The Curious Case of Mehdi Hasan.

February 28, 2013

In 2012 the political director of The Huffington Post UK, Mehdi Hasan debated Times columnist David Aaronovitch in a Huffington Post debate on the ‘right to offend‘. Hasan argued that his Islamic faith defines him, more so than his racial identity and from this, argues that the right to mock or ridicule faith, is taking the limits of free expression too far. I think this is perhaps where Hasan makes two crucial mistakes, and his statements in the past most certainly back up my assertion that Hasan makes two crucial mistake at that point.

It is my belief, that the freedom to satirise, mock, criticise, as well as question all authoritative ideas, including all religions that themselves are openly critical of how those outside the faith live their lives, is the cornerstone of a progressive, and reasonable society. These ideas include the freedom to satirise and criticise and question deeply held political ideals, including my own. We must not allow religions to be free from satire, nor criticism, simply because it is cloaked in ‘faith’. To close them to criticism/satirism by using State controls and violence, means that the idea becomes taboo, humanity cannot progress the idea, and it gives the idea an authority above what it is reasonably justified in having, over the lives of not just its followers, but those who don’t wish to adhere to its principles. This is dangerous.

When a faith is personal, kept private, and is not used to justify bigotry and the withholding of the rights of others; then we should exercise restraint and human decency and not openly mock that person for no reason… we shouldn’t be banned from doing so, we should be responsible enough not to. It is personal to that person, and has no bearing on my life, or the life of anyone else. Inner faith; regardless of the religion, is, i’m sure, a wonderful thing. Go to Church, go to Mosque, express your inner faith, personally. It is yours to keep, and I will happily defend anyone’s right to believe whatever they wish. As Jefferson quite wonderfully told; it does me no harm for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods or no God. Likewise, it does me no harm if my neighbour believes Jesus rose from the dead, or that Muhammad received revelation from God, or in the beautiful spiritual journey set out in the Tao Te Ching, or in Thor, or Apollo, or any other God. As long as it is personal, and relates only to how that one individual chooses to live.

But when a faith is used to attempt to influence the public sphere in a way that erodes secular values (see my article on the American Christian war on Secularism), or tells people what they should or shouldn’t wear, or fights to withhold rights based on sexuality, or that encourages the individual believer to insult or belittle the individual non-believer, or promotes primitive bigotry regardless of scientific and social advancement, if a faith outwardly promotes the idea that as a non-believer, I am “living like an animal” or destined for hell for eternal punishment and pain, and is so dogmatic in its division between “Muslim” and “Kuffar“, and insists on teaching these putrid notions to impressionable children, all as outwardly displays of ‘faith‘; then that faith opens itself up to mocking, ridicule and criticism, just like every other idea in society, and I see no reason why it should be free from that, nor why we should feel a duty to accept it silently.

If faith is kept personal; it holds no problems. If it promotes outward condemnation of anyone who doesn’t fit its narrow spectrum of what is decent and correct; then it becomes an ideology, and that’s when it opens itself up to ridicule, and contempt in the exact same way as Political ideologies. For Hasan to suggest we mustn’t offend faith, purely because that faith “defines him“, does nothing to convince me that his faith is worthy of being placed above a position of disrespect. Communism may define someone. Fascism may define someone. The moment they start to tell people who awful they are, for not adhering to their “defining” features, is the moment it becomes open to a backlash, and rightfully so. And as such, I expect my ‘ideas’ on secularism, democracy, and liberalism to be open to ridicule and disrespect from believers. Ideas are not, and should never be free from criticism.

If we are to say that religions (remember, to non-believers, they are just ideas) are off limits for ridicule, mockery, or insult…. is it also reasonable to say that the religious must not mock, ridicule or insult Secularism, Democracy, America, The West? What if I were to say that both Atheism and Secularism define my World view? Should they be free from ridicule? I don’t think they should.

The second reason Hasan is horribly off the mark, is he doesn’t seem to extend his restriction on the right to offend, to himself. In the debate Hasan says:

“How do you construct, a civilised society, especially one as culturally, religiously, and racially diverse as ours, if we go around encouraging everyone in it, just to insult one another, abuse one another, offend one another.”

– From this, you would be forgiven for thinking that all Hasan wants, is a World where we all get along, without purposely saying words and phrases that might cause offence.
And yet, in 2009, Hasan gave a speech at the Al Khoei Islamic Centre, in which he quite openly states:

“The kaffar, the disbelievers, the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to the teachings of Islam, the rational message of the Quran; they are described in the Quran as, quote, “a people of no intelligence”, Allah describes them as; not of no morality, not as people of no belief – people of “no intelligence” – because they’re incapable of the intellectual effort it requires to shake off those blind prejudices, to shake off those easy assumptions about this world, about the existence of God.”

– It is important to note that ‘Kuffar‘ is a hugely derogative term used by Muslims referring to non-Muslims, to further create an us VS them mentality, with “them” being below “us“. A term of inferiority. Kuffar is the plural, of Kaffir. It has no positive connotation, it is used as a term of abuse only. It is used to divide their very simplistic World into two groups; one being positive for humanity, the other being negative. One only has to search twitter for the term “Kuffar” and read the horrendous bigotry and threats of violence against non-believers, to see it is a hate term. If that is not enough, look at the use of the term throughout history. Some will claim “It just means unbeliever“. It doesn’t. It is derogatory. If we turned the term around, and it was a Western term used to degrade and insult Muslims, Hasan would be the first to jump on it as a term of Islamophobia, that we shouldn’t use if we wish to live side by side in civilised harmony.
Why use “Kuffar” at all? There is no need for it.
Note; after he explains what Allah describes, he says “because…”. This marks the end of what the Qur’an says, and the beginning of Hasan’s own personal explanation; whether he draws on what the Qur’an says or not, this is what he thinks. In fact, the beginning of the quote, is his own explanation, his own harsh words. He is purposely being insulting. But he demands respect for the faith that teaches him that it’s okay to be insulting to the rest of us. I’m afraid, that’s not going to happen.

Predictably, right winged commentators jumped on Hasan’s quote and branded Hasan an extremist; a crazy bigoted Islamic Fanatic! The typical nonsense from Peter Hitchens. As much as its worth, Hasan for me, most certainly isn’t an extremist. His tirades against Apostasy laws, against Islamic extremism, against the idea of an ‘Islamic State‘, against funding for bombs as opposed to public goods, and his verbal assaults on Islamic oppression across the World are testament to his rational thought processes that quite obviously do not place him in the same category, as, say, Anjem Choudary. But that still doesn’t mean he isn’t playing a game of Us vs Them, he is still guilty of inciting division, with a form of fundamentalism anchored to the notion that the Qur’an, regardless of some of its more vindictive verses, is the unquestionable word of God. His defence for the above quote is also vastly misguided:

“Did I, invoking a verse from the Quran, refer to unthinking, incurious non-Muslims as “cattle”? Yes but – and here’s where context matters! – if you listen to the full speech, you’ll hear me refer to unthinking, incurious Muslims as “cattle” too (“We are the cattle that Allah condemns in the Quran,” I said.)”

– Here, when welded together with the above quote, does not help his case. Why does he think he has a right to refer to individual people, that he has never met, whom aren’t a part of his faith or have anything to do with him, as ‘cattle‘? Notice he doesn’t insist that the Qur’an is perhaps short sighted, nor try to argue that we aren’t all to be considered unthinking. He simply implies it must be true, because the Qur’an says so. What a cop out. Why does he need to mention non-believers at all? If the Qur’an tells you that everyone is unthinking cattle, then say everyone. Why refer to non-believers? Why use the word ‘Kuffar‘? Why is that absolutely relevant to a speech, from someone claiming all he wants is peaceful coexistence? In his words, not the Qur’an, we non-believers are ‘incapable of the intellectual effort it requires‘ about the existence of God. He is exhausting the object. Think of those who are encompassed in the phrase he used. Remember, the context of Hasan’s quote is there to see. He makes no compromise. He is clear; non-muslims are incapable of intelligent thought, and are in curious; Aristotle was not a Muslim; incurious and unintelligent. Newton was not a Muslim; incurious and unintelligent. Darwin was not a Muslim; incurious and unintelligent. Stephen Hawking was not a Muslim; incurious and unintelligent. Ben Franklin was not a Muslim; incurious and unintelligent. He isn’t offering any compromise; we non-Muslims all, in the words of Mehdi Hasan, “incapable” of intelligent thought on the existence of God. We cannot possibly be intelligent, if we consider God, and dismiss the notion. We must be idiots. He is simply reaffirming his view, that Muslims are superior. It isn’t extremism, it is an fundamental Islamic superiority complex.

In another 2009 speech, Hasan says:

“We know that keeping the moral high-ground is key. Once we lose the moral high-ground we are no different from the rest of the non-Muslims; from the rest of those human beings who live their lives as animals, bending any rule to fulfil any desire.”

– This is interesting, because in the aforementioned debate; Hasan claims a deep dislike for seeing posters declaring Muslims as ‘savages‘. He is of course right to hold those signs, and the people who put them up, in disdain. But here, he is no different. He is insisting non-Muslims live as animals. He again defends this horrendously bigoted quote with simply “I was just quoting the Qur’an“. Of course, that’s not the context of the quote. He insists the quote was taken out of context. Yes. It was. By himself. Prior to the above quote, Hasan quite rightfully dismisses extremism:

“In Islam, the ends do not justify the means. This idea is totally alien to Islam. In Islam, what’s halaal is halaal. What’s hareem is hareem. We do not bend our law, our morality for short term aim. And we never lose the moral high ground.”

– That is the context with which the quote must be placed. True Muslims do not ‘bend our morality’. Of course, objective morality in all religious context, is nonsense, as i’ve argued peviously. But beyond that, his point is quite clear. True Muslims have clear objective morals, the moral high ground! The best way! The rest of us, don’t. We’re “lost“. We live like animals. It is vicious Islamic bigotry, because it is not aimed at an idea, it is aimed at individual people; and if non-believers say something slightly similar, we are ‘Islamophobic‘. (Note; there appears no term to describe the phobia and hatred toward Western civilisation).

It is within this context that we must place his understanding of free expression and its limits. Quoting the Qur’an, when you believe the Qur’an to be the infallible word of Allah, is not a defence. It is what you believe.

