Red Celt

Jun 082013

This blog has been very un-blog-like since its inception. Rather than a regular outpouring of opinions about random things that are happening (to me, or to the world in general) it has been more of an article-based output; articles which try to look at the bigger picture, isolated from the day-to-day events which change our lives and are picked up by the 24-hour news cycle.

Well, now I’ll be trying to use this blog as an actual blog. I’ve moved all of the articles to their own site (, where they’ll be accompanied by further entries (as and when I can be arsed). They will remain “big picture”, while here, I’ll resort to silly things that will act as a slightly-verbose Twitter feed. 140 characters just aren’t enough for me.

Then again, I don’t really use Twitter that much, so don’t expect a huge outpouring on here, either.

May 062011

Atheism is a bit of an unclean word in modernity. It has unfortunate connotations, especially in the English-speaking world. For the better-part of the 20th century, America saw atheism as part-and-parcel of the Communist mindset. Communism was evil and anti-American, therefore atheism must also be evil and anti-American. The Cold War made sure that this meme was a well-entrenched and long-lasting one.

When I was growing up, my exposure to older dictionaries gave a rather intriguing definition of the word. Atheism, apparently, was the denial of the existence of God. Such wording gave a misplaced emphasis on the accepted existence of God as an understood certainty. It was also a clear assignation of the belief system accepted by the author of the entry. Amoral wasn’t described as the denial of morality, but the absence of morality. Apolitical, likewise, was the absence of politics and not the denial of politics.

In order to come up with a clear and distinct definition of what atheism is, it is better to ask those who hold that view. This, then, is a clear definition of atheism:-

Atheism: the absence of theism. The absence of a personal deity.

And that’s all there is to it.

Some might argue that atheism is the belief that there are no gods. And that simple (but flawed) definition is widely held, even amongst those that define themselves as atheists. It is, nonetheless, a flawed definition; partly (but not solely) because it doesn’t include all who consider themselves as atheists.

There are two distinct types of atheism: strong and weak. Strong atheists believe that there are no such thing as personal gods. Weak atheists simply lack a belief in personal gods. Some (ardent theists in particular) might struggle to see that such a difference exists – but it certainly does.

Each and every one of us was born as a weak atheist. At our earliest beginnings, we had no concept of what a god was, let alone whether or not we believed it to exist. Such thoughts are delivered unto us as we’re growing up – whether by our parents, or the wider society in which we are raised.

Some people continue the weak atheistic belief pattern (or, more accurately, the lack of a belief pattern) into adulthood. The existence of personal gods doesn’t impede upon their thought processes and they most certainly haven’t come to the conclusion that such things don’t exist. At times, such people can loosely be described as agnostics (when looking for an easy definition that doesn’t confuse others) but their lack of theism is simply that – atheism.

Strong atheists are the more-familiar beasts, much maligned by ardent theists. They have considered the evidence and concluded that there are, after all, no personal gods.

That doesn’t make them a close-minded group. Some might be – some might not. Atheism is a very free definition and any personality trait above and beyond that simple belief cannot (and must not) be assumed. Atheists can be found across every part of the political spectrum, from left-wing, from centralists, to the right-wing. It might annoy the Cold War diehards, but not all atheists are Communists.

This atheist in particular isn’t close-minded when it comes to his strong atheism. If evidence presents itself which suggests that I might be wrong, I will explore such evidence until such a time as I am convinced in either direction. I hold the same view when it comes to Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Of course it is possible that such entities might, after all, exist. But in the absence of any evidence, I shall remain a strong atheist, a strong asantaist and a strong atoothfairyist.

In all of the above, I have made a very careful point about referring to the existence of personal gods, rather than gods in general. And there is a very good reason for that… a reason that many atheists overlook. I don’t believe that no gods exist.

In some cultures, existing (and very real) entities are worshipped as gods. If I were to claim that the sun did not exist or a volcano did not exist… I would be making a very strong (and wrong) assertion. If a remote islander worships the volcano that looms above them (as evidenced in so many Hollywood productions) as a god, then that god must clearly exist. The difference would be whether or not that “god” had a consciousness that could recognise that it had worshippers who saw it as their personal god. On that, I would say that it most certainly does not.

An atheist, then, is someone who has no personal god (weak and strong atheism) or believes that personal gods do not exist (strong atheism).

