The Royal Summary….

April 29, 2011

It is nice to see that William and Kate chose to get married 66 years to the day that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun tied the knot. And as Australian Geoff pointed out, William is a relative of Henry VIII. We can expect Kate to be his first wife, and for William to try to invade France at any point. James Hewitt’s son, Harry is not dressed like a Nazi.

It amused me greatly that the Ambassador of Syria was uninvited from the wedding. An ambassador of an anti-democratic regime banned from the wedding of the epitome of anti-democracy who are where they are through centuries of fear and violence, for being too un-democratic. It is almost poetic.

Elton John and partner David Furnish arrived at the Abbey. He always gets called “…partner David Furnish“. When we see the neighbour, we say “There’s John, with his dog Max“. Partner David Furnish is spoke of like Elton’s pet. Partner David Furnish mustn’t like that.

“The first ray of sunshine shone over buckingham palace, literally the exact moment Kate walked into the room” – Fox News. Brilliant. The land of make belief is very very prominent within the four walls of Fox.

Here is me. Look at me smile. Look how happy I am. Look how bright the room is. That isn’t the sun. That is the light of the Monarchy brightening my otherwise dark day.

– Incase you’re wondering, the midget on the mantlepiece is Elf Ash.

A woman being interviewed on ITV just said “Oh they’re a lovely couple. They’re so down to Earth”. I’m not too sure how that woman knows the couple so well, but apparently she does.

Why do we still have a monarchy? Why? I don’t understand.

Fox News, in its typical brilliant way, showed a montage of Diana’s face fading out and Kate’s smilie face fading in. I wanted to be sick. I still do. To their credit, they stopped short of blaming Obama for Diana’s death.

Cleggs missus looks like she has JFK’s assassinated head on the side of her face. Perhaps her choice of hat was an unconscious decision, a symbolic attempt to let us all know how it feels to be married to the most hated man in British politics. Like being assassinated….

Speaking of assassinations, Obama is in Alabama today. Or as the rest of the World calls it, the 1800s.

Blair and Brown have not been invited. Major and Thatcher have. The official line is that Blair and Brown are not Knights of the Garter. Though why Boris and Douglas Hurd have been invited is a little bit bemusing. Perhaps Boris is about to become Sir Boris for services to being a massive twat. Blair won three elections. He also managed to pull the Royals out of the shit after Diana died. Thatcher was thrown out by her own party. Major was the most boring man in history.

I like that William is balding. I feel relieved.

There is a man in the crowd with a very funny moustache. It has no relevance to this blog or to the wedding in general, but the moustache looks like a small woodland creature attacking his face. If that isn’t worth a mention, I don’t know what is.

It is nice to see The Met managed to be next to young people, without smashing their faces in.

I hope Prince Andrew turns up at any moment, drunk, with a 16 year old girl on his arm, and announcing that he has sold Westminster Abbey to a consortium of Bahraini business men and that everyone needs to leave immediately because it is being bulldozed to make way for a car park.

David Cameron thinks the hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets of Whitehall and the Mall are there for the wedding. Actually, they’re the people he is in the process of making homeless, for the sake of big business.

President Obama was far smarter than Prime Minister Gillard. Obama clearly knew that this was all just a ploy to get the leaders of former colonial nations in one place, whilst we secretly take back our old possessions. Australia will be ours again. We will forget about this silly independence thing.

The priest said “William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in front of a generous God”. Yes, he’s generous! Yeah but, what about all the killing in the old testament by God?…… forget that. But what about all the wars in the name of that God?….. yeah forget that too. But what about all the people in Africa who were told by the Pope that condoms actually spread AIDS?…….. can you please just forget that and listen to the Priest! He’s never wrong! Oh and then an attack on secularism. Nice.

In the build up to the wedding, BBC and SKY kept telling us how wonderful Kate is. “Look at her walking around and shaking hands. Isn’t she amazing. It’s like she’s been doing this for years.” No one can walk like she can. Is there anything she can’t do? I see her walk and think “My god……. what a woman!

Prince Harry is dressed like a curtain. It has given me ideas for our kitchen windows. I am still annoyed that he isn’t dressed as Goering. Prince William is dressed like Pete Doherty in the ‘Don’t look Back into the sun’ video.

Princess Eugenie has a butterfly splatted on her forehead.

The Dean of Westminster is dressed like a Jedi.

Apparently the Middleton family really annoyed the Royals when they first met. They did something horrific. Something beyond repulsive. Something that makes me heave. They said “Pleased to meet you” as opposed to “how do you do“. Scum.

They have been described as a typical middle class family. You know, those typical families that own multi million pound businesses and live in a five bedroom estate, and a full private education for your kids and a £750,000 flat in London. Ah yes, I know it well.

Is it wrong that when I saw Kate in her dress, my instant reaction was “Miss Havisham”. And just in case you’re interested, Kate is wearing, erm, a dress. It’s white. It’s a white dress. A white wedding dress, actually.

BBC described her as “she looks, behind that veil, a picture of contentment“. I had to sit and wonder for a second whether they said “contemptment“. Having checked my dictionary, and discovering that contemptment isn’t actually a word, I figure that Kate Middleton isn’t full of contempt, with hate behind her veil.

The Queen is taking the time in her bulletproof car to wave to commoners. Remarkable. Those people are mere scum, and she has such love for them, as she waves to the poor, working class feces that line the street outside her home, drenched in ignorant patriotism.

Interestingly, the last King William was William III. He went to war with Catholicism and the French. Before him, William II went to war with France. William I took on Brittany in France. Is this a trend? Is William going to dress like a Knight and single handedly invade France. I once dreamt that David Beckham single handedly invaded France dressed as a Knight. David Beckham is in the Abbey today. Coincidence?

With David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and the Royal Family all in Westminster Abbey, could I potentially stage a coup? Emperor Jamie?

It is history being made. I dislike the symbol of the history being made. It’s a big game in pomp. It isn’t real. It is actually quite disturbing when you consider the amount of homeless people living in London, to see the biggest benefit claimants in the Country have a wedding so lavish, at the expense of the people. But it is history. So it goes…


The era of the injunction

April 23, 2011

In a Galaxy time far far away – 1534 to be precise – a pretty messy year for advocates of free speech and those who disagreed with the Crown took place. First, the Act of Supremacy was passed, which insisted that Henry VIII was the ONLY head of the Church in England, and if you disagreed, you would be subject to the next law that passed… the Treason Act of 1534. The Treason Act stated that a person was guilty of treason if he or she were to:

do maliciously wish, will or desire by words or writing, or by craft imagine, invent, practise, or attempt any bodily harm to be done or committed to the king’s most royal person, the queen’s or the heirs apparent [Elizabeth], or to deprive them of any of their dignity, title or name of their royal estates, or slanderously and maliciously publish and pronounce, by express writing or words, that the king should be heretic, schismatic, tyrant, infidel or usurper of the crown…

In other words, if you spoke ill of the Crown, you were guilty of treason. It was designed to quell any sort of rebellious talk. The time period was a period of great change; the Catholic Church had ruled for centuries, was the pillar of every community in the Country, and now in a very short amount of time the Church was being destroyed. It was a massive reformation that would have profound affects on the lives of all citizens. Thomas More famously executed under the Act.