As Hasan insistes; we shouldn’t encourage a civilised society to insult one another. Here, he is indeed correct. We should absolutely be free to insult, but it isn’t something to be encouraged. In other articles, he is unhappy with the rise of Islamophobia, he insists the attacks are unnecessary (that’s most certainly a matter of opinion, and I don’t think he has a right to silence anyone who dislikes any idea from saying so, including Islam). And yet, he seemingly has no issue insulting non-Muslims, referring to us individually as unthinking, incurious, and morally dubious. And he does so, from the context of ‘what the Qur’an says‘. He neither tries to correct this, nor argue against it, taking it instead, unquestioningly, as what the Qur’an teaches. How does he expect those Muslims within those walls listening to him, to take that? A positive view of non-believers? Of course not. It merely strengthens the us VS them mentality that most certainly exists within sections (and not just extremist sections) of the Muslim community. Does quoting the Qur’an’s more abusive and insulting verses, count toward his vision of a civilised society based on respect?

His defence (seen here) is a mish-mash of non-arguments. At one point, even suggesting that he cannot possibly believe non-believers to be inferior, because he works with non-believers. He spends too much time explaining why he isn’t the second coming of Osama Bin Laden, rather than explaining why he thinks he is justified in quoting abusive or insulting Quranic verses, or how he sees those as any different from Islamophobic remarks aimed at him in the past.

He then tries to wiggle his way out of his own words, with the usual “it’s taken out of context” (unless the diatribe was followed by “… and I disagree with what the Qur’an says here“…… then it isn’t taken out of context). Or “I was quoting the Qur’an“. In that case, the Qur’an should most certainly not be free from ridicule and mocking, when it quite openly disrespects non-believers so much. Why should we afford it such respect? Why should we have to put up with the abuse it hands out, the abuse that its believers then so openly quote and not speak out? And if the Qur’an is as openly disrespectful to non-Muslims (even if it affords the same disrespect to Muslims, as Hasan suggests, it is irrelevant… because it is nothing to do with our lives as non-believers, and do not ask for nor care for its opinion on us), I wonder if Hasan would be happy to suggest that the Qur’an falls under his understanding of ‘offence’ that shouldn’t be encouraged, because it seems to me, and by his own admission, his speeches are entirely encouraged by that Book. I suspect he is happy to allow Muslims to keep referring to non-believers as “Kuffar” or “living like animals“, as long as they follow it up with “… Just the Qur’an!” For non-believers, the Qur’an is not a special book, it is not divine, it holds no superior spot on our bookshelf, and so to hide behind it, is meaningless.

In a further defence, Hasan says:

“I grow tired of having to also endure a barrage of lazy stereotypes, inflammatory headlines, disparaging generalisations and often inaccurate and baseless stories.

– Well, Mehdi, so do non-believers. Lazy stereotypes from a God who considers us unthinking, and incurious. Inflammatory headlines and generalisations and often inaccurate and baseless stories about how non-believers bend our morality to suit ourselves. I am sick of emails from Muslims calling me a “dirty Kuffar” (the perpetuation of that word, Hasan clearly has no issue with), insisting I will have to face Allah and explain why I didn’t believe before facing eternity in hell… and then being asked not to say that the idea of Islam repulses me. When an idea is full of condemnation, and full of us VS them, to the point where even moderates like Hasan use it, and hide behind it, to justify their bigotry; it is not a faith that deserves freedom from ridicule or mockery. It invites it, and it deserves it. When a faith becomes an outward show; degrading others for how they live, what they should think, invoke the notion of eternal punishment for non-believers, either subtly or forcefully insisting on the superiority of its believers, then it is most unworthy of our unquestioning respect.

To a non-believer, hiding bigotry behind “it’s in this book, and this book is true!” is absurd. It is not a reasonable excuse, when the vitriol is aimed at us. “A book written over 1000 years ago, says you’re unintelligent and incurious and living like an animal, so, yeah, it must be true. Don’t insult it. It’s what we believe“. Absurd, putrid, divisive, bigoted nonsense.

You cannot wrap bigotry up in a veil of “belief” and not expect criticism.
We should not feel compelled to respect a belief that insists non-believers will burn in hell for eternity, that we are unintelligent and incurious, that we are inferior, and that we live like animals. Respect the right to believe, not the belief.

Regardless of how much Islam or the Prophet means to Mehdi (“more dear to me than my parents. Than my children” he says at one point), the moment he used the Qur’an to insult and degrade non-believers, the moment an ‘idea’ condemns those who don’t adhere to it, to eternal punishment; is the moment he opened up his beliefs to insult and satire. Hasan tried to exclaim that religious belief is no different than race. This is of course not true. Race is natural, like gender and sexuality. Adhering to the principles of an idea, is a choice; a learned behaviour, regardless of how much it ‘defines’ a person, it is not a natural trait, it is always just a concept, an idea.

The idea itself, which I say is free to be mocked and insulted, is autonomous. It is just a concept. According to Hasan’s logic, the deeper an idea is adhered to, or believed, the more it is comparable to natural attributes, and the less it should be open to satire. This is a dangerous notion, and it strikes at everything a free, open and curious society stands for. If we are free to mock political ideas and values, (which many, hold dear, and which can also define a person) then I see no reason why religions should be free from the same treatment.

It’s just my belief” or “It’s written in my Holy Book!” is used often by the bigoted religious, for all sorts of reasons. Christians will quote Leviticus in their hostility to all things homosexual, as if that suddenly absolves them of their homophobia. Should we really be expected to respect the Catholic faith, when it’s leader states quite openly of gay people:

“The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today….”

– I wouldn’t stay quiet if someone walked up to my gay friends to tell them that they are unnatural. And yet, because a man with an old book says so, we must be respectful? Religions deal extensively in hate, division and bigotry regardless of their shoddy attempts to insist they are peaceful and respectful. They aren’t. The beliefs themselves do not come complete with unquestioning respect from the rest of us. We must respect a person’s right to believe whatever they wish, but the beliefs themselves; especially when they promote division and hostility, do not deserve complete freedom from insult or satire. From a personal position; if your religion insults my gay friends, wishes to impose power of a woman’s uterus, and tells me I am destined to burn for eternity…. then I absolutely do not like, nor respect your religion.

Mehdi Hasan is no Islamist. He is not an extremist. It is absurd to say otherwise. He is important as a Muslim, in the fight against extremism, of which he is vocal. But he is a Muslim. He believes the derogatory remarks in his Holy Book to be the word of God. And that is where the problem with dogmatic religion ultimately lies. The ‘word‘ of God in the Books are considered final, and unquestionable. The right to offend non-believers comes purely from trusting that one person, had the revelation he claims to have had. Revelation is individual, to the person who experiences it… to everyone else, it is hearsay and taken on faith. We should all therefore feel threatened by anyone who claims divine right, via belief in hear-say, to tell someone other than themselves, how to live, dress, who to love, how to think, talk and act; the very nature of Holy Books. And for they then to claim this must not be mocked, satirised or ridiculed; This is poisonous.

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The Callous Smile of Cardinal Turkson

February 25, 2013

401px-Cardinal_Tukson_987
As the white smoke billows out from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, the World will be waiting to know who will be the man (not woman, that apparently, would be wrong) to take on the enormous challenges the Catholic Church currently faces.

One of the leading candidate to replace Pope Benedict, as the new Pontiff, is Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. The media outlets love him on account of him not being European, or white. He may very well be the first black Pope, given that the Church will be under a lot of pressure to outwardly appear as if it is modernising in any way, and the election of another old, white, European is not likely to help that cause. However, the news media appears to be ignoring Turkson as a person, instead choosing to focus almost all of its attention on his ethnicity. His ethnicity must be noted, is irrelevant. The content of his character, and the beliefs he will bring with him to such a powerful position during a time of immense crises, are the key factors. And so this leaves the question, who is Peter Turkson?

Standing in front of the African Union Summit in January of 2012, Ban Ki-Moon asked all African Nations to stop prosecuting people for homosexuality, and to repeal all laws criminalising it, in accordance with the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana was not happy with this, and gave his response, not so subtly insisting that he does not believe that gay people should be afforded the same human rights as straight people:

We push for the rights of prisoners, the rights of others, and the last thing we want to do is infringe upon the rights of anyone. But when you’re talking about what’s called ‘an alternative lifestyle,’ are those human rights? Ban Ki-moon needs to recognize there’s a subtle distinction between morality and human rights, and that’s what needs to be clarified.

– He is quick to tell us that the Catholic Church defends ‘the rights of others’, but this does not extend to gay people, and those apparently aren’t worthy of the human rights his Church believes in. And so, instead of outright condemning the horrifying anti-gay laws which includes the death penalty, and even extradition back to Uganda for Ugandans known to be gay, outside of Uganda. This stigmatising (with ridiculous terms like “an alternative lifestyle” – alternative to what? I consider Catholicism to be an ‘alternative lifestyle’ to mine) has lead to newspapers and magazines in Uganda (wishing to win favour with the government) publishing the names and addresses of gay people in the country next to the headline “Hang them”. In other words, if you are Ugandan, you are trapped, in perpetual fear for your life. The Catholic Church itself opposes the anti-gay bill, and condemned it. Cardinal Peter Turkson suggested that the law that basically calls for a genocide against gay people, must be weighed against the rights of straight Ugandans to express their ‘culture’. As if the right to oppress, is a legitimate right that must be respected:

“Just as there’s a sense of a call for rights, there’s also a call to respect culture.”

His defence of violent African laws against homosexuality continues. His most bizarre rant came when asked about the child sex scandal that has engulfed the Catholic Church over the past few years. He doesn’t think the maybe blame the sexually repressed framework on which the Catholic Church operates, or anything else that might be considered a legitimate critique of the crises, instead, he decides it’s the fault of homosexuality is what leads to paedophilia:

“…African traditional systems kind of protect or have protected its population against this tendency (child abuse) a little bit. Because in several communities, in several cultures in Africa homosexuality or for that matter any affair between two sexes of the same kind are not countenanced in our society, so that cultural, if you want, the taboo that traditionally has been there, has served to keep this out.”

