Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Flowers "Scandal" Is Just Moralising Nonsense

Now there is some real debate to be had about Paul Flowers suitability for the chairmanship of the Co-op Bank. And there is some investigating to be done by the police, whether one feels it is right or wrong, into alleged criminal activity (drug dealing etc.) by Mr Flowers. But these two things are actually quite unconnected.

Paul Flowers oversaw the rather serious decline, and near collapse, of the Co-op Bank. The fact he admits he was put in charge due to a "power struggle within the co-operative movement" is something that really beggars belief (even if it is all too common). Questions must be asked.

Alas. Instead of asking these important questions the media is obsessed with a man choosing to do drugs (OH NOES!) and, heaven forbid, pay for sex with some young scally type (all a bit sad really, but then I'm not a big fan of drugs nor scallies so I'm just being judgmental). Yes. Awful stuff indeed. The dodgy political motives of his appointment and his terrible legacy at the bank pale into insignificance compared to what he puts in his body (or puts in others, depending on his preference). Well they do if you are more interested in puerile gossip stories about some silly aspects of a more serious scandal.

Worse than his role in bringing a bank to its knees, he broke the rules by watching legal adult material on a council laptop and had to resign from being a councillor and then, shock horror, became a governor of a school!
Yes, a man who once looked at porn was allowed to be a school governor. Imagine. Let us ban all people who've looked at porn from having any such connection, no matter how far removed, with children!

He also once sent a smutty joke around as an email. This man needs to be locked up...


In other shocking news:

David Cameron's official Prime Ministerial Twitter feed followed an escort agency! Won't somebody think of the children?? Hopefully his Twitter feed will be blocked by the Great Firewall of Cameron.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Have The Remaining #Section28 Supporting MPs Changed Their Ways?

Before the last election I made a list of the 48 Clause/Section 28/2a supporting MPs remaining in the House of Commons and their election prospects. 48 have become 28 and on this 10th anniversary of the repeal of that nasty piece of legislation I thought I'd take a look at them again. David Smith made a comment on Twitter which I thought I'd explore some more:
Shall we see if these 28 men have changed their ways?

The first opportunity to see if they had really changed their views (or stopped toeing a disagreeable party line) we get is the 2003 vote to repeal Section 28. Only two of our 28 took that opportunity and voted in line with its repeal... Step forward Andrew Mitchell and Tim Yeo.

And, in keeping with David's suggestion, I then looked at their votes on same-sex marriage. Here we see a slightly bigger switch over.

Alistair Burt, Ken Clarke, Peter Bottomley, Stephen Dorrell, Patrick McLoughlin, Francis Maude and Nicholas Soames joined Mitchell and Yeo in voting with the minority of Tory MPs who supported same-sex marriage. So 9 out of the 28. An improvement but there is still a rump of MPs who just haven't changed:

David Amess
James Arbuthnot, who at least seemed to be contemplating the issue in a serious manner.
Julian Brazier
Simon Burns, some interesting correspondence between him and a constituent here.
Tony Baldry, whose arguments were worryingly lacking.
Henry Bellingham
Bill Cash
Christoper Chope
David Davis
Greg Knight
Michael Fallon, to give him credit, conceded his failure to win the argument
Peter Lilley
Roger Gale, who managed to make us smile with his silly opposition.
James Paice
Gerald Howarth, who was concerned about the aggressive homosexuals out there. (No not Dennis Nilsen, those of us who want to get marriage. Violent act or what?)
John Redwood
David Tredinnick
Richard Shepherd
Peter Tapsell

These men remain unrepentantly opposed to LGBT freedom. Let's not forget that. Sure everyone gets the right to change their mind. But sometimes being eternally optimistic about people's capacity to change is a waste of time.

Section 28 is gone. Hopefully one day soon so will all its supporters in the House of Commons.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

You Won't Get People Interested In Politics By Berating Them

After finishing a full day's work and a 3 hour stint manning the phones for Children in Need I got in the car for the journey home tired but satisfied with a good day's hard labour. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond the understanding of us mere mortals, LBC was on the radio.

As there were 5 of us in the car we were all, at first, too polite to ask to have it turned over. And so we were forced to listen to some very miserable men discuss why so many people were not interested in politics and especially not interested in voting.

The consensus, it would seem, came to be that young people are awful citizens who are more interested in fun than in politics and that this was a crying shame. Ultimately, they felt, the elderly good citizens would die out leaving a rotten population of do-nothings. It was at this point I piped up and suggested we turn the radio over to be greeted with sighs of "Thank God, YES!"

How many generations do we need to get through before we realise that older people always think young people are interested in the wrong things and will never be as good as they are? I look around me today and find there are plenty of young people who don't remember "Trapdoor", "Fun House" nor even "Knightmare". It's the bloody end of civilisation as we know it, and no one seems to care.

The political class need to remember some important points.

1) Politics is not the "real world" to most people. We all have lives, interests, personal dramas and life goals that, in terms of personal importance, far outweigh the fleeting careers and promises of politicians.

2) The citizens of this country are not meant to serve politics. Our political system was not designed as a prison from which no one has the right to escape. Our political system is meant to serve the needs of the people.

3) None of the non-political folk in this world (for which read "most people") care one iota about the debates, policies or dramas that us political folk obsess over. I know people who don't even know equal marriage passed or even know about the income tax changes that have happened in this current Parliament. And that is just fine. It is not the end of the world. Our debates are often unconnected to reality anyway, just think about how often the Israel/Palestine issues are discussed over the far more damaging events that have been ongoing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We're delusional and most people know it.

