Friday, November 28, 2008
Thought for the Day
I got that from Dr Raymond Edwards' rather good CTS booklet on Catholic Traditionalism. He was writing in particular about the PXies (crazy name, crazy bunch) but it could equally apply to other groups with a very different worldview.
Johnnie and the Schismatics has quite a ring to it, doesn't it?
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Breaking News - SWP Sack John Rees
New Old Carols
While Shepherds watched their flocks by night
All seated on the ground
Some occupying soldiers came
And bulldozed all around
"Fear not", said one, for mighty dread (with descant)
Had seized their troubled mind
"We will not do you any harm
For we are good and kind
"We're forced to confiscate your land
To build ourselves a fence
To keep our people safe from all
Your people's violence
"Some fields will stay, although cut off
But access won't be banned
Yes, permits we will give to you
To visit your own land.
cont for 94 verses.
In the Bleak Midwinter
In the bleak midwinter
Refugees make moan
Olmert stands like iron
Bush is like a stone
Nations look on silently
How can we allow
Siege to strangle Gaza
In the here and now?
How can we stop it
Set a people free?
Silence of the nations
Lets injustice be
Where is there a wise man
Who could do his part?
Tell the world to stop it
With its heart
The Twelve Days of Christmas (after Harold Pinter)
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas
Ehud Olmert sent me
Eleven homes demolished
Ten wells obstructed
Nine sniper towers
Eight gunships firing
Seven checkpoints blocking
Six tanks a-rolling
Five settlement rings
Four falling bombs
Three trench guns
Two trampled doves
And an uprooted olive tree
O Little Town of Bethlehem
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie!
A wall is laid where tourists strayed
And people can't go by
And in thy dark streets shineth
No cheerful Christmas light
The hate and fears of eight sad years
Are met in thee tonight
How silently, how silently
The world regards it all
As now thy heart is torn apart
By Israel's ghetto wall
They terrorise a people
A war-crime and a sin
Their winding "fence" can make no sense
Revenge can still get in
O ye who now rule Bethelehem
Cast down the iron cage
The walls of hate that separate
And harden and enrage
The land grab and apartheid
This violence must cease
If there's to be a land that's free
A Bethlehem at peace
All sung at an "Alternative service of lessons and carols" at St James's Piccadilly earlier this evening. Teeeeeribly Tablet: Mmm, yes, it's a land grab isn't it, lovely wine by the way, what is it? A Star of Bethlehem cabernet sauvignon made by the Salesians of Don Bosco, it has a lovely bouquet, doesn't it? Ooh, look there's dear old Bruce Kent. Brucie, darling, how are you? Mwah, mwah. Did you see the protesters outside? Mmm, lovely wine isn't it? etc etc.
Guess who wasn't impressed?
Thought for the Day
"Experts" laud China's family planning policy
Source: www.chinaview.cn (China) Author: Ronald Ssekandi
KAMPALA -- Population "experts" have lauded China's module on family planning to reduce the burden the population growth is exerting on the global resources and better development of human beings.
The "experts" from over 20 countries are attending a two-day international forum early this week to review the progress and prospects of the action plan adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development held in Egypt, in 1994.
Harry Jooseery, executive director of Partners in Population and Development (PPD), an intergovernmental organization that brings together 23 developing countries, told Xinhua that developing countries, especially the ones in sub-Saharan Africa, need to adopt the Chinese module while putting into consideration of their own environment and conditions.
Jooseery said that some African countries like Rwanda are already planning to adopt the Chinese module as population growth is negatively affecting the quality of life of their citizens.
Sara Seims, chair of the Development Committee of the Population Association of America and a member of UNESCO's Global Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Education, also urged developing countries to adopt deliberate family planning polices as China did if they are to reduce the effects of rapid population growth.
Heh heh heh.
Did anyone mention Human Rights?
That Chinese population module, or if you want, family planning policy being lauded by "experts", including, let it be noted, a member of UNESCO's Global Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Education, involves widespread coercive sterilisation and the forced abortion of foetuses up to eight months gestation. It has resulted in a shortage of females with about 100 girls being born compared to 118 boys and a booming trade in stolen children with an estimated 70,000 children kidnapped and sold on the black market each year.