– Here, he is suggesting three things. Firstly, the ridiculous and totally unfounded idea that homosexuality is linked to paedophilia, perpetuation an even deeper stigmatisation of homosexuality, that the Catholic Church has been intrinsic in defining over the decades. And secondly, he weaves in another defence of African anti-gay laws, as if they are beneficial to society. And lastly, that the child abuse scandal, could not possibly happen in Africa, because the anti-gay laws prevent such a thing. Here, he is building on remarks already made by Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan President. Museveni said:

“Before we came in touch with the Europeans, we had some few homosexuals…. Africans are by nature discreet people… We never exhibit our sexual acts in public. I have for instance never kissed my wife in public… The problem is exhibitionism… The second problem is trying to lure young children into homosexuality.”

– The ignorance is shocking. Museveni and Turkson are of the same belief that homosexuality, is the cause of child abuse. And apparently, that any show of affection, is a ‘problem’. Both of which (not being completely heterosexual, and showing affection in public), he believes are imported from European colonisation; the white man. The Cardinal, and the President of Uganda, believe that child abuse is caused by gay white people from Europe. Is it possible to be more absurd?

They appear to conveniently ignore the fact that one of the main causes of the spread of AIDs in young girls and women in African nations, is rape. By men. With girls. In fact, in 2007 Amnesty International reported that the Ugandan government was both covering up and supporting systematic rape of young girls. The report notes:

“Violence against women is endemic throughout Uganda”

– The Lord’s Resistance Army in the north of Uganda at the time, were responsible for kidnapped and forcing young girls into sexual slavery. Victims claim that Ugandan government officials, members of the police, and members of the judiciary in Uganda had abused them. One in four women, the report notes, say their first sexual encounter, was forced. All of this is glossed over as the President of Uganda, and the horrendous Cardinal Turkson stand atop their self-made moral ground, working tirelessly to keep up their ‘cultural tradition’ of stigmatising an innocent, and harmless section of the population they so instinctively hate.

He then turns his attention goes on to providing us with his reasons for why he isn’t a fan of reproductive rights for women, meaning contraception and abortion:

“There will be a racist agenda behind all of this”

“….The program being pushed does not reflect the true situation of women in the Third World, It derives from a certain thinking that you deal with poverty by eliminating the poor.”

– Cardinal Turkson believes those outside of Africa whom support condom use and are pro-choice, simply wish to de-populate the black population of Africa. Perhaps so we can take over, open the gates to all the gay, white child molesters.

So, that’s homophobic, racist, and anti-women’s rights. If this is the modernisation of the Catholic Church, it looks eerily similar to the pre-modernised Catholic Church.

When one of the most senior Cardinals in the Catholic Church, and one of the favourites for the Papacy spreads such vicious and bigoted senseless deceptions, further stigmatising a section of humanity who already face such oppressive measures that the Cardinal just wishes we’d all ‘respect’, it is little wonder that the Church, as an institution, is so widely disliked. View the grin on his face, whilst imagining the horror that a person in Uganda faces simply for being a sexuality that the Cardinal does not like; the violence he or she must face, and possible death. The smile suddenly becomes chilling, and callous and built on bigotry, and that is exactly how this awful man should be viewed. Electing this man to the Papacy would be an intolerable step backward, for an Institution already so far back, we need a telescope to see it.


George Osborne’s Credit Rating Words of Wisdom:

February 22, 2013

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“We will safeguard Britain’s credit rating with a credible plan to eliminate the bulk of the structural deficit over a Parliament…”
– The Conservative Party Manifesto 2010.

This evening – a day after it was noted that Osborne will embarrassingly reveal that borrowing this year will go up – Moody’s Ratings Agency has downgraded the UK’s credit rating from AAA to AA1. Moody’s stated the reason for the downgrade was:

The key interrelated drivers of today’s action are:

1. The continuing weakness in the UK’s medium-term growth outlook, with a period of sluggish growth which Moody’s now expects will extend into the second half of the decade;

2. The challenges that subdued medium-term growth prospects pose to the government’s fiscal consolidation programme, which will now extend well into the next parliament;

3. And, as a consequence of the UK’s high and rising debt burden, a deterioration in the shock-absorption capacity of the government’s balance sheet, which is unlikely to reverse before 2016.

The problem Moody’s sees, is lack of growth. The government have relied too heavily on austerity, and not on growth in any meaningful way. And austerity, without growth, is a failure. Austerity may work at times of prosperity, but when wages are worthless, when growth is stagnant or receding, it simply fails. It has failed again. Therefore, the Chancellor has failed. Moody’s continues:

When Moody’s changed the outlook on the UK’s rating to negative in February 2012, the rating agency cited concerns over the increased uncertainty regarding the pace of fiscal consolidation due to materially weaker growth prospects, which contributed to higher than previously expected projections for the deficit, and consequently also an expected rise in the debt burden.

– Here, they are clear. Moody’s is concerned that continued austerity, despite “weaker” (a euphemism, for no growth, stagnation, and recession) growth than ‘expected’, has led to rising debts. It failed miserably. The statement from Moody’s is one long winded way of saying, the Tory plan A failed. It will continue to fail.

So what was the Chancellor’s response to the news that his plan has failed? Well, he seems to be under the impression that the downgrade simply means he’s doing a wonderful job, his plan is working, and will continue without any changes to it whatsoever:

Far from weakening our resolve to deliver our economic recovery plan, this decision redoubles it.

We will go on delivering the plan that has cut the deficit by a quarter, and given us record low interest rates and record numbers of jobs.

– Let’s be clear, ‘record number of jobs’ simply means, people working, regardless of whether they are paid or not. Unpaid work, to me, is not “employment”. Nor is anyone “employing” you if your jobseekers allowance is only being paid under the condition that you stack shelves for multinational companies using free labour. There are still 2,500,000 unemployed, chasing 500,000 jobs. That’s not a record number. Of the 500,000 jobs the Government claimed to have created, 1 in 5 of those are on unpaid work schemes, and most still claim jobseekers allowance. You know, the people forced to work for multinational Companies, who apparently do not have to rent their labour (this is reprehensible Capitalism, but not unexpected from the Tory Party), because the government claims to be paying their wage, through unemployment benefit. People on ‘job hunt workshops’ receiving no pay or training are also counted. So let’s be clear; the Chancellor just invents whatever he feels comfortable with at the time, to make himself sound impressive. The problem is, sometimes those invented comforts come back to bite you.

The Chancellor is missing the point and completely ignoring what Moody’s actually said. They do not believe that austerity, at a time when growth is slow or regressing has worked. In fact, it has made matters work. That has been the legacy of the past three years of Tory government. Osborne insisting he will continue on this path, suggests he thinks his policy has worked; that a downgrade simply confirms his plan is the right one. So let’s take a look at his thoughts on the Credit Rating over the past few years:

George Osborne’s Words of Wisdom

When Standard and Poor’s first put the UK on a watch list for our Credit Rating, the then Opposition Chancellor George Osborne made his feelings known about what should happen, even for being on the list, to the Labour Government:

“It’s now clear that Britain’s economic reputation is on the line at the next general election, another reason for bringing the date forward and having that election now… For the first time since these ratings began in 1978, the outlook for British debt has been downgraded from stable to negative.”

– Please note, that before today’s Downgrade, Moody’s put the UK back on negative outlook in February 2012. On Osborne’s watch.

Also when in opposition, the Chancellor told us just what losing the AAA Credit Rating would mean for the entire nation, and particularly the Government:

“….now Britain faces the humiliating possibility of losing its international credit rating.”

Also pre-election, Osborne lets us know that investment into the UK would be very difficult if the Credit Rating was downgraded:

“What investor is going to come to the UK when they fear a downgrade of our credit-rating and a collapse of confidence?”

It seems in opposition, the Chancellor could not keep quiet about just how important it was to keep our AAA Credit Rating, at the risk of the destruction of the entire Nation! And how only he could stop the doom!

one of the things I’m very keen on doing, and that’s putting it mildly, is to preserve Britain’s international credit rating. You know it’s absolutely essential we don’t have the downgrade that hangs over the country at the moment.”

In 2011, the Chancellor was keen to tell us how great his policies are, and how safe they have made us! HURRAH!

“Our credit rating had been put on negative watch. Now, however, thanks to the policies of this coalition Government, Britain has economic stability again.”

– That was mid-2011. By early 2012, we were back on negative watch again. Thanks Coalition!

in 2010, he gave us a benchmark by which to judge him as a Chancellor. He also gave us strong assurances of what the Coalition “WILL” do.

“Our first benchmark is to cut the deficit more quickly to safeguard Britain’s credit rating. I know that we are taking a political gamble to set this up as a measure of success. Protecting the credit rating will not be easy… The pace of fiscal consolidation will be co-ordinated with monetary policy. And we WILL protect Britain’s credit rating and international reputation.”

July 2012, Osborne tells us just how important retaining the AAA Credit Rating is:

“A reminder that despite the economic problems we face, the world has confidence that we are dealing with them”.

Moody’s is of course, untrustworthy and rather awful at what they do, given that a couple of weeks before its predictable death, AIG was rated AAA by Moody’s. That however, misses the point. George Osborne is the man who held the judgements of Credit Ratings Agencies up to be important references on how well a Government is performing economically, using them to continuously attack the Labour Government. He must face his own words. His own words, that simply add to his loss of all credibility this evening.

We must add ‘Downgraded Credit Rating’ to the list of Osborne’s failures as Chancellor. And the list is pretty long for a Chancellor who hasn’t yet been in the job for three years. The failure stems from the fallacy, that by cutting the public sector, the private sector would sweep up all those lost jobs. By taking money away from the poorest, and giving tax breaks to the wealthiest, we’d see new businesses everywhere, and job creation in abundance! Of course, none of that actually happened, or anything like it. Instead we have recessions, falling wages, people kicked out of their homes for having a spare room, banks not lending, the unemployed in payless jobs for multinationals, rising child poverty, borrowing and the deficit rising, and now a downgraded Credit Rating.

The Chancellor has to be sacked. His list of failings is immense. By contrast, Andrew Lansley was sacked as Health Minister, simply for not ‘explaining’ the NHS reforms adequately enough. The problem the Prime Minister has with Osborne, is that sacking the Chancellor, is an admission that the economic plan set forth from the moment they were elected, has failed.

