Archive for the 'In The News' Category

Holy Father, Batman!

August 19th, 2011

Thousands of fans have gathered in Madrid to see the Pope live in concert.

As I drove along the motorway today, all the overpasses were lined with groupies and adorned with banners colourfully declaring their love for the President of the Vatican.

And I have to say it pissed me off.

It pissed me off because these people conveniently forget, or choose to ignore, that this man presides over an organisation that aided and abetted child rapists across the world, not least in my own country.

To me, rape is as serious a crime as murder and I consider the rape of a child even more serious than the rape of an adult, because an adult has some chance of fighting back and has the psychological mechanisms in place to seek help afterwards. The child rapist is the most cowardly of the spineless. He seeks out the most helpless victims, victims usually in his care or at least within his sphere of influence and he seeks to destroy their lives before they have even properly begun.

So what should we think of the person who knowingly shields a child rapist from justice? In my mind, that person is even more culpable, because it could be argued that child rapists are incapable of supressing their urges and it is likely that they were victims of child rape themselves.

Those who shield child rapists, do so coldly and for selfish reasons. In the case of the Catholic Church, it is done to protect the reputation of the Catholic Church, which the Vatican considers more important than the welfare of the children in its care. Regardless of what it might recently have been saying about contrition, the Vatican still considers criticism of Catholic Church over child rape to be more reprehensible than child rape itself, criticism which the Vatican considers “excessive“.

Just to make it clear, there is no such thing as excessive criticism of the rape of a child or the aiding and abetting of a child rapist.

If you agree that the rape of a child is as serious as the murder of a child, then consider this: if the Vatican had colluded in the protection of terrorists in the way that it has colluded in the shielding of child rapists, then Ratzinger would either be wearing an orange jumpsuit today and living in a shipping container, or he would have been shot in the head* in his bedroom by special forces and his body dumped at sea (with all the appropriate funereal niceties, of course).

And yet, he still swans about the world, being feted by political leaders, his visits paid out of the taxes of people who cannot afford to host this very rich man, and his presence applauded by thousands of the deluded.

I am now off to the bathroom to throw up.

* I must emphasise that I neither propose nor condone acts of violence against the Pope or anyone else. I am simply drawing a comparison between the leniency with which the aiders and abetters of child rapists have been treated and the treatment meted out to the aiders and abetters of terrorists (many of whom were merely suspected of aiding terrorists).

Time is an illusion

July 17th, 2011

There are many who believe that time is an illusion, that it is nothing more than the brain’s way of making sense of events.

According to this theory, everything is actually happening concurrently. Past, present and future are nothing more than perspectives, lenses through which we perceive events which would otherwise seem chaotic.

Nowhere is this theory held in higher esteem than at the newsroom of Raidió Teilifís Éireann, where the events of the distant past take place in the present:

“The Arctic’s dwindling population of polar bears all descend from a single mama brown bear which lived 20,000 to 50,000 years ago in present-day Ireland…”

So there you have it. If you are living in Ireland, or planning to visit, watch out for that ancient brown bear living in present-day Ireland.

I think this is why they filmed “Primeval” in Ireland, because of the temporal coincidence of past and present.

The criminalisation of pregnant women

June 25th, 2011

No fifteen-year-old chooses to become a cocaine-addict.

When a fifteen-year-old becomes addicted to drugs and gets pregnant, she is in desperate need of help, especially when she wants to carry the foetus to term.

When a fifteen-year-old becomes addicted to drugs and gets pregnant and loses the baby, she is in desperate need of help and consolation, not judgement or punishment.

But punishment in the form of life in prison is what the state of Mississippi has in mind for her.

Religious fanatics of all stripes, throughout history, have had one thing in common, regardless of the nature of their religion: they have a burning desire to punish other people – and if they cannot find something for which to punish people, they will make something up.

Such people are filled with a self-hatred that they cannot face, so they turn it on other people. Such people feel glee when they think of other people being punished for eternity. Such people cannot wait for eternity to come, however, so they also take glee in punishing people temporally also.

When you are not particularly religious and you hate yourself, you walk into a school and shoot it up. But when you are religious, you find new ways to inflict hurt on others and call it “punishment”.

Hate-filled, pathetic examples of how low on its belly the human race can crawl. The Taliban are not restricted to Afghanistan, it seems.

Couple those haters with ambitious prosecutors who seek to convict as many as possible for… whatever… and you have the story of the criminalisation of pregnant women.

Congratulations on your promotion, Mr. Al-Zawahri

June 16th, 2011

Congratulations on your promotion, Mr. Al-Zawahri.