Shocked? Don't be. There's nothing new or especially candid about these unelected population wallahs expressing their enthusiasm for China's one-child policy.
Back in 1991 the then head of UNFPA, Nafis Sadik who is now special adviser to the UN Secretary General, said: "China has every reason to feel proud of and pleased with its remarkable achievements made in its family planning policy and control of its population growth." (Xinhua, 11 April 1991)
Mmm, yes, indeedy. What's a little liberal fetish like human rights when it comes to slashing the number of humans on the planet? You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs and all that.
The Chinese State Family Planning Commission was obviously pleased with Sadik's sterling efforts to build support for the one child policy. In 2002 it gave her a population award.
Chen Guangcheng, the human rights campaigner who was beaten up and subjected to a show trial because he made a fuss about forced abortions and sterilisations is still in jail, by the way.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
If it sounds ridiculous that's because it is but the Nixon case is in fact the tip of the iceberg. There's something very strange going on in Canada and many of us on this side of the pond don't know anything about it. That's going to change. You're about to find out why so many Canadian bloggers have Free Mark Steyn logos affixed to their blogs.
First some background. In the 60s and 70s human rights commissions (HRCs) were set up in Canada charged with investigating discrimination in housing and employment. Then in 1977 the Human Rights Act was passed which, under section 13, allowed them to hear complaints about material "likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt" by reason of race, age, gender, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, etc." It sounds frighteningly well-intentioned, vague and since the commissions are entitled to act against "offensive" speech, likely to conflict with the basic democratic right to freedom of speech. And so they do.
Sure enough, a number of the human rights complaints have been characterised by their frivolousness and - significantly - every section 13 complaint ever referred to the federal human rights tribunal has been upheld. They have an 100% success rate. This may not be unrelated to the fact that Canadian HRCs are are quasi-judicial bodies and not, therefore, bound by the strict standards of procedure to protect defendants as normal courts.
In 2002, an Evangelical pastor, Stephen Boissoin wrote what sounds like a dotty letter to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate, in which he described the "homosexual agenda" as "wicked". So far so normal and the normal thing to do would be to write a letter of reply pointing out how silly the sentiments in his letter were. But instead an activist made a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission which finally published its decision this June. The tribunal agreed that Boissoin's green ink screed was not a criminal act but ordered him to "cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals." I'll emphasise the point so you can see how crazy it was. He was ordered not to express his own dotty opinion even by private email. Boissoin was also ordered not to make "disparaging remarks" about the activist who'd made the complaint about him and witnesses who'd supported the complaint and ordered him to provide the complainant with a written apology for his original letter and told to "request their written apology for the contravention of the Act be published in the Red Deer Advocate" and pay the complainant $5,000. About they only thing it didn't order him to do was stand in a corner with a dunce's hat on. The decision was rightly derided as "Stalinist", by critics. Oh and the Red Deer Advocate ran a thunderous Op-Ed about the entire farce, making clear that it had no intention of publishing an apology by Boissoin even if he were minded to write one.
In February 2006 the Western Standard reprinted the controversial Jyllands Posten cartoons of Mohammed. The Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and the Edmonton Council of Moslem Communities complained and the magazine's co-founder, the ascerbic conservative commentator, Ezra Levant was duly hauled before an HRC. On the same day that Levant appeared before the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission he defiantly republished the cartoons on his website. He delivered an even more defiant speech in his interview with human rights investigator, Shirlene McGovern which has since become a Youtube classic. As it was such a compelling speech it's worth quoting some of it:
"It is my position that the government has no legal or moral authority to interrogate me or anyone else for publishing these words and pictures. That is a violation of my ancient and inalienable freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and in this case, religious freedom and the separation of mosque and state. It is especially perverted that a bureaucracy calling itself the Alberta human rights commission would be the government agency violating my human rights."