Which is the clearest (and most accurate) definition you will ever see, inside or outside of any dictionary.

Apr 292011

Recently, I was on a (first) date with a woman who was telling me about previous encounters that she had had. One of which was an ardent anti-feminist who believed that women should be stay-at-home slaves to their male masters. I mocked his bizarre views along with her, before adding that I, too, was an ardent anti-feminist; but for very different reasons. When those reasons were explained, the potential death of the date was avoided, but it came up again in a follow-up conversation.

After sharing this blog with her (pointing out my previous post: Feminism vs Humanism – part 1) I was given a number of reasons why the feminist drum should still be loudly beaten. Every single reason is, however, encompassed within humanism. I had a similar response from another female liberal – and (bizarrely) a humanist, at that. The arguments regarding the rights and abilities of women is one that I whole-heartedly agree with… but, to repeat my earlier position, it is an argument that is better done within the wider scope of humanism.

Here’s a wee analogy which might help explain my point.

The Royal Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (RSPCA) looks after the welfare of animals. Now, imagine if there was an RSPCFA which just looked after female animals. If you were to make a contribution to an animal-based charity, would you prefer one that looked after all animals, or one that checked between the animal’s legs before deciding whether or not they would help it?

Arguing that women have fewer rights than men and that, for that reason, feminism is needed until equality is reached (and humanism can replace it) is a nonsense argument. Some animals are treated much worse than others, but an organisation fighting for all animals is a much stronger and well-equipped beast than one that picks and chooses which animals it will help.

Despite acknowledging all of the above, a consistent reason for staying onboard SS Feminism is that a prolonged adherence to one meme cannot lightly be given-up without the person feeling a little foolish about being onboard the wrong ship. Ego is a strong motivational force and, when accepting that the fight for male rights shouldn’t be ignored, searching for a more far-reaching self-label is easier-done if SS Feminism isn’t totally abandoned for SS Humanism. And that’s a shame, because SS Feminism has long-been sinking.

Humanism has had multiple meanings over the years, but in modernity it includes the fight for the equal consideration of all humans, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality or ethnicity. Any quality that is bestowed at conception/birth is not a quality that should be used to weaken the position of some humans regarding other humans. This includes gender, and the fight for everything that every feminist holds close, is done in the name of humanism. Apart from the whole disregard of men. That’s the preserve of some feminists, and it is a preserve that tars-and-feathers everyone who claims the feminist mantra, when non gender-biased belief-systems are in place… which fight the same fight. Without the gender bias.

When my previously-mentioned date told me that she had male friends who were feminists, I revisited a previous search that I had done regarding men who embraced the feminism meme. Sadly, this included a comedian I’m very fond of: Bill Bailey. In the following image, the first T-shirt (“This is what a feminist looks like”) is what he was actually wearing. The other 2 images were done by me to make the following point.

If you meet a man who tells you that he’s a feminist, ask him if he’s also a masculinist. If he isn’t, ask him why he favours the rights of one gender over the rights of another gender – particularly when that gender isn’t his own. If he claims to also be a masculinist, tell him about humanism. A quick Google will provide the relevant information, but if you want to aid his education, here’s a link to the British Humanist Association.

If he maintains his claims to feminism, he’s one of two things: a man who wants to better his chances of getting inside your pants, or an idiot.

Apr 132011

Looking at the wide scope of flavours of Christianity that are available in the modern world, I can’t help coming to the conclusion that the original character (Jesus) was a very poor communicator. That isn’t an idea that is welcomed by the legions of faith, but allow me (if you will) to explore the possibilities that were available to the Son of God when spreading his message. Imagine what could have been achieved if I (or you) were in the same position.

Pretty high on my list of things to do would be to learn to read and write. It might seem like a small aspect of the requirements of a prophet, but if you’re the Son of God, it isn’t an unreasonable expectation that your earthly powers include the ability to write your ideas down. You can turn water into wine, raise people from the dead and feed the five thousand… I can do none of those things. But I can read and write.

