case of some sixth-formers) opting out of religious indoctrination or (in the case of younger kids) putting pressure on their mums and dads to write letters telling the schools to excuse their offspring from religious assemblies and the like.

Having such a society on campus or within schools’ societies and clubs will, or should, make some pupils curious. Provided no one forces anyone to do anything against his or her will, all should be well.

And get this:

In a further development to strengthen the role of atheism among the younger generation, the first summer camp for irreligious children or the children of nontheistic parents is being held this summer.

Not “questioning” or “nontheist” or “freethinking”, note, but “irreligious”, which means hostile to religion or indifferent to it. But the use of that word in this context suggests that irreligion is somehow a break from some norm, rather than the default position that we find ourselves in at birth: i.e. with no religion.

So what are the Deluded Herd worried about? Do they fear that their emperor’s new clothes will be seen for what they are: a figment of the imagination? Is their “faith” not strong enough to equip them with the wherewithal to argue their corner?

Religion has been an organised force for a long time. Nonbelief is now organising itself, and, because it will have to argue from reason and not from blind faith in impossible phenomena, it will have a good chance of honing itself into a formidable opponent.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

None so blind . . .

There’s some nice impartial reporting by Britain’s right-wing tabloid Mail in evidence today when it talks of a £50,000-a-year teacher who complained that a visiting speaker wanted to make a point about how ideas of sexuality are embedded in our minds.

At least that’s what I think the speaker was trying to get over when she asked the assembled teachers she was speaking to why they thought heterosexuality was the norm.

But she was not prepared for Kwabena Peat, a self-confessed Christian at Park View Academy, a large secondary comprehensive in Tottenham, which he joined three years ago.

He thought Sue Sanders – founder of the long-established gay teachers’ organisation Schools Out – was going too far, and wrote a letter to some colleagues. But they thought he was going too far in that they felt harassed and intimidated, and he was suspended.

Without seeing his letter or hearing just what was said in that seminar, it’s hard to know who’s right and who’s wrong – if, indeed, it can be expressed in such black-or-white terms.

But it seems that Sanders, who’s an out lesbian, was speaking during an In-Service Education and Training (INSET) day, during which staff were required to attend a session on child-protection issues. These issues, as you would expect, concern, inter alia, bullying.

And what sort of bullying do we get in schools? Homophobic bullying, of course (among other types of unacceptable behaviour). The £850 training session, says the Mail on Sunday, was organised by Chrysalis, a training team that specialises in diversity.

Sanders, aged 62, who founded Schools Out in 1974, asked why people thought heterosexuality was the norm. Reasonable question, one would have thought, because it would get people thinking and examining their own entrenched views. Perhaps they hadn’t thought of it before, and maybe such a question would cause them to look at themselves. It’s by carrying out exercises like this that we can get into the minds of others (bullies, perhaps?) and question why they do what they do.

After all, open-mindedness is about examining things that you might hold dear, and daring to ask whether there are aspects of them that you have hitherto not addressed. If you don’t open your mind, you don’t stand a chance of seeing into the mind of the aggressor whose behaviour you are trying to understand and, ultimately, curb. But there are, as the saying goes, none so blind as those who don’t want to see.

The Mail on Sunday says:

Mr Peat said he had expected her merely to provide information to help teachers handle homophobic bullying, but she had gone much further.

“She started promoting homosexual lifestyles and suggesting those who had objections should sort out their prejudices. She said, ‘What makes you all think that to be heterosexual is natural?’ It was at that point I walked out.”

In a statement last night, headteacher Alex Atherton said: “An allegation of intimidation and harassment is currently being investigated.”

Ms Sanders said her training sessions were designed to “raise awareness”.

And that, dear reader, is all the Mail on Sunday thinks is worth giving of Sanders’s point of view, which is why I use the world impartial ironically in my intro. Had she refused to talk to the paper? If she had, they would have said so. Indeed, they would have rejoiced in the fact: Gay-promoting lesbian refuses to talk to media, shock, horror! So we can only assume there were quotes aplenty, or opportunity aplenty to gather them, but that the paper didn’t bother to use them or get them in the first place.

And note the point at which Peat decided to leave the seminar: “She [Sanders] said, ‘What makes you all think that to be heterosexual is natural?’ It was at that point I walked out.”

Oh, dear! Perhaps he perceived that his manhood would be put into question if he actually dared to open himself up to the idea that maybe he should consider that neither homo- nor heterosexuality is the norm, but both are natural.

I’m not suggesting he’s a closet or repressed gay, only that he maybe feels that merely owning to believing that neither version of sexuality is “right” could in some way compromise his image of himself.

Then we get this: Peat, says the Mail on Sunday, was one of “several Christian staff” (my emphasis) who walked out of this session, “after an invited speaker questioned why people thought heterosexuality was natural”.

And not just a Christian in Peat’s case, but an Afro-Caribbean Christian – and they tend to belong to fundamentalist churches that hate gays. Does he belong to such a church? Dunno, but my money’s on it.

So either his manhood or his delusions were perceived to be under threat if he dared to rethink his entrenched attitudes towards homosexuality. It doesn’t matter which. It amounts to bigotry.

Peat is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, which is a right-wing, rabidly homophobic outfit that takes up cases of homophobes who fall foul of more enlightened views.

Whether with its services or just its moral support, it can usually be found speaking up for bigots such as Gary McFarlane and Lillian Ladele, a counsellor and registrar, respectively, who found their prejudices got in the way of their doing the job they were being paid to do.

Freedom of speech? In the West? Don't make me laugh!

Incursions into our freedom of speech and expression don’t happen all at once. They come in ones, sometimes in bits, building into a whole. They come at irregular intervals. Sometimes they’re overshadowed by other news that the media deem more important. Sometimes they're spun by shoddy, dishonest politicians of the NuLabour variety as something that is good for us.

But suddenly we realise that they're building up into a veritable Chieftain tank of oppression that surges through the streets of our culture, mowing down and crushing all that stands before it.

So I make no apologies for bringing your attention to an article in Australia’s Brisbane Times from a little while ago – 16 April – that brings a few of them together.

We often think we’re so, so free in the West to say what we like (with the usual caveats concerning defamation and shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theatre when there isn’t a wisp of smoke in sight).

But this article reminds us of such notorious infringements as the banning of the Dutch politician and filmmaker Geert Wilders from the UK and the police harassment of and threats against of a 15-year-old youth who dared to hold up a sign in London saying Scientology was a dangerous cult.

The article also cites Brigitte Bardot, who was

convicted last June of “inciting religious hatred” for a letter she wrote in 2006 to the then interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, saying that Muslims were ruining France. It was her fourth criminal citation for expressing intolerant views of Muslims and homosexuals.