Maybe it's because Levant is a well-known public figure and his case became such a cause célèbre that the complaints were later withdrawn and dismissed.
Something similar happened to Mark Steyn, who wrote a controversial article entitled "The Future belongs to Islam" which was published in Maclean's magazine. In 2007 a complaint was filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) , charging that the article and the magazine's refusal to allow a rebuttal violated the complainants human rights, with further complaints being filed at the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal (BCHRT). The complaints were eventually dismissed but not before the head of the CHRC, Jennifer Lynch, wrote a prim public letter to the editor of Maclean's which showed that she'd kind of missed the point: "Mr. Steyn would have us believe that words, however hateful, should be given free reign. History has shown us that hateful words sometimes lead to hurtful actions that undermine freedom and have led to unspeakable crimes. That is why Canada and most other democracies have enacted legislation to place reasonable limits on the expression of hatred."
Spot the spelling mistake? It's Lynch's, not mine and somehow very fitting.
Bloggers have also been caught up in this bizarre frenzy of litigation, with five conservative bloggers - Ezra Levant, Free Dominion.ca, Kate McMillan, Jonathan Kay and Kathy Shaidle - all being sued for libel by Richard Warman. Warman, a lawyer who used to work for the CHRC, has been dubbed "Canada's most sensitive man" for his propensity to Section 13 litigation. Apparently, the British Columbia government even had to pass a law protecting public libraries from Warman's litigiousness. Warman says he's fighting hate and it's true that he's targeted a lot of neo-nazis in his time but his critics say he's a menace to civil liberties. According to Ezra Levant, "It’s impossible to criticize section 13 without criticizing Warman, because without Warman, section 13 would have been defunct years ago – almost no-one else in this country of 33 million people uses it." He added: "Warman’s goal is breathtaking in its chutzpah: he wants to muzzle the Canadian conservative Internet." You can read more about it all here.
What's been the net result of all this?
Well, for one thing, it's made Ezra Levant and others into vigorous campaigners for free speech. In July Levant was invited to make a presentation to the U.S. Congress's bi-partisan human rights caucus. It makes for powerful reading. He accuses the Canadian HRCs of prosecuting religious fatwas on the one hand and persecuting believers on the other and points out that Canadian human rights legislation is so sweepingly vague that a documentary about the Holocaust could be against the law, since it could, possibly, cause people to have feelings of contempt for Germans. "This is Canada we’re talking about. Not Iran, not China, not Cuba," he declared. And this is what he urged his audience to do about it:
"Publish annual reports shaming foreign countries for their abuses of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Put Canada on that list, to let our government know what they’re doing isn’t acceptable."
Some may ask why we should care. After all, what does it matter if a few religious fundamentalists and neo-cons get slapped down for their offensive opinions?
Because we should, is the answer. This isn't about a bunch of conservatives bitching about the political-correctness-gone-mad world of tabloid cliche, there are important points of principle at stake here. Fundamentalists, neo-cons and everybody else for that matter are, or should be, entitled to hold and express whatsoever opinions they fancy in any liberal democracy worthy of the name. Definitions of what is or is not offensive are arbitrary and if we cede our free speech rights to the state there's no telling where it will stop. Today it may be the wacky streetcorner preacher who is told to shut up, tomorrow it may the anti-war protester, or the person who holds quaint views about proletarian revolution. It is emphatically not the job of human rights commissions to police speech. That's not what human rights are supposed to be about. The drive to classify pungent opinions as human rights abuses brings the very noble notion of human rights into disrepute while doing precisely nothing to address the very real human rights abuses perpetrated across the globe. Imagine you were some tinpot dictator living a gold-plated lifestyle while imposing a rule of fear on the populace, controlling the press, using the police as private army of thuggish enforcers and intimidating political opponents with long stretches in jail, torture or execution, in other words that you were doing exactly the kind of thing that tinpot dictators do. Hold that thought. Now imagine you were that person and you read about the infantile theatrics of the Canadian HRCs. How you'd laugh. Human rights don't have anything to do with humans or rights, you'd think, they're just a brilliant excuse for censorship. And you know what? You'd be right.