So. In that position, quill and vellum in hand, I’d have written the following:-

The 1 Commandment
1. Thou shalt do unto others as thou shalt have them do unto you.
Now, of course, the Old Testament had 10 Commandments, but nearly all of them could be encapsulated into this one neat summary of moral behaviour. The one failure of this commandment is the lack of justice. People who don’t follow this one commandment should, really, be dealt with in a suitable manner. But, I’m the Son of God and I can attest that everyone who fails to comply with this simple condition of belonging in a social structure will be dealt with accordingly once they reach the Pearly Gates.
The New Testament
(The Book Of Christ)
1. God, the creator of the universe: of galaxies and stars, of countless things (all of which are bigger and more important than you) does not care what you do with your body. It is a lump of flesh. He cares only for your soul. If you want to put one part of your body into another part of someone else’s body, the only requirement is that they are happy, willing and able for that to happen. He created the universe. Do you seriously think that he cares about you having sex, or whether or not you masturbate? Oh, and an important note (because missing this out will seriously undermine my whole message about how humans should treat other humans) I like gay people. Anyone who dislikes them to the point of hatred and discrimination… they’re an abomination. And that’s the only time that I shall call anything an abomination, so pay attention.
2. Of course, I’m calling God “He”, but that’s just to adapt to your patriarchical belief-patterns. God has no gender. God has no genitals. If he was male, he’d have a penis. Other than having nowhere to put that penis (as God is the only god and has no “female” counterpart) what, exactly, would be the point? God has no gender. Please remember that when you’re engaging with your fellow man (and, more importantly, woman). See above about how to treat your fellow humans. Celibacy is a bad thing, by the way. If you deny your human desires, you will very likely end up applying them to people who don’t need (or want) them being applied to them.
3. An important point follows: I’m not a different aspect of God. I, like you, am the Son of God. I am here to spread God’s message. So don’t invent some silly “Trinity” idea to get around the idea of monotheism. Also, while I love my mother, don’t treat her like a deity. I can do that, as she’s my mother. You, on the other hand, will be completely missing my message if you look towards her for something you call salvation or redemption.
4. She won’t appear in a ghostly form before impressionably imaginative girls, so don’t go building stupid shrines seeking a healing property. Like, I don’t know, somewhere like Lourdes. Pay attention to what your doctor tells you and you will have a much better chance of getting better – if such a thing is possible. Take the money that the trip would have cost you… and give it to someone who needs it more than you do.
5. Don’t pray to God. I mean, seriously… really? You think that God’s infinite plan for the universe should be paused, edited and altered because you, on your hands and knees, ask really really hard for it to happen? Stop being so self-centred and self-important. Accept what life delivers to you and learn how to deal with it.
6. Accept and embrace what you, as an individual, manage to achieve in your life. If you’re an athlete and you win your event, don’t praise God for your success. That would suggest that the other people didn’t pray quite hard enough (see above about prayer) rather than (oh, I don’t know) train as hard as you did. Praising God for everything good that happens and refraining from disdain at God when something bad happens… that really isn’t healthy. Good things happen and bad things happen. Blame chance, cirumstance, geology… or other human beings (who didn’t pay attention to the 1 Commandment). Don’t praise God. God already knows how ultimately impressive he is. He doesn’t share your insecurities and he most certainly does not need to be told how good he is. He’s omniscient, after all.
7. God doesn’t need your money. He doesn’t need your land. Stop building churches and temples and most definitely don’t send money to preachers who tell you that they need it. If it takes you some effort to grasp the 1 Commandment, take a moment from your day to sit and contemplate that idea. Don’t go to a building where someone (who thinks they’re closer to God than you are) tells you how to live your life. I mean, the buildings are pretty, but… they’re a little pointless. Unless they have a spire. And then they do have a point. See? Your prophet has a sense of humour. Humour is good. Seek it, embrace it and share it. Don’t be all miserable about life. Your life is short and, ultimately, you should lead your life so that you are as happy as possible. So long as your happiness doesn’t stop other people from doing the same.
8. Swearing is good. No. Honestly. It really is. If you meet someone who travels through life without ever surrendering to the occasional “fuck!” then you’ve met someone who has their gasket screwed on a little too tightly. Self-expression is a good thing… and swearing can release those pent-up frustrations. It is much better to expel that frustration in words than it is to expel that frustration physically. Or breaking the 1 Commandment. I mean, don’t add the word “fuck” to every sentence, as repetition is tiring and unimaginative. Just, y’know, don’t judge others for the occasional use. I mean, if you stub your toe on a hard surface, then explore your vocabulary. Don’t kick the cat. I like cats.
9. And don’t keep going on about faith as if it were some anti-science panacea. I’ve read the old books about God more than once. His existence was never an issue. He interacted with the other characters on a regular basis. At no point whatsoever were those characters seen as being closer to God, because they actually believed in him. His existence was a given.
10. Faith increases as knowledge increases. Accept that knowledge – and don’t seek to fill it with nonsense. If science explains the world better than it did before, don’t look for the remaining gaps of knowledge in order to emphasise something that you call faith. Here’s a little bit of information that will prove my status as the Son of God. It will mean nothing to you, my fellow Bronze Age contemporaries, but repeat my words unchanged so that in about 2000 years, no doubt will remain. The language of biology is written with an alphabet of only 4 letters. There you go. A long time from now, people will actually acknowledge that I do, indeed, share the omniscience of God.
11. As for leaving my words unchanged, this is an important addition. If someone has a moment of awakening (on, for instance, the road to Damascus) do not (and this is important) believe that his “awakening” is delivered from God. The devil works in mysterious ways and can deliver “awakenings” to all sorts of people who will then claim to have an understanding of me, God and the wider universe as a whole. Ignore any bit of writing by such people. This here is my message, delivered (in writing) by me. Embrace these words, rather than the words of people who never met me, and certainly never knew my mind better than I did.
12. And yes, theologians, I said “I did” and not “I do”. I have no intention of coming back to explain myself all over again. My message is a simple one (see the 1 Commandment) and, if it didn’t sink in the first time, I see no reason for returning to spell it out again. Don’t look for a return. Don’t seek the “end times” (and completely ignore anything written that has the title of “Revelations” as that guy chewed on some seriously mouldy bread) and find a way to accelerate such a thing. You have one life. It is short. Use it wisely.
13. That, my friends, is the end of the New Testament. I know that it is very short, but the message really is a short one. You can keep it in your pocket at all times and never lose sight of the simplest of messages that it contains. Oh, and whatever you do, make sure that you don’t add it to the end of the Old Testament in one big volume. That was the old message, this is the new. It applied to the settling nation of my forefathers and shouldn’t be applied to you, in your life. Oh, and it contains a lot of stories as metaphors, not to be taken literally. As I write this, the universe is roughly 13.75 billion years old. Oh, and life evolved.