If I, on a blog such as this, can say I have no problem with her criticising homosexuals, surely Muslims and those who seek to protect their overrated sensitivities can find it in themselves to accept criticism of religion.

Islam deserves to be criticised, and that’s why it gets it in the neck so often on blogs such as this one. Christianity, too, deserves to be criticised when it’s being particularly shitty, as it often is when wielded by Catholics and fundies and hate-filled Anglican bishops.

And Bardot’s conviction was for writing a letter to Sarkozy, not marching down the street baying for the blood of Muslims and gays and inciting people to do violence to them.

The article then talks of the UN resolution against “defaming” religion:

Emblematic of the assault is the effort to pass an international ban on religious defamation, supported by the United Nations General Assembly President, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann. Brockmann is a suspended Roman Catholic priest who served as Nicaragua’s foreign minister in the 1980s under the Sandinista regime, the socialist government that had a penchant for crushing civil liberties.

The UN resolution is backed by countries such as Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive nations when it comes to the free exercise of religion. Blasphemers there are frequently executed. Most recently, the Government arrested the author Hamoud Bin Saleh simply for writing about his conversion to Christianity.

Islam again, of course. It’s a religion that still has its zits and its adolescent angst, and ought to grow up (or preferably just disappear).

And there’s more:

In May 2008, Dutch prosecutors arrested the cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot over a cartoon that caricatured a Christian fundamentalist and a Muslim fundamentalist as zombies who meet at an anti-gay rally and want to marry.

Last September, Italian prosecutors investigated the comedian Sabina Guzzanti for joking about Pope Benedict XVI: “In 20 years, [he] will be dead and will end up in hell, tormented by queer demons, and very active ones.”

Just what has got into the West and its authorities? Why is the Western world becoming so Orwellian?

It’s disturbing, and one day there will be bloodshed. Those who stamp on freedom of expression may just find themselves being denied one of their own freedoms – the freedom to live.

It’s not a scenario one wishes to see. But there’ll come a breaking point, and the first to suffer could well be those whom Draconian laws against “defaming” religion and against breaking the rules of political correctness seek to protect: religionists.

They will be the scapegoats, even if they’re innocent of any lawmaking. If Islam, for instance, is seen as the problem, then anyone with a dark skin will be targeted by the thugs of the far Right.

The fact that many who dislike the tenets of Islam are also racist will not help. Far too often even now, those who justifiably criticise Islam for its oppression of women, its treatment of homosexuals and the tendency of so many of its blind followers to moan and whinge and whine at every opportunity are accused of racism (usually by the likes of Islamophobiawatch, the risible, pathetic excuse for a blog – a blog that is too afraid to allow readers to leave comments).

But I digress – though only to draw your attention to one particularly obnoxious blog that seems to be campaigning against freedom of speech in the West.

Have a gander at the Brisbane Times article (which is reproduced from the Washington Post), written by Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University.

Under the headline In turning against free speech, Western nations turn against their citizens, it makes sobering reading.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Rolling in the aisles

It’s good when figures in the community do odd things. There’s this vicar from Bowden, near Altrincham, Cheshire, who put on a pair of rollerblades in his church and sallied forth up the aisle to make the congregation stare in goggle-eyed astonishment.

According to a story in the Telegraph, the Rev. Roger Preece did it to cause the sort of astonishment that would have been on the faces of those who witnessed Jesus’s purported resurrection.

But it’s just a stunt. It doesn’t get people thinking about how astonished they’d be if they saw a corpse walking: it just gets them thinking how astonished they are to see a vicar on rollerblades.

He tells the Telegraph of a parishioner who stopped him while he was walking in the park and said, “Why are you walking? You should be on your roller skates!” Preece adds, “It’s got everyone in the area talking.”

Yes, about a vicar on rollerblades.

It won’t have people going about saying, “Ooh, I know how the Marys felt now when they saw His Nibs strolling about. I know how Doubting Thomas felt now when the Big Man convinced him he’d actually risen from the dead.”

No, they’ll be going about saying, “I saw the vicar on rollerblades.”

OK, Roger, it’s was a nice stunt; raised a laugh; got a few people talking (about a vicar on rollerblades); got some publicity for your church. But come on! Don’t try to tell us people will think of some divine zombie, because they won’t.

They’ll think of a vicar on rollerblades.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Human rights or Islamic sensitivities?

So much for some human-rights activists, it seems, if this piece by Wayne Besen is anything to go by.

Readers of our print issues of Gay & Lesbian Humanist (for the online issues, see the sidebar) will remember Wayne Besen as the author of a book called Anything But Straight, and you can see his websites here and here, and read his own G&LH article about the “ex-gay” movement here.

In a disturbing article in the online Falls Church News Press, Besen takes to task one Scott Long, director of the LGBT programme at Human Rights Watch, who seems to think that gays should rein in their natural desires and their universal human right to be what they are in order to appease Muslim sensitivities.

After writing about all kinds of disturbing and atrocious stuff concerning the treatment of gays in Burundi, Iraq, Uganda, Nigeria and others, Besen says:

Unfortunately, the GLBT community is not currently up to meeting the new global challenges. Passive and overly cautious bureaucrats staff some of our leading human rights organizations. They are good at reporting violence, but not very effective at countering it.

Even more disturbing, they sometimes serve as apologists in the name of cultural and religious sensitivity. Exhibit A is Scott Long, director of the GLBT program at Human Rights Watch. In the publication Contemporary Politics he lashed out at some of the world’s top gay activists and chided them for demanding that Muslims actually respect the right of GLBT people to exist.

“The incessant insistence that Muslim communities accede to the political agenda of LGBT identities actually forecloses politics altogether,” Long wrote. “It fences off the arena of shared interests . . .”

So, in other words, GLBT people should put their human rights on the backburner to assuage the grievances of religious people. We should also not act on our own behalf until all of the world’s problems are solved.

Quite. This puts me in mind of marching in the seventies and with us were some members of this or that Left-wing organisation (Workers for This or That, or the Socialist Something or Other), one of whose (prominent) members said of gay rights, more or less, “Wait till the revolution, brothers.” No, not the exact wording, but you get the drift. Let’s put gay rights on the backburner for now because, come the revolution, we’ll sweep away all oppression.

Oh, yeah?

Now, if Besen is reporting accurately – and he’s an experienced journalist who’s been reporting on gay matters for years, so we’re apt to give him the benefit of any doubt – we get so-called human-rights activists saying that, when it comes to what should be universal human rights and dignity, all humans are equal, but some humans are more equal than others.