Today, it would be politically ridiculous for a government to demand complete obedience in an age of democracy, but just as modern day celebrity gossip evolved from Court gossip of the old Monarchy regimes, we have a new breed of anti-free speech legislation designed to protect the people who rely on them.

Celebrities seem to be taking out “super injunctions” all over the place. The power of the rich and the famous to be able to censor the reporting of their slightly dubious antics has become more common recently. A Super injunction is an odd product (and it is a product). An injunction bans the reporting of a certain story. A super injunction bans the reporting that an injunction has been taken out. However, under a super injunction, an MP is allowed to raise the injunction in Parliament under Parliamentary privilege, and Parliamentary statements can then be reported by the press. Though it is against the law to report anything more than what was said in Parliament. The ridiculous nature of this little arrangement came to a head when Lib Dem MP John Hemming stood up in Parliament earlier this year and said:

“In a secret hearing this week Fred Goodwin has obtained a super-injunction preventing him being identified as a banker. Will the government have a debate or a statement on freedom of speech and whether there’s one rule for the rich like Fred Goodwin and one rule for the poor?”

– He is correct on both assertions. Goodwin has indeed taken out a super injunction preventing anyone from referring to him as a banker. Breaking this law, means the CRIMINAL could face a massive fine, or a jail sentence. Yes, a jail sentence. Criminal damage = a telling off. Calling Fred Goodwin a banker = Jail. That’s how the law works. Interestingly, if you change one letter in banker, you get a far more accurate representation of what Sir Fred Goodwin actually is…… and joyfully, we can say it. The wanker.

Oil trader Trafigura, in 2009 managed to get a super injunction last year against the Guardian, preventing them from revealing the leaked details of the Minton report (which you can find here) that showed that Trafigura knew damn well that chemical waste they had dumped in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, would have deep health issues. The chemical dump is actually caused the deaths of fifteen people and the illnesses of over 100,000 more. The fifteen had died from ” fatal levels of the poisonous gas hydrogen sulphide”. The press officer for Trafigura tried to edit the Wikipedia page for the ship that delivered the poisonous materials, to remove any mention of Trafigura. In October 2009, The Guardian were handed a copy of the Minton Report, which conclusively showed an admission from Trafigura, that they were responsible for the chemical dump, and knew the implications. Trafigura sought an injunction to ban the Guardian from releasing the report, they got it. The Guardian were ready to take Trafigura’s legal team to court over the injunction, but the legal team backed down and the injunction was lifted. Here is the injunction document in question.

A hyper injunction goes one step further. It bans anyone from talking to their MP, or journalist, or absolutely anybody really. Journalists who are investigating an incident, could be jailed for talking to victims of the incident, under a hyper injunction. In 2006 a person had been banned, by hyper injunction, from claiming to anyone, including an MP, that paint used on a passenger ship could be poisoning the water. The person was banned from talking to any other ship company, or coastguard, or talking about the details of the injunction to anyone, on fear of imprisonment. The individual got a two week suspended sentence for discussing the matter with a lawyer. A massive Corporation has essentially bought the law.

It is of course mightily ludicrous of papers like The Mail to claim the moral high ground against adulterous celebrities. The moment someone wishes to sell a sordid sex secret, the Mail will jump on it. Sexual morality and the press are not very compatible, so to be calling these people all sorts of names for being promiscuous, is laughable at best. The antics of the celebrities is not what concerns me. A footballer having an affair is hardly something new, nor interesting. The fact that they take out court orders preventing it from being spoke of, is what interests me. Gagging the press for futile reasons, is a dangerous and worrying precedent to set.

I am pretty certain that I am not allowed to name the people who we know have super injunctions out. We know that a Premiership star had an affair with Imogen from Big Brother (I know who it is), we know a World famous British Actor paid for sex with a string of prostitutes including one who previously slagged it up with Wayne Rooney (I know who it is), we know a British actor in a British TV show has had affairs (I know who it is) and all of whom have taken out super injunctions. There is also a rumour that an ex-England star has been involved in an affair with a TV Sports Presenter, and both have super injunctions out. Now, usually this kind of pointless nonsense would just be supremely boring to me. But the fact they have gone to the length to block their names being reported, is what intrigues me, and what I suspect, intrigues millions like me. We wouldn’t care if it came out that (for arguments sake…..obviously) a famous Manchester United player who isn’t from England or Scotland has had an affair with a reality TV star. It’d die within days. It is unimportant. But the fact they have spent an obscene amount of money to keep it all covered up, is something that should be ridiculed, and they ridiculed for it, at every given opportunity. Their secrets are not putting anyone’s lives at risk, it isn’t a matter of national security, it is simply a way to stop the highest paid idiots from being embarrassed and protecting their sponsorship deals.

A lady working on a loved British TV show was sacked after having an affair with her co-star. Both were married. The absolutely shameless male was denied an injunction because the Judge ruled it had a public interest angle, given that she lost her job because of the affair. He appealed, and won. The Judge ruled that the News of the World who had the story, could not print it, and the work colleagues of the shameless male must not talk about the affair. Shameless, i’m sure you’ll agree.

It is a ridiculous manipulation of the law. Some sources claim more than 20 super injunctions have been taken out over the past year. That is ridiculous. It isn’t so much that I want to publish the names of celebrities who are shagging around. But when you discover who these self important celebrities are, you REALLY want to post their names, just for the sake of it. I don’t watch Big Brother, but if someone were to say “Watch tonight, one of the contestants has a massive break down, takes a dump on the table, and then proceeds to throw it at everyone else and the cameras”…. I would most certainly watch it. Similarly, I don’t care that celebrities (who seem to be in a galaxy far far away from our own) shag around – actually, I’m all for keeping private lives private – but when they throw their own shit at the general public by going to court to seek to stop anyone even talking about it, then I become intrigued.

Henry VIII would be proud.


No To AV

April 21, 2011

I have been wanting to write a blog on this subject for a while, but it appears to be the most boring subject known to man. Half way through writing, I want to break down, cry, question my life, and then jump off Westminster bridge. That’s how soul destroying the subject is.

In about two weeks time, the United Kingdom get to vote on the future of our electoral system in a referendum. The first referendum we’ve had since we didn’t have the referendum on the EU Constitution that we were promised. The subject matter is quite simple, do we wish to change from First Past the Post, to the Alternative Vote. My answer; No.