If the Tories and Lib Dems thought they had inherited a mess in 2010, it is going to be a hell of a lot worse for those elected in 2015.

– So, given that over the past four years he has insisted that our Country is doomed if we lose Triple A, that it’s a complete embarrassment, that the Government of the time should call an election due to the economic failure they preside over simply for being ‘watched’ and not downgraded, that his policies saved the credit rating, and then as that rating is downgraded today, insists its just proof that his plan has worked……. how on earth is this man still the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Surely by his own standards, he has failed miserably?


The Myth of the Unchanged Qur’an & Muhammad as a role model.

February 20, 2013

Quran_cover There appear to be two often repeated key romantic ideas used to add credit to the Islamic faith. The first, concerns highlighting the Prophet Muhammad as an ideal role model for humanity, and the second is the notion that the Qur’an, throughout its history, is the perfect, unchanged word of God. That whilst Christian and Jewish texts have been revised, and rewritten throughout history (this is true), the Qur’an has remained the pure, and perfect word of God and that it is so wonderfully written, no one could repeat the perfection of it. This myth is cemented into the minds of children at a very young age. It is unquestioned. It is provided as fact, and yet, it seems anything but fact when examined.

This is a long article, so I have tried to break it down into two parts, though they are just rough guides to the proceeding paragraphs.

Muhammad, Revelation, and Hadith:

We are told that Muhammad received the word of God, through sporadic revelations throughout his life. He used scribes, we are told, to write some revelation down, and others memorised parts. Nevertheless, we have no documented evidence of this or anything relating to the Qur’an from that time period, other than hear say (some will point to the odd parchment here and there, that definitely aren’t verified, nor have any strong claim to be of value. I once saw a museum in Istanbul claim to have a piece of the cross that Jesus was crucified on, and the staff of Moses, I dismiss that for the same reason). This is entirely based on trust. We must trust that the Qur’an we have today, is word for word, that which Muhammad received. There is no evidence for this, other than tradition and sentiment. Muslims are very good at repeating the phrase… “The Prophet said this….” without actually providing falsifiable evidence that what they are saying, was in fact something spoken by the Prophet, rather than something someone made up years later.

The reason written versions are largely irrelevant, is because firstly, Muhammad and his followers were for the most part, illiterate, and the ones that could write, only had at their disposal a defective (incomplete) script, leading to questions of pronunciation. It had to be memorised, to preserve its integrity. It strikes me as incredibly bad planning on the part of the Islamic God, to reveal his demands and divine plan for mankind, to illiterate people with no complete script (other civilisations at the time, did have complete scripts), spoken by very few people, whose best hope of preserving it, was through memory…. of which, many forgot:

The Hadith suggests that some of those claiming to have memorised it, at times forgot:

We used to recite a surah which resembled in length and severity to (Surah) Bara’at. I have, however, forgotten it with the exception of this which I remember out of it:” If there were two valleys full of riches, for the son of Adam, he would long for a third valley, and nothing would fill the stomach of the son of Adam but dust.” And we used to recite a surah which resembled one of the surahs of Musabbihat, and I have forgotten it, but remember (this much) out of it:” Oh people who believe, why do you say that which you do not practise” (lxi 2.) and “that is recorded in your necks as a witness (against you) and you would be asked about it on the Day of Resurrection”

– Whole Sura’s have been forgotten! And therefore, those who were entrusted to remember it, cannot be trusted. They could recount wrong, they could change words, they could just invent whatever they wish. And again, it shows complete lack of planning on the part of Allah.

But don’t worry! If you do forget a verse, a new vaguely similar verse will be handed to you.

“We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth [one] better than it or similar to it. Qur’an 2:106”

– I shall come back to Muhammad inventing new revelations when it suited him later in the article. The idea of losing a verse, and replacing it is not unique to Islam. Joseph Smith of Mormon fame, when his manuscript was stolen, and asked to match it word for word, if it truly were the divine, unchanging word of God…. he said he didn’t have to, because the old version was now tainted with the Devil, and so he would receive a new and similar revelation, but not word for word, conveniently. It is of course, ridiculous. And in both Muhammad’s and Smith’s case; the resulting revelations include power over others and unique sexual ‘rights’ for the ‘Prophet’.

Secondly, Muhammad was illiterate. God has chosen to give his message to someone who is illiterate, whilst proscribing war knowing those who memorise it might be wiped out? If He wishes his religion to spread, revealing it to an illiterate in the hope that he might memorise it, doesn’t seem too wise, and will inevitably lead to people not accepting it.

Remember, revelation is only revelation to the person receiving it. To everyone else, it is hear say, there is no reason to believe what another tells you as fact, especially when it lacks all evidence. We have no reason to believe that Muhammad didn’t just make it up. We also have no way to know that the words written down, were the words of Muhammad; he was dead by the time the words were written. We have no way to know that the writers didn’t just make it up. There is no surviving written Qur’anic text for almost 100 years after the death of Mohammad. Again, to believe the Qur’an is the perfect, unchanged word of God, Muslims have to place their trust in 100 years of passing down words, followed by over 1000 years of interpretations and copies of the text.
The belief, is based solely on trust.

Muhammad himself seems capable of having ‘revelations’ whenever he wished. And then replacing them with new ‘revelations’ for new reasons.. We know that in order to appease Polytheists who didn’t seem receptive to the idea of Muhammad as their new self assigned Prophet, Muhammad claimed that he had a revelation, insisting that under his new religion, the Polytheist Gods: Allāt, al-‘Uzzā and Manāt whom previously he had said weren’t allowed, were actually all real, and could be worshipped! HURRAH! But then, Muhammad decided that they weren’t real afterall. For this, he blamed Satan. Hence, the Satanic Verses. And there is the answer to “no one can produce anything like it”. Well, Satan did apparently.

There are then curious moments in the life and revelations of the Prophet, that certain things he desires, suddenly become divine revelations:

The Prophet prayed facing Bait-ulMaqdis (Jerusalem) for sixteen or seventeen months but he wished that his Qibla would be the Ka’ba (at Mecca). So Allah Revealed (2.144) and he offered ‘Asr prayers (in his Mosque facing Ka’ba at Mecca) and some people prayed with him. … (Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 60, no. 13, Khan)

– Muhammad originally prays facing Jerusalem, but “wishes” he could pray toward Mecca. Suddenly, he gets a call from Allah, telling him he can now pray toward Mecca. Convenient.

It seems that Allah didn’t actually wish women to be veiled originally. But Muhammad’s friend Umar ‘wishes’ it, and suddenly Muhammad gets another call from Allah, and women are to be veiled for the most mundane reason:

And as regards the (verse of) the veiling of the women, I said, “O Allah’s Apostle! I wish you ordered your wives to cover themselves from the men because good and bad ones talk to them.” So the verse of the veiling of the women was revealed. (Qur’an 24:31)

And one need not even wonder where this nasty little verse, offering special sexual privileges to Muhammad came from:

Prophet, We have made lawful to you the wives to whom you have granted dowries and the slave-girls whom Allah had given you as booty; the daughters of your paternal and maternal uncles and of your paternal and maternal aunts who fled with you; and any believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet and whom the Prophet wishes to take in marriage. The privilege is yours alone, being granted to no other believer. (Qur’an 33:50, Dawood)

In the Hadith we see further changes to revelation, to suit Muhammad or his friends. Ibn Umm Maktum was a blind man, who later in life converts to Islam and becomes a friend of Muhammad. He takes exception to the idea that Muslims who sit at home rather than fight for their religion are not equals. And so, Bukhari tells us:

“When the Verse: “Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home)” (4.95) was revealed, Allah’s Apostle called for Zaid who wrote it. In the meantime Ibn Um Maktum came and complained of his blindness, so Allah revealed: “Except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame…” etc.) (4.95) (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 6, Book 60, Number 117)

– How convenient! And also, how weak of a God to not consider exceptions in the first place. He needs them pointing out to him?
Judging by certain revelations, that Muhammad received at times when it suited his own ‘wishes’ or those of his male friends, it is reasonable to suggest that the alternative to Muhammad as a Prophet, is that he concocted the entire thing, for purely selfish, misogynistic reasons. There are too many ‘revelations’ that are concerned with Muhammad’s personal life to be ignored or played off as a God that wished to offer a divine guide for the entire human race. This God is far too pre-occupied with satisfying Muhammad’s lust for women and power.

Here is a God that could be describing the wonder of Dinosaurs, or the mysterious beauty of the Event Horizon, or evolution through natural selection and random mutation, or the curvature of space time when a great mass is involved, or the spectacular insights offered by quantum physics. Instead, he chooses to spend much of his time, telling his Prophet who he personally is allowed to sleep with; turns out, it’s whomever he wishes at the time. Which is convenient.

We cannot reconcile the horrifying genocide of the 600 – 900 Bani Qurayza men who Muhammad personally demanded beheading, and in fact, helped to behead; with a ‘peaceful’ interpretation of Islam. What happened to the poor women of the tribe, whose husbands had now been so viciously slaughtered by such a violent warlord? According to “The Life of Muhammad” by Ibn Ishaq:

“Then the apostle sent Sa’d bin Zayd Al-Ansari brother of bin Abdul Ashhal with some of the captive women of Bani Qurayza to Najd, and he sold them for horses and weapons.”

– Sold into slavery. A Prophet of God, making money, out of selling captured women of men he has just slaughtered, into slavery…. and no intervention or revelation from ‘Allah’ saying “don’t do that”. Extremism is not a fringe element of Islam, or a misinterpretation… it is inbuilt into this ideology itself.

Muhammad is a contradictory character; he is entirely different in Medina, to his life in Mecca. He becomes violent, dictatorial, sex obsessed, polygamous and his words become forceful and threatening. When in Medina, noticing the Jews living there did not accept him as some new wondrous Prophet, he turns vicious, the Jewish population, understandably, are not exactly happy with the subtle threats:

The apostle assembled them in their market and addressed them as follows: “O Jews, beware lest God bring upon you the vengeance that He brought upon Quraysh and become Muslims. You know that I am a prophet who has been sent – you will find that in your scriptures and God’s covenant with you.” They replied, “O Muhammad, you seem to think that we are your people. Do not deceive yourself because you encountered a people with no knowledge of war and got the better of them; for by God if we fight you, you will find that we are real men!” (Ibn Ishaq, 545)

Suddenly, and predictably, Muhammad gets ANOTHER call from God.