That’s what I’d have written. Or as good as.

If I, a non-prophet, am a better communicator than Jesus then ask yourself, seriously, was he actually who his followers claimed him to be? Or was he one of many desert-dwellers who some people took a little more seriously than was necessary? His knowledge (if he ever existed, and there are genuine doubts) was no more detailed than that of every other Bronze Age inhabitant.

Jan 152011

Disliking someone who is different from you is a very native, hard-wired aspect of our animalistic past. We are social creatures, born from small familial groups – from which, we instinctively see that foreign “other” as untrustworthy and (potentially) dangerous. It is a natural phenomena; as natural as every other naturalistic, animalistic personality trait that a civilised society needs to disabuse itself from. Unless, of course, you believe that society should embrace rape, violent patriarchy and, well… watch a David Attenborough piece on chimpanzees (or any other familial-social animal), if you want to find others.

Following on from my previous post about indigenous Brits, another followup position from Nick Griffin (and those who think like him) is that Britain is in danger of becoming an Islamified state. Hauling his chimpanzee arse off the ground, he attempts a territorial warble that a zoologist would describe as “they are not like us” accompanied by “get rid of foreigners”. Of course, for Griffin, this is just the current trend to be employed for the furthering of his far-reaching goal; that every foreigner be removed from Britain. The recent vogue of Islamic terrorism has been a great boost for British racism. Hating Muslims can be seen as a justifiable act of patriotism, allowing people to unleash their inner racist so that they can concentrate on their Muslim foes… and, when all the brown people are gone, they can concentrate on the black ones.

If you hate all Muslisms, then every Islamic fundamentalist who has purged the world of himself (and as many innocents as he could) will have beaten you. He wins. You lose. Why will he have won? Islamic fundamentalists want war… an old war of one faith against another; two opposing factions of the same deity’s believers. They want an Islamic Crusade, with you as a bit-part actor. In order to achieve such a thing, they desire a deep hatred between all Muslims and all non-Muslims; from both directions. Your hatred for all Muslims is a stepping-stone across a small stream… a stream that has very nasty things happening, on the other side of it. If you hate the extremists, without hating everyone who has a moderate affiliation with the religion (i.e. all non-extremist Muslims) then the stepping-stone disappears. The terrorists will have failed.