Monday, November 24, 2008
This post is dedicated to Merseymike, who seems to have become something of a regular in the comments boxes lately. He doesn't like my opinions, objecting in particular to those concerning the Whore of Babylon and often writes in to tell me so. But that's alright because enjoying disputation I take quite a free speech line over here and secondly - and I hope this won't provoke Merseymike too much - I'm developing something of an affection for him. No, seriously, there's something likeable about him. I just hope he doesn't wreck it all and reveal that he has atrocious taste in food and music or something.
Anyway, feminist Julie Bindel has been called a "marmite" writer, that is one who inspires adulation and revulsion in equal measure. Merseymike - and this is one of the reasons I like him, incidentally, he always lays his cards on the table and lets you know what he thinks - definitely falls into the revulsion category, calling her one of a "dying and outdated breed of radical feminists" who are "deeply conservative and reactionary". Specifically, he objects to her views on prostitution, abolishing jury trial for rape and transsexuals.
First prostitution. Bindel doesn't like it. She is a proponent of the so-called Swedish model which treats prostitution as a crime of violence against women and criminalises buyers of sexual services.
The question of prostitution has acquired some urgency following the horrible Ipswich murders and it seems as though the government's mind is made up, with a crackdown planned on men who buy sex from trafficked women. Opponents, including the English Collective of Prostitutes, insist that the proposals are retrogade and would do more harm than good.
Other than the vague belief that sex, like the NHS, should be free at the point of delivery and the very firm belief that I would hate my daughter to join the world's oldest profession, indeed would do everything in my power to prevent such a thing, I confess to being an agnostic when it comes to prostitution policy. On the one hand I think it no bad thing for governments and society to adopt moral positions and wonder why there is such resistance to moralism that the word itself has come to have such negative connotions. It seems to me that what Christie Davies calls "causalism", that is the studious avoidance of moral judgement in public policy and family law, has resulted in much moral squalor and injustice to countless people, most egregiously of all children. On the other hand, I think that if the government is about to break with decades of social liberalism - and I don't for a moment think that it plans anything like such an 180 degree turn - that prostitution is a strange place to start. It has the flavour of style rather than substance, of spin rather than content. It looks like an ill thought out headline grabber of an opportunity to score points with feminist ideologues not a sensible way of dealing with the trade in sex. Add to that the blizzard of claims and counter claims by pro and anti-decriminalisation camps and one is tempted to cry, stop! leave things as they are.
Next jury trial for rape cases. Rape is an outrage and the staggeringly low conviction rate in rape cases must be cause for concern. That said, on this I'm unequivocally with Merseymike. Abolishing jury trial in rape cases is a straightforward affront to liberty and must be opposed.
Now to the thorny matter of transsexuals. It seems as though Bindel does not accept that cosmetic operations can turn a man into a woman or vice versa. She's not alone in this view, neither does that other celebrated feminist, Germaine Greer. For this shocking piece of dissent, Bindel has been dubbed "transphobic" and a campaign has been mounted against her being given an award by gay rights group, Stonewall. There's an ugly note of hysteria in all this, ironically not unlike the nonsense Camille Paglia encountered when she inaugurated the bold new wave of libertarian Pro Prostitution Pro Sex feminism in the 90s. Back then, Paglia scorned her clodhopping critics in grand operatic style. This time round, Bindel has issued a defensive statement full of bemusement and hurt feelings.
"A demonstration is planned for the evening of the award ceremony, and placards bearing my photograph with a line through my face, with the words ‘Bindel Bigot’, amongst others, will be brandished as people arrive at the venue," she notes.