Say to those who disbelieve: “You will be vanquished and gathered to Hell, an evil resting place. You have already had a sign in the two forces which met”; i.e. the apostle’s companions at Badr and the Quraysh. “One force fought in the way of God; the other, disbelievers, thought they saw double their own force with their very eyes. God strengthens with His help whom He will. Verily in that is an example for the discerning.” (Ibn Ishaq, 545; Qur’an, 3:12-13)

He then finds a wonderfully convenient way to explain why Allah suddenly decides to change or replace verses in the Qur’an, when people start questioning Muhammad’s divine messages, suggesting he may in fact be a fraud:

“When We substitute one revelation for another – and God knows best what He reveals (in stages), – they say, “Thou art but a forger”: but most of them understand not. Surah 16.101″

– Basically; don’t question. Allah knows best. The Qur’an has changed…. because Allah himself (at moments that were convenient to Muhammad’s current situation in life) decides to change passages, apparently deciding the original ones weren’t right afterall. Surely a perfect being would get it right the first time? Surely, if you’re preparing to release the most important message in history, to the whole of mankind, you plan a little better than this?

But we should not be surprised by the violence. As well as threats, and death for apostasy… Muhammad manages to demand his message start spreading, by force, from childhood:

“The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Command a boy to pray when he reaches the age of seven years. When he becomes ten years old, then beat him for prayer.” Abu Dawud 2:494

At the time, certain Jewish Medina citizens did not take kindly to this new violent man threatening and murdering his way through their mist. Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf, a poet, began mocking Muhammad and satirising him. And like a modern crime family Mafia Don, Muhammad gathers a few of his followers, and says:

“Who will kill Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf? He had maligned Allah, and His Messenger.”

– Ka’b bin Ashraf is then murdered; for insulting the delusions of the Prophet. And he wasn’t the only one to meet this fate, simply for disagreeing with the violent Prophet of Islam. Ibn an-Nawwahah was a rival Prophet. Muhammad, feeling threatened by a rival reacted badly, as is explained in a Hadith:

“I heard the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) say: Were it not that you were not a messenger, I would behead you. But today you are not a messenger. He then ordered Qarazah ibn Ka’b (to kill him). He beheaded him in the market.”

A lovely little story recounts the tail of Uqba bin Abu Mu’ayt, a man who absolutely despised Muhammad. He wrote against him, he mocked, and he tried to fight the murderous advances of the Prophet. Eventually, Muhammad gets overly annoyed and orders his death, whilst Uqba begs for his life, and for his children. The heartless Muhammad, does not care.

When the apostle ordered him to be killed, Uqba said, “But who will look after my children, O Muhammad?” [Muhammad’s reply] “Hell.” The man was put to death. (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 458)

– So we see, the condemnation and murder of anyone who dares to mock, or even criticise this religion is not new, it didn’t begin with the death threats against Salman Rushdie nor the Danish Cartoonists. It is an inbuilt trait of the religion itself. It began with the Prophet. The enemy of free expression. This was not a peaceful man. He may indeed have been a great military leader and conqueror placed in the context of the time period, but this does not make him a great spiritual leader. And even if we place Muhammad in the context of the time period… which undoubtedly was a violent time, this ‘great’ Prophet did not rise above it as might be expected for a Prophet of the all-loving and all-knowing bringing a message of peace; no, he became a part of it. He spread his message, through fear and violence. This is not to be admired.

The sex life of Muhammad is a key theme for the Qur’an:

“O Prophet! surely We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand possesses out of those whom Allah has given to you as prisoners of war, and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts, and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts who fled with you; and a believing woman if she gave herself to the Prophet, if the Prophet desired to marry her– specially for you, not for the (rest of) believers; We know what We have ordained for them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess in order that no blame may attach to you; ”

– Basically, Muhammad, you’re free to sleep with whomever you want. Apparently this was a necessary revelation, from the overlord of the Universe. If this isn’t a key indication that the Qur’an was invented by a human man, i’m not sure what is. The point here, in relation to the Qur’an never changing, is that Muhammad simply invented revelations, when it suited him. Revelations pertaining to his sexual desires were delivered whenever he required it. If this is the basis of ‘morality’, it is truly horrifying.

The historical context is irrelevant, because for Muslims, the man in question is in contact with an angel of God. He is capable of receiving ‘revelation’ that changes the ‘context’ of the time period quite significantly, leading to a brand new empire based on a brand new religion. His life is dedicated to changing the ‘context of the time’, and yet God doesn’t see fit to reveal to him that having sex with a 9 year old girl is wrong, or that it might lead to Islamic Patriarchal societies in the future using this to justify lowering the age of consent? Saudi Arabia is not just a ‘Patriarchal’ society. Islam is a Patriarchal religion, clearly invented by men, for men.

The ‘place it in the context’ of the time period argument, is a failure. It is a weak attempt to defend a man who cannot be defended. If Muhammad can receive divine command that changes the context of the time, then Allah has no problem with 50 year old men having sex with 9 year old girls. It just isn’t on his list of cares. He seems more concerned with acquiescing to Muhammad’s request to pray facing Mecca. Allah dedicates an extraordinary amount of time to Muhammad’s sex life. If however, Muhammad isn’t divine. Then yes, he can be placed within the context of the time period, and we cannot judge him by today’s standards in that respect. The moment you accept that he is a Prophet who can receive divine revelation, that negates the ‘context of the time’ argument.

Muslims tend to trust the infallibility of the Hadith. Many will quote what the Prophet ‘said’, during debates with non-believers to add support to their argument or the way they choose to live. Their stories and explanations become intricate, and detailed. But let’s not be fooled by people acting as experts for something so ambiguous. Because Muhammad al-Bukhari, one of the most trusted collectors of the sayings of the Prophet, whose Hadiths are held up as a key component of Islam, was born in 810ad. Two centuries after Muhammad. It takes a lot of trust to accept that a man writing two centuries later, hearing stories passed down over many generations, knew the exact words that the Prophet had uttered. The Hadith are supremely important to Islam, and so if there is doubt over even one Hadith, then they must all be questionable, and the writers cannot therefore be completely trusted. Well, a book written by liberal Muslim Jamal al-Banna, brother of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2008 published a book entitled: “The Cleansing of Bukhari and Muslim from useless Hadiths“. In it, he claims that 653 of the Hadith are wrong, and should be discarded. Even within the Muslim World, they do not agree on the authenticity. And who can blame them?

In fact, the first full account of Muhammad’s life was not only written a century after his death by Ibn Ishaq, all based on oral traditions, it has since been lost, and was rewritten under the authority of Ibn Hisham, even later. Again, this is not something we are compelled to believe is ‘truth’. This is ambiguity at its best. Believers have their work cut out for them, if they are to convince me that this is quite obviously the truth.

Muhammad was a war lord. A very violent man. He was not simply a peaceful type who wished to convey personal faith, and let others know what he believed. He wished to spread his religion, by the sword, crushing anyone who disagreed or disobeyed, and indoctrinating children along the way through violence. And there’s no doubt about what Muhammad achieved. As a military leader and conqueror, he was undoubtedly spectacular. One of the greatest of all time. But not as a spiritual leader. His power also extended to his sex life, inventing verses when it suited him, for his own personal desires and those of his friends. Muhammad was not a good man, and the example he set, is the very reason the religion of Islam has a very intolerant sect of fanatics wishing to replicate what Muhammad achieved. When Nasser al-Bahri (or Abu Jandal) was arrested for his links to al-Qaeda, his reasons for extremism were not primarily American “imperialism” or anything of the sort. His motivation, was certain Hadith that states quite openly, that those who carry the Black Flag, will fight and be victorious for the ownership of Jerusalem. That is the goal of Islamic fanaticism. And it is directly related to the Hadith; the supposed words of the Prophet, not to the actions of America or Europe or any other global power. It is an autonomous ideology, it isn’t a mistranslation of Holy texts, and we must stop making excuses for it.

This religion and this Prophet, are not inherently peaceful (note; I do not claim individual Muslims are not peaceful, this would be incredibly short sighted of me), nor do they lend themselves well to secular values, regardless of how much we delude ourselves into desperately trying to believe otherwise.

The Qur’an and its changes:

Perhaps in Arabic, The Qur’an is written far more wonderfully than the version I have in English, which is really quite ordinary and frankly, the narrative is all over the place. I wondered why Muslims often ask people to create something as ‘wonderful’ as the Qur’an, where did that demand come from? Much like Christians use Biblical verses in a show of circular reasoning to attempt evidence for the existence of God (usually “A fool has said in his heart, there is no God”) it seems that Muslims use a Qur’anic verse, to insist that no one can write something as wonderful as the Qur’an:

“If the mankind and the jinns were together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they helped one another.” [Qur’an 17:88]

– This is a fallacy. You cannot use the words in a book, to prove that book is true. It must have substance. The substance in the above is empty. The beauty of a text is of course very subjective. Having read the Qur’an, I was not impressed, and in fact, found it to be anything but well written.

We then find that there is no agreement over who actually gave the order to write the Qur’an. Whilst some claim it was Ali, most claim it was Uthman that gave the order to have a standard, written copy of the Qur’an. This presents problems, because Uthman’s motive for the written Qur’an seem to be down to the fact that around the Islamic Empire at the time, different regions had their own versions of the Qur’an with different ways of reciting, and different styles. There was not one standard version from the time of Muhammad, which you’d expect, if it was the perfect, unchangeable word of Allah. To deal with this, Uthman standardises the Qur’an (in much the same was as early Christian dictators decided what deserved to be called the correct version of the Bible) and had his new version sent around the Empire. This is one man’s attempts to define a system of belief. Let us also not forget that Arabic itself, was not standardised until centuries later (the 9th Century). And so the interpretations, even of a standardised text, was interpreted and repeated far differently, depending on where in the Empire you happened to be from. It seems an awful time to send revelation. Why would a God not offer his revelation to a literate group, with a standardised system of writing? It is an astounding show of incompetence.

The Hadith themselves tell us that certain Qur’anic verses were just discarded at times. Maybe Allah had a change of mind.