I will not comment on the FPTP system here, because the referendum is not about FPTP. I despise FPTP. It’s a ridiculous system that allows a party to be the governing party, with far less than 50% of the vote. In 2005 Labour won the election with 36% of the vote. 64% of the electorate did not want a Labour government, yet we got one. FPTP is far from proportional. But, so is AV.

The way to win under AV is to be the least hated candidate, not the most popular. When the Unions back Ed Milliband for leader of the Labour Party in 2010, their goal was to make Ed the least disliked. That way, when it came to the fourth ballot, Ed would just about edge ahead of his brother, to win. David Milliband was winning after the first ballot. David Milliband was winning after the second ballot. David Milliband was winning after the third ballot. Ed Milliband won.

Tactical voting according to the Yes to AV campaign would be eliminated under AV. This is nonsense. And it is proven nonsense. Australia uses AV and tactical voting just becomes a bit more complex than it is here. It isn’t eliminated, it is just different. Political parties in Australia publish lists telling you how to vote for a specific party, how to order your preferences, to give them the best chance. According to the Constitution Society briefing paper:

“the evidence from Australia is that voting in AV elections is in general highly ‘tactical’ since it is necessary to place the candidates in a very specific order of preference to maximise the chances of any particular favoured candidate. Tactical voting does not disappear under AV; instead its arithmetic becomes more complex.”

Tactical voting is prominent in any election where there are three or more candidates, regardless of the system. This is called the Gibbard–Satterthwaite theorem.

I am most unimpressed with the idea that if I vote Labour in my constituency, and my neighbour votes BNP, and the BNP are eliminated in the first round, then my neighbour gets a second chance. His second preference is counted. I however, will not get a second chance. If Labour are winning after the first round of voting, the Tories second, the BNP are eliminated, but they voted UKIP next, and then UKIP are eliminated, leaving just Labour, Tory, and Lib Dems, I still don’t get another vote, but those who voted BNP first and then UKIP now get to decide the outcome of the election. Labour are still winning, but now the third choice (and third choices aren’t exactly popular, they are just “there”) has redistributed the UKIP votes to the Tories, and the Tories suddenly get the necessary majority of votes, whilst I got no second choice, let alone a third choice. A candidate under AV, could potentially have the majority of first, second and third preferences combined, yet still come last and be eliminated after the first round. This means that they do not progress to the next round, even though they would have amassed many more votes, and won a majority, if we are to give serious weight to second and third preferences.

For example:
100 people are voting to elect a candidate. They vote as follows:
The preference sheet of 36 citizens: C > A > B
The preference sheet of 34 citizens: B > A > C
The preference sheet of 30 citizens: A > B > C

FPTP is awful, because candidate C would be elected under the system, despite the fact that most people would rank candidate C below both A and B. Candidate C would be the least liked by the majority, and yet still elected. It is a poor shambles of a system. However, the mentality to rank candidates is not present in FPTP, so it is irrelevant to describe the preferences of voters under FPTP because it doesn’t exist. But it does exist under AV, and under AV candidate B will win. A gets knocked out in the first round, those votes are redistributed, and B wins. Yet in a run off between candidate B and candidate A, candidate B only gets 34 votes, whilst A gets 66 votes. Not only that, but in a straight run off between candidate A and candidate C, candidate A would win too. In a run off, Candidate A clearly beats both B and C, and yet under AV, B would win.

Our system of AV will differ somewhat from the Australian system, in that we will not require the voter to list their preferences if they don’t wish. They can just put a “1” and nothing else. As the preference counts go on, less and less votes will be counted, and so it means less and less votes are needed to win a seat, and so many MPs will still win a seat with less than 50% of the vote. The speaker of the House of Lords was elected using AV, with 45% of the vote. So the argument that AV will mean an end to minority rule, is nonsense.

Yes To AV claim that AV will do away with safe seats. Rubbish. No it wont. And why should it? If the majority of the electorate in my constituency vote Tory (which they do), then why should that change? The Tories won my seat, with 49% of the vote in 2010. Under AV, it is likely that the Lib Dems would have won the seat. (Labour voters will always rank Lib Dems ahead of Tories, and Tories will always rank Lib Dems ahead of Labour). Tory voters wouldn’t get a second choice, they’d have to sit back and watch whilst the 228 (out of 54,865) people who voted “Independent” and came last, get another vote, and then whilst the 568 who voted “English Democrats” (i’ve literally never heard of that party) get another vote, and then UKIP, BNP, Labour, until potentially the Lib Dems get pushed over the line, on a fifth preference count. How ridiculous.

Regardless of the weak arguments put forward by the “Yes to AV” Campaign, AV will not make politicians work harder for your vote (how anyone can measure how hard MPs work, is beyond me), it will not do away with safe seats, it will not promise a majority, and it is not proportional. I am not entirely sure how to respond to Ed Miliband’s claim that voting Yes to AV will be a chance to “choose hope over fear”. Empty soundbites have become the only argument the Yes campaign have, and they’re losing, badly.

If people vote No simply to kick Nick Clegg whilst he remains possibly the most hated politician in the Coalition, they are idiots. People should read the arguments and decide for themselves. Stop listening to people who say “The No campaign is funded by Voldermort“. It doesn’t matter who funds the campaign. They don’t pay for arguments. The arguments are there for all to see. Research it yourself. If you like the system, vote Yes. If you don’t, vote No. The funding for the campaigns should have absolutely no impact on how you vote.

The campaigns on both sides are limited. Both the Yes and No campaigns cannot foresee the consequences of media, donors, and party politics, in a system of AV. Especially in its early days. We have no idea what the “likely” out come of a change to the system would be. To say silly things like “it will make your MP work harder” is empty and based on nothing of substance. We shouldn’t fall for it.

It is true that no voting system is perfect, in any way. FPTP certainly isn’t, it’s horrific. Yet AV does not even promise a majority. It is just as bad as FPTP, it has just as many flaws, and yet it is far more complicated to explain than FPTP. This referendum is not about FPTP. If the question was “Do you want to keep the FPTP voting system?” I’d also vote no. The question though, will be “Should the UK adopt the Alternative Vote electoral system for General elections“. Until I hear a convincing argument, the answer will remain “No“.


…from her melodious lay

April 20, 2011

If you take the time to read the diary entries of Christopher Columbus after he found land in the “New World“, you notice a distinct lack of awe. There is no language describing in detail the land itself. This is a continent that no European had ever step foot on before, and Columbus spends almost the entire length of his journals, telling posterity that he expects to find gold any time soon. He speaks of all the marketable goods this new World could offer. The first group of people who meets, are the Taino’s. He describes them as:

They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal..Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people ..They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing.

