Sunday, 31 August 2008

Liberal Homophobia

We all have a go at right wing loons and fundies about their irrational homophobia, and rightly so. But at least they are clear cut about it (usually). What I find quite worrying is the continuing underlying, jokey homophobia present in more liberal discussion.

I've blogged about it before at the other place, but am still surprised every time I see it. Take a recent post of Crooks and Liars. The second cartoon is basically saying "Hahaha... aren't all Republicans just so... gaaaaay. Ewww...".

I get that feeling a lot with liberal activists. They say all the right things, but they don't really seem to believe it. Homosexuality is not wrong. It's a positive thing, it gives you a whole different perspective on life from others and allows you to see issues from a different angle. Now if you don't agree with that, fine... say so. But don't pretend to be "liberal" and hide your true feelings. That is just as hypocritical as the homophobic, straight (as they are usually married) Republicans who like to mess around with guys.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

On The Eve Of His Conference McCain Is In Trouble

And I blame the Republican base. McCain has had to give up so much of those things which made him a candidate for the Presidency (his ability to work across partisan lines, his less dogmatic approach than Dubya, etc.) just to please the more right wing, anti-libertarian wing of his party.

His choice of Vice Presidential candidate only furthers his tickets distance from the centre. And the centre is where this election will be won... sometimes political bloggers on both sides get caught up in the rhetoric and forget that ordinary Americans are the ones who will make the choice. Dubya got through by the skin of his teeth against relatively weak Democratic candidates. McCain is up against a strong contender... he cannot afford to copy Dubya's tactics.

Well, I hear you say, by choosing a female outsider as his running matter surely he has regained some of his "maverick" charm, and separated himself from Dubya. Not exactly. She is an arch conservative, hardly a revelation on a post Reagan Republican Presidential ticket. Some conservative US blogs are crying with joy at the selection stating that this "progressive" appointment has the Democrats on the run. Bless them, they seem to think just putting a woman on a ticket will be enough to make progressive thinkers fall at their feet. Wrong, that kind of defeats the whole concept of progressiveness... progressive thought should see beyond gender, race, etc. and focus only on the character and policies of the candidates. And on that basis, this appointment makes me firmly believe that Obama/Biden is the ticket to win right now.

Friday, 29 August 2008

BNP Trying To Make A Martyr Out Of A Victim

**BBC News Story has been updated with clarification after I wrote this, good on them**

Habib Khan has quite rightly been sentenced to 8 years for the manslaughter of Keith Brown, his neighbour. Reading the BBC News story you get the sense this was just a fight that got out of hand, perhaps instigated by racism (it's not intentionally written that way but my underlying anti BNP stance is not dissuaded from getting this impression by the text). That is the story the BNP want you to believe.

This is not what happened and I believe it's an important point missed out by the BBC this time, playing into the hands of the BNP's take on events.

An earlier story, before the BNP began to spin things, suggests the dispute arose over property and this is backed up by a Daily Mail story which elaborates on the neighbours friendship that turned to hate over an issue with regard to Mr Khan's property refurbishments. Mr Brown certainly wasn't innocent in this, he and his son previously being actively violent in their attempts to stop Mr Khan's developments from continuing. Mr Khan should never have got violent with Mr Brown (a man with previous violence related crimes against his name) but I'm sure Mr Brown didn't act in a very reasonable way and given his history I think it's reasonable to believe Mr Khan was attempting, in the wrong way, to defend his son from violence.

Mr Khan deserves his sentence, Mr Brown did not deserve to die. But this was not a racist killing, this was a clash between two stupid, unreasonable old men, gone horribly wrong.

America: Land Of The Free 1

Was this man ejected for leaving his seat during the singing of God Bless America or was he being drunk and disorderly? (Thanks for the link go to God is for Suckers)

Is it really a rule at the stadium that you cannot leave your seat during such a song? Would leaving it at that precise point be any less safe than at any other time? No. So it's actually forcing paying customers to adhere to your silly beliefs? Yes.


Thursday, 28 August 2008

That Other Important American Vote

Wayne Besen provides some data on the upcoming vote on gay marriage in California. It shows that whilst the potential electorate is pretty equally split, the pro gay marriage "likely to vote" electorate is slightly in the lead.

For those not in the know, Proposition 8 is a proposed measure to amend the Californian Constitution to ban gay marriage, something which has now been legal for a few months. Personally I think it is quite right for this to be on the ballot, I think that it gives the gay community in California the chance to get democratic approval for the legal status of gay marriage. Winning this is the only way to silence the anti-gay marriage bastards (the reasonable, sane ones anyway).

The anti gay marriage brigade are wrong. Their attempts to politicize marriage are disturbing, and downright underhand. Marriage, something they seem to place plenty of importance on, is being treated by them as just another chip in their culture wars.