“Narrated Anas bin Malik: … There was revealed about those who were killed at Bi’r-Ma’una a Qur’anic Verse we used to recite, but it was cancelled later on. The verse was: ‘Inform our people that we have met our Lord. He is pleased with us and He has made us pleased.’” Bukhari vol.4:69 p.53. See also the History of al-Tabari vol.7 p.156.

The Uthman Qur’an, considered by some Muslims to be the actual Qur’an of Uthman, currently residing in Tashkent, Uzbekistan also has its issues. The script itself is its major weakness. The Uthman Qur’an is written in Kufic script. This script was a form of writing that did not appear until decades after Uthman’s death. There is no reason to accept that the Qur’an in question, belonged to Uthman. It is likely an 8th Century version. Still old, and valuable, just not what it being suggested of it.

In Yemen in 1972, a set of parchments were found. The Sana’a manuscript is thought to be the oldest written Qur’anic manuscript, dating to around twenty years after the death of Muhammad. It has two layers, the top layer seems to collaborate the fact that the Qur’an was put together during Uthman’s era, as it reflects the Qur’an today in large parts. However, the bottom layer has vast differences between it, and the standard Qur’an of today. Much of the bottom layer had been erased, but not fully, so we still actually see the lower text due to the materials in the ink that turns the ink light brown over the years. Due to carbon 14 dating, we know that there is a 75% chance that the lower text was written before 650ad, which means it was erased some time later. Which means it was erased, because it didn’t agree with the new standardised version. Which means Uthman (or maybe someone else) decided words spoken by God, to the Prophet Muhammad, were not ‘right’ for his new version. It also means that there have absolutely been variations in content of the Qur’an right from the beginning. There has never been agreement.

The Sana’a manuscript is not just important because it shows the differences in the wording of the Qur’an which Muslims tend to suggest has never happened; it is important because of where it was found. The Great Mosque of Sana’a was, according to Muslim tradition, a Mosque that had design help from the Prophet himself, and became a centre of Islamic learning. Archaeological evidence appears to back up the claim that the Mosque was built during the Prophet’s life time. The manuscript therefore, is important. And so with that, we must look at the differences.

From the Standard text of the Qur’an today:

sanaa2
The translation of this from the Sahih International is:

‘… if they turn away, Allah will punish them with a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And there will not be for them on earth any protector or helper.”

However, the Sana’a manuscript appears to be missing words:

sanaa3
The translation here, is:

“… if they turn away, Allah will punish them in this world. And there will not be for them on earth any protector or helper.”

– There is no talk of the ‘hereafter’ nor do we need the adjective ‘painful’. But more tellingly, when Muslims insist that not one word has changed since it was first received by Muhammad; they are wrong.

We cannot even claim that Uthman’s version is the version we know today. The Qur’an we know today, includes many changes. Some of which come to us from the early Islamic teacher, and Governor of Iraq, Al-Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf Al-Thakafi. He didn’t entirely agree with Uthman’s Qur’an and so made changes himself. In Surat Yunus 10:22 he decides to take it upon himself to change “yanshorokom”, which means “spread you,” to “yousayerokom”, which means “makes you to go on.” In Surat Al-Hadid 57:7, the word “wataqu”, which means “feared Allah,” becomes “Wa-anfaqu”, which means “spend in charity.” The Qur’an we have today, is a mesh of what different Islamic rulers thought necessary to include, to omit, to change, based on revelations that Muhammad was conveniently, and changed, when it suited his and his friends needs. There is no compelling reason to belief any of it.

Verses also appear to have been changed around. Many Muslims note that Sura 5:3 is the final revelation. This causes a problem for both the unmatchable ‘beauty’ of the Qur’an and the idea that it is unchanged from Muhammad to today. Because, oddly, the apparent last revelation, doesn’t appear at the conclusion of the text of the Qur’an. It appears close to the beginning of the Qur’an:

“This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. ”

– It cannot be a perfected religion, or a completion of favour, if there are still the majority of revelations to come. And given that this Sura is not at the end of the text, it suggests the Qur’an was not compiled in order, which is a huge continuity and structual deficiency for any book, especially one claiming to be unmatched in beauty, and certainly contradicts the idea that it was passed down exactly as it was recited to Muhammad.

Certain parts of the Qur’an were said to be irretrievably lost. Abdullah ibn Umar, son of the second Caliph wrote:

“It is reported from Ismail ibn Ibrahim from Ayyub from Naafi from Ibn Umar who said: “Let none of you say ‘I have acquired the whole of the Qur’an’. How does he know what all of it is when much of the Qur’an has disappeared? Rather let him say ‘I have acquired what has survived.”

– This constitutes a ‘change’ to the Qur’an we have today, from the one apparently spoken to Muhammad. With missing parts (parts that Allah doesn’t appear to have reissued, to someone else, as one would expect, given that they are his rules for life), means an incomplete religion, and an incomplete Holy Book.

Of course, to even suggest the Qur’an has changed, usually brings with it death threats and brands of apostasy from the incredibly insecure faithful. Dr Nasr Abu Zaid, ex-lecturer in Koranic Studies at Cairo University questioned the idea that the Qur’an was unchanged, back in 1990. The Egyptian courts ruled that he was apostate, and forced him to divorce his wife. He then fled to Holland to escape the increasing hostility and death threats.

The Qur’an cannot objectively be described as a book that has never changed. It quite obviously has and it was quite obviously used to fulfil the desires of Muhammad and his male friends. But even if you trust that Muhammad memorised the entire book, did not change one word for himself or his friends, that his followers memorised the entire book, that they passed it on, word for word, without any omissions or glitches of any sort to the next generation, and that it was written down perfectly; even if you trust the absurdity of that, and even if you can somehow rationalise in your head love for a Prophet who spent much of his time ordering executions and slaughter for very little reason; you cannot get away from the fact that there have been variations of the Qur’an since Muhammad’s life time, that he changed ‘revelation’ at certain points, used it to justify violence when it suited him, and that the variations across the Empire were enough that they caused Uthman to standardise the book, in a language that itself was not yet standardised, and that the standard Qur’an today, differs from the manuscript found at Sana’a. There is no perfect, direct line from the Qur’an as given to Muhammad, to today’s standard version. There is simply hazy recollection to forgetting Sura’s entirely, replaced revelations by the Prophet to suit himself, hear say, arguments over which was right, suppression of unauthorised versions by the leading Patriarchs of Islamic society, and disagreements between today’s version, and ancient versions.

But even if you are willing to overlook all the obvious discrepancies with the traditional story that the Qur’an is unchanged…… that doesn’t imply that the Qur’an is divine. An unchanged book can easily survive for centuries, and not imply divinity or truth. To the cause of divinity, the question of the Qur’an being unchanged, is irrelevant.

It is simply incoherent, ignorant, and disingenuous to claim that the Qur’an as it is today, is the exact, unchanged word that was handed down to Muhammad in a cave, in the 7th Century. The history of both Muhammad and the Qur’an are shrouded in ambiguity. Nothing is clear. The overwhelming evidence quite clearly points to changes to the Qur’an all along the way.

The very idea of forced belief (which is what it is, when punishment and reward enter into the equation, as is the case with Islam and Christianity); God will hand down a very dubious list of demands, surrounded by very ambiguous circumstances, and questionable characters instead of irrefutable proof, which if you simply do not believe, will have you roasting in hell for eternity, is a concept that repulses me. We should all feel threatened by anyone who claims they have divine permission to tell you how to dress, how to act, how to talk. Or anyone who demands unquestioning respect and an end to all mocking of their faith, whilst they themselves demand the right to tell you that your ways are wrong and destined for eternal punishment. It must be resisted.

To believe it, is to suspend all reason, and all critical faculties, and replace it with sentiment.


The Cruelty of the Bedroom Tax

February 13, 2013

6072103It is my understanding, that civilised society should be judged on how it looks after its most vulnerable, rather than how big a tax break it can offer its wealthiest. Apparently the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party take the opposite view. I cannot fathom what kind of disturbed mind a person must have, to believe that threatening to kick people out of their homes, people who are already struggling horrendously, is a worthwhile or noble cause. It is cruel extremism, and nothing less.

As the Bedroom Tax takes vitally needed money out of the pockets of 400,000 families with disabled children; our wondrous government will at the same time be handing a tax cut to 8,000 millionaires, giving them an average £107,000 more. This, alongside the Welfare Uprating Bill; essentially a huge cut to Jobseeker’s Allowance, Maternity Pay, Child Benefit and Income Support; all to pay for huge tax breaks for the wealthiest, means that whilst parents of disabled children will miss meals, and be unable to heat their homes; the millionaire Cabinet will be able to go shopping for new Yachts.

Where was the moral outrage from Tory supporters who now yell “Putting your kids in two separate rooms is an insult to the tax payer!!!” before the Tory Party actually mentioned it? Feigned outrage again.

Kicking people out of their homes seems like an easy solution, to rich men pacing the corridors of Whitehall, or maybe it isn’t even a thought whilst the millionaire Prime Minister spends £680,000 of taxpayers money making Downing Street look a bit nicer inside, including refurbishing the kitchen. But to the people who are settled, who are part of the community, whose children play on the street with their friends (i’m fully aware that children leading happy lives, is not something Liberal Democrats or Tories are really too concerned about, given the horrifically increasing rates of child poverty they have created). They are destroying homes, and applying unnecessary pressure to families already struggling to cope. The Bedroom Tax can be described as nothing more than heartless.

The IFS estimated that 3.5 million children in the UK live in poverty. The also estimate that this is set to rise steeply. 14% of children in poverty go without a warm coat during winter. 26% of parents whose children are in poverty, skip meals through lack of money even though 61% of parents of children in poverty, have at least one person in work. And now, if those people also claim housing benefit to help make life even a little more bearable, they will lose more money, or be forced to move home.

As we know, the ‘Bedroom Tax’ refers to the reduction in housing benefits for anyone who has a spare room in their council house. The idea is, people will downsize to a smaller house, or have their housing benefit cut by 14 per cent for people seen to have one spare room and 25 per cent for those with two or more. The cruelty is intense.