Join me, in beating the terrorists; hug the next Muslim you meet…

…and remember; each time you hate a Muslim, Osama bin Laden smiles.

Unless, of course, you buy the stories about Britain becoming an Islamic state, where the urban landscape is dotted with minarets over big-domed mosques. Well, I view such a picture with the same level of acridity as our landscape being dotted with church spires over large vaulted canopies of worship. Especially when the worship is being done to the same deity as is worshipped in the mosques. Same deity; different flavour. Whether it is a minaret or a church spire, my degree of irritation is consistently the same. The important fight is against the loss of secularism, not the loss of one religion against another, or which shape popping above the house-roof is a religious ornament. And if an Islamified Britain threatened Britain’s secularism, I’d share a degree of empathy with Islamophobes. Except, that isn’t going to happen.

Britain is an increasingly secular nation. This is a good thing. It isn’t, however, devoid of non-secular influences. Our head of state is also the head of the church. Our upper house of parliament is populated by unelected church leaders – giving the church a political voice. Our weekly diary is dictated to us out of church requirements; Sunday must remain a special day, with limited opening times and awful faith-based TV (the BBC are contractually required to screen it). Our medical practices are influenced by the premise that a fertilised egg has an immortal God-given soul; witness the delays and impediments concerning stem-cell research… or repeated requests to ignore foetal viability as the benchmark for legal abortions.

If those same measures were made in the name of Islam, rather than Christianity, I’d be equally annoyed. Other than an increase in religious political power, I have no reason to fear Britain becoming Islamified. Not that it is likely to happen. I mean, there are those who want to make you believe that it will happen, one day. But that is only one possible future along with many other possible futures – like one where Switzerland announces that its history of neutrality was a smoke-screen, used to quietly build a world-conquering military force, as they take over the world. I mean, it could happen… but there are stop-gaps and pressure-points in the system that mean that it is highly unlikely to happen.

In Britain, our secularisation was (mostly) born 300 years ago during the Enlightenment, when radical materialist thinking gained a new confidence – with powerful rationalist voices to make sure that the confidence was shared. Britain gave Darwin to the world, explaining how life evolved by means of a mechanism he didn’t fully understand; Cambridge University gave us Watson & Crick’s explanation of Darwin’s mechanism. Whether through its rationalists, or its scientists, Britain has given itself good grounds to call itself a secular nation.

Some clocks simply can’t be turned back. Those 300 years won’t be eradicated because of a newly-arrived minority population. Every Muslim who settles in Britain will have children raised in a secularised country. Those children will be aware of the freedoms that have evolved (and been fought for) over so many years. They will have no reason to submerge into the extremities of Islamic fundamentalism.

Unless you give them good grounds, and treat them with undisguised hatred.

That should about do it.

If you read newspaper articles about a Muslim getting a lenient sentence, or even having committed a crime – stop and ask yourself how many offences are reported in the news about people who were described as Christians, agnostics or atheists. I mean, these people do commit crimes, but I don’t recall their faith being a newsworthy item, shared to all. If an owner of a media corporation became gingerphobic, he could highlight the crimes of all ginger people, their hair-colour announced to all. Any crimes committed by blondes,  brunettes, or the folically-challenged would be reported without any mention of their hair-colour. Over time, you’d be sickened at all of the crimes committed by ginger people.

Stop letting other people do your thinking (and decision-making) for you. Especially when those people own newspapers and/or TV stations.

Stop reading shitty “news” articles that deliberately alienate Muslims from the rest of society. Keep in mind that some Muslims are good – and some Muslims are bad. Pretty much, you know, the same as with every other group of human beings on the planet.

Stop calling yourself a Christian, in some feeble attempt at showing a united, patriotic anti-Muslim front. The last time you were in a church, it was for a wedding (possibly your own) and if you were asked to recite the names of Christ’s disciples, you’d struggle not to slip in the names of some of The Beatles.

Stop letting the Islamic terrorist have the winning hand.

Stop acting on xenophobic, animalistic fear-patterns.

Stop judging the many, based on the few.

Stop being a racist fuck.