If you want to engage with people then criticising them for doing things that satisfy them or are important to them (like having fun or living their lives peacefully) is not going to win you many converts. How about, crazy idea, we accept politics is not the most important thing in the world and move from that position in thinking of ways to help improve this country and help those who need assistance?

The arrogance and the self-entitlement of the snobs who think politics is the be all and end all of life in this country is probably the many reason it isn't the be all and end all of life in this country.

Now I'll stop berating people and instead return to obsessing over the next episode of Doctor Who. The really important stuff in life.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Remembrance Sunday 2013

Next year will mark 100 years since the start of the First World War. Though those British members of the Armed Forces who died before then are no less worthy of respect and commemoration than those who came after, it is usually those who have died since 1914 that we remember on Remembrance Sunday. The First World War was a watershed moment in world history, in British history and in terms of recognition of the horrors of total war. So many families were affected, my own no exception, that there was no way the sacrifice of our troops could be forgotten easily.

Unlike in past years where I post a poem in Remembrance of those who have given so much for our country, I thought I'd post this recent video made by my other half to remember those who died during the Falklands War. We remember them.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The "Lad's Mags Are The Same As Rapists" Meme Is Getting Old

A 2011 report on a correlation between some statements taken from lad's mags and some statements made by rapists is rearing its ugly head once more on Twitter.

And when I say report I mean this synopsis of it and this Jezebel article about it. As stated therein it shows men identify more with the statements made by rapists than with those from lad's mags when they were unaware of their origin. Yet this small piece of information seems to be overlooked or, I'm assuming, lose the lad's mags campaigners actually think lad's mags are worse than your actual rapist.

Surely the fact men, overall, choose one over the other shows there is actually a difference between the statements. I'm, of course, assuming the researchers have made allowances for statistical probabilities when making those claims.

So before we start banning lad's mags because sometimes they say things rapists say, perhaps we need to lock up every man as a more immediate solution to male on female rape? After all, they identify more with the rapists than they do with the lad's mags!

This study is often brought out to back up supporter's claims that they aren't anti-nudity or anti-sex. They aren't prudes! No, they are simply disgusted by the words. Of course this is itself just word play. Being a prude over pictures or being a prude over words doesn't change what it is. It is still "prudery", though that doesn't necessarily mean it is wrong to feel that way. I find those statements rather objectionable but I accept that is because I simply don't like them, they don't represent a culture I've any part of and they are "beneath" me. I embrace the prudery. I also don't really like random naked people, I'm British and it makes me feel awkward.

But I've accepted a lot of things I don't like. Rude and/or aggressive people are all around us. I dislike them intensely but I've no right to demand they never be rude again. I can certainly express my opinion of their rudeness, and I do so more with each passing year, but that is the limit to my ability to change them. I thus treat lad's mags the same. I find them puerile, unimaginative and derogatory. I think that anyone who reads them is an idiot. But, unless they say something like Danny Dyer whereby they actually incites violence, then they should be free to keep on saying it. Those quotes don't, in my opinion, actually incite violence.

There are two things lose the lad's mags could do to win me over.

1) Show me there is a causal link between reading a lad's mags and sexual violence.
2) Show me what benefits they'd expect to see 1 year after lad's mags are removed from shop shelves, 5 years, 10 years etc.

Right now they are just hoping we all get so disgusted with the content that we forget to ask: what do they hope to actually achieve?

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The Puritans' Perfect World Will Be Built On Police Raids And Human Misery

If one were to believe the "Lose the Lad's Mags", "No More Page 3" and generally anti-porn types, you'd think that the banning of "objectifying" or "sexualising" images would have no negative effects. In their perfect world everyone benefits from the removal of such images and everyone is happy.

Of course what they tend to forget is what happens to those who still try to view their "banned" materials. As we head towards web filters in this country and an outright ban on internet pornography in Iceland, it really is time to remember what happens when a country bans porn. We get police raids, trials, public shaming and a suppression of various "erotic" forms of free speech (be it feminist books, LGBT materials etc.). How can I claim this? Because it has happened before.

We can get a glimpse of the future thanks to the recent, so-called, "Twink Trial" in our own country. Here, of course, internet porn is not illegal. But images of child abuse are, thankfully (as someone who believes in individual freedom I believe that a child cannot give consent and thus any such sexual abuse is rape). However even this justifiable and necessary ban leads to unintended consequences. At the Twink Trial a gay man was arrested and charged because he had viewed "Twink porn". Twink is a word used to describe a man of youthful appearance, usually 18 - 21. Despite the fact he was viewing a "legitimate" porn site with all the correct US standard forms of age checking, his life was turned upside down and he was accused of being a paedophile. In this case no offense had actually been committed and, eventually, the case has been dropped. But it does provide an example of just the sort of thing that will happen if we continue down the path we are going on.

People will have their lives ruined. We will force those porn companies who keep records and abide by current legislation out of business and leave porn to an underground criminal element who won't have such scruples. The police will become ever more adjudicators of morality. Who will decide what constitutes porn in the brave new world some seem to want to bring about?

Many debates I've engaged in on this argument have been with people who see it as a purely "intellectual" exercise. They are feminists or Christians (or both) who see the world through their ideological eyes, but when I confront them with the results of previous prohibitions, of the effects on women's groups and LGBT people, and on individual liberty they have laughed it off as "interesting" information. They seem to be unable to accept that they are heading towards supporting a state enforced moral standard which will be backed with real force and have real consequences. Accepting that seems harder for them than accepting porn can sometimes be harmful is for those of us who support liberty (but who know liberty is imperfect and messy).