Faith: The “get out of bigotry free” card.

December 20, 2013

The backlash over Phil Robertson’s homophobic comments and subsequent suspension from ‘Duck Dynasty’ on A&E over in the US this week, has revealed three things. Firstly, the Christian Right seem to be under the impression that bigotry – when it is faith based- is acceptable and should come with no consequences. Secondly, they appear to be more offended at a suspension for bigotry, than they are by bigotry itself (is this what it means to be Christian?); And thirdly, they wish all private business owners to share their bigotry, and if those business owners wish the freedom to suspend someone for comments disagreeable to the business or the owners, this can only mean persecution of Christians, the end of free expression, and something about Stalin and Hitler.

For what it’s worth, I am a big free speech advocate. As an Atheist, I have argued that Muslim speaker – Mehdi Hasan – should be allowed to say of non-believers, that we’re headed for eternal torture, and that we live like animals. As disgusting as I find his views, I recognise that he will equally find my views on his faith to be ugly. The same Muslim speaker – Mehdi Hasan – then demanded we all say nice things about his religion, in essence, promotion of blasphemy laws; this, I cannot abide. They exist to protect faith. Faith has no inherent right to be protected.

It is worth noting that in Phil Robertson’s case, the state is not threatening to punish him. This is not a free expression issue. His freedom to be a bigot, is not under threat. Robertson expressed his view, he wont be punished by the state for it. However, a private business can still suspend him, if they are unhappy at what he expresses. This is true of every other business across the World. If I were to go on TV and express a thoroughly racist opinion, I’d expect to be disciplined by the network for it. If private companies wish to suspend someone for an ill-conceived and hateful racist, or homophobic rant, it is their right to do so.

Here is what Phil Robertson said:

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus, that’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

– Leaving aside the obvious irony in a man believing in book of magical fairy sky man, dust Adam, rib Eve, and talking snake, having the nerve to call anyone else “not logical”; Phil Robertson here compares beastiality to homosexuality. At this point, the Christian-right expected no one to take issue with this grotesque rant. It is true that if you hold such appalling and uneducated views, you’re likely to face strong opposition with equally strongly held views (though again, you should not be punished by the state). It is the nature of holding extreme views.

For example, we could all point out that whilst Leviticus calls homosexuality an abomination, 1 Corinthians 11:14 refers to Phil Robertson as a ‘disgrace’:

“Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him”

– But I don’t use this to build a system of bigoted privilege for those of us who aren’t a ‘disgrace’ For having long hair, Phil Robertson “won’t inherit the Kingdom of heaven. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right”.

Indeed, the free expression narrative is an interesting one. For the Christian-right, it appears to mean freedom-to-say-right-winged-things, and to threaten action against those who don’t. In 2011, The American Family Association issued a sort of fatwa against The Gap and Banana Republic, calling for a boycott of the business. Effectively hurting business, thus hurting people who work for those businesses, around Christmas time, because:

“The boycott is part of our ongoing campaign to encourage businesses, communities and individuals to put Christ back in Christmas. The boycott runs from November 1 through Christmas Day.
For years, Gap has refused to use the word Christmas in its television commercials, newspaper ads and in-store promotions, despite tens of thousands of consumer requests to recognize Christmas and in spite of repeated requests from AFA to do the same.”

– The AFA are quite the serial offenders for demanding private companies bow to their wishes. They demanded a boycott of Ford over its support for gay pride events. The AFA then announced that Ford’s drop in sales, was caused in large part by the AFA’s boycott. Congrats! Your free expression – according to you – hurt a business, thus hurting employees, all because the business didn’t come to you to draft it’s “What we’re allowed to support” memo.

Similarly, The First Baptist Church of Dallas, in 2010 launched a website designed to allow users to ‘name and shame’ companies who take ‘Christ’ away from the holiday period, in their ads and products. The Christian-right are naturally very talented at forcing their views on others, and silencing dissent, so to harm businesses – small and large – to harm the employees who work at these businesses by shaming them simply for not re-affirming the Christian aspect of Christmas every single second of every day.