Now this is the room you’ll be living in for the rest of your life. Make sure you bring a spare pair of undies and some porno DVDs.

Wearing a hoe’s uniform

May 8th, 2011

“Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.”

Those are the words of Canadian police constable Michael Sanguinetti, as reported by the BBC.

Constable Sanguinetti has since been reprimanded and has apologised. I hope he apologised for his poor and offensive choice of words, rather than his message, because his message was not entirely wrong.

All right, before every woman who reads this starts reaching for a pair of genital shears, allow me to make my position clear.

Firstly, I believe the constable should have said: “From a purely practical, though not moral, perspective women should avoid dressing in a way that is highly sexually provocative if they want to mitigate the risk of  being victimised. However, a victim of an assault should always be treated as a victim and with sensitivity.”

Should women have the right to “dress like sluts”? I believe  they should, assuming they adhere to any local bye-laws and establishment dress codes.

Do I find sluttiness attractive in a woman? Yes, I do, because I have the brain and hormones of the male of my species and at some primitive level I am going to respond positively to a woman who effectively advertises that she is sexually available.

If I were on the dating scene, would I try to chat up a woman dressed in a slutty way? I doubt it. I like a woman to be sexy, but I value elegance and taste very highly.

When teaching martial arts, I teach my students to behave in such a way that minimises the risk of ever needing to defend themselves. I emphasise that skill in avoiding trouble is far better than skill in getting out of trouble.

So I try to make my students, particularly the young adults, aware of the kinds of behaviour that could get them into trouble. After that, it is up to them to decide how they should behave.

Here are some examples of the kind of advice I give them.

Males:

  • Do not get drunk when you are out and about. Most street violence is perpetrated by young men on young men when one side or the other is intoxicated.
  • Do not be quick to take offence when another man spills your pint, looks at your girlfriend, bumps into you, etc.
  • Be quick to apologise to another man if you spill his pint, look at his girlfriend, bump into him, etc.
  • Do not try to stare other men down.

Females:

  • Do not get drunk when out and about.
  • Do not walk home alone at night, particularly through isolated, unlit areas.
  • Try not to park your car far from the entrance to any building you are visiting.
  • Try to park your car under or near a lamp-post.
  • Always reverse into a parking space, so that if you are being pursued on returning to your car, you can pull away quickly.
  • Always have your car key in your hand and ready before you get to your car, rather than fumbling through your handbag at the car door.

Do men and women have the right to violate these guidelines I set down? Of course they do. One female student of mine complained that she was worried about the dark lane she walked down in order to get to her house and wanted to know what to do if she were attacked there. I observed that it was unusual to have to use a dark lane to get to a house and that lanes are usually shortcuts. She then admitted that there was a longer way to her front door, but that the lane to her back door was more convenient. I politely told her to shut the fuck up and start using the front door.

Did she have the moral right to be able to walk down that dark lane and expect not to be attacked by the tiny minority of men who might be inclined to do so? Of course she did.

Was it unreasonable of her to desire a certain level of behaviour from men? Of course not.

Would she have been responsible for the consequences had she been attacked? From a moral point of view, not at all, but from the practical point of view of risk mitigation, absolutely.

Years ago I dated a young woman who was very feisty and always insisted on fighting for her rights. This was a good attitude in general, but sometimes she took it to ridiculous levels. For example, I often observed that she did not keep an eye on the traffic when on a pedestrian crossing. Her response was that she had the right to cross the road safely and that it was the responsibility of the drivers to drive safely. This attitude served her well until the day she was knocked down. Morally she had the right to be safe on a pedestrian crossing. Practically, it was her damned fault.

In relation to the BBC article mentioned above, a friend recently said: “Are men not capable of controlling themselves? Do they not know right from wrong?”

This point of view is naive in that it expects that because there exists the moral right to expect good behaviour from men, that women can behave however they like and not expect there to be consequences on occasion. Again I emphasise that I am speaking in terms of risk mitigation and not moral rights.

The fact is that a minority of men will see a woman dressed in a sexually provocative way and not think less of her as a woman. Such men are unlikely to approach a woman dressed so. However, I suspect the majority will not see past the sexual advertisement and see only a sex object. Some of those men will be disgusted and will not approach. Most, I suspect, will be highly aroused and are likely to approach the woman, expecting easy sex, but then will insult her verbally if she does not deliver the advertised sexual goods.

The tiny minority of those men will see only a sex object that they are entitled to, and are prepared to inflict violence on the woman if she does not deliver the advertised sex.

Those men exist.

Ladies, grow the fuck up and accept that reality. And stop throwing out the crude generalisation that men should not behave that way. Men do not behave that way. The tiny, fucked-up minority of men behave that way.