This admiration for the Tainos does not foreshadow the devastation that the arrival of the Spanish would cause to the Taino people, who by 17th Century, were all but wiped out. After noting their friendly natures, Columbus regained his European nature, and wrote to the Spanish government:

The Tainos could all be subjected and made to do all that one might wish.

Suddenly, the people became a commodity.
Columbus’ diaries show that the mode of thought that Europeans had in the 15th Century was aimed exclusively at commerce. Columbus obsession with finding gold was entirely because his financiers would demand it back home. The lack of description of the landscape is echoed in the lack of descriptive language in their vocabulary. Gonzalo Fernández, the Spanish historian proves this decisive lack of language, and leads me onto the point of this blog, perfectly:

Of all the things I have seen, this is the one thing that has most left me without hope of being able to describe it in words. It needs to be painted by the hand of a Berruguete, or some other excellent painter like him, or by Leonardo de Vinci, or Andrea Mentegna, famous painters whom I knew in Italy

To understand my favourite era’s in art – the Renaissance and Pre-Raphaelites – we have to understand the context of the time period in which they were created. The vast majority of people were supremely materialistic and beauty was largely ignored unless it had some sort of commercial value in the 14th, 15th and 16th Century. The way Columbus spoke of the Taino people in Hispaniola was not malicious for the time period. Through 21st century specs, Columbus’ words regarding the subjugation of an entire group of people seem heartless, especially given that he had already noted just how gentle those people were. But through 15th Century European specs, they were common.

Renaissance and later Baroque artists managed to convey a World both lost to antiquity, and contemporary but free from the constrains of a deeply materialistic World that they inhabited. That is their genius. The beauty of the World is somehow missed when it is overshadowed by the need for “things”. We ignore objects that the artists amplify. The natural World is just “there“, it becomes both a commodity and entirely ignored because there are apparently more important things to focus our attention on. If we get very little pleasure from seeing a tree because we’re so used to it, but we note the beauty of Giorgione’s (or Titian’s… no one is sure which one of the two painted it) pastoral scene in which the trees have an almost dreamlike quality, for no apparent reason, we have heightened our sense of reality. That is what art is supposed to do.

I cannot put my finger on what it is I love so much about Renaissance art. But I suspect it is because the artist takes an everyday object and makes me take note of that object in a painting, despite the fact that I wouldn’t normally take note of that object in reality. It heightens my sense of reality. If we jump forward to another favourite time period in art, of mine, to 1829, and to the Pre-Raphaelite Sir John Everett Millais (which is odd, given that the Pre-Raphaelites really hated Renaissance concepts), and more specifically, to his work “Ophelia” (one of my all time favourite paintings), this heightened sense of awareness becomes apparent:

We sense calm, we sense perhaps spring, we sense the contrast between the strong colours of nature, and the grey, lifeless colours of Shakespeare’s dying Ophelia. Her face does not stand out among the very allegorical choice of flowers. Pansies were also known as hearts-ease, meaning peace in feeling. The poppy has always signified death. Daisies signified innocence. The plants and flowers Millais included were not at the scene in which he painted, he added them himself for a reason. The poppy doesn’t appear in Shakespeare’s description either. Ophelia’s expression contrasts with the madness of the character Shakespeare created. She looks at peace. The flowers she holds signify the peacefulness of her death, despite the madness of her life. Her hair looks peaceful, it is not all over her face. She is not face down in the darkness of the water, she is holding flowers. The Victorians had a little bit of an odd obsession with the “language of flowers“. Her face is white and her clothes flow into the river at the end of the painting neatly. There is no madness to her death. That is why Millais’ Ophelia heightens my sense of a reality I am blissfully unaware of in my every day life.

In his book “The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance”, Berenson sums this up perfectly, by stating that:

… the chief business of the figure painter, as an artist, is to stimulate the tactile imagination

– That is to say, the artist is there to point out the World that we are unaware of, and say “look, this is it, enjoy it!!” Art is a reminder of what is real.

The 15th and 16th Centuries needed the Renaissance painters to convey a World that was beyond the imagination of the every day person looking for material gain. Columbus is the epitome of that obsession for material gain. When faced with a brand new World, his only thought was material wealth. Conversely, without that obsession with material wealth, art is pointless.


Like life

April 15, 2011

Sometimes I just want to write.
I don’t know why, but it becomes a sort of irreproachable desire that overwhelms whatever it is I am doing at the particular moment and I want to write. I have hundreds of drafts of random blogs I’ve started when the propensity to sit down at my laptop and arrange thought patterns into words massacres all other modes of thought. And then I get frustrated with the direction the blog takes, knowing it has no real ending, and so I just give up and wallow in languid self pity. I am told this is common for people who enjoy writing. Perfectionism is a fucking bitch. So I thought i’d just write, and see where it leads, and when it ends it ends. And like life It has no overwhelming purpose or meaning, and just imposes itself on those it chooses without aim, quickly forgotten. Bits and pieces imprint themselves on the memory of the back of the darkest reaches of the consciousness, but its essence is always there contributing to what it is (even in the smallest and seemingly insignificant ways) that makes you, you.

I was five when we moved away from Cavendish Road, just off of Saffron Lane. I vividly remember a significant amount of enlightening episodes from before the move. Here are a few:

I remember the fucking horrendous accents – I hate the Leicester accent. I have made a conscious effort over the years to eradicate it from my own speech. If being beaten up badly, and then being spat on as you lay crying in a wrecked ball in a shit filled gutter could be conveyed through an accent, it would be the Leicester accent. It does however provide some beautifully crafted sentences I over hear a lot. Today, in Tesco, a boy on his mobile phone, said “yeah well Josh can suck the fucking piss out of my dirty black nips”. I have never in my life wanted to kill someone for raping the English language, whilst at the same time wanting to worship him as the God of beautiful sentences, so much.

I remember a man being kicked in the face by two other men and then being chased away.

I remember drawing a picture of a boat and my teacher pinning it up on the door of the classroom. I was so proud. But we lived in the social darkness and backwardness of Tory England then, as we do now, and no one told me that pursuing art for art sake is irrelevant in Tory England, we should aim for a life in a call centre instead. Beauty is the destitute office with the distinct smell of printer ink, in Tory England.

I remember adorning myself in Leicester City blue and white and walking down to Filbert Street with my dad, past the rows of cars with Leicester City badges in the windows, and drifting into the wind with the same fans week after week. I was born one year after Gary Lineker moved to Everton from Leicester. The early 90s weren’t the greatest years for Leicester. Though I saw them play in the most exciting Wembley play off final i’ve ever seen, when Swindon Town beat us 4-3 after we went from 3-0 down to 3-3. Steve Thompson was the man on the back of my Leicester shirt that year. The walk to Filbert Street down Saffron Lane was one of the highlights of my childhood. I once saw a man push a grown woman down a flight of stairs of the double decker stand at Filbert Street, she smacked her head and passed out. That wasn’t such a highlight.