Their idea that having gay people marry is somehow going to diminish heterosexual marriage is ludicrous, and the suggestion that it'll be a slippery slope into bestial and paedophilic marriages is bizarre. If we use that logic surely bringing sex into the concept of marriage is the first part of that slippery slope? Thus rendering legalising heterosexual marriage as the opening round in the degeneration of marriage.

Of course, personally, I feel marriage should not be any business of Government and only the business of the courts as part of sorting out problems with the contract. I still completely agree with Peter Tatchell's proposal which basically says "Mutual care and commitment, not sex, should be the basis of partnership rights." Now that would truly be a beautiful thing.

Did Tower Hamlets Council Think This Would Help Community Cohesion???

Sometimes I wonder if people actually think about what they write in emails? I've had my brushes with stupidity (once sending out an extremely personal and inappropriate email to all of the TVW Folkestone staff) but at least I wasn't in a position needing public scrutiny. Tower Hamlets council employee John Williams ("Head of Democratic Services"), however, should really have thought through the wording of his email before sending it out and playing right into the hands of the racist scum that bedevil this country.

Check out this news story. Read it all, and you'll see what he was trying to say... "Oi, this year keep your hands off the specially laid on Ramadan food, you greedy bastards" came out as "The special food is for special people and you all better not eat anything at all until after those special people have eaten their special food". Which I can see was not his intention. It's just he decided to write in management speak rather than actually get directly to the point. I completely agree with the Lib Dem grouping saying that this is completely unacceptable, suggesting one religious grouping has priority over another, or over no religion at all. I'm glad the council have sought to rectify that perception.

Personally I don't think special exceptions should be made for any religion at Governmental level, and before you say "But what about Easter and Christmas", I accept that some Christian, formerly Pagan holidays, have become secular holidays something I have no issue with. But if they are going to be made, please God do it properly and think things through otherwise you risk sending a whole lot of fresh members to the likes of the BNP.

A Case Of "You want me to deal with my own problems??"

A couple phoned the police to report a possible house burglary, which so concerned the couple that they promptly fell asleep. They were awoken by a text message. They were:

"...totally gobsmacked and disgusted that this text was sent out an hour later to us.

"To text the person who calls and ask them to investigate what had been stolen, broken into and who did it is just incredible.

"It just gives burglars the idea that they can get away with it because the police aren't going to send anyone out."

Mr Bishop, 33, added: "I would've thought they should have been able to catch a man in a white T-shirt as there couldn't have been many running around the area at five in the morning."

Shocking indeed... the police shouldn't be asking people to actually get out of their bed in times of emergency and assist them. That would suggest the victims gave a damn about what had happened, and we wouldn't want to suggest that now would we? Here's the actual text message:

Lloyd. Following on from your call earlier on to the police, please can you contact us if you are able to establish what has been stolen and where from? At this time we're struggling to get the police to attend general calls for service, many thanks.
So what they were actually asked was could you let us know what has been stolen and where from. Not who did it. Not to even try to apprehend the suspect. Just a simple request to let the police know what had actually been taken as they had their hands full with higher priority calls. Not exactly asking the Earth there are they?

I am constantly amazed at the attitude of people in this country. Sure we pay taxes to help fund a police service to help keep the peace. But surely it is also our responsibility to actively assist this police service and also to deal with the shit that happens to us directly?

The police cannot possibly be expected to stop every burglary and catch every burglar in the act, if the burglar is no longer in the building then the incident is going to be a lower priority that more life threatening incidents. They can, however, be expected to, within a reasonable time period, investigate said burglary. If you want to give the burglar the idea that they can't just get away with it, you need to actively protect your home and do everything in your power to ensure the police have every bit of information required in readiness for a possible investigation later on.

But no, as usual the British just moan and bleat about the lack of police assistance without bothering to consider all the factors involved. Should the police maybe have ignored a violent incident and come to assist at this house, without even knowing if anything had actually been stolen? I don't think so. And from what I can tell in the news story, nothing was stolen at all and the burglar was scared off before entering the property. A broken padlock is not really worthy of an immediate nighttime visit by the police when their numbers are at their lowest is it?

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

What A Horrid Father

Some guy on the X Factor says he doesn't know his real family, and wants to prove to them he isn't a waste of space (note to him... the X Factor cannot help you with this...). Then the Mirror runs a story saying he lied, and his father is quoted to prove it.

Now what the father says is basically he and his son have regular phone contact and he last saw him four years ago. Personally I've seen complete strangers more often than that and I thus very much doubt it contradicts what his son said. He wants to KNOW his family not just have some contact with them.

And the fact is the father almost certainly got paid for his story. What sort of father is that? A pathetic, worthless one? Yes. I just wish the newspapers would stop using greedy folks like this for stories and instead outed them as the greedy bastards they are for all the nation to see. Sometime soon I want to see a news headline:

"Heartless father uses his son's unhappiness for personal gain"

Monday, 25 August 2008

Why Am I A Unionist?