Whilst the most vulnerable, with very little money, and living every day wondering if they’ll eat stand to lose their home or even more money, the Chancellor will be reflecting on his “tough decisions” from his 215 acre estate, given to him to live in, free of charge, in Dorneywood….. here:
dorney_1924910c

Then there is ‘Baron’ Freud (I know what you’re thinking, he’s sure to be in touch with common folk). He is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Freud is in control of Welfare Reform. All of this, is his doing. Here is where ‘Baron Freud’ lives:

PEOPLE+ONLY+COPYRIGHT+UNKNOWN+Lord+Freud's+Kent+Mansion
– I wonder how many rooms in this massive mansion are underused. Or, how much land accompanies it, on which homes, blocks of flats, shops, businesses could be built if ‘Baron’ (seriously, he’s a Baron) Freud downsized to a property that wasn’t too big for his needs.

These are the people who run your lives. Multi-millionaires, in mansions, unsurprisingly cutting taxes for multi-millionaires, in mansions. This is Versailles. The Court of King Louis XIV Cameron.

According to the Government’s figures, 660,000 households will be affected by the changes, and of that, 420,000 are households including someone with a disability. Low income households, who have faced a plethora of cuts since the start of this monstrous Coalition, now facing a huge cut to their welfare payments.

The point of this article is to get the Bedroom Tax down from numbers (Clegg justifies his support for this idea, with numbers), and back to individual cases. People.

ITV broadcast the story of Tony, Diann, their three year old daughter Shanice, and their 15 year old daughter Stephanie. Stephanie has 1p36 deletion syndrome, and a mental age of four. She struggles with words, and mobility. All three bedrooms in their house are currently occupied. Stephanie requires her own room, because she wakes up around 5am and can become loud and violent due to her illness. But under the rules of the ‘Bedroom Tax’, the two daughters will be required to share a bedroom, because they’re both under 16. That, or face a huge cut to their Housing benefit payment. They will be deemed to have a spare room. Tony and Diann say the cut would mean cutting down on meals.

Maria Brabiner has lived in her home since 1978. It is indescribably cruel of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to wish to see her kicked out of the security of the house she has made a home, all because of a spare room. Do you know why she now has a spare room? It is because her mother, whom lived in the room, died recently. Miss Brabiner said:

“I’m scared of what’s going to happen to me, I’m worried about whether my electric will be cut off, whether my gas will be cut off.

– This economic violence, by perhaps the two nastiest Parties we have seen in the UK, is being forced upon a woman whose mother has recently died, and whose house is more than just a house; it is a home. Worse still, it is being forced on her, by a Cabinet of multi-millionaires, with multiple houses that remain unoccupied and included acres of land that could be used to build new houses on.

Terry Avery is unable to use the left side of his body, after a severe stroke left him needing a wheelchair. He sleeps in a separate room from his wife, because of his situation. Under the ‘Bedroom Tax’, the room Terry sleeps in, is considered ‘spare’. Which means, he and his wife either move out, or not eat. Or a third choice; Karen, Terry’s wife would have to sleep on the floor, in absolutely no room. Karen says:

“With the hospital bed, lift, chest of drawers and turning space for his wheelchair there is no space for a wardrobe which is kept in my bedroom. There is not even room for me to sleep on the floor comfortably, which I would have to do as there is no room for a second bed or mattress.”

Julia Jones is 59, and has worked since she was 15. Her husband David contracted bowel cancer four years ago. Six months after having a irreversible colostomy he returned to work. Two years later, he contracted brain cancer and sadly passed away seven weeks later. Julia is now alone. During David’s illness, Julia rejected care allowance, and spent all of her time and money looking after him. They were given the home she now lives in, because it was easy for David to get around in. David’s ashes are buried in the garden, under a rose bush planted especially for his. Here is Julia’s plea to the millionaire Prime Minister:

“The most powerful men in the country imply we are scum so we must be scum.
Do you not consider that I would give everything for my husband to be alive, me to not have incapacitating pain and we could both be the hard workers we once were? I live in small 1 1/2 bed bungalow that was built for older people. It is supported elderly living so I feel safe. It could not house a family as under 55s are not allowed.
You now want to take my home from me. The home that literally made my fingers bleed cleaning as it had been neglected for 20 years when we moved here. You want me to leave my husband’s ashes, my neighbours who take me shopping and give me some form of social life? I have no family, we could not have children.
I am living without heating at present so how can I pay what I do not have to stay in my home?”

– This is the cost, when we bring it down to a human level, of the Tory and Lib Dem Bedroom Tax. The entire debate should be framed around the most vulnerable cases, those who stand to lose the most, not just in terms of money, but in living standard, and the brutality of stripping someone, a family, children away from the home that they call their own, and the community that they love.

In the Chancellor’s own Constituency, Tim Pinder, chief executive at Cheshire Peaks and Plains Housing Trust – a housing association said:

“Many of our customers are determined to stay in their homes despite the changes, but we fear this may lead to significant financial hardship. For some households this could mean having to choose between feeding their families and heating their homes.”

– It is just another ill thought out, nasty policy, from an incompetent and nasty government.

Over two thirds of those affected, have a household income of less than £150 a week. Apparently The Liberal Democrats feel that’s too much money. They should have less. 72% of those affected, have a member of the household with a disability of major health concern. 5% of those affected, have a spare bedroom for the carer who occasionally has to stay over. 9% use the spare room to store equipment for a disability. These people are all affected by the cruelty of the Bedroom Tax.

The human cost of cruel Conservative and Liberal Democrat policies, is heart breaking. It follows the narrative that has sprung to the front of political discourse since 2010; that the poor, the most vulnerable, the disabled must be stigmatised and demonised. It is a horrid tactic that takes the focus away from the people who caused the economic mess in the first place; very very wealthy individuals and friends of the Tory Party. We note this week, that Anthony Jenkins, the boss of Barclays, was paid more than 80 times the salary of the lowest paid. Whilst Jenkins makes £1,100,000 basic salary, alongside £4,400,000 share award, and £363,000 pension contribution, the lowest paid makes just £13,500 a year. Couple that, with the announcement that Barclays intends to cut 3700 jobs, and you start to see a bit of a problem.

This is what Tories do. We shouldn’t be surprised. They are a modern day nobility. The most vulnerable will always suffer under the nobility. When we elect a Conservative government, we must expect heartless policies, rising child poverty, a distinct lack of empathy, and a woefully underfunded NHS. That’s just what Conservatives do. So Progressives must focus their anger at the Liberal Democrats. It is shameful for a ‘progressive’ party to have so utterly abused the votes of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 by supporting policies that I would take a confident bet that less than 1% of Lib Dem voters would ever have supported. They cannot be allowed to forget the scale of the betrayal they have inflicted. This week really does sum up exactly what the Liberal Democrat Party has become, the moment Nick Clegg showed vigorous support for the Bedroom Tax.

For a party that apparently bases itself on getting government out of the lives of the individual; in a few months we’ve had Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke wishing to tell Welfare claimants where they can spend their money (whilst himself, claiming tax payer funded expenses to pay for his licence fee, a bunch of Tory MPs telling you that you don’t deserve the same Rights as them if you happen to be gay and now a Tory coming into your home, checking who’s in the bedrooms, forcing your disabled partner with all his/her equipment to move back to one room with you, and telling you to pack up and move out if you dislike it. These people thrive on government interference. These are very wealthy, very privileged people and with that, has come the most cruel government the UK has seen in a very long time. When we speak of the nasty party, we must include the Liberal Democrats in that.


The incoherent case against same-sex marriage

February 5, 2013

lyonmartin2There is a rather beautiful story that emerged from Chinese State of Chu during the Zhou dynasty, in which a wonderful male writer named Pan Zhang meets and falls in love with another male named Wang Zhongxian. The people of the town in which they lived adored the two. A contemporary writer writes that the two are:

“affectionate as husband and wife, sharing the same coverlet and pillow with unbounded intimacy for one another”

The story continues, that the two die on the same day, holding each other, and when they’re buried, a tree grew from their grave spot, and the twigs entwined.
It has only been since Western progressions into China, that homosexuality has been considered wrong.

No horrendous Church or vicious Mosque owns the definition of marriage. They appropriated the institution, and created their own definition. This is absolutely not a definition we must all consider unquestionable. Every argument I have yet come across, has a religious element. And it’s easy to understand why;

The only reason gay people have been oppressed so viciously over the years, is because of religion. Absolutely no other reason. How absurd that a bronze aged book of fairy tales about a paranoid sky dictator has that sort of power to stigmatise an entire group of people that otherwise would not have to suffer such stigma, and bullying, and fear. For that alone, I think it’s vital to utterly despise religion and speak out against it at every possible opportunity.

We must not be led to believe that the Church has a rightful monopoly on what constitutes marriage.

The House of Commons today is alive with bigoted and homophobic Tory MPs insisting that they aren’t bigoted nor homophobic, whilst presenting arguments against gay marriage that curiously follow rather bigoted strands of ‘reasoning’ (and I use that term in its loosest possible form). The Supreme Court of the United States is working to decide whether to uphold the Christian fundamentalist “Defence of Marriage Act”, that has no basis in reasonable discussion, and is entirely the realm of mystical fairy tales. If the Supreme Court upholds DOMA, Secularism takes another battering from the unconstitutional, Christian Far Right. I will try to briefly address a few of the ludicrous arguments being put forth by the regressive homophobes in the Tory Party and the Republican Party.

  • “You cannot redefine marriage.”
    This argument relies solely on the idea that the institution of marriage has absolutely always followed the same defining route. It simply hasn’t. We know that marriage has changed radically over the years, and has different meanings to different cultures. We know that the old noble families of Europe insisted on marriage in order to cement or strengthen social and economic status. Rarely was marriage anything to do with love.

    For much of human history, we have had marriage. Granted, it hasn’t always been called marriage, but the naming is irrelevant, the coming together of two people in a shared bond has always existed; the name simply evolved alongside the institution. Stone aged marriage is now referred to as ‘pair bonding’. It was used to provide a stable social structure, though it seems love may have played a part given that social status was not yet a defining feature of human society.