"Since the age of 16 I have been an outspoken and proud lesbian – often at significant personal cost to myself. I have been beaten up (and hospitalised) by anti-lesbian men, and my home was once firebombed by fascists when I was living in a lesbian relationship with a black woman. Over the years, particularly as my writing has become mainstream, I regularly receive hate mail from anti-lesbian and misogynist readers. Woman and lesbian hating opponents have taken offence at the fact that I speak out against rape, child sexual abuse, murder and prostitution of women. Others have threatened me with harm if I continue to name men as the common perpetrators of sexual violence. Whilst I have not become desensitised to this abuse, I have understood it in the context of a proud and courageous battle against women’s oppression, dating back to the beginning of the women’s liberation movement. Thus, I feel I am well qualified to understand the meaning and implications of bigotry. To face abuse and threats from a group of people who name me as a ‘bigot’ and worse is nothing short of offensive."
Clearly upset, she writes:
"I have a public reputation as a human rights defender. It is therefore extremely painful to be portrayed all over the web as a person whose nomination for a prize is worthy of a massive hate campaign,"
"I did not ask to be nominated for this award. However, I can see that I am a worthy contender having raised a positive profile of lesbians in the mainstream press. Certainly I have done so more than any other journalist writing in a national newspaper in the UK. The bullying insistence from some groups and individuals to have Stonewall withdraw my nomination is anti-lesbian in the extreme. Indeed, I am the only lesbian in the category. Stonewall is an organisation funded to support lesbian rights (amongst gay and bisexual). I believe I am the victim of an organised group of bullies who seek to discredit me and silence any radical feminist debate around the issue of GID and of the transsexual industry. Stonewall has refused the demands to de-nominate me on the grounds that I am a worthy candidate who has written more in the mainstream press about lesbian issues than any other lesbian-identified journalist."
"I have been told that despite my apologies I am still responsible, according to a number of transsexual people, of ‘genocide’, because I do not want to accept the GID diagnosis."
"I have been castigated beyond belief for causing offence to the transsexual community, by people hypocritically using gross and vitriolic insults and threats against me, whilst continuing to insist that this protest is not about me, but Stonewall’s refusal to include the ‘T’ in LGB."
(It's a very long statement and sometimes the inverted commas get a bit screwed up so it's difficult to tell whether she's speaking or quoting someone else.)
"Radical feminists were the first to deconstruct gender and name it as a ‘social construction’ which is harmful to females. However, the arrogance of the transsexual lobby engaged in this ‘debate’ is staggering. For example: “Is that strictly speaking feminist theory, or is it just thinly-veiled transphobia masquerading as feminism? I mean, I can think of Julie Bindel credibly coming out with something like that, but is there a body of theory? I'm afraid I'm not very up on modern feminism.But let’s get to Julie Bindel specifically, rather than the privileged norm born dictatorship she represents. A pathological hatred of transsexual people is clearly the order of the day with Bindel and her friends.”As an out lesbian feminist living in a misogynistic, anti-lesbian world, I challenge gender norms each and every day. Growing up female, but refusing to conform, I have been severely punished and threatened for doing so. I consider myself to have rejected the gender assigned to me, by a patriarchal culture, and am therefore qualified to name myself a ‘gender resister’."
Cutting a very long statement short:
"I have offered to speak with, both privately and publicly, to various members of the transsexual community involved in this campaign against me. Whilst a small number have accepted, the majority have refused. I believe that they are not interested in hearing what I have to say, but merely wish to use me as their ‘whipping girl’, and to take all of their anger out on me. I refuse to be a scapegoat, or to be silenced by them.I do not need the Stonewall award in order to continue writing about controversial topics with a view to challenging views and ‘truths’ which I, for good and sound reason, dispute. In my 30 years as a political activist, I have never allowed the vile misogyny and anti-lesbian bullying I have endured over the years in response to my writing and activism to shut me up. I certainly will not let this campaign against my feminist and journalistic integrity do it now. "
What a mess.
And what a mess any discussion of gender and sexuality has become, home to the most boring inflexible pettyminded obsessives. The difference between Paglia and Bindel is this: faced with that sort of contrived outrage, the peerless Paglia would have cut her critics down to size, slashed their fatuous arguments to ribbons, delivered, in passing, an erudite lecture on women in antiquity and then spat out a chilli pepper contemptuously. But dear, oh dear, Bindel sobs piteously and begs for understanding.