I've been a Unionist since at least before the 1997 election when I would have been just 13 years old. Why I am a Unionist is not something I've ever given much thought to. Well given that the country seems to be marching ever more quickly towards a break up, it's time I wrote down why I'd prefer the Union to continue and why I think nationalism is not the way. I'll do that in a series of (rather long) bullet points:

1) Let's start with a trivial reason. Personally I'd be deeply upset to wake up one day and find the country of my birth, the United Kingdom, had ceased to exist. I know, even if it may seem silly, that I would not be able to think of "England" as the country of my birth. To find myself adrift without a state would be fairly disturbing.

2) On a more serious note, the future of mankind lies not in petty bickering between so called "nations" but in ever closer cooperation. If our species is to survive we must rise above our own "national" interests and begin to work together to create a world filled with hope.

Humans are, by their very nature, prone to tribalism, violence and petty arguments. But we have evolved a rational mind, one which can be used to overcome our inherent flaws. We must give up clinging to the concept of flags, a concept of "nations". And here you say "But isn't Unionism simply clinging to a flag/nation on a larger scale?". Not in my case it's not, as I would be perfectly happy to see the Union Flag removed from public buildings were it to be replaced with a European flag. Of course, this must happen only when the institutions of the European Union are sufficiently democratic, etc. etc. And then to see that replaced by some United Nations flag. I express my belief in Unionism as a belief in unity and cooperation between different groups of people, and my Unionism is not fixed to limited borders but embraces all humanity.

3) My real issue lies in the darkness that seems to dwell at the heart of the nationalist ideology. Scottish Nationalism seems to me to be little more than clinging to long gone injustices and racist hatred of the "English". English Nationalism seems mainly to be about present perceived injustices with regards to the way some of the Home Nations are treated plus an added element of an non existent "English" culture, which remains either ill defined or worse defined by bangers and mash and other such godawful concepts of "culture". Where is the uplifting, positive spirit of progress within these narratives? Nowhere, for the politics of nationalism, as we saw at the beginning of the 20th Century across Europe, are the politics of hate, conservatism and distrust.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want a world of just one culture, one colour nor of one mind. But I take issue with someone who suggests "England" has a shared culture or history and that "Britain" does not. What culture does someone like me, Kentish through and through, share with a Yorkshireman? None, except that which we share through the history of these islands. While I have no problem living under a political system within which our cultures can unite for the common good, I couldn't reasonably be expected to live under system that automatically assumes some deeper "bloodtie" between us. Kent and Yorkshire used to be in two different countries! Just as England and Scotland used to be separate countries. And thus we find the inherent problem with nationalism, they look back but only so far. If I were to suggest we all just live in tribes and act like druids, people would give me funny looks. But that is the sort of mindset the nationalists espouse in their outlook, but only to a more recent period of time. And thus people, for some reason, take them more seriously.

4) Back to a trivial reason. The symbols and icons of English Nationalism speak volumes of the sort of people who believe the English nationalist ideology. Richard the Lionheart was not fond of England. St George never even set foot here. The English flag is dull and ugly. The English Rose is a combination of two northern families' emblems, not exactly representative.

5) Should Scotland leave the Union they will expect certain things... a share of the army, oil etc. Alas I think they shall be deeply disappointed leading to further acrimony between the nations. This I feel would lead only to instability on these islands, unnecessary and dangerous.

6) If we should fail to be able to continue to live peacefully on these islands under one Government then that is a sad indictment on all the inhabitants. Yet another ray of hope shall be extinguished as these islands roll back towards the Dark Ages.

The Olympic Spirit Lives On!!! Or Not.

So the debate about the British Olympic 2012 Football team truly begins. Sadly, but predictably, everyone says they don't want it. Instead they'd prefer either a wholy English team representing Britain (a thought that makes me quite sick) or playoffs between the national sides.

I'm glad to see the Olympic spirit of team work and cooperation lives on in these islands.

Nationalism should be a crime.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

How Dare You Matt!!

Matt Damon has been cheating on me again. I'm deeply upset Mr Damon, but congratulations! ;)

What is Guido trying to prove?

Guido has got two stats up showing the Olympic medal tallies for both the EU and the British Empire.

Is he trying to say that becoming a more central part of the EU would be just as good as what we had under the British Empire (after all both kick China and America's collective arse's)? Or is he trying to say that the one Gold medal lead for the British Empire renders the EU impotent?

I know he says it's just for fun, but if that's the case what amusement can be derived? Sure I love stats, but really... fun??