Besen is not entirely pessimistic, though:

Fortunately, there are a growing number of GLBT activists who will no longer allow culture, history or religion to be employed as a rationalization for homophobia. We do not believe that a state’s sovereignty enables it to brutalize and marginalize gay people within its borders.

Earlier in the article – while writing about gay rights in various countries – Besen has this to say of Burundi, where, in March, tens of thousands of people demonstrated to outlaw homosexuality:

This destitute nation is the kind of place that you may have seen in late-night infomercials where flies buzz around the lips of starving children. Eighty percent of Burundi’s population lives in poverty. Famines and food shortages have occurred and the World Food Program reports that 56.8 percent of children under age five suffer from chronic malnutrition. Yet, the good citizens of Burundi have time to chant and hold signs demanding the imprisonment of homosexuals.

He also talks of the reports from Iraq that we reported on yesterday. Do read the article. It’s worth five or ten minutes or your time.

Ex-gay? Can't be done, say shrinks

Some shrinks think that so-called “treatments” for being gay are a crock, according to this BBC story.

No surprise there, then.

A bunch of freaks who believe it’s possible to “cure” homosexuality are, as we reported earlier this week (see also here), holding their freak show, er, conference at the Emmanuel Centre in Marsham Street, London, which is expected to be picketed by gay-rights activists.

The Beeb story says:

The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) said there was no evidence that the treatment worked, and that it was likely to cause considerable distress.

An RCP spokesman said: “There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.

“Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.”

The Royal College said the American Psychiatric Association had concluded there was no scientific evidence that homosexuality was a disorder and removed it from its diagnostic glossary of mental disorders in 1973.

The World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases followed suit in 1992.

The event, says the BBC, “will hear from prominent American psychologist Dr Joseph Nicolosi who said he had helped many people to become heterosexual”.

Yeah, and the Pope shags gay porn stars. It’s a bit like saying you can cure tallness by anything other than amputation at the knee.


Related link: "The ex-gay movement"

Questions of interpretation

There’s some sense coming out of Scotland on the question of Christianity and sexuality.

Muriel Armstrong has for 15 months been acting editor of the official magazine of the Church of Scotland (or the “Kirk”), Life and Work. Her last editorial says the Kirk should accept homosexuality, and that homosexuality is not outlawed in the Bible.

The Scottish newspaper the Herald says:

Accusing such believers of being selective in their readings, she writes: “What is clear to the lay-person is that not everything Biblical is Christ-like. Every student of the Bible is a selective literalist.

“Those who swear by the anti-homosexual laws in the Book of Leviticus wouldn’t publicly advocate slavery or stoning women taken in adultery.

They presumably no longer accept Biblical teaching on sexual matters such as polygamy and sex with slaves.”

There are some humanists who believe that a true Christian must take the Bible literally (in other words, if you're truly a Christian you're ipso facto a homophobe); others (humanists and religionists) will take a more pragmatic approach and say it’s a set of scriptures for guidance, and that matters of today must be seen in a different cultural, social and scientific light from how they were viewed several millennia ago.

But, if selective interpretation goes towards removing one of the main sources of homophobia – religion – then such articles as Armstrong's can be only a good thing.

“The matter has been brought to the fore by the case of a popular Aberdeen clergyman who is the subject of a bitter divide in church leaders’ thinking,” says the Herald.

He’s the Rev. Scott Rennie, who’s open about his sexuality and has a male partner, and has been “overwhelmingly backed by the congregation of Queen’s Cross Aberdeen to be their minister”.

The story continues, “The Presbytery then sustained the appointment by a majority of 60 votes to 20, but dissenters have taken their case to the General Assembly.”

And that vote could be deeply divisive. But Armstrong writes, “Maybe it’s time for the Kirk to lead the way, to be true to its reforming character, as it has done over many issues over decades and centuries.

However, it’s notable that the Kirk says the magazine is its own baby and does its own thing, and a senior spokesman has distanced the Kirk from Armstrong’s words.

The Rev. Ian Galloway, convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council, tells the paper, “Life and Work is an editorially independent magazine and the views that are expressed by the editor are hers.

“They don’t represent any official line of the Church. The Church does not have a particular view, and there are different views within the Church of Scotland.”

Which sounds like me to be a way of saying Armstrong can say what she wants, but we don’t like poofs, thank you very much, Muriel, and goodbye.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Homophobic depravity in Iraq

This is very disturbing. Well, all persecution of sexual minorities is disturbing, but you’ll need a strong stomach for this.

An article on the American gay site tells how homophobic, sadistic Iraqi militant scum are gluing gay men’s arseholes together and then forcing them to take a diarrhoea-inducing drink, leading to their deaths.

The website had already bemoaned the fact that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quiet on the subject of Iraqi gays. The figures there make disquieting reading: 600 documented murders of Iraqi gays since 2005.

“And yet,” says first-linked article above, “while the US spends billions every month on Iraqi operations, there’s no attention, let alone resources, going toward defending these folks.”

The site translates a piece from Al Arabiya, which says:

A prominent Iraqi human rights activist says that Iraqi militia have deployed a painful form of torture against homosexuals by closing their anuses using “Iranian gum.” . . . Yina Mohammad told that, “Iraqi militias have deployed an unprecedented form of torture against homosexuals by using a very strong glue that will close their anus.”

According to her, the new substance “is known as the American hum [sic], which is an Iranian-manufactured glue that if applied to the skin, sticks to it and can only be removed by surgery. After they glue the anuses of homosexuals, they give them a drink that causes diarrhea. Since the anus is closed, the diarrhea causes death.

“Videos of this form of torture are being distributed on mobile cellphones in Iraq.”

According to this human rights activist, for the past 3 weeks a crackdown on homosexuals has been going on based on a religious decree that demands their death; dozens have been targeted. She says that the persecution of homosexuals is not confined to the Shiite clerics. Some Sunni leaders have also declared the death penalty for sodomy on satellite channels.

As you see, not just homophobic, sadistic Iraqi militant scum, but homophobic, sadistic Iraqi militant scum doing it in the name of religion. says on another page, “President Barack Obama and Sec. of State Hillary Clinton have made no indication these atrocities are even on their radar. But our radar is blip-bloop-BLEEPING with this shit.”

It then goes on to present an interview with Ali Hili, leader of the UK-based organisation Iraqi LGBT.

There’s plenty to read on that site. I’ve given three links above, but each story has several more.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Protesting too much, methinks

Connecticut Senate could vote today to ratify a State Supreme Court ruling overturning a state ban on same-sex marriage. In other words, same-sex marriage could soon become legal there.