    Hebrew society engaged in polygamy much of the time, it certainly wasn’t frowned upon. Monogamy in a marriage is a pretty new development. We know that the Islamic Prophet Mohamad married Aisha when she was 6 years old. In Ancient Rome, marriage was civil, it was not overtly religious. In India, if the bride was born when Mars and Saturn are “under the 7th house”, she is considered cursed and could end up murdering her husband. And so to break the curse, the bride must first marry a tree, the tree is then destroyed, and the bride is free from the curse forever. In the Tidong community in Northern Borneo, after marriage, the couple must not urinate for three days. Marriage is not official within the Neur tribe in Sudan, until the bride has had two children.

    In 1061, Pedro Díaz and Muño Vandilaz were married in Rairiz de Veiga in Spain, by a Priest.

    It was only in 1967, that the US allowed interracial marriage. By 1910, Arizona, California, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah had all banned interracial marriage. And what was used to justify anti-miscegenation laws in the US? You wont be surprised to hear that it was the Bible. Christian groups opposed to interracial marriage would often cite the story of Phinehas and the Curse of Ham.

    The Judge presiding over the case of the Loving’s; an interracial couple that this Judge sentenced to jail for marrying, stated:

    “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

    – Religion. Specifically, Christianity… has always been used to justify control over whom should be allowed to love who. The Conservatives in the Commons today are doing the same thing. They wish to control love.

    As suggested with the story of Pan Zhang, Same-sex unions have always existed. They are not a new thing. They have only recently come to be demonised, and that is down purely to the Church. The great cancer on the face of society.
    We know for example, that at least 13 Roman Emperors were either bi-sexual or exclusively homosexual. We know that Nero married a male in a very public ceremony. We know that the Ancient American Indians practiced a form of same-sex union known as ‘Two Spirit’ relationships, in which anthropologist Brian Gilley said:

    In many tribes, individuals who entered into same-sex relationships were considered holy and treated with utmost respect and acceptance

    So the ‘definition’ of marriage varies widely, from culture, and history. What the modern Church and its Tory bigots actually mean is, it wishes complete control over what marriage SHOULD mean, according to their very narrow doctrines. That, only their World view is acceptable. That, rights should be approved by them first.

  • “It is unnatural!”
    This is used against homosexuality in general. It is based solely on sexual and biological ignorance, promoted by faith. Since a review by Canadian researcher and biologist Bruce Bagemihl in 1999, it has been widely understood that at least 1,500 species have been shown to exhibit homosexual tendencies. At least 10% of the population of domesticated sheep, are exclusively homosexual. A study in London by M.J Cole noted that homosexual behaviour in Giraffes tends to be more common than heterosexual behaviour. The African Lion has been noted to have homosexual tendencies.
    Dr. Jerome Goldstein, Director of the San Francisco Clinical Research Center, says:

    “Sexual orientation is not a matter of choice, it is primarily neurobiological at birth”

    Goldstein continues:

    “Using volumetric studies, there have been findings of significant cerebral amygdala size differences between homosexual and heterosexual subjects. Sex dimorphic connections were found among homosexual participants in these studies.”

    In fact, there is not one reputable scientific source that will in any way, suggest that sexuality is merely a choice. There is not one reputable scientific source that will say: “You know, turns out Leviticus was right”. None. This includes:
    The American Psychiatric Association,
    The World Health Organisation,
    The American Psychological Association,
    The American Medical Association,
    The Academy of Pediatrics,
    The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists
    Council on Child and Adolescent Health,
    The British Psychological Society,
    The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy…..
    …. all of these intensely reputable sources, with a wealth of research and evidence, will all tell you that sexuality, is part of a natural spectrum. There is no debate here. The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists released a statement to:

    “clarify that homsexuality is not a psychiatric disorder. There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish.”

    Now, there is only one species that has Gods. There is only one species that has homophobic tendencies. And there is only one species that has marriage. So which is the more unnatural?
    Sexuality is a spectrum. It is not simply “gay and straight” with one being “right” and the other being “unnatural”. Sexuality therefore is not a choice. Building on that idea, Alfred Kinsey, the great biologist noted:

    “Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories… The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects.”

    – To deny this fundamental fact of nature, i’m afraid, is not just very uneducated, it is unnatural.

    A wonderful in-depth study by Binbin Wang et al, found that allele types differed greatly between homosexual men and heterosexual men. A further study by Sven Bocklandt et al, found that mothers of gay sons, have higher rates of extreme skewing of X-Chromosome inactivation, than those without gay sons. All the evidence points to genetics playing a role in sexuality. Therefore, it is very very natural. Christianity on the other hand….. a social construct. Absolutely nothing to do with genetics. Completely man made. Unnatural.

    And let us also not forget that whilst being told by the religious that “Homosexuality is unnatural”, they spend Easter Sunday celebrating the coming back to life of a dead man, who sacrificed himself to himself, to atone for the sins that he himself created. Nature is the best!

  • “Marriage is about procreation! Gay people can’t procreate!”
    Charles Cooper, the Attorney defending California’s ban on gay marriage stated:

    “the central purpose of marriage in virtually all societies and at all times has been to channel potentially procreative sexual relationships into enduring stable unions to increase the likelihood that any offspring will be raised by the man and woman who brought them into the world.”

    – Curiously, Cooper hasn’t yet called for infertile couples to be banned from marriage, or couples that don’t want children, or the elderly. By his logic, we should ban all of those groups from marriage. But we don’t. We don’t because we believe marriage is about love, and the right to express that love. It is not simply a means to create offspring. If you believe your marriage is purely about reproduction, then your mechanical relationship is rather miserable in itself. “I married this woman, purely to reproduce”. How romantic.
    Wedding vows would certainly be interesting if those who claim marriage is purely for procreation have their way: “To have, and to hold, and to fuck, and NOTHING else! Get fucking! WE NEED TO POPULATE THE EARTH BECAUSE OF THE GAYS!”
    Cooper went on to say that legalising gay marriage, would result in the human race dying out. This guy is an ACTUAL Attorney. A guy who presumes, apparently, that in legalising same sex marriage, the entire human race will all at once decide that they are gay, and stop reproducing. A guy who believes that by banning same sex marriage, homosexual people will happily marry someone of the opposite sex and have lots of babies. The anti-same sex marriage lobby, are a parody.

  • “The Bible does not permit same sex relationships.”
    Well, then, let’s be consistent.  2 Cor. 6:14 tells me that a non-Christian is not allowed to marry a Christian (this is far more defining, than what the Bible says about gay marriage). Genesis 20:1-14 tells me it’s perfectly acceptable in God’s eyes, to marry your sister. Deut. 21:11-13 tells me it’s perfectly acceptable, when taking people hostage, to search out a hostage you find attractive, and marry her, as long as I shave her head first (she has no choice in this, obviously). I Corinthians 14:34-35 tells me that a husband should not allow his wife to have any opinions. Deut. 22:28 tells me that if I pay some silver to my rape victim, I am legally entitled to marry her. Again, she has no choice in this. Judges 21:7-23 tells me I can take the female children of families that i’ve slaughtered, and keep them for myself to marry. WHOOP! Leviticus 12:5 tells me that if my wife gives birth to a girl, she must spend two weeks in isolation because she’s a dirty bitch. Exodus 21:10 tells me that it’s perfectly acceptable to have more than one wife (Polygamous, and chauvinistic all at once)
    So…… marry your sister, marry your hostage, marry several women, marry your rape victim, beat your wife if she offers an opinion, and marry the children of families you’ve just slaughtered. But NEVER let a gay couple marry.The Bible says very little on the subject of homosexuality. But if we are to condemn homosexual relationships based on the Bible, we must be consistent and reflect on absolutely every precedent the Bible sets out in relation to marriage. To do otherwise, would be widely hypocritical.

  • “What about my religious freedoms?”
    I have honestly never heard anyone describe how letting two people in love marry, will destroy their right to believe in whatever God they choose. So it’s pretty difficult to answer this, given that it’s an empty and meaningless question. This victim mentality, expressed against a victimless backdrop, is worthy of absolutely no respect.

    Giving a group of people rights that you yourself have always had, does not take anything away from you. It is absurd to suggest it does. I am almost convinced that those who spout the “you’re taking away my religious freedoms” argument are under the rather odd impression that allowing gay people to marry, would mean they themselves are forced to marry a gay person.

    Please feel free to enlighten me, as to which religious freedoms you will lose, if a gay couple that you’ve never met, and will never meet, get married without your knowledge?

  • “Legalising same-sex marriage? Why not legalise incest? Or marrying your dog?”
    – This is perhaps the most ridiculous of all arguments. A slippery slope fallacy of the worst kind. If homosexual marriage leads to marrying your dog, or your daughter, then we must accept that heterosexual marriage lead to homosexual marriage, and so in fact the very institution of marriage itself, starts the ball rolling down the slippery slope. It is a silly argument. It is the equivalent of insisting that eating pork, will eventually lead to eating humans. Why let gay people vote? We may as well let your dog vote, right? It is a disgusting argument, to suggest that a loving relationship between two men, or between two women is morally equivalent to incest. And yet, this intense logical fallacy is being used constantly by our Parliamentary representatives in the House of Commons today. How shameful. Canada legalised same-sex marriage in 2005, and in the eight years that has passed, no one is marrying their goat.

    For a Conservative Party and a Republican, who base their entire existence on ‘freedom’, and getting government out of people’s lives, the 100+ British Conservative MPs willing to withhold the right to love, and a Republican Party willing to use government to tell an individual he or she is not allowed to marry the person that they love, has to be the most vicious form of government oppression that exists in a liberal secular democracy.

    The choice to become Christian is just that; a choice. Sexuality is a spectrum based on genetic and hormonal differences, that is not in any way about choice. Therefore, sexuality, like skin colour, comes with inalienable rights, that choosing to be Christian, simply doesn’t. A choice is entirely different from genetic traits.

    Your choice to become a Christian does not bestow upon you a right to inhibit the rights of others.

    There is no debate here. It isn’t two rational sides conflicting. It is the side of rationality and sensible, evidence based point of view, against homophobes. Their arguments are so very weak, their points are useless, and so the conclusion we can come to is that they simply do not like homosexuality. To oppose the right for two people in love to get married, based solely on their sexuality, is bigoted and nothing else. The suggestion of ‘separate but equal’ is the cry of the regressives. It is a nice little sound bite that masks the intent; segregation. Segregation is, and always will be wrong.