I remember my dad and I watching a sunday league football match on Nelson Mandela park, when the ball was manically kicked out of play, and smashed me in the face. The guilty player (who I am adamant even now, should be shot) came over deeply apologetic, and is now one of my dads good mates. My dad befriended my abuser. Thanks dad.

I remember walking downstairs one morning to find our shop had been broken into, the windows smashed, and police talking to my dad. This is pretty normal when you live a few doors in from Saffron Lane. The terraced houses all look the same; the towering army of Edwardian brick chimney tops, street after street. England. But the street is usually full of kids kicking a ball, and old women with nets over their hair for some uninspiring reason. Mrs Spick lived opposite us. I always thought ‘Spick’ was a name that conveyed the feeling of living in cramped streets. She was about 50. I vividly remember the awful smell that emanated from her. She spat when she spoke. Missus Spick spat when she spoke. Oh how the structure of language can disguise the vile essence it is trying to convey. Which leads me onto the next memory.

I remember the day I learnt the word “cunt”. I was 5. I overheard a man on my street call his girlfriend a cunt. We Leicestarians know how to treat our ladies. I didn’t know what it meant, so I thought i’d put this wonderful new addition to my vocabulary to use immediately. My friend who was over with his mum, and I were playing with our wrestling figures. I was Brett Hart, he was Crush. Crush attacked Brett and kicked him across the room. I didn’t hesitate any longer, “you cunt”, I yelled as loud as I could. The helper at our shop overheard me and went insane at me. So I called her a cunt too. I didn’t know what it meant, but the reaction was amazing. One single word could cause an atomic bomb to explode around me? This was like gold dust! Thus began my fascination with the power of language. Word became both exciting, yet largely meaningless and empty. My year 7 English teacher told my parents I would never be a reader and i’d never be a writer. I’ve told this story to a lot of people, because it explains exactly why I struggle at times with my confidence. She used language to convey her stupidity and ignorance and I knew it even back then. Just because I didn’t like Shakespeare, nor her, I was doomed to sit dribbling on myself and getting fat in a dark room with nothing but a TV for entertainment. What a cunt.

I remember cricket. I come from a cricket background. My dad played cricket. He now coaches cricket. He loves cricket. My mum catered for cricket testimonial matches. I could often be found in a hired out old pub, surrounded by people in grey suits talking about who should and shouldn’t make the team. Cricket is an odd game. It is played by kids, coached by the kids grown up, and watched by snobs. The pub rooms and the snobs always smelled of real ale. I can remember the smell so distinctly. Sometimes I miss it. Real ale, and old leather from the seats in the pub rooms. I played cricket for the school for a few years. I was pretty good too. But my god, it’s a boring sport.

I remember being told by our school that we should be careful because there is a man roaming the area trying to take kids by offering them sweets. I have only just learnt that all schools do this every year to teach kids about the risk of paedophiles. But when I was younger, it sounded to me like they were warning us against taking sweets from people. Why would they do that? If someone is offering me sweets, I should say no? Only people who offer kids sweets, want to kill me? All of them? This confusion led me at the age of seven to accuse the shop keeper at the end of the road of trying to take kids, because he sells Snickers. In a shop full of people, me, a kid, accused the shop keeper of being a child molester. Great. Thanks school! Not only did you make me believe I could be Fritzled at any moment, you also ruined the life of the nice corner shop owner. I hope you’re happy with yourselves.

I remember a man a few doors down from us, who was in his 90s and had one leg, the other had been blown off when Saffron Lane was bombed during the war. On the BBC war website, a writer who was eight years old during the war writes:

The worst bomb damage that I saw was in Cavendish Road, on August 21st 1940. I was with my dad in his lorry on the coal wharf at Danvers Road. The air raid siren sounded, it was just after ten o’clock. Dad made me go into an air raid shelter near by, when the all clear sounded, I came out of the shelter and we could see the smoke rising. Dad was worried as it looked to be in the direction of where we lived. He said “come on son we had better go and see if mum is OK”. As we came up the Saffron Lane past the end of Cavendish Road the gas main was blazing and I could see lots of bomb damage, many buildings were in ruins, people were just being rescued with ambulance’s and fire engines all around. This was less than half an hour after the raid. Six people were killed

All I knew from the history of my street, was that it had been destroyed during the war. This one guy in his 90s used to say this his knee in his one remaining leg hurt, and he’s lucky he doesn’t have to deal with pain in the other one. He was fascinating. Here is a picture of the building that got hit. Our place was a few doors up from here:


The houses are pretty much exactly as they were back then. Though, minus that massive gaping hole on the corner.

I remember my primary school teacher had some sort of odd mental breakdown whilst reading a book with me one day, and started to sing “the wheels on the bus” whilst stood on a table. She then collapsed and was taken away by the school nurse and a few teachers. It’s funny because I worried about her. We never saw her at school again. Years later I saw her driving.

End.


Racism in America: Today

April 13, 2011

When the United States was beginning to form, there was a hierarchy of oppression that kept everyone subservient to someone above them. The King of England demanded goods from the Jamestown white elite who exploited and controlled the white frontiersman who, in order to appease the elite with money and land, slaughtered Indigenous people and brutalized African slaves. Many whites joined Indigenous and African rebellions. The white elite worked to stop this because they knew such an alliance would become too powerful and would succeed at overthrowing the control that the elite and the King had. So in order to separate the whites from everyone else, they started giving more privileges (land and better treatment) to the white servants. This worked. The working class whites effectively abandoned the movements for change and to this day these groups have problems working together.
– Howard Zinn, 1980.

46% of American Republicans in the State of Mississippi believe that interracial marriage should be illegal. I will elaborate on and explain this later.

After my blog on the racism of Abraham Lincoln, I wondered whether race is still a divisive issue today as it has always been, in America. In the UK, race is still an issue, though it is far more subtle and much less noticeable, but it exists nonetheless. There isn’t this notion of white supremacy, nor do we have the history of the “founders” being slave owners or massive racial segregation up until very recently. We don’t have a KKK equivalent and we didn’t fight a civil war to protect the rights of States to own slaves. Race is certainly a problem in the UK though. We tend to become far more Nationalist during times of economic hardship and the need to blame immigrants or anyone who doesn’t happen to fit the narrow band of what it means to be “British” becomes an almost accepted narrative. Political parties push immigration reform to the top of their agendas, giving credit to such racial tension. Race is used as a divisive mechanism to subvert attention away from a failing class system.