A short analogy: If a woman dressed like a slut to go to a job interview at anything other than a porno production company, whose fault would it be if she did not get the job based solely on the fact that she exercised her right to dress like a slut on that occasion? The right to act a certain way does not immunise you from its consequences.

But a man who assaults a woman never, ever, has an excuse and the victim of an assault is always a victim, regardless of what they were wearing at the time.

I leave you now with American comedian Dave Chapelle, on the subject of women dressing like “hoes” (that’s prostitutes and not garden tools):

Say ‘Salaam’ to my little friend!

May 4th, 2011

I’m not sorry Osama bin Laden is dead.

I’m not glad either. Unlike the many who gathered in Times Square, I do not celebrate death. OBL probably got what he deserved and his last words may well have been: “Say ‘Salaam’ to my little fr…”

This probably did not happen.

President Obama ordered Navy SEALs into OBL’s compound and watched the proceedings live. I imagine Obama knew that OBL would not want to be taken alive, but we do not know whether the mission was a planned assassination from the outset. Initial reports said that a SEAL shot OBL in the head when OBL fired at him, but the Whitehouse now says that OBL was unarmed. Even so, considering the penchant Muslim terrorists have for blowing themselves and people around them to Paradise, I probably would have shot him on sight too. Or thrown up. Not sure which. But one of those two.

Of course, the Whitehouse is already backtracking on what supposedly happened, but that is to be expected. It turns out OBL was not armed, he was not using a woman as a human shield, the mission was not carried out by Navy SEALs but by actual seals, the blubbery kind.

I don’t believe the mission was ever to take OBL alive, however, because what would they have done with him? Put him on trial? That may well have had every self-esteem-lacking, brainwashed Al Qaeda wannabee flying planes into buildings all over the world, demanding the release of OBL. Alternatively, it might have made the statement that counter-terrorism should be about law, and not a military mission that kills thousands more innocents than terrorists.

No, I believe it was an assassination and that’s fair enough. OBL was a bollix. Mourn him not. Even if you are a Muslim reading this and you hate what the West does in many Islamic countries, OBL was not a bearded Robin Hood. He was a murdering bollix who sent other people out to kill and die. Quite similar to most world leaders in that respect.

What interests me, though, is the two-faced language that has come out since.

President Obama said: “Justice has been done.”

Really? Justice?

Let’s see what the Merriam-Webster dictionary of American English has to say about justice. There are several definitions relevant to this context:

  • the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments
  • the administration of law; especially : the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity
  • the quality of being just, impartial, or fair
  • the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action
  • conformity to this principle or ideal
  • the quality of conforming to law

Notice the use of the word “impartial”. Justice is impartial. But what happened in Abbottabad was not about justice, despite what the eloquent Mr. Obama might say. It was highly partial. I don’t have a problem with that. Had my loved ones died in New York, London or Madrid at the hands of terrorists, I doubt I would have the dignity of the “September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows”. Read their response to the news of the killing of OBL here. I would probably be punching the air.

But Obama revealed his true nature when he said this was about justice. The naive part of me was hoping he would be honest and say it was about revenge. Although, to be fair, it might not have been about revenge for Obama. As Frank Castle said:

“In certain extreme situations, the law is inadequate. In order to shame its inadequacy, it is necessary to act outside the law. To pursue… natural justice. This is not vengeance. Revenge is not a valid motive, it’s an emotional response. No, not vengeance. Punishment. “

Of course, I should point out that the Marvel character ‘The Punisher’ is a vigilante who is himself considered a criminal by the authorities.

In any case, Obama is just another politician playing to the crowd.

Speaking of the crowd, I assume that the majority of those gathered in Times Square to celebrate where Christians. I couldn’t quite make out what they were shouting and at first I thought it was:

“In your face, Jesus, with your panty-waist, un-American, turn-the-other-cheek nonsense!”

It turns out the ordinary citizens were claiming credit for the actions of the US Military with cries of “We killed bin Laden!”As Gary Younge points out, if they claim that, then they must also claim collective responsibility for the many atrocities committed by coalition forces in the the so-called “War on Terror”.

Again, if I had lost a loved one, I would probably be chanting too, but I hope, with a little more honesty.

I think Steve Bell sums it up beautifully and without a single word:

My final word is to recommend a book by Pumla Gobodo-Madikize, titled “A Human Being Died That Night” (subtitle: ‘Forgiving Apartheid’s Chief Killer’).

A true American hero has passed

January 11th, 2011

“We saved your asses in World War Two!”