Jan 132011

In 2010, Nick Griffin made an appearance on BBC’s Question Time. Among many of his ridiculous claims, he said that the BNP was not a racist political party and that his interests were in the protection of (what he called) indigenous Brits. Now, it is easy to mock the arrogance and ignorance of one bigoted man, but his views are shared by many. So let’s have a look at what it means to be indigenous to Britain.

Migration Stage 1 – Nomads

Back when Great Britain became isolated from the rest of mainland Europe, there were no people on the continent; the series of migrations from Africa didn’t come until much later. When our ancestors were, eventually, moving throughout Europe, Britain remained a no-go area to a species that hadn’t invented boats. With successive ice ages, however, the falling sea levels allowed for foot traffic across (what we describe today as) the English Channel. People lived, hunted and populated that sometimes-undersea landscape and some of them will have found themselves on the island, itself. Let’s call these variously-timed first inhabitants members of an era called Migration Stage 1.

Migration Stage 2 – Celts

Over an extended period of time, largely unknown (due to the absence of written records) with any great detail, other than that provided by archaeology, people (and their cultures) moved across the navigable world. The island of Great Britain became populated by a group of people who can loosely be described as Celts. The traditions, practices, beliefs and artwork were shared by a larger Celtic society that extended across the rest of Europe. They must, then, have shared origins. These were what we can confidently describe as boat-builders; moving to (and populating) Great Britain. The timeframe is unknown, but it would have been an extensive one involving many different migrations. For simplicity, let’s group them all together and describe them as Migration Stage 2.

Migration Stage 3 – Romans

We can become more confident about timeframes when the first users of a written language moved to these islands. The Romans, in expanding their governance around the Mediterranean (and neighbouring European regions) arrived first as merchants and then as conquerors. Despite the easy conclusion that Britain was invaded by rampaging Italians, Rome offered citizenship to those they conquered. The legions that controlled Britain were made up of groups from many potential geographical regions. The seed of much of Europe (and Asia and Africa) lived and breathed on British soil for the better part of 400 years. Britain’s Celts still existed… but, whichever set of migrants you looked at, you would be very hard-pressed to find one which was guaranteed to be free of Rome’s genetic influence. Let’s call the Romans (and every merchant immigrant that arrived before and during this period) Migration Stage 3.

Migration Stage 4 – Anglo-Saxons

Following the breakdown of Rome’s Empire in the west, Britain’s local leaders found themselves in need of mercenary help, and they called on the help of Germanic tribes to fight for them. Those newly-arrived migrants soon decided that their military strength (in a land denuded of such things during the Roman conquest) allowed them to take the place for themselves. Britain became the home of Angles, Saxons and Jutes (with a side-serving of Frissians and Franks). The previous inhabitants (Romano-British) were still on the scene and were referred to as native Britons. The scene, however, was far from being a simple one. The whole island was a hotch-potch of variously-distributed ethnicities and cultures. Britain was an Anglo-Saxon island, by conquest. All of them were natives. Let’s call them Migration Stage 4.

Migration Stage 5 – Vikings

In the more northerly regions of Scandanavia, a warrior mentality saw profit in taking the property, livestock and (eventually) land of their neighbours. It was a more viable income source than the repeated father-to-son division of limited arable land. Their targets were the more southerly stretches of Europe and their means of transportation was the sea. These islands were a particularly popular stopping-off point for looting, pillaging and (importantly) rape. Whether they stayed (and many did) or they left, Viking seed became deeply impenetrated (‘scuse the pun) in the genetic makeup of the British Isles. This extended period of genetic influx can be called Migration Stage 5.

Migration Stage 6 – Normans

These islands weren’t the only places populated by Viking blood in this timeframe. On the west coast of France, one group of Norsemen became very well established. Over time, a (very) slightly more civilised version of these warmongers would eventually find political reasons for claiming Kingship over England. When politics failed, war quickly took its place and the final, largescale, war-based invasion of these islands took place. The Anglo-Saxons, already genetically familiar with Norse blood, were dominated by a more powerful breed of Norse men who intended on staying – and the Normans did exactly that. We will call them Migration Stage 6.