Here in the UK, with talk of economic austerity, it was only a matter of time before the issue of race was introduced into the equation. We know that poorer areas like inner city Liverpool, Manchester, and Hackney are going to face the toughest council cuts. Low socio-economic areas are predominantly mixed race or black and Asian. So it was only a matter of time before David Cameron would bring race into the mix. He then suddenly made a speech against multiculturalism, in which he mentions the words “islam” and “muslim” 36 times, and “Christianity” once. Race is yet again being used as a divisive wedge.

Back to the USA, and the 19th Century, before the Civil War. It has long been argued by the rather hermetic Southern America that the Civil war was a war between the States (the South) and the big bad Federal Government (the North). Yes. The States rights to own and perpetuate slavery. The charge against a big bad Federal Government invading the lives of its citizens does not hold up when you look at the evidence, and is actually rather rudimentary.

The American lawyer and journalist William Walker, in 1854, after a failed attempt to set up a Republic of Sonora in Mexico, with the intention of it becoming a State of the Union; invaded Nicaragua for control of a vital trade route between New York and San Francisco. He succeeded in his efforts, and took control of Nicaragua, renaming it “Walkeragua” (seriously, i’m not making this up). In 1856, President Franklin Pierce, officially recognised Walker’s regime in Walkeragua as legitimate. His regime began to Americanise Walkeragua, by instating slavery, using American currency, and making English the official language. He advertised his new Country to American Southern businessmen by advertising the fact that his new quasi-State was pro-slavery and would remain so. By the time Walker revoked Nicaragua’s 1824 Emancipation Act, the rest of Latin America took note, and invaded. He fled and was bought back to the U.S where he was welcomed as a hero of the South. As “States rights” go, invading another sovereign nation and revoking its anti-slavery laws, is about as big and as bad as a Federal Government can get. He died before the Civil War kicked off, but the South referred to him throughout the Civil War as “General Walker“. The South did not just fight to preserve the institution of slavery, they wanted to expand it, on a grand scale, to the point where Senator John Crittenden of Kentucky proposed that the 36°30′ parallel north be a line that separates the northern free states, and the southern slave states, all the way down to the tip of South America. American racism has always been rife.

In 2011, membership of white supremacist organisations has increased tremendously. According the the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks white supremacist organisations in the US, the number of members is up by 48% since 2000. Jeff Schoep, head of the National Socialist Movement (the Nazi Movement) in America, who the FBI classify as terrorists, said:

“The immigration issue is the biggest problem we’re facing because it’s changing the face of our country. We see stuff in England and Spain like this. … They are turning those countries into a Third World ghetto.”

Well, I live in England, and he’s right!!! Here is the River Thames in Central London a few years back:

Here is the River Thames in Central London today:

Sad times.

The largest white supremacist group in America; Stormfront have a website with a forum, which includes systematic attacks on white jewish people. They appear to use “Jew” as a term of race. White, black, Jew. On a discussion about the economic crises, a member called “Crowstorm” whose nationality he has set as “Jewnited States of America” says this:

The problem is, Jews look White so when people see a Jew do evil, they don’t say “look at the evil Jew”… no, they say “look at that evil White man.

– It is an odd statement to make for a variety of reasons. First, a Jewish person is not the colour “Jewish“. It isn’t white, black, jew. If he’s a white man and Jewish, then he’s a white Jew. Jewish is not a race. But not just that, but race itself is not biological. It doesn’t exist. It is a fantasy. An abstraction. Like Nationality and Religion. All man made abstractions, meaningless nothingness used to create tension between low socio-economic groups to ensure disunity. If poor white people are blaming poor black people for all the trouble in New Orleans after Katrina hit, then their attention is on each other, and not on the very rich folk in Washington (both white and black) who washed their hands of the plight of anyone who isn’t a very wealthy lobbyist decades ago. And lastly, no one says “look at the evil white man”, because for the vast majority of people, race isn’t an issue; if you’re evil, I don’t care what colour you are.

Another quite extraordinary post on Stormfront was from a school teacher who taught apparently in black schools. Here are some of the quotes from it:

I was away about two minutes but when I got back, the black girls had lined up at the front of the classroom and were convulsing to the delight of the boys.

Many black people, especially women, are enormously fat.

Blacks, on average, are the most directly critical people I have ever met: “Dat shirt stupid. Yo’ kid a bastard. Yo’ lips big.” Unlike whites, who tread gingerly around the subject of race, they can be brutally to the point.

When a black wants to ask, “Where is the bathroom?” he may actually say “Whar da badroom be?”

Many black girls are perfectly happy to be welfare queens.

There is something else that is striking about blacks. They seem to have no sense of romance, of falling in love.

Pregnancy was common among the blacks, though many black girls were so fat I could not tell the difference.

My white students came back with generally “conservative” ideas. “We need to cut off people who don’t work,” was the most common suggestion. Nearly every black gave a variation on the theme of “We need more government services.” One black girl was exhorting the class on the need for more social services and I kept trying to explain that people, real live people, are taxed for the money to pay for those services. “Yeah, it come from whites,” she finally said. “They stingy anyway.”

It is impossible to get them to care about such abstractions as property rights or democratic citizenship.

– The “teacher” goes on to say he doesn’t understand why his black students think he his a racist. Surely it isn’t racist to think that black students are inherently lazy, fat, illiterate, racist, anti-democratic, communist sluts who just don’t understand why being indoctrinated in Conservative ideology is a wonderful learning experience and are incapable of love?

The days of burning crosses and wearing silly costumes are over. White supremacists tend now to fight their cause with mainstream language like “We just want to protect our children and live in a safe environment“, the language is manipulative because they are simply masking the fact that they blame anyone with slightly darken skin for why their neighborhood isn’t safe.

A study by the American economic review between July 2001 and May 2002 entitled “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.” , found that job applicants with a white sounding name are 50% more likely to be asked back than an applicant with a white sounding name. The researches sent out 5000 applications in sales, marketing, clerical and customer service positions. The names they used were a mix of white sounding names, and black sounding names. The report showed that white applicants with stronger resumes than other white applicants received 30% more callbacks, whereas black applicants with stronger resumes than other black applicants received just 9% more callbacks. It proved that regardless of credentials, black applicants were 50% less likely to get a callback than a white applicant.

Institutional racism is particularly subtle, and so less noticeable. If you are black, you are three times more likely to be pulled over in your car and searched for drugs than if you’re white, despite the fact that if you’re white, on the few occasions when you are pulled over you are four times more likely to have drugs on you. If you are white and you drive past the police without them pulling you over, you are experiencing the privilege of being white. The war on drugs then, is not a war on drugs, if it were, those statistics would be a hell of a lot different. The war on drugs would go where the drugs actually are, not where the people with dark skin are. It is a racist institution.