What it would do is simply codify the court’s ruling that laws preventing same-sex marriage are in breach of the state’s Constitution. So far, so good.

But the religious types, predictably, don’t want that.

However, just take a look at their “argument”, as set out in a piece on the state’s website:

In full-page newspaper ads, phone-call campaigns to legislators and letters read to parishioners in churches across the state, opponents of the bill – already approved by the Judiciary Committee and awaiting action on the Senate calendar – have charged that it would infringe on the religious freedom of those who oppose letting gay and lesbian couples wed.

Let’s just get this right: it would curb the freedom of nutters to curb the freedom of same-sex couple who wish to marry? Have I understood this?

The bigots say the law doesn’t have exemptions to allow other bigots – if they happen to be, say, florists, banqueting facilities, that sort of thing – to refuse services to same-sex couples.

Yet these people are presumably allowed to practise their trade on the basis of fairness to all, within the law. If same-sex marriage is within the law – which it’s thought it will be – why should they be allowed to discriminate? They would soon be hauled before some court or other if a white trader refused to serve a black person, or vice versa.

There’s also the fear expressed by a bishop, Michael Cote, that the legislation “repeals the provision in current law that protects our children from government indoctrination in sexual lifestyles . . . that are contrary to our beliefs”.

What sort of “indoctrination” does he have in mind? Does the state government plan full-page ads in boys’ comics saying, “Hey, guys, get yourself a boyfriend – it’s cool!”? Or ads on TV asking eight-year-old girls if they fancy a bit of muff diving?

The bill already exempts clergy from officiating at gay marriages, if their twisted beliefs tell them they mustn’t perform such an evil act. What more do the bigots want?

Well I’ll tell you what they want. They want no same-sex marriage at all. They want no one to have homosexual desires. If anyone should have such desires, they want them to be prevented from expressing them, be that a kiss in the privacy of their own homes or a declaration of their orientation through a publicly recognised marriage.

Democrat Senator Andrew McDonald, from Stamford, is the co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a co-sponsor of the legislation, and he reckons that the church has a disproportionate focus on gay-rights issues, noting that there had not been similar efforts to mobilise the Deluded Herd behind less controversial measures.

Well, quite. The religious right and others of a fascistic persuasion among the religious (I’m thinking of Catholics and Muslims, but there are others) are obsessed by what people do with their naughty bits – totally obsessed.

Protesting too much? Yes, that question always comes to mind, doesn’t it?

Gay marriage = gun crime

It’s loony time again. Go on, have a laugh, and read this.

This story in Pink News says this chap Robert Peters, president an anti-porn group called Morality in Media, has worked out that the rise in the success of the so-called sexual revolution is inversely proportional to a decrease in morality.

His thesis? More gay marriage = more gun crime.

He’s in the United States, so you can make some allowances, because the Christian Right there is so – well, on the Right.

Predictably, he links the decline in morality with that of “the faith that so often undergirds it”.

So let’s see if we have this right. Faith down = morality down = sexual revolution up = gay marriage up = gun crime up.

Simple, really. Why didn’t I think of that before?

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Therapists in need of therapy – or are they laughing all the way to the bank?

“I found that reparative therapy and ex-gay ministry caused me more harm than good.”

So says Peter Toscano, who’s had some experience of the so-called ex-gay therapies that will be discussed at the conference this weekend that we blogged about yesterday.

There’s an interview with him in the online Pink News, in which he says:

When someone elects to go into one of these programs or treatments, typically they have lots of stuff going on in their lives that needs attention – depression, addiction issues, low self-esteem, family problems, unresolved abuse or trauma.

None of these things have to do with being gay, but in our society, and particularly in many churches, they teach that being gay is the cause of all these things. They are wrong, but still this is powerful message to a young impressionable mind.

Overall, I found reparative therapy to be destructive to my psyche, my spirituality, my career, relationships within my family, my finances and even my physical health.

I suspect regular readers of this blog will need no convincing that the “psychologist” and “psychiatrists” who believe in this stuff are in need of some help from saner colleagues in the same profession.

But perhaps these people don’t believe. They know that the world is so fucked up that there are a lot of desperate people who are made to feel so ashamed of themselves for being gay that they’ll part with hard-earned pounds and dollars for this crock of crap.

These charlatans and snake-oil pedlars are probably laughing all the way to the bank.

School’s out – again!

No wonder kids grow up dumb, can’t spell and use crap grammar. As if there weren’t enough days off for religious reasons, the Great and the Good now want to add more.

According to this Daily Mail story, festivals such as Eid, Ramadan and Diwali are an excuse for some local authorities to shut the schools for a day or more.

Staff won’t get the day off, because training days will be rearranged to coincide with these newly enforced holidays. But what of the staff who would wish to have time off for these festivals – Muslims, Sikhs and members of other variants of the Deluded Herd? Would they be forced to do their training days then? Seems unlikely.

Already, says the story, “Parents are legally entitled to take their children out of school for non-Christian festivals”.

Why? Why should they be allowed to take their children out of school for anything but emergencies, given that schooling is compulsory (something you may or may not agree with, but, for the moment, it’s there) for all kids?

Under this nonsense,

local authorities including Manchester, Oldham and Tower Hamlets in East London are granting schools permission to close for up to three days to cover holy days such as the Islamic festivals of Eid al Fitr and Eid ul Adha.

In guidance likely to be finalised in the summer, schools in some areas are being told they can consider closing for the day if 40 per cent of pupils are likely to be absent to observe a religious festival.

So the other 60 per cent of kids just get a day off? Or are the “holy” days to be “given back” by the pupils, who will have their summer holidays shortened? Doubt it.

More education lost, it seems – and all for religion. Yet another case for keeping it out of schools – indeed out of the public square – altogether. If kids are taken out of school for some religious festival, they should be deemed to be playing truant. If their parents are to blame, they should face the legal consequences.

Which may seem unfair, since Christians get time off for their bits of nonsense. However, that, while not being ideal, is historical, and our school system has been built around it.

If overnight we ceased to recognise the religious significance (for those who believe) of Easter and Christmas, those breaks from routine would no doubt continue (although it’s about time the Easter, or spring, break was held at the same time each year – say around the spring equinox).

So, given that we do need holidays at certain times of the year, what are now Christmas as a midwinter festival and Easter as a spring festival are as good times as any to celebrate and have some time off.

You may argue that two weeks or more at Christmas and Easter amount to too much time off for teachers and pupils, when they get six or seven weeks off in the summer, but that’s another argument.

The fact is that councils continue to arrange things around people’s superstitions, and there’s no telling where it will all end.

How to cure the heinous sin of homosexuality

Here’s one to picket, if you’re in London this coming weekend. Here’s the description of a conference called “Sex and the City”, subtitled “A Judaeo-Christian conference for all”. The venue was being kept a secret, but read on.

Ideal for clergy, rabbis, psychologists, therapists, educators and others concerned about the plethora of sexual issues confronting us in today’s society, including mentoring the sexually broken, the sexualization of culture, pornography, the Bible and sex, and marriage, the family and sex. There will be a special focus on how religious professionals and friends/relatives can respond biblically and pastorally to those struggling with unwanted SSA (same-sex attraction).

So the “conference for all” crap is just a blatant lie. It’s clearly for a twisted minority who think being gay is such a shitty thing to be that gay people should be forced to change.

Impossible, anyway: all they can do is suppress their desires – with all the shit that can bring into their lives. Lives that are already overflowing with guilt if they even consider that they need to subject themselves to the ministrations of monsters who believe in “ex-gay”.

One of the speakers is Joseph Nicolosi, whom Wikipedia describes thus:

Nicolosi has advocated and practiced reparative therapy, which claims to help people overcome or reduce unwanted homosexual feelings – the therapy is highly controversial as the American Psychiatric Association wrote in a 1998 position statement that it “opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as “reparative” or “conversion” therapy, which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder, or based upon a prior assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”

Another speaker is Jeffrey Satinover. This is what Wiki says of him:

Copies of his best-selling 1996 Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth were distributed to all bishops attending the 1998 Lambeth Anglican Communion Conference and his work is widely used and cited, and equally widely criticized, as one of the main modern sources supporting the view that homosexuality is a changeable, non-innate condition, though not a matter of choice.

A third speaker is Arthur Goldberg, whom the website announcement of the conference by a group called Anglican Mainstream describes as “author of the just-released Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change”.

No balance, then? And this is a “conference”? Nope, it’s just a lot of people reinforcing each other’s idea that sexuality is fluid and can be tortured from one orientation to another. The website continues:

We are very worried about the continued progress of the gay – and in fact, the LGBT – agenda across the board in the UK. Social, cultural, political and religious sectors are all being targeted and most of them are capitulating. The ramifications for gay living are not confined to even these realms, however. As various gay commentators observe, gays have been the pioneers for new models of doing relationships and sex for the rest of us, especially among the young. Did you know? Though slightly optimistic, Channel 4’s 2007 How Gay Sex Changed the World is essentially correct. The LGBT contingent is but the first manifestation of a profound sexual sea change occurring today which will make the 1960s sexual revolution look tame. Given the present cultural endorsement and legal protection of these “orientations”, we will soon be in a situation where there is no turning back: the damage will be complete.

What “damage”? Where is the “damage”? Why are these debased, poisonous, vile people worried? Is it going to affect their lives? Are they going to find they’re forced into shagging others of the same sex? Are they going to be turned into paedophiles (something that so many raving idiots conflate with homosexuals)?

Are gays and lesbians going to take over the world and banish heterosexuality, just as these pernicious, malicious freaks want to banish homosexuality?

Just what is it to these grotesque individuals what others do with their choice portions and dangly bits? What they do with their relationships? How they conduct their lives?

In case you wish to spread the word and organise a picket, it’s on Friday and Saturday, 24 and 25 April, from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. The website says it’s at a “central London venue”, but we now know it’s at the Emmanuel Centre in Marsham Street, London SW1P 3DW.

“We are not publicizing this [venue] because we have no desire to have the conference ruined by unhappy gay activists etc.,” a conference coordinator, Lisa Nolland, said in an email to a UK Gay News reader, who passed it on to the online outlet.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Byron the beak buggers off

We reported more than a year ago on the Welsh magistrate who said gays were paedophiles, and agreed not to sit while an inquiry was held into his publicly proclaimed views.

Now, I’m glad to report, the bigoted twit has resigned.

The magistrate, Byron Butler, was stopped in the street the by former Steps singer Ian (“H”) Watkins, who was making a programme for an edition of BBC Wales’s Week In, Week Out about his experiences while growing up gay in the Welsh Valleys.

When this arsehole was asked by “H” about his views, he said, “I think probably it’s a suspicion of the mainstream that they [gays] perhaps will interfere with young people and so on, and that’s historically been the case.

“That is the danger. Paedophiles, not necessarily, but they do, don’t they? That’s the reality.”

The community is better off without pillocks like Mr Byron bloody Butler, thank you very much.

Quiet Voice raised against McSpringer

Satisfying to see that the nutters who can’t tell their art from their arseholes didn’t so much as cause a dent in the impact of a Scottish showing of Jerry Springer: The Opera last night.

The Tayside and Fife newspaper the Courier tells us that a few – around twenty – members of that fine, rational, freethinking body Christian Voice (which is fronted by Stephen “Birdshit” Green) held a “peaceful protest” at St Andrews, where a student drama group are staging the musical.

That was nineteen better than the protest on the opening night: just one lonely member of Christian Voice turned up.

He was Dr Charles Ferguson, a lecturer, who handed out leaflets and told anyone willing to listen, “This show degrades Jesus and it is offensive and blasphemous. The Lord’s name is taken in vain and it degrades his person.”

A bit like those people who complained about what a character said in Coronation Street, these people feel that characters in dramas have the same clout as real people – and, even if they did, so what? We all have opinions and are entitled to express them. And Jerry is even further removed from reality in that, not only do characters do the “blaspheming”, but they do so at an even further remove: said characters are in a dream sequence, not the main plot of the piece.

But thank goodness for these Christian Voice types. Such dipshits give us such entertainment.

(Hat tip: Freethinker.)

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Bangle wrangle – counting the cost

The bangle wrangle we were reporting on last year has cost the British school at the centre of it a cool two hundred grand. That’s the price of religion when it gets uppity and claims special status.

As you can see from this story from last autumn – and those linked to in it – a Sikh girl at a Welsh school insisted on her “right” to wear a bangle when the school’s policy was against it.

That school policy, which allowed only ear studs and watches, affected all pupils, not just this one. But, you see, this was a religious piece of jewellery – and the High Court ruled in favour of the pupil, thereby ruling in favour of superstitious nonsense. The girl does not have to wear a bangle, simple as that.

Now the Express tells us that, as well as the £200,000 legal bill,

education bosses have been ordered to pay the student banned from wearing the Sikh Kara bangle damages believed to be at least five figures.

Aberdare Girls’ School, in Aberdare, Wales, is reeling from the bill, which includes an invoice from human rights group Liberty, who brought the case on behalf of Sarika Watkins-Singh, 15.

The school’s own legal fees top £76,000.

The row began when Watkins-Singh was excluded from the school earlier in the year for refusing to remove the bangle. The school denied any racial discrimination.

Well that was because there was no racial discrimination. The bangle seems to be something that followers of a particular belief system insist that they have to wear.

All the more reason for kicking religion out of the public square – and that means schools – except as something to learn about, as a valid academic subject. It just causes problems – and costs money.

A TaxPayers’ Alliance spokesman, Mark Wallace, is quoted in the Express story as saying, “This case means a headache for the taxpayer, who will ultimately be forced to stump up.

“This just emphasises the need for schools to be given full control of their rules and regimes without risk of politically correct enforcement. The problem in this case arose because of interference from other parties.”

Other parties that used their political correctness in pursuit of a policy of appeasing the Deluded Herd.

Rolling back rampant Islam? At what price?

A month ago, my blog colleague Diesel B dared to hope that the tide was turning against rampant Islam, when the British High Court acknowledged that a campaign by two pushy Muslim governors to give Islam a greater presence in a state school had played a key part in forcing a successful head teacher from her job.

Now we learn that the teacher, Erica Connor, 57, the former head of the New Monument primary school in Woking, Surrey – who was forced to leave the school because of stress after she was scapegoated and accused of “Islamophobia” and won a compensation payout of over £400,000 because her employers failed to back her in the row – says she is unlikely to ever teach again.

Connor told BBC’s Radio 5 Live that the school had been faltering when she took over. She improved it and made it the second-most improved school in the country.

And this is the thanks she got.

The BBC website story tells us:

But from late 2003 her relationship with the school’s governors started to deteriorate.

Two Muslim governors claimed tensions existed between the school and the community, and Mrs Connor went on to face accusations of racism and Islamophobia.

At one point, a petition was circulated in the area against her. It contained, she said, “a very personal, vitriolic attack”.

“It was exceptionally distressing,” she said.

When she was accused of racism and “Islamophobia” – whatever that is – it attacked “the core of me: my values, my beliefs”.

So her county council – out pf political correctness, no doubt – bows to Islam by failing to give her support (ho hum, how many times have we seen this happening?) and what seems like a perfectly good teacher, doing a good job and making a silk purse from the proverbial sow’s ear finds herself on the scrapheap.

Because of what appears to be kowtowing instead of showing some testicular fortitude against the creeping menace, a woman has lost the job she loved and education has lost a good teacher.

This has come about because she’s lost confidence in her own ability.

The council has lodged an application to appeal against the High Court judge’s decision.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Is Tony Blair a Catholic?

So Tony Blair’s criticism of Ratzinger and his Holy Mafia has not gone down too well in the Reichstag in Rome. Surprise, surprise!

The former UK Prime Minister, who converted to Catholicism after his resignation, said the Vatican needed to rethink “entrenched” attitudes towards homosexuality, which, he said, are out of step with the feelings of most Catholics.

An article in the Catholics’ weekly mag, the Tablet, says that, once the news broke of Blair’s conversion to Catholicism, “it did not take long for some in the Church to raise doubts about whether Mr Blair could keep the promise he had made in the declaration of faith: ‘I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God.’ ”

And this is why the Catholic Church is either full of liars or full of Nazis. Well, the truth lies somewhere in between. Not all stick to these “rules”, clearly, and those who do cannot call themselves human beings in the sense of displaying human qualities of kindness and compassion. Indeed, they often display the morality of the sewer.

Those who don’t stick to them can’t call themselves Catholics, because they’ve broken the very promise that made them Catholics in the first place.

The Tablet piece says, “The question marks were caused by Mr Blair’s liberal views and his parliamentary record of voting well outside the boundaries of Catholic teaching on abortion, stem-cell research and civil partnerships, not to mention the invasion of Iraq.”

Well, as one of Ratzinger’s generals, Monsignor Andrew Faley, assistant general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said, the profession of faith “does not mean we have to go over his past actions and ask him to explain them all again. The future starts here.”

OK, so Blair has now ceased to be a Catholic. Should he be excommunicated?`

After all, the mother of that little girl referred to in our “morality of the sewer” link above was excommunicated, and so were a group of medical staff, because they were complicit in, or performed, an abortion on a nine-year-old girl who was carrying twins and could have died if she’d gone to full term with the pregnancy.

Abortion is seen as a venal sin, and so is homosexuality. What’s sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander, shouldn’t it?

Friday, 17 April 2009

Fitna Mark II

Geert Wilders is going to make another film about Islam.

Thanks to Muslim moans, his previous one, Fitna, was guaranteed worldwide audiences, and the film has been placed on numerous blogs, including this one.

Fitna concentrated on the Islamic hate manual, the Koran. The new movie – which the Dutch politician hopes to complete next year – is expected to focus on the threat of Islam and the impact Islamisation has had on Europe and the United States.

It will also focus on the principle of free speech. As we’ve seen, our own NuLabour masters have shown their supine, gutless, pusillanimous spinelessness by banning Wilders from the UK when he was to have shown his film here – at the invitation of a member of the House of Lords (see also here).

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The Islam guide to bringing up your children

How do you ensure your kids become “good” Muslims? You beat the shit out of them, of course.

How do you deal with a recalcitrant daughter who chooses to wear skirts that show – oh, horror of horrors! – her knees?

You hire a killer to take her out.

OK, so not all Muslims act like this. But what makes those who choose to do it do it in the name of Islam?

Singer’s song of common sense

[S]uppressing the freedom of speech of Islam’s critics merely gives rise to the suspicion that evidence and sound argument cannot show their arguments to be mistaken.

Thus spake Peter Singer, author of the seminal work Animal Liberation, in the Guardian.

He makes as good a case as I have read for our right to criticise religion – to the point of defaming it, if necessary.

Religion itself cannot, of course, claim an infringement of human rights, because it isn’t a human being. To protect it under the heading of human rights is a nonsense. Provided no individual person is being defamed – such that libel or slander can be proven – then ideas are fair game.

It was, of course, the Muslims who wanted their benighted belief system protected. But, as Singer astutely points out with the quotation above, if they have nothing to hide, why try to stop their critics?

He goes on to say that, if they can prove that criticisms levelled at them are untrue, then that, and not suppressing free expression, is the way to refute such criticisms. This is how he puts it:

For example, the OIC [Organisation of Islamic Conference] said in its statement [to the UN] that “Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.” Are those associations wrong? If the OIC wishes to change many people’s perception that Islam violates human rights, suppressing freedom of speech is hardly the best way to go about it. The way to change such a perception would be to marshal evidence against it, and to make the case that human rights – including the rights of women – are as well protected in Islamic countries as they are in non-Islamic countries.

Hard to argue with that. But demanding, whining, whingeing, complaining Muslims (and that is not, let me state now, all of them) will continue to be appeased by the politically correct brigade and the shoddy and shabby politicians for whom there are votes to be had by keeping Muslims sweet.

Street cred

I know that not all people who watch the long-running British soap Coronation Street are thick, but some of them must be.

Why else would they complain that a character – not a real person, but a character – seems to be having a go at Christians, as we see from this Daily Express tale?

Viewers complained after Street veteran Ken Barlow, played by Bill Roache, said Christians forced their views on “vulnerable people”.

At one point Ken accused his grandson Simon’s school of indoctrinating him, before vowing to tell the youngster “the truth” about religion.

The regulator Ofcom has received “dozens of complaints”, says the story.

You can bet your bottom they’re all from Christians. One moron on the ITV1 message board said, “In case it has escaped the minds of the writers, producers and directors of this extremely popular programme, in the last census over 70 per cent of respondents claimed to have some Christian adherence.”

Your point being? Most people don’t like Hitler, but they don’t write to a film company if, say, Hermann Göring is depicted praising him in any given scene of a movie about him. They don’t write to the producers of a TV cop drama if the baddy is badmouthing the goody.

Ken Barlow is a character. Let’s just shout that a bit: Ken Barlow is a character – a CHARACTER.

Just like real people, characters in TV drama have opinions.

Another message read, “To choose this script on the most holy day in the Christian calendar is insulting and greatly offensive.”

Er, hang on a mo. Like most soaps, Corrie follows the calendar. Easter Sunday in the real world was also Easter Sunday in Coronation Street. Events in people’s lives tend to provoke comments on those events.

When Barlow said (and you can see another version of the story here on the BBC website) that Jesus’s rising from the dead “may not necessarily be true” and that scientists think the Big Bang created the universe, he was clearly saying this because the story was smack bang in the middle of a particular day in the Christian calendar.

And they’d all been to church. Isn’t it natural that people who do something then go on to talk about it?

Barlow said at another point, apparently, that he believed “children should be told the truth” and that Christianity was comforting because “that’s how they get their hooks into you, when you’re vulnerable”.

It's just conversation between characters, but crazy Christians can't stand it.

What are you people on? Go and get a life, FFS!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


I think I’m finding this a bit disturbing.

Pink News has the story of a “charity worker who revealed to a colleague that he did not believe in gay marriage or the ordination of gay clergy”, and has now been suspended from his job.

The story goes on:

Born-again Christian David Brooker, 44, who works as a hostel support worker in Southampton for the non-religious charity Society of St James, told co-worker Fiona Vardy about his beliefs but denied being homophobic.

Soon after the incident on 26th March, Mr Brooker received a suspension notice which was issued to “safeguard both residents and staff” following the “events that happened last night”.

An investigation and a disciplinary hearing have been ordered.

The Christian Legal Centre (CLC) have assigned a human-rights lawyer, Paul Diamond, to defend Brooker.

Now I don’t much like the CLC. Its director, Andrea Minichello Williams, is always bleating about something from a clearly right-wing, bigoted point of view.

This time, she said, “This case shows that in today’s politically correct, increasingly secularised society, even consenting reasonable discussion on religion between two employees is being twisted by employers to discriminate and silence the Christian voice and freedom of expression.”

I find it hard to dismiss that out of hand. Oh, the “secularised” bit, yes: she’s talking bollocks. Secularisation does not impede the expression of opinions. Anyway, plenty of believers are secular. It doesn’t mean having no morals or even no religion.

Where I find myself agreeing is on the question of Brooker’s being prevented from expressing an opinion. I don’t mind that people don’t agree with gay marriage, as long as that opinion isn’t translated into their work, if their work calls on them not to discriminate.

The story says that the Society of St James maintains that its action was based on Brooker’s decision to promote his religious views, “which contained discriminatory comments regarding a person’s sexual orientation”, at work.

Are we now to be prevented from expressing opinions at work? If so, well let’s ban all opinion, because any one opinion can, potentially, in some way, be deemed offensive by some people. A might not like B’s politics, may even find them abhorrent. Is B to be suspended because she expressed the opinion that, say, trade unions have too much power, that capital punishment should be reintroduced, that public football games should be banned because the fans are thugs, or that Gordon Brown is a pillock?

If by “promote his religious views” the society means that Brooker was shouting his views in a ranting sort of way and being insulting to colleagues and clients – gay or straight – that would be one thing (and we don’t know whether that is the case). However, if he’s conducting his work as it ought to be conducted, should he be prevented from having an opinion, and merely discussing it with a colleague?

That colleague might hold some equally bigoted views about other things.

This attempt to stifle people’s views is where I part company with a lot of humanists and others who think that matters of sexuality should never be talked about among colleagues if – heaven forfend! – one has a rather critical opinion about it. And especially if that opinion is informed by religion.

I don’t like opinion exclusively informed by religion, because I prefer people who think for themselves, freely and without the shackles and encumbrances of a body of opinion that, with the best will in the world, a person can subscribe to only some of.

Those who subscribe to all the tenets of, say, NuLabour, or the Tory Party, or the British Humanist Association, or the International Humanist and Ethical Union, or the Church of England, the Catholic Church or Islam is a moron.

Freethinkers will think freely, while obviously taking account of some of these tenets and filtering what they see as the good from what they perceive as the crap and the ineffectual. Most people who subscribe to an organisation will in most cases share most of its tenets with most of their fellows.

So why not brook Brooker’s bit of bigotry? At least he’s exposing himself to being talked out of it. If he kept it entirely to himself he might act on it without anyone’s knowledge, and so get away with a tweak here and an adjustment there to his work that disadvantages a client whose sexuality he feels uncomfortable with.

If we all had the same opinions about everything, the world would be a dull place, and there would be no debate.

But this is only my opinion, and I’m assuming I won’t be suspended for it.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Unfinished business

The world is about to end. Again!

This time it’s not because mosques are out of alignment. It’s all down to mobile phones.

I kid you not.

According to the Scotsman, an Indian Muslim organisation has issued a fatwa over mobile-phone etiquette.

Is this because the mobile phones are ringing out in the mosque in the middle of Friday prayers? No.

Are people texting when they should be praying? Nope.

Using their vibrate mode to induce an interesting sexual experience? No again.

Dying to know?

In the north Indian city of Kanpur, a panel of clerics from the Islamic group Jamia Ashraf-ul-Madaris has set new rules over using phones.

The panel objected to the use of aayats (verses from the Koran) as ringtones. It argues that people answer calls halfway through the aayat, leaving the verse incomplete.

Ghyasuddin, a senior cleric, said: “This kind of action amounts to a gunah [sin].”

So now you know. The verse is incomplete, so Allah will no doubt send his avenging angel to smite the guilty – and, we assume, their mobile phones.

Good job Christians haven’t cottoned onto this idea. You can just see the train carriage full of people getting calls on their mobiles – as so often happens – and they’re all sitting there waiting for the Lord’s Prayer to reach the “for ever and ever, amen” bit before they press the button and say, “Hello? I’m on a train.”

But it could be even worse: it could be the entire Decalogue or the Nicene Creed.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Web of deceit

Oh, dear! I think I’ve just had one of my childhood illusions shattered.
Spider-Man? Some sort of religious icon?

There to encourage kids to become priests and nuns?


And yet . . . and yet . . .

Oh, dear! I think I’m going to barf. Look! Even the comic we uncovered for our photo has our hero practising for the Crucifixion. This is worrying!

Scotland on Sunday told us yesterday that the Catholic Church in Scotland

has made the amazing claim that Spider-Man is an emissary of an even higher power.

They claim the superhero’s story has strong parallels with the gospel and that his selfless sacrifices and struggle against evil can even be compared to the life of Jesus.

As part of the annual Lentfest, run by the Archdiocese of Glasgow, children from Catholic schools were offered the chance to watch a special showing of the Hollywood adaptation of Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire.

The screening entitled Search for the Hero described the big-budget blockbuster as a “parable for our times” and organisers hoped the web-slinger’s travails would inspire youngsters to consider joining the priesthood or becoming nuns.

Oh, well, when you’re desperate for recruits, I guess you’ll try anything.

Yes, spandex-clad superheroes can be compared to some sort of world-saving messiah figure (if you’re that way inclined), but we don’t have to see them as Jesus figures. Anyway, JC didn't wear tights with his underpants outside them. And we know, for instance, that Clark Kent has had sex with Lana Lang (among others, no doubt) and has weaknesses (certainly in the Smallville series). Is Lang his Mary Magalene? Is Kryptonite his Pontius Pilate?

Anyway, the news story continues:

But Lentfest director Stephen Callaghan claimed the solid moral bedrock in the Spider-Man trilogy meant they ranked “among the most prominent spiritual films of our time”.

The film studies graduate said the films were infused by both overt and subtle nods to the Catholic faith.

He said: “As a trilogy there is absolutely no doubt that it explores Catholicism.

He’s a film-studies graduate, yes, but he’s also the director of this Lentfest thing. What else is he going to say? He’s casting around for meaning, as most of the Deluded Herd are. You can draw parallels with all sorts of things – and clutch at straws when belief in this stuff is dwindling in the UK and America.

I just hope I can forget about this story before I catch Spider-Man II next time it’s on the telly. It’s a bit like discovering that Batman is a child molester, or that Doctor Who is an axe murderer.

I really don’t want to think about this . . .

Sunday, 12 April 2009

The origins of Easter

Since its conception as a holy celebration in the second century, Easter has had its nonreligious side. In fact, Easter was originally a pagan festival. The ancient Saxons celebrated the return of spring with an uproarious festival commemorating Eastre, their goddess of the Spring and the Dawn.

The Easter Bunny is not a modern invention. The symbol originated with the festival of Eastre through her earthly symbol, the rabbit.

As it happened, the festival of Eastre occurred at the same time of year as the Christian observance of the Resurrection of Christ. It made sense, therefore, to alter the festival itself, to make it a Christian celebration as converts were slowly won over. The early name, Eastre, was eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter.

In pagan times, solar-gods and vegetation-gods were worshipped, with special mysteries to symbolise their death, the search for, and the finding of, their bodies, and their resurrection.

The Spring, or Vernal, Equinox was the period of the triumph and sacrifice of the Roman god Mithras. He was a vegetation-god as well as a sun-god, the two often being associated. A stone image was mourned, sepulchred in a rock tomb and, after an interval, restored as re-living. The same form was followed with the gods Osiris, Attis, Adonis and Dionysus.

As with the Easter Bunny and the holiday itself, the Easter Egg predates the Christian festival. Eggs have always symbolized life and regeneration and so have been used in fertility rites. After the long, hard winter was over, the earth burst forth and was reborn just as the egg miraculously burst forth with life. The egg, therefore, was believed to have special powers.

Of course, as with Christmas, committed Christians celebrate Easter as their unique festival but, given its pagan origins, there is no reason why others should not celebrate it as well.

Happy Spring Equinox!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Match of the day

The big match tomorrow will be Christians versus soccer fans (we often wish it were the Roman tradition of Christians versus lions, but you can’t have everything!) – and the religious types are up in arms about it.

They don’t want the UK’s Premier League to show what they claim is “disdain” for Christians by holding big games on Easter Sunday.

A number of bishops, according to the Daily Telegraph, say there will be chaos as Christians struggle to get to church.

Perhaps they have a point, but without knowing just how difficult it would be to get to church it’s hard to say, and it sounds a bit like a throwback to the Lord’s Day Observance Society.

One point the bishops raise is a valid one – even if not really relevant to their concerns for worshippers’ safety – and it’s this: why should the big shops, such as garden centres, not be allowed to open on Easter Sunday (just as they can’t on Christmas Day) while soccer matches (just as commercial) can go ahead?

I’m not one for defending religion just because it’s religion, but find myself agreeing with it on a point of fairness. No doubt they’d like to see no soccer and no garden centres. But why not the other way round: have both garden centres and soccer games?

One has to ask, though, why should these restrictions apply only at Easter and Christmas and not other days? In other words, why favour one activity – religion – over others merely by recognising the days religion holds as anniversaries of impossible events in a belief system that has outlived its worth as an explanatory model?

And what is it to the religionists whether garden centres can open or not, while 22 men kick a ball around a field? Why are they making this comparison if it’s the football games and churchgoers’ safety they’re worried about? How does the restriction on one outlet bolster their argument for restricting another?

Their main concerns, though, seem to be about elderly and disabled people who would want to go to church on Easter Sunday, but, if a soccer game is being staged near them, they may not be able to get out – or may feel too intimidated to do so.

We have to create safe space for everyone, and often the roads around soccer games are not all that safe – whether to the Deluded Herd or to others.

Oh, didn’t really mean that bit about the lions. Only the virulently bigoted and homophobic ones deserve that. Anyway, where can you find lions on a Sunday?