Olympic medals neither prove the worthiness of a country (after all China is winning!) nor are they an obvious source of amusement. Confuzzling.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

A Little Less Harsh In Future, Please

Nothing drives me crazier than getting stuck behind a woman who is walking at a snail's pace because she obviously has no idea of how to walk in heels. Sometimes I want to lean down and whisper in their ear "Sensible shoes in future, yeah?". Of course I don't, I'm too British for that, instead I spend my time quietly seething.

But I obviously owe a few of them an apology. It would seem that some businesses require women to wear high heels. I had never even conceived that in this day and age anyone would be compelled to wear anything more than "smart shoes". Expressly suggesting "high heels" is disgusting, control freakery and obviously incredibly sexist.

I find the requirements for a tie in some businesses to be incredibly insulting (and you won't find me doing it) but at least it's unlikely to affect my posture or health. Any business requiring high heels should be ashamed of themselves.

Tories Have No Sense Of Humour Or Proportion

As our great country suffers an economic downturn, the possibility of it's own destruction, a few wars, and etc. the Tories have nothing better to do than claim that a video made in response to a petition calling for Jeremy Clarkson to be Prime Minister shows that the Government is out of touch with reality.

Actually it shows someone in the Government is a human being, who understood the humourous intentions of the petition in question and responded in kind. The Tories need to stop trying to score idiotic political points and start actually showing their vision of a Tory United Kingdom. Of course that is too much to hope for, given the bile pent up with the Tory party.

The Tories have until recently been successful in maintaining their "Not the nasty party" image. They had been espousing tolerance and getting all excited over green issues. Now, as their political star begins to rise once more, they return to their true colours. The green policies disappear as they begin to move back towards the right wing.

See David Camerons recent speeches on social reform. "Social reform" is a euphemism for Government interference in the personal lives of the citizens of this country. They are ideologically bound to promote "marriage and family" as being the "foundations" of a secure society. HA! Marriage and family didn't do so well at keeping Victorian Britain a safe or secure place did they??? NO. Murder and crime were rampant. This defunct ideology just keeps on being espoused because they have NO IMAGINATION!

I'll be interested to see George Osborne's suggestions for improving on Labours record on poverty. The .pdf on this page is all anti-Labour rhetoric. Nothing positive nor constructive. Same old Tory party.

Labour might be bad, they might make terrible decisions... but the Tories would make life even worse. This country needs a hero. David Cameron is not that hero.

Leo Abse 1917 - 2008

Leo Abse has passed away. He shall be remembered as a liberal reformer, a man of great integrity who began the process of moving this country towards greater freedom. May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The Olympic Handover Sham

The soon to occur Olympic handover from Beijing to London sounds like it was made up by a bunch of idiots with little Olympic knowledge. It'll be led by David Beckham, who last I checked was a footballer. He will be kicking footballs to children representing each Olympic nation. Hurrah, I hear you say... at least it's got something to do with sports. Yeah... just not one the British participate in!

Due to much legal wrangling over professional sportsmen, FIFA recognition and some nationalistic tomfoolery there is no Team GB football team for the Olympic games. We don't play football at the Olympics!! Isn't it a tad insulting to the many gold winning British Olympians to have some guy who doesn't represent a British Olympic sport opening the games just because he's famous?

Then we have the actual order of events:

After entering the Bird’s Nest stadium atop a London bus, he will kick a football around with children representing the 205 Olympic nations. Lewis, the X Factorwinner, and Page, lead guitarist with Led Zeppelin, are also scheduled to perform. Hundreds of ballet dancers from the Royal Opera House accompanied by an urban dance act and a disabled dance troupe will perform routines before Mr Johnson receives the Olympic flag from his Beijing counterpart.

Does that not sound like the most uninspiring event ever, possible made up by some boring bureaucrat without any sense of occasion? I'm going to reserve further judgement until the event but I don't hold out much hope. The Chinese took the Olympics to a whole new level of cheesiness. I suspect any hope that Britain would add some much needed class to the event is misplaced.

Team GB have performed so amazingly well and it's the least we can do to respect their achievements by holding a dignified and classy Olympics. HA! I suspect by 2012 it'll be Team Eng-er-land and all the glory of Team GB will have been wasted.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Former Homophobic Head Of Kent Council Dies

As a child who was at school whilst Mr Sandy Bruce-Lockhart (no Lord in my opinion) was in charge of the Kent County Council I can only say this about his passing; my sympathies lie with his family.

This homophobic man is finally gone. Perhaps Kent might use the news of his death to now move out of the 18th Century and into the 21st and replace the idiotic language in Kentish educational provisions that suggest that heterosexual marriage is the only successful basis for society. His anti-libertarian beliefs had no place disturbing the tranquility of the most wonderful county in Britain.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

A Metric Martyr Who I Like

Yes! Finally... someone actually wants to use metric. As someone whose understanding of Imperial measurements stops after pints and miles, this is something I totally understand. That's despite my old Grammer school using maths textbooks that still taught in things like furlongs.

Free the metric one!! As it were.. ;)