Merseymike is completely wrong on this one and is himself guilty of the same rigid dogmatism that he condemns in Bindel. Bindel doesn't dislike transsexuals and it's ridiculous to accuse her of doing so just because she holds the views she does which she is entitled to do.
No one is served by the infantile bullying of Bindel. We urgently need to take the hysteria and the doctrinaire out of discussions of sex and gender and get back to the freewheeling first principles of feminism and the gay rights movement. Liberation is not supposed to be an intellectual straitjacket.
Update I: Harriet Harman is trying to rope the Women's Institute (WI) into the campaign against the sex trade. The WI has indicated that it's interested. Makes a change from jam-making and posing naked for calendar pix, I suppose.
Update II: Loz has what might be called the comprehensive guide to anti-Bindel here. A Facebook group was set up to oppose Bindel's Stonewall award nomination, which Bindel joined "to monitor the level of bullying and harassment aimed at me." The exchanges are quite painful to read. Bindel registers her upset at claims that she is a political lesbian and says she is strongly against any reparative or aversion therapy but doesn't answer queries about talking therapies for transsexuals. Oh dear. She suggests debating with one of the contributors in an open forum but gets knocked back. Bad tempered insults get flung back and forth, Bindel accuses some of her critics of "hate-filled anti-lesbian and misogynystic bile". She declares, "I've had enough of this vile nonsense and not intend to stop saying what I am saying.You have been counter-productive in the extreme." Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. It also turns out that Linda Bellos (remember her?) wrote to Stonewall opposing Bindel's award nomination.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Saturday night Sunday morning
"A kto nie wypije, Tego we dwa kije, Lupu cupu, cupu lupu, Tego we dwa kije."
Very admirable sentiments, I must say.
Anyway, I've caught Weronika eyeballing this blog.
Weronika kohana, pamiętaj Edith Stein, Mordechai Anielewicz, nasz papiesz Jana Pawla drugiego and please sign the letter, L'chaim/do życia,
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
OMG There's A Fascist On My Street!
Sunny Hundal has the complete guide to having fun with the BNP list here
And the wonderful Alan Thomas has some very sensible things to say about why we shouldn't give a damn about fascists hurt feelings here.
Remember their terrorising Redwatch filth, everybody. The very least which should happen to them is repeat visits from members of the Watchtower Society.
BNP Members List Back Up Again
Because you can't shut down the internet. You can run but you can't hide etc etc.
God, anti-fascism is a beautiful and moral thing and we should all do a lot more of it. We all have an interest in living peaceful lives free from fear and intimidation. It's those quiet, unsung heroes of the anti-fascist movement, beavering away in the dark, monitoring fascist activities and painstakingly infiltrating far right groups who enable us all to do that.
So go on, show your appreciation. Donate some money to an anti-fascist group like UAF now. Go on, do it. You know you should.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
A bit pointless really
BNP Membership Lists Available
It makes for perfect anoracky reading.
Splendid work whoever did it. Whoever you are, wherever you are, treat yourself to a bottle of something decent.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Hangover Cures and Suchlike
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
We have crossed the threshold of history
Now is the time. Get ready for US politics to open up.
Fuck me, it might be happening!
Ohio: Obama 57, McCain 43
If those calls hold, it's over. Sad Grandpa's off to Happy Valley Retirement Home. I daresay Maria will be able to find a nun or three to look after him though. Over to you, my reactionary pinot quaffing chicadee...
The Money Shot
Indiana is 48 - 51 to Old Mac, with 1% of votes counted.
And Fucking Liddy Dole's toast in North Carolina! Top-ups at the ready, ladies and gentlemen!
The Time is Now
Um, er, we stand at a turning point in history, most significant American presidential election since um, Kennedy, the er, unstoppable force of change and er, epoch making, first African American president, he's like a rock star, isn't he? And so on and so forth, plenty of time to swoon a bit later.
Look, anyway, Dolphinarium readers, I have a treat for you, ok? Voltaire's Priest is going to liveblog you through the experience. So Veep, it's over to you.