Migration Stage 7 – Mercantile

With no more full-scale invasion forces to mention since 1066, it is less easy to give clearly delineated stages of migration over the subsequent 1000 years. Migration certainly took place, though. As well as a pan-European mixing pot of royal marriages (and royal influences) opening up trade routes, with a mercantile class that was built upon the trading posts of cities and ports – smaller (but continuous) migrations took place. Other than the arrival of new (to these islands) religious beliefs, such as Jewish communities, the movement of people cannot easily be documented. People moved where the trade of goods moved them and Europe was an open-plan region of legally-understood borders, with no legally-understood passport control. The only barriers were the ability to move – and the ability to communicate. It is a process which, largely, still continues into modern times, but to isolate it from the last (important) stage of migration, I’m going to pull those thousand years together into a loose affliation which can be called Migration Stage 7.

Migration Stage 8 – Empire

The mercantile expansion of Britain would, in time, move from purely commercial into commercial-political. Britain produced the largest (and shortest-lived) empire that the world has seen – before or since. In each of the colonial states of that empire, Britain was portrayed as the Mother Country. The hopes and ideals that were established and imprinted upon those people, was that their countries should be as prosperous and “civilised” as the nation that was building theirs. Unsurprisingly, this made Britain an idealised place to move to for those seeking prosperity and betterment. Particularly in the latter stages of the old empire, Britain saw an influx of new migrants. After World War 2, with a depleted (male) workforce, the immigration from the old empire was a given an important necessitation. A land that had been familiarly white-faced for so many years, was now seeing a migration of melanin, not just a migration of cultures across a pan-European landscape.

And it is this most recent migration stage that most discomforts Nick Griffin and those who think like him, as he rampages against ongoing migration in a period that someone, some day, might call Migration Stage 9. As he seeks to panic his followers about the potential of the Islamification of Britain, he offers “voluntary” repatriation so that existing “non-indigenous” Brits can return whence they first came. Even if it was their parents, grandparents or great grandparents who originally arrived on the boat from some far-flung branch of the old British empire.

If we pretend (for a moment) that Nick Griffin, the BNP and every mouth-breathing xenophobe who parrots the same bigoted shite… aren’t (in fact) racist… could we, perhaps, look back at the history of Britain and ask how an indigenous Brit can be identified? Which Migration Stage should we be talking about? Nick Griffin, magicked up the number of 17,000 years – which would have involved the nomads of Migration Stage 1. Yes, that’s right… Gypsie-hating Griffin describes the idealised aboriginal Brit as a descendent of a travelling population.

Sometimes, irony is just too delicious for words.

I challenge Griffin (and his “indigenous” kith and kin) to find a single living person in Britain who has descended those 17,000 years without ever having a family member that migrated here during stages 2 to 8. Including Griffin, himself.

Every single person in this country is either an immigrant or directly descended from an immigrant. The beauty of it is, most of that migration was done without legal consent.

Every last one of us is the spawn of illegal immigrants.

Dec 042010

Whilst musing over the next subject to blog about, I concluded that it will be driven by two potential motivators; possibly both, possibly only one. Consideration and rationality (or, more precisely, the lack of either) provide motivation for every bit of ire I have about the world. If the planet was populated (for the most part) by people who were considerate and rational, I could stop writing this blog… or write (with a struggle) about all the fluffy, cute and nice things that happen. Like the adorability of kittens. Or the cakiness of cakes.

I would struggle to write because I’m something of a polemicist. I write about things that piss me off, things that need changing and (when possible) options for how to change things for the better. The world can be changed by people voicing their opposition… even if the amount of change accomplished is the changing of a thought, or the contemplation of an idea that hadn’t previously been held. Every large machine has the smallest of cogs, turning ever so slightly, making the smallest of differences which have a compound effect alongside other cogs – both small and large.

So. Whilst I mull over the next subject which interests me enough to share, be assured that it will cover a lack of consideration, a modicum of irrationality, or a dose of both. And, hopefully, a way of countering it.

If you subsequently hold a thought (and potential solution) that you didn’t previously have… then I’ll have accomplished the smallest of somethings in this otherwise insignificant life.

Nov 302010

A few years ago, a college friend and I were discussing feminism. For one of our projects, she had chosen feminism as her subject matter and had been approaching people with a related questionnaire. Upon my completion of her questions (on the subject of women’s rights and their place within society) I was triumphantly told that I was a feminist. I countered that no, I was actually a humanist; I care about the rights and expectations of both genders.