In 2010, the late Helen Thomas made disparaging remarks toward Jews in Israel, when she suggested Jews should leave Israel and “go home” to Germany and Poland. Ari Fleischer – Press Secretary under George W Bush – said:

“She should lose her job over this.”

– Nine Speakers, Inc, the agency that represented Thomas then fired her, after the media backlash and ex-Bush staff calling for her to be fired. Sarah Palin expressed her anger at Thomas, and added to the media storm that eventually led to her firing. Palin today is standing by Phil Robertson for his equally disparaging remarks.

Indeed, conservatives were overjoyed that “they” managed to get Helen Thomas fired:
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Three years later, the same conservatives expressing joy at getting someone fired for expressing their view, seem to have had a sudden change of heart:
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And again:
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And again:
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– When it’s speech that doesn’t adhere to their Theocratic standards, they get angry and demand action. When the speech absolutely adheres to their Theocratic standards, they get angry at those who demand action. It’s beautifully hypocritical.

In December 2012, Alex Jones over at infowars started a petition that eventually gained over 100,000 signatures on the White House website, earning an official response from the President…. to deport Piers Morgan for advocating gun control. Apparently you’re free to say what you wish, as long as it’s Tea Party-esque, and you’re not foreign:
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And again:
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Hell, it’s not just Piers Morgan they want to deport either:
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– Essentially; give a voice to those who agree with us, and silence those who don’t.

As noted in yesterday’s article on the Christian-right in Oklahoma – they are not happy unless their faith dictates the operation of the state, the media, private businesses, the womb of every woman on the planet, and whom individuals are allowed to marry. The arrogance is astounding, and the religious supremacy that promotes and perpetuates homophobia is cancerous.

The use of the phrase “free expression” – which to the Christian-right means; freedom from any sort of repercussion or challenge – is only ever invoked when the views expressed confirm Christian prejudices. The same people then demand repercussions for anyone, or any business whose expression doesn’t confirm Christian-right prejudices. It’s a terribly hypocritical state of affairs, all in the hope of retaining the get out of bigotry free card for that which they call “faith”.

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It used to be Patriotism, but now “It’s just my opinion” is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

October 8, 2011

Debate is perhaps the most intrinsically key ingredient of social progression that humanity is blessed with. Rationality is a tool that we have evolved beyond that of any other creature on the planet. We should use it wisely and we should be well informed before we jump to conclusions, especially if we have influence upon others.

I am increasingly finding myself developing opinions that put me at odds with a lot of people. On the Iraq war, I followed the Tariq Ali/Noam Chomsky anti-American stance to every murky corner that it lurked. Vast oil conspiracies, dealings with the Bin Laden family, America as an imperial aggressor against opponents that are just pawns. I still hold many of those views, but they become entwined the more complex certain situations seem to become the more scholars and writers you digest. With Iraq, I soon became very pro-war. I am still pro-war. I am certain that had we listened to the hysterical anti-war left for the past fifty years, the World would not be in a better place. Milosovich would have ethnically cleansed Bosnia, Saddam would be torturing and killing his way across the marshlands of southern Iraq whilst the Kurds similarly are systematically abused. The depth of public opinion seems to be focused more on what is popular to believe, than what is actually going on. It is popular to believe that Bush invaded Iraq for oil. It is popular to believe that immigration is an intense problem that destroys livelihoods of “natives”. It is popular to believe we must deal with the Nation’s debt immediately and that the Welfare State is a great evil. The truth is irrelevant to people who hold and perpetuate these opinions.

Sky News, one of the two key news channels, instead of engaging in thoughtful debate and new and provocative ideas, instead chooses to spend its time focusing a camera on Michael Jackson’s doctor. How uneasy this makes me feel. It’s not a fucking reality TV show. The sensationalism of the opening titles; “THE JACKSON TRIAL! ONLY ON SKY NEWS” as if it’s a movie. What a horrible development.

The weak level of debate, and the social cynicism that accompanies it, inevitably seeps into the political sphere and the democratic process, with debate at its core, becomes a sad reflection of the level of debate that can only be described as manically ill-informed populism. This weak, Labour went on the offensive, attacking the Tories because of who the Defence Secretary is friends with. That is essentially the story. It is a scandal that might last a week, if we’re lucky. It is essentially meaningless. It takes the heat off the fact that the official opposition; Labour, has offered no opposition to the dangerous moves the Coalition government has taken over the past 18 months. As the Governor of the Bank of England said last week, this could be the biggest economic crises Britain has ever faced. Our growth projection has been cut again, output has fallen again, unemployment is rising still, and Neoliberalism has hit such a crises that even the middle classes – whom the political class has attempted to win over for the past thirty years – cannot afford to pay their electricity bills any more. Why aren’t Labour fighting this? why are they focusing on why the Defence Secretary hangs around with? The dying level of debate in this country, and across the World, will only get deeper and more depressing, if the House of Lords is democratised. We should have a chamber of experts, to debate the issues between the most qualified and most informed. This serves two purposes; one.. it is quite obvious that humanity, on an individual level, cannot possibly know everything. This goes for politicians. It is counterproductive for progressivism for an MP like Blunkett to have been at the Home Office, Work and Pensions, and Education. Three different specialties cannot be perfected by one career politician. We need experts. Two… the point of this blog; the raising of the level of debate. Democracy is great, if you have all the information. Quite clearly, we don’t. A debate in the Commons on stem cell research is useless, if there are no experts to provide the information we all need. If we are to democratise the House of Lords, then we must still maintain a level of expertise in our political sphere. A Chamber of experts is my proposition.

I’m pretty sure we can’t rely on Labour to run a successful opposition campaign. They have become too suited, and too “centrist” (another word for ‘right winged’).
Where is the fight against referring to anyone with a supreme amount of money as “job creators”? – If anything we’ve learned that demand creates jobs, not the super rich.
Where is the passion in fighting NHS reform? I hear from doctors and the BMA and others in the profession all the time; yet nothing from the official opposition.
Where is the promise to really hit the banks?
I am bored of politicians treading a careful centre ground. It failed. Whilst the Country burns, Labour just like to say “Bad Tories”. Well, it isn’t good enough. The real opposition comes from the masses, who have had to listen and endure politicians across the spectrum, tell us that we must protect the “job creators”, that the “tough decisions needing to be taken” are the ones that affect those without great wealth only.
It is too much.
All they are doing, is applying a very weakly tied bandage to a system that didn’t work in the first place.
And they all do it, because they’re all funded by the very people they are all now protecting.
And then, they all have the fucking nerve to think that we should accept reform of Parliament, be proposed and implemented…. by Parliament.
We shouldn’t trust politicians, or the very wealthy, with a pair of scissors, let alone the entire World.

Don’t vote. It is the best way to cast a vote.

One of my favourite topics to debate is religion and its power over mankind. As you are all aware, I despise organised religion. Now, this doesn’t mean I despise religious individuals. I genuinely do not care what you believe, or where you choose to believe it. I do not submit to the view that England is a Christian nation. Move to England, believe what you like. I simply despise the concept of religion and the hold it has had over humanity for far too long.

Today, a Facebook friend of mine wrote on her wall, that Richard Dawkins is a Fascist and a Cunt. She is a psuedo-intellectual, who absolutely hates being brought up on anything she says. She expects any sort of provocative statement to be overlooked, and if you dare question her about the ill-informed, manically provocative statement, she’ll take a very passive aggressive stance and try to paint you as a bully, for questioning her. These people are everywhere. They are the Fox News brigade. They exist on the Right and the Left. The EDL is very similar. They make very provocative statements, find themselves unable to back it up because, frankly, their statements are usually ill-informed and dangerous, and then just blame the media for picking on them. They perpetuate a declining level of debate. Today, I questioned why Dawkins is a fascist? I asked if she’d read The Selfish Gene, and then read Fascist literature and to point out where the similarities lie. I pointed out that the true fascists belong almost entirely to those claiming to be fighting a religious cause. That the Abrahamic traditions themselves, are based entirely on Fascists principles. To illustrate this point, I will refer, for lack of a better source, to wikipedia entry on Fascism:

Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood.[3] To achieve this, fascists purge forces, ideas, people, and systems deemed to be the cause of decadence and degeneration.

– You could replace the word “fascists” in that description, with “Islamic/Christian/Jewish fundamentalists” and replace “nation” with “religion”, and it’d make the same point, and be absolutely accurate in doing so. The very basis of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, is exclusive, and around 2000 years ‘purging’ any contrary ideas, people, and systems that it simply didn’t like. Now, it is losing the power that it once had, but not for use of trying. My point had at least an attempt at rational thought, lodged firmly into it.
She said I was being a bully and aggressive and refused to actually discuss the point I made. I then pointed out that she’d still not answered my original point, to which she’d said “It’s just my opinion!”.

It used to be Patriotism, but now I’d say “It’s just my opinion” is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Now, it might just be me. Perhaps i’m the awful one who just doesn’t get it. But I am CERTAIN this is passive aggressive behaviour at its very worst. Putrid and vicious on the surface, but just a way to worm her way out of actually answering my original point. Here is the conversation, after the original argument:
Her:

One of my friends has just unfriended me based on what he read on that thread. So thank you for that. If this is not indicative of how damaging your unprovoked attacks can be I don’t know what is. I now have a tearful man on the phone saying he can’t bear to me on my list because of the unprovoked abuse it puts in his newsfeed and I don’t have sensible answer for him.

I’m really, really disappointed in you. Not just in the way you launched into me, but in the way you are now trying to accuse me of all sorts of things when all I did was express a view. You have me so wrong I don’t even know where to start. You’re way too suspicious. I’m not as complicated as you seem to think. Maybe you have been surrounded by headworkers, and that’s what has given you such a low opinion of people, but I’m not one of them. I speak, then I move on. Nothing more sinister than that. All I have done is be honest about how I feel.

I am baffled as to why you see such nefariousness in my comments. I’m not trying to occupy moral high grounds or anything else, I’m just speaking from the heart as I always do.

I’m not going to lie, I was just letting this all go over my head until Alan got upset. Now I’m going to make my excuses and head off out to cry to myself. I can’t believe your attack has cost ME a fiend. I’m devastated. I think a lot of Alan.

Please just show some respect? Whether you agree or not, whether you think people are idiots or not, it isn’t your place to tell people how to think or to make sarcastic, bombastic remarks to them for not sharing a view you hold.

I have never and will never be personally offensive to you for not agreeing with me. That doesn’t mean my passion is less ardent than yours, it just means I have been surrounded by aggressive, dogmatic people all my life and now most of them are dead I am enjoying the most peaceful existence I never dared ream about. I’m not going to be drawn in to petty rows online, because trust me, nothing you or anyone else here could say could ever come close to making me feel the way people in my ‘previous; life have.

I don’t know what your motivation is for the aggression and personal remarks – and you may say it isn’t intentional, but clearly it is coming across that way to have cost me a dear friend – but please be assured, if the intention is to pull me into a row I don’t want to have, you will never win. I don’t do bad feeling anymore. I’ve had too much of it than I know what to do with. I refuse to fight with people needlessly.

That’s it. That’s my last word. If you wish to believe your own words and think me some kind of warped moral crusader, then so be it. I can’t and won’t tell people how to think. But I’m certainly not going to fall out with anyone on account of a difference of opinion, and I am certainly not going to use my intellect as a weapon the way you have because that is ugly, unnecessary and not part of my arsenal.

This is not the life I live anymore and that extends as far as not allowing myself to have petty ego wars online.

I’m just sad that this has made me lose a certain respect I had for you.

Enjoy your weekend
D

– Now, to me, this starts first with a very passive aggressive paragraph about how I am responsible for the loss of a friend. The guy she refers to, I have never spoken to, I have never seen, I have never encountered in any way. To project this on to me, for simply trying to debate (honestly, I know when I’m being a bit aggressive in the way I argue, and for me, this was very very mild, to the point of me being actually quite half arsed in what I was saying. There was nothing vicious… though obviously, you only have my word on this), is ludicrous. To then tell me she’s “very very disappointed”, as if i’m a 15 year old being spoken to by my mother, is not just passive aggressive, it is condescending and patronising. She then plays the victim card brilliantly. Notice though, still not addressing my original point.

My response:

” If this is not indicative of how damaging your unprovoked attacks can be I don’t know what is. I now have a tearful man on the phone saying he can’t bear to me on my list because of the unprovoked abuse it puts in his newsfeed and I don’t have sensible answer for him.”
– I’m sorry but that is beyond pathetic. You are again taking a very passive aggressive stance.
You cannot sit and claim to be attacked with no provocation, when your initial statement was one of abuse. I simply asked you to quantify your reasoning. Which, you still haven’t done.

I am absolutely sick to death of very very passive aggressive people who publish controversial statements, and then backtrack and refuse to answer for them. The ones who can’t back it up. It is damaging to debate. It is weak minded and it is what leads to dangerous ideas; the idiots who think Bush is responsible for 9/11, the idiots who think Blair should be tried for war crimes, who then get challenged on their bullshit and hide behind “omg, you’re bullying me, it’s just my opinion”. Well it’s too much now. It has to stop because it is pseudo-intellectual bullshit that perpetuates false perceptions.
I genuinely do not care what your opinion of someone like Dawkins is. But if you honestly think you’ve taken a moral high ground, by referring to someone as a cunt and a fascist, and then just blatantly ignoring all arguments to the contrary, AND THEN subtly claiming my points were very EDL like. How is that not an attack on me? I think nationalism is just vicious and vile and insulting as a concept created by humanity, as religion. The people who use EDL tactics are the ones who make outrageous and abusive initial claims, and then refuse to back them up, mainly because they can’t.
This is not what I did. What I did initially was ask you why Dawkins is a Fascist. I asked you to provide me with evidence, to maybe read the Selfish Gene and then read Fascist literature and tell me where the similarities lie. A perfectly reasonable expectation, given the level of abuse and the vicious nature of your original statement. You cannot say irrational and vicious things, and just expect everyone to click “like”.
I refuse to be attacked, with the usual line of attack, which you’ve used, which is simply “I’m so disappointed in you, I thought you were intelligent blah blah …. why aren’t you as great as me?” It is patronising and it is condescending. I will ALWAYS challenge opinions I find to be shockingly irrational, if those opinions are vicious in nature, be it religious, nationalist or any other. There are certainly times I find Dawkins to be overly provocative. But he in no way deserves the title “Fascist”. But if you can substantiate why he’s a Fascist that would be great. I am STILL waiting for your logic.

“I don’t know what your motivation is for the aggression and personal remarks – and you may say it isn’t intentional, but clearly it is coming across that way to have cost me a dear friend – but please be assured, if the intention is to pull me into a row I don’t want to have, you will never win.”
– I am not going to let you blame me for you losing a friend. I actually resent that accusation, and if I were you, I’d tell him to man up, he doesn’t know me, he has never spoken to me, and if he is offended by a debate that absolutely doesn’t involve him, he needs a serious chat with himself. I wont take responsibility, nor apologise for that. And the fact that you’ve tried to pin that on me, is actually an utter disgrace.
It is not aggression. You’re the one who started the entire thing by referring to a man as a cunt and a Fascist. Where I come from, that’s a pretty aggressive line to take. My line is simply; I cannot tolerate stupidity, and I cannot tolerate those who try to worm their way out of a debate (which I started, without being aggressive, I merely asked for your logic) by either trying to paint the other person, as passively aggressive as possible, as some sort of nut job (the anti-war left are great at this tactic, as are the Tories), and then refuse to answer all questions that may compromise their dogmatic bullshit, with “omg it’s just my opinion”. The conversation we had, was basically:
“This man is a fascist and a cunt”
“Explain what you mean….”
“OMG YOU’RE A BULLY, IT’S JUST MY OPINION. YOU’RE LIKE THE EDL.”
What you did, constantly, was say just how much you hate aggression, and then continue to be as passive aggressive as possible. I asked my girlfriend to make sure it wasn’t just me, and she’s in agreement with me. Though she did note that I can come across as a bit intimidating during debates (a flaw I accept – though I still try to present a reasoned argument). My only expectation, is if someone makes a controversial and provocative claim, they should be able to logically back it up, if they can’t, they are simply perpetuating weak minded, useless debate, and that is wrong.

Whether you admit it or not, and whether you want to project a certain image from your past onto me or not, you started this with an aggressive and provocative statement. To claim you hate aggression and provocation is unbelievably hypocritical. My main problem, is the level of debate. The Country seems to be talking about some bloke the Defence Secretary walked through the Defence Department once. And i’m sat here thinking, who gives a fuck? Why is that even important? Why aren’t we all fighting against the destruction of the health service? Likewise, with the anti-atheist thing, what I meant by that is, you did what a lot of liberals do, and I’m starting to despise. They attack people like Dawkins or Hitchens as fascists or dogmatic blah blah, but they absolutely never have a bad word to say about organised religion. As I said in my first post on your page, Dawkins has never written a book that calls for the torture, rape and murder of non-believers. To say Dawkins is inherently fascist, but to ignore the basis of most organised religions; fear and death, is a horribly simplistic liberal technique that is beyond abhorrent. I do not feel me taking this stance is EDL-like. I am an Atheist, an out-spoken Atheist, it is a subject I take great interest in, I studied Theology, I have read the Koran on numerous occassions, I have read the Bible, I have studied Philosophy from Socrates to Sartre. And so I resent being compared to a bunch of racists who just don’t like Islam because people with slightly darker skin are its main followers. If you subtly suggesting I am using EDL tactics, isn’t passive aggressive, I don’t know what is.

“I’m just sad that this has made me lose a certain respect I had for you.”
– Ditto. Especially for accusing me of making you lose a friend. Again, disgusting.

– I don’t think I was overly aggressive or abusive, or intolerant in anything I just said. And so it goes…
Her:

Turn it in, Jamie – you’re just another sad, intolerant militant and everyone that witnessed the way you spoke to me today saw it.

The friend and I have talked it out and we’re fine, stronger than ever thanks to your wild and paranoid accusations, so despite your best efforts you have failed to make a dent in my day.

Go and wiled your quasi-intellect like a weapon over someone who can’t see through your barely concealed hate.

I’m actually laughing now reading your desperate attempts to make me appear to be someone I am clearly not. All you did was exhaust every bit of boring rhetoric in your arsenal. You’re far too arrogant to see your mistakes, because you have genuinely convinced yourself that I’m being ‘passive-aggressive’, which I find hilarious – anyone that knows anything at all about me and the way I operate knows that I have never and will never be that person; if I have a point to make, and I’m not getting through, I’m AGGRESSIVE aggressive.

Of course, you will write this off as whichever adjective you haven’t already overused today but I couldn’t care less. I pity you; you’re the worst kind of extremist. Dishonest, pompous and self-important. You will gradually alienate every person in your life until you are left with a handful of fellow dogmatics and the few of you will spend the rest of your days blowing smoke up each other’s arses. I can’t think of anything sadder. In the meantime, I shall be embracing the people in my life in spite of our differences, and will have a richer, happier life experience as a result.

I only hope that poor girl of yours realises just what a hypocrite you are before she leaves her life behind for you.

Enjoy thinking up warped reasons I have blocked you. I know that you know as well as I do that I simply can’t be bothered to entertain toxic people.

– My personal favourites:
“I have never and will never be personally offensive to you for not agreeing with me. ”

Five minutes later:
” you’re just another sad, intolerant militant”
” I pity you; you’re the worst kind of extremist.”
“I only hope that poor girl of yours realises just what a hypocrite you are before she leaves her life behind for you.”

Brilliant.
The joyful irony of calling me aggressive, and then insisting my girlfriend is making a mistake, and that i’m an intolerant militant and the worst kind of extremist (the WORST kind…. worse than those who fly planes into buildings. I am, according to her, worse than Mohammad Atta. Amazing).

The flaws in her position are vast. She doesn’t elaborate on how i’m being ‘dishonest’ or what it is about me that is ‘extremist’ or why I might be a hypocrite. They are just empty abusive phrases designed for attack. The very thing she is trying to argue against. From her original position that Richard Dawkins is a Fascist cunt, to her ending that I am a militant aggressive extremist dishonest hypocrite, she offers nothing of substance. She is one big logical failure.

But this illustrates my original point. My last message to her, still wanting some form of debate. I still clinged onto the hope that she might present a logical argument. Instead, she chose to get very personal. This is what people tend to do, when they are losing. The EDL do it all the time. Religious nutjobs do it all the time. They get personal or aggressive. They absolutely worm their way around the actual subject of debate and just try to paint you as posing the debate in the ‘wrong’ tone. It is pathetic.

The level of debate in the Country and the World, at the most accessible and popular levels, is weak at best, and viciously ill-informed and dangerous at worst. For the most part, people form opinions through what they see in the most easily accessible parts of the media sphere. If the media support Iraq, the people support Iraq. If the media suggest Blair is a liar, the people believe it must be true. Opinions don’t tend to run too deep, unless you’re aiming at an intellectual level that expands beyond that of the mass media. For example, at the highest levels of debate, we have some great names. Tariq Ali, Christopher Hitchens, Tahereh Saffarzadeh, Chomsky, Krugman among others, are the leaders of the intellectual movement to advance debate and offer unique and exciting ideas. They challenge key perceptions. They always question. They never let a bad argument rest until it is totally destroyed. These are the people the World needs. These are the people we should be learning critical techniques from in order to advance the level of debate to a position that is currently alien to us.

A mad overly liberal calling anyone who disagrees with her a fascist militant dangerous extremist cunt, whilst insisting she’s not aggressive, is absolutely counter productive and should be fought at every opportunity.


The Pig Society Part II

February 16, 2011

The Big Society grows ever stronger, and support grows ever wider, charity bosses and workers applaud it and sing its praises, because it is a wonderful plan that is definitely not a cover for a mass of Corporate tax cuts.

That is what delusional Conservatives believe.
Except, it’s bullshit.
The voluntary sector is being absolutely gutted of funding.
As the previous post pointed out. But to make it clear, the Guardian today featured a story of a lady named Denise Marshall. She is Director of Eaves and also the Poppy Project. These charities work with victims of domestic abuse and sex trafficking. She has dedicated her life to this cause. She has fought some pretty high powered members of the criminal underworld across Europe. Eaves provides housing and counselling for victims of abuse. They offer up to 35% savings on gas and electricity and other necessities for vulnerable women. In short, Denise Marshall is a heroine. She was recognised for this in 2008 by being given an OBE. She is one of the very few who actually deserve the honour.

Denise is now handing back the OBE, to David Cameron personally, because she has said that the extreme and needless cuts to funding for charities and organisations like Eaves, means she will no longer be able to support and fight criminal gangs who traffic women for the sex trade. She feels that she would be hypocritical and unworthy of an OBE when she can no longer protect the women she has the award for protecting.

Marshall said:

“I received the OBE in 2007 specifically for providing services to disadvantaged women. It was great to get it; it felt like recognition for the work the organisation has done.

But recently it has been keeping me awake at night. I feel like it would be dishonourable and wrong to keep it. I’m facing a future where I can’t give women who come to my organisation the services they deserve – I won’t be able to provide the services for which I got the OBE.”