Christopher Columbus is hailed as the founder of America. He has a day named after him. It is not taught in any history class at American schools the true horror that started the day that Columbus found an island in the Lucayan Archipelago in the Bahamas that he named San Salvador, though it was actually already named, by the population who lived there, as Guanahani. Within years, Spanish adventurers had captured thousands of the native Taino population, enslaved them, and took their women captive as wives/sex slaves. The Spanish had utterly devastated the Taino population by the turn of the 16th Century. Epidemic disease brought by the Europeans was bad enough, but the Spanish settlers placed too much strain on local crop farmers, and the survival of the Spanish was considered more important than the survival of the Taino’s and so the food naturally ended up in the hands of the Spanish. Columbus when he landed, wrote of the natives:

“We can send from here, in the name of the Holy Trinity, all the slaves and Brazil wood which could be sold.”

– We know what he had planned. Nicolas Ovando, the governor of the Indies from 1501 to 1509, decided he needed to ensure the Taino’s knew their place once and for all. He did this by inviting the much loved Taino queen Anacoana and local tribal chiefs to a dinner to celebrate his governorship. When they were all in the room, the Spaniards set it on fire, killing most of those inside. The ones who got out, were tortured for days on end and then killed. Queen Anacoana was tortured and hung. By 1510, the Taino’s were virtually extinct.

To be honest, there really isn’t much you can celebrate about Columbus. Apart from bringing with him the biggest genocide in history, he was a rather simple man. He believed Cuba was in Asia, that he hadn’t discovered a new land, that the entire continent of South America was an Island, and to pay his debt to the Spanish crown he raped his way across Central America taking as many as 1200 women and children slaves for Europe; children who had, without a second thought, been stripped away from their families. But don’t take my word for, take it from the man himself:

“We shall take you and your wives, and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault .”

I cannot think of a worse man to idolise.

Back to the present day, as if Stormfront and institutional racism and selective history aren’t enough to convince a person that racism is deeply ingrained in the American psyche, certain lovely little advertisements have deep racist connotations, still.

Aunt Jemima, a trademark for breakfast food owned by Quaker Oats is still going today. Aunt Jemima represents the notion of a good little black ex-slave girl who just loves her servile role as servant to a white middle class consumer.

Equally as subtle, is Uncle Ben’s rice. It would be ridiculous for a company now, to have as its fictional spokesperson, a black man using the name “Uncle” which was a term used by the children of white slave owners to refer to their slaves. If a newly formed rice company were to say “Well, you know that we white people used to ship Africans in to farm our rice fields, as slaves? Well why don’t we make our spokesmen black?” they would be lambasted as a hugely racist company. But Uncle Ben is a tradition, and so it appears acceptable, though the stereotype behind it perpetuates the racist sentiments it subtly encourages. This kind of subtle cultural racism has not gone unnoticed. In an episode of the Sopranos (the greatest show on TV) Tony warns a black guy away from his daughter. Tony then has an anxiety attack when he sees a packet of Uncle Ben’s.

Public Policy Polling of Raleigh North Carolina, found that 46% of Republican voters in Mississippi think interracial marriage should be illegal. 14% said they weren’t sure. I cannot comprehend that number. It does indeed show that race is an issue, and especially with Republican voters. There is still the essence that the white race is superior and should be protected. This sentiment has found its outlet with the Tea Party movement of recent months. Whilst Glenn Beck spews his bullshit, insisting on top rated “news” channel that Obama has a deep seated hatred for the white race, his equally as vacant and mind numbingly moronic viewers stalk the streets with signs like this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

Now I wouldn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that the Tea Party is an inherently racist organisation, it is mainly a vehicle to promote the incoherent ramblings of an uneducated economically far right puritanical Republican group wholly run by Corporate America to advance its interest at the behest of even the idiots who indirectly fight for the rights of Corporate America, now slowly morphed to include racism as part of their base.

It is sad to see notion of race being such an issue in 21st Century America. One would have hoped that the social wedge of racism, placed to draw attention away from class and a deeply unequal wealth system would have crumbled away, or intellectually and politically dismembered for the disease that it is. Race is not real. Class is.


God the predator

April 10, 2011

One of the greatest evolutionary qualities of any animal, is the defence mechanism of the Horned Lizard. It believes it is the top of the food chain, and is blissfully unaware of any predator, until that predator is close enough to cause such powerful distress, that the horned lizard ruptures tiny blood vessels in its own eyes, and squirts blood at the predator. The blood tastes so vile, that the canine predator will immediately run away and leave the lizard alone. The one drawback is that the blood does not affect predatory birds. So the birds will still try to eat the lizard. There has been no evolutionary development within the Phrynosomatidae genus, that can act as a defence mechanism against the predatory birds.

If the Horned Lizard is to be held up as an example of intelligent design within nature, then it would appear that the “intelligent” designer overlooked its need for protection against predatory birds. What a dreadful argument for design. In the same way as the “intelligent” designer, when designing humans, gave us a vermiform appendix whose only purpose is to randomly kill us. Thanks God! The lack of defence mechanism against predatory birds, like the appendix within a human, is a sign of the misgivings of evolution, yet at the same time, pretty strong evidence for evolution.

God, up until very recently, and still in some parts of the World, is a predatory bird that we have no defence against. We are evolving a defence every so often. Society is remarkably similar to the evolution of species. Our defence against the predatory nature of God – whom we have designated as our predator, because we seemingly cannot stand to be at the top of the food chain ourselves – is logic and reason. Christians, Jews and Muslims alike find implausible and repugnant the idea that Mesoamericans were inclined for centuries to brutally sacrifice another human being every morning to ensure that the sun would rise. Even though the logic behind Mesoamerican sacrifice was essentially identical to Christian, Jewish and Islamic worship tradition. The Aztecs believed in the legend of the five suns, whom were gods that sacrificed themselves for the sake of mankind, which sounds eerily familiar to the story of another invented character from history; Jesus. Both Christianity and Aztec Mesoamericans believed the sacrifice made by their God/s sustained humanity’s place in the universe, which God/s created in the first place. The victim of Aztec sacrifice was seen to be “nextlahualli”, which simply means, paying his debt to the Gods. One wonders what kind of God requires his creation to sacrifice each other for the sake of the upkeep of his creation. It seems a little oxymoronic. But similarly, the notion that a God that has created everything (and that everything encompasses itself) would demand prayer five times a day, or driving Pope Urban II to state that war could be not only just and necessary, but also key to the advancement of spirituality, demanding fear and obsessive worship of his “greatness” despite not giving us the opportunity to agree to be born into such a wretched system in the first place. This notion that war is a spiritual necessity is not simply a product of the Papacy of the middle ages; the Orange Volunteers in Northern Ireland are a Protestant Terrorist group. They have threatened to bomb football matches, they have bombed homes of politicians and they are still active today, having sent death threats to head of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams.