On many occasions, I have seen that same comment from young American men on blogs and web forums, directed at Europeans. It makes me laugh, because the closest those (likely overweight) keyboard jockeys ever came to saving somebody’s ass in a war was playing “Medal of Honour” on their XBox.

They also use that phrase as a poor attempt to cajole Europeans into accepting the policies of modern American governments out of gratitude for the actions and sacrifices of their grandparents and great-grandparents. For example, we should (apparently) have supported the illegal Iraq war because young Americans died fighting the Nazis.

Yet Europe does owe a debt of gratitude to a whole generation of Americans, one of whom has just passed.

Major Richard Winters, highly decorated veteran of the War in Europe, died on January 2nd. He was a great American and a European hero, that is a hero in Europe and to Europe.

Major Winters’s words on liberating the labour camp at Landsberg-am-Lech (from Citizen Soldiers, by Stephen E. Ambrose, page 464):

Major Winters was the first to appear at Landsberg, “The memory of starved, dazed men,” he related, “who dropped their eyes and heads when we looked at them through the chain-linked fence, in the same manner that a beaten, mistreated dog would cringe, leaves feelings that cannot be described and will never be forgotten. The impact of seeing those people behind that fence left me saying, only to myself, ‘Now I know why I am here!'”

Episode 9 (Why We Fight) from the TV series Band of Brothers is about the liberation of the concentration camp at Landsberg-am-Lech.

Stephen E. Ambrose (Citizen Soldiers, by Stephen E. Ambrose, page 473):

“At the core, the American citizen soldiers knew the difference between right and wrong, and they didn’t want to live in a world in which wrong prevailed. So they fought, and won, and we all of us, living and yet to be born, must be forever profoundly grateful.”

If you want to know what Major Winters and his generation of Americans did for Europe, read Citizen Soldiers and watch Band of Brothers.

Crazy cat container custody cancelled

October 19th, 2010

Cat binner Mary Bale has been found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal but has escaped a custodial sentence.

She has been fined £250 and banned from keeping a pet for five years. That’s the odd part. This woman clearly does not want to keep pets!

She was found not guilty of the bizarre charge of failing to provide the cat with a suitable environment. I find myself not providing a suitable environment for literally millions of cats on a daily basis.

They should have just put her in a wheelie bin for fifteen hours and then sent some Chilean chaps to get her out again.

On a childish note, I am pleased to see that Mary bale is younger than me, but looks ten years older.

Professor of what? Not maths, I’ll bet.

October 4th, 2010

Scientists have an obligation to be scientific.

It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But bad scientists, or good scientists who say things badly, give science a bad name.

Enter Professor Steven Vogt, one of the team who discovered Gliese 581g, a planet which is believed to have the right conditions for supporting life. The Telegraph attributes the following statements to Professor Vogt:

  • “My own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent.”
  • “I have almost no doubt about it.”

Time to go back to school, Professor, and learn what “100%” means.

GOTT MIT UNS!

September 17th, 2010

His holey-ness, the pope, would have you believe that people like me (atheists, that is, not bloggers) are akin to Nazis.

He has used phrases like “atheist extremism”, “aggressive forms of secularism” and made reference to “a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society”. He also pointed out the Nazis treatment of the Jews.

This is from a man who presides over an organisation which:

  • Perpetrated torture as an official part of its practise until the early 19th Century
  • Has perpetrated genocide on Cathars, Byzantines, Jews and Muslims or anyone else who disagreed with it
  • Was complicit in the rise of the Nazis
  • Was silent on Nazi treatment of the Jews during WWII
  • Wants to make a saint of the very pope who was complicit with the Nazis
  • Supported fascism in Spain
  • Until 1964 considered the Jewish people collectively responsible for the death of Jesus Christ
  • In 2000 made Thomas More patron saint of lawyers, despite the fact that he had many English people tortured to death in his capacity as a Cardinal of the Church
  • Encourages the death of ignorant African Catholics by telling them that condoms spread AIDS
  • Continues to sell indulgences to this day
  • Has systematically protected perpetrators of child rape

Fascists in Spain are, and have always been, Catholic.

It is also disingenuous to imply that the Nazis were following some atheist agenda. The Nazis massacred people because they were lunatics, not because some of them were atheists.

It is true that some of history’s atrocities have been committed by atheists. It is also true that many of history’s atrocities were carried out by the Catholic Church in the name of their imaginary friend in the sky.

To imply a connection between me and Hitler, while saying that the Church’s own evil past (and present) is just history, is the height of scumbaggery.

Mr. Ratzinger, you are a contemptible fraud. You almost make me wish there was a hell.

Nazi belt-buckle from WWII with the slogan "GOD WITH US".

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