“If you run a refuge where you don’t have the support staff it just becomes a production line, where you move people on as quickly as possible to meet the targets. You’re not helping women to escape the broader problems they face. They may get a bed, but no help with changing their lives and moving out of situations of danger.”

“I’ve worked in this sector for almost 30 years. I don’t want to sound melodramatic but I don’t think I have ever felt as depressed and desperate as I do now,”

How then, do the Big Society advocates justify the fact that on the same day as a true heroine feels she can no longer protect very very vulnerable women in her care, the Tories are trying to stop an EU law on the banning of naked short selling (which I shall try to explain as much as possible shortly)? The EU law, if the Tories get their way, will not affect the UK on naked short selling. Germany have banned it, the U.S have banned it, Australia have banned it, Hong Kong have banned it, Japan have banned it. We have kept it. It makes a very small elite group of speculators very rich, whilst risking money that is not theirs. How are these people protected, yet the vulnerable women like those that Denise Marshall represents have their funds slashed. The Government and its banking friends and business associates are sitting sipping champagne, whilst Rome burns. Nero would be in awe.

Short Selling (not naked short selling) is a little confusing, and utterly absurd. It has no social use. It is not to the benefit of any of us. It is dangerous and it should be banned. When you buy shares, you buy them in the hope that the price will rise and you can sell them some time in the future, to make a nice bit of money. It is all to do with how you obtain shares. You and I would buy shares. Naked short sellers borrow shares in the hope that the price will fall. So, if for instance I was to borrow 5000 shares from Broker A. I will then sell them at £1 a share, so £5000, hoping the price falls. Say the price falls by half. I now buy back all the shares, at £2500. I have netted myself a nice little £2500 and I give the 5000 shares back to the Broker A.

Naked Short Selling is different, because you don’t even borrow the shares you’re selling. You don’t have them. You’re selling a promise that you will obtain the shares that you’ve just sold, at some point in the future. You may as well walk into a bank, take all of their money, and promise to give it back at some point in the future. There is then an incentive for short sellers to wreck companies, because the share price has to fall for them to meet their promise. On a grand scale, this can lead to massive crashes.

This little practice lead necessarily to the 1997 Asian Financial Crises, that left millions in poverty. This wasn’t the fault of too much Government interference in people’s lives, or too many people on the dole. It was a direct result of unproductive short sellers and a massively deregulated financial sector.

The law looks to ban naked short selling in the EU. The UK will be trying to exempt itself from that banning.

This of course comes days after the announcement that there would be vast changes to the offshore tax laws, which mean that large and medium sized businesses who offshore their profits and then move them back to the UK, no longer have to pay the difference between the tax they paid in their tax haven and the tax they pay in the UK. They no longer have to pay any tax on profits that are made outside the country and brought back to the UK. Not only that, but they can claim expenses against tax they pay in the UK, to fund their overseas departments. That represents one of the biggest changes to Corporate tax law, and a massive shift of wealth from the poorest due to cuts, to the very wealthiest on a level far beyond anything Margaret Thatcher could have dreamed of. Suddenly the veil of an omni-benevolent Tory government is falling off, to be replaced by a face stamped with the logos of Diageo and Barclays.

On the 9th February, George Osborne told the House of Commons:

Those entrusted by us to regulate those bankers and run our economy washed their hands.
Meanwhile the rest of the country is left paying every day for their failures.
The government has to pick up the pieces.

It would seem that what Osborne believes is “picking up the pieces” entails giving away massive tax cuts, destroying the voluntary sector, and inviting the World’s naked short sellers to come and set up home in Britain.

Welcome to the Pig Society.


The curse of stupidity.

February 1, 2011


Taken at Hyde Park
Taken in 2008
Taken with Canon 400D
Displayed because it’s a calming photo, at the end of not so calming day.

————————————————————————-

Trying to beat the drum of
rationality
and reasoning
with someone who is
venomously stupid
is like
trying to
argue with fire.
So i told her
she’s full of
shit.