On the subject of human sacrifice, the Bible is not immune to such practices. Jephthah in the book of Judges, is keen to sacrifice his daughter, to glorify God. In return for God’s help in defeating the Ammonites, Jephthah says he will sacrifice his daughter as a “burnt offering”. His daughter seems perfectly happy with this deal, but is a little bit sad that she didn’t get the chance to get laid before her dad rightly burned her to death:

When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. “My daughter!” he cried out. “My heart is breaking! What a tragedy that you came out to greet me. For I have made a vow to the LORD and cannot take it back.” And she said, “Father, you have made a promise to the LORD. You must do to me what you have promised, for the LORD has given you a great victory over your enemies, the Ammonites. But first let me go up and roam in the hills and weep with my friends for two months, because I will die a virgin.” “You may go,” Jephthah said. And he let her go away for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never have children. When she returned home, her father kept his vow, and she died a virgin. So it has become a custom in Israel for young Israelite women to go away for four days each year to lament the fate of Jephthah’s daughter.

– Notice the custom at the end. A needless custom, based on a situation that is nothing short of monstrous and predatory.

The predatory instincts of the faithful play a dark and deadly role in every part of the World. A Muslim friend of mine once told me that whilst his belief is that I am indeed condemned to burn in hell for eternity (apparently, saying that kind of thing, is not as offensive as drawing a cartoon of the Prophet), I don’t believe it so it shouldn’t bother me. What an interesting argument. To ignore the fact that a large amount of the population of the World, who have never met me, never spoken to me, never had the pleasure of eating one of my amazing roast turkey dinners, would take one look at me, and decide i’m heading to a fiery pit, is to perpetuate the awful trait of ignorance. Those people are ignorant to who I am. They have made a conclusion based on nothing but a fairy tale from their book. That is ignorant and preaches non-thinking. That, I cannot abide. Naturally, I believe their distinct form of hatred to be putrid and absurd, it should be ridiculed and philosophically attacked for the bullshit that it is. But he suggested that I shouldn’t care, because I don’t believe in it so it wont affect me. On a very thin reasonable level, this makes sense. To me, i’m not going to a fiery doom. To him, I am. To care about how he thinks of my eternal hell is irrelevant because I don’t believe it, right? Well then the Islamic world should perhaps practice what it preaches in that respect and not demand Fatwa’s be placed on non-believers simply because they drew a cartoon or wrote a book. To call for the death of another human being, because a book was written, is nonsensical and despicable. Religion doesn’t particularly enjoy free speech, because it wishes to perpetuate its nonsense through mass indoctrination, without question. In this respect, it is predatory.

Nietzsche – who incidentally is becoming the hell of my life with politics study – once noted that “God is dead”. The suggestion being that society has evolved to a stage where belief in God is irrational and unnecessary, whereas in time past, belief was essential. A social development that means we no longer need that objective base for our morality that anchored generations previous. I think Nietzsche is wrong. I don’t believe God was ever alive. The belief in God was a forced belief. It was through the threat of eternal hell, and in fact Earthly death for heretics – William Tyndale was famously strangled at the stake and then burnt for daring to translate the Bible into English – ensured that God would live on as a concept, in the minds of the fearful. A lack of belief in a God was punishable by death. A lack of belief in the God philosophically interpreted by the State, was punishable by death. The claim that religion has ever held an objective base for morality is as ludicrous as it is insulting. One only has to review the centuries that religion has had a deep hold over humanity, to note the horrific abuses over such trivial issues. The very first person to be executed for heresy under Christian law, was Priscillian, the Bishop of Avila, in the fourth century. Christianity was still incredibly young at that stage. It was only fifty years previous that Constantine had converted the Empire to Christianity, though he knew very little about the faith. The lack of worship of an Emperor in Rome – the Imperial Cult – would lead to public floggings and executions. It appears that as the Roman Empire was dying, the indoctrinated peoples needed to transfer that obsessive cult worship from the less and less powerful Emperor, to a new single identity, and Christianity provided that outlet. It is no surprise then, that the beatings, and the tortures, and the murders that followed if one chose not to accept the doctrines of the Imperial Cult, would transfer to Christianity also. Suddenly if you did not agree with the Theology of the Church, you were excommunicated at best, and put to death at worst.

Of course now, instead of using the fear of death to ensure blind acquiescence, religion tends to get to people at an early age, and reinforce religious morality as a basis for objective morality. We were told at school that Bible stories helped to teach kids right from wrong. What those teachers left out, were the stories of mass genocide and the systematic abuse of women, by a God who was apparently responsible for helping kids distinguish between right and wrong. A writer for The Sun wrote recently on the news that a primary school in Blackburn will be teaching certain Atheist principles (simple introduction to Darwinism) that:

I think that four years old is too young to be learning about atheism.

At that age they hardly know what Christianity is. I’m sure a four-year-old couldn’t comprehend it.

I am sure it is not appropriate to be teaching, say, Darwinism to infants. In primary schools it is difficult to get youngsters to understand theology and spiritual concepts. Children tend to struggle when you are making the first Holy Communion.

Why is he placing the teaching of Christianity above Darwinism? He is happy to teach kids a fairy story, but wishes to suppress facts that contradict his fairy story? He goes on:

I think it is still important to teach Christianity and other major religions in schools. Christianity is not as strong in schools as it used to be. I don’t think so many young people know the Lord’s Prayer or popular hymns any more.
There used to be a prayer every morning during school assemblies and that has gone now.

– I agree, it is important to teach Christianity and other major religions in school, but it is not right to teach it as unquestionable fact. He makes a major leap from teaching Christianity, as a subject, to then suddenly moaning that the indoctrination of students through morning prayer isn’t as strong any more. It is absolutely necessary to prevent indoctrination of children through morning prayer. To preach Christianity in primary school is to preach the absolute obedience to a heavenly dictator, and to ignore arguments to the contrary. That is wrong, on so many levels. At my primary school, we were forced to say morning prayer, on fear of being thrown out of the room and given lines to write at play time, if we didn’t. The predatory nature of religion.

As it stands, and to my dismay, humanity needs religion. I would never seek to ban anyones faith. I believe everyone has the right to believe whatever they chose to believe, and to practice the traditions and customs of that system of belief in which ever country they see fit. I have absolutely no problem with Mosques being built in the UK, or with the Christian Church bells never ending on a Sunday morning. I was happy to take my shoes off when walking in the spectacular Blue Mosque in the heart of the old city of Constantinople, now Istanbul. But I do hold out hope that one day society will evolve to a state of being in which organised religion is consigned to the bin of undesirable history.