Having high expectations for the rights of women does not make me a feminist. If I have peas and carrots with my rump steak, does that mean that I’m a vegetarian? No. No, it doesn’t. I am no more a feminist than I am a masculinist. Humanism covers both, thankyaverymuch.

Stating loudly and clearly that I despise feminism, it should be noted (very strongly) that my views are not antithetical to feminism. My morality, my ethos and (more importantly) my humanism insists and demands that all of the ideals of feminism are sought after. Except, they should be sought after in unanimity with the rights of every other human… including men. Excluding men from your equation and (in some cases) contravening the rights of men is a step too far from the equality that I hold to be humanistically intrinsic to a just and fair society.

Feminism is a meme that steadfastly holds true (the type of true that is wrong). Men daren’t challenge it in case they are labelled as misogynists. Women daren’t challenge it in case they are labelled as the misguided puppets of misogynists. Some memes are determined not to die… they attract limpets, hugging them, enforcing them, justifying them and rationalising them.

This blog post, for all of the many (half a dozen = many, yeah?) people who will read it, is a small attempt at offering a better ship for the limpets to hold on to. Wave goodbye to SS Feminism and join us on SS Humanism; the passenger list is greater, it doesn’t lean too far to port or starboard… and it sails in warmer climes of equality. Possibly on the Equal Sea.

Don’t knock the puns.

Nov 272010

Back when I first started using the internet, it was a very different looking creature than it is today. Web sites were relatively sparse compared to their modern counterparts, with many companies having no net exposure whatsoever. One of the more dominant areas of the internet was something called usenet (more popularly known as newsgroups).

Each newsgroup was dedicated to certain subjects, within which many people asserted their views. Some were sparsely populated with few contributors. Others were positively heaving with content. Whilst searching for a subject which held some interest to me, a newsgroup called alt.atheism caught my attention and became a group which I regularly read and contributed to.

It was populated, unsurprisingly, by atheists talking about all sorts of aspects of an atheistic life – mainly the problems involved living within a religious family and a religious community… as, mostly, the posters were American.

As well as atheists, there were a number of non-atheists; nearly all of whom were Christians. The reason for their attendance can easily be given. Time and again, a new Christian would appear, preaching and proselytising to the un-saved, purveying a kindly, “thoughtful” Christian representation of the strengths of relinquishing the atheistic mindset. Every single one of them quickly became less friendly when their repeated points were repeatedly disputed.

Mostly, American atheists are born-again, having rejected long-ingrained Christian tutelage. As such, they’re often well-versed in Biblical chapters and verses and able to counter any nonsense put their way… and the same nonsense was repeated often – and disputed just as quickly. Christians would then take one of two paths; they’d give up entirely, or they’d hang around, bordering on the edges of their sanity as they repeatedly made claims that even they knew were crap. Poor things.

I always wondered why someone would participate in a newsgroup which was contrary to their own beliefs. I mean, I despise brussel sprouts (along with several other vegetables… just ask any of my family) yet couldn’t see any reason to search out alt.BrusselSproutsLovers in order to tell them just how ridiculously wrong they were and to preach to them about the evils of their favourite vegetable.

Curious to try reversing this experience, I sought out a newsgroup populated by British Christians. I didn’t go to preach the atheistic mindset or to disavow Christianity. I was very open from the outset that I was an atheist with an interest in religion and its influence on British society. I also made it clear from the outset that I would at no point try and convert anyone there if they allowed me the same courtesy. The vast majority (with, I think, 1 or 2 exceptions) accepted this and civil conversation was had by all. So civil that, come the New Year, during their self-asserted head-nod to the Queen’s New Year appointments, I was awarded a New Year honour for “Services to atheism”. Which was sweet.

Anyway, during their many conversations, the subject that came up far more often than any other (I had imagined would be covered) was the subject of homosexuality. Some were severely dismissive and judgemental of homosexuality and homosexuals. Others were far more open to the idea of embracing all people into Christianity – regardless of their involvement in same-sex relationships. 2000 years after the life and death of their lord and saviour, who never mentioned homosexuality, I was more than a little confused about why it should be such a contentious issue.

This confusion returned (relatively) recently after a couple of notable news stories hit the headlines.

Christian loses sex therapy case – Monday, 30th November 2009

A relationship counsellor who refused to offer sex therapy to gay couples has lost his unfair dismissal appeal. Gary MacFarlane, 47, from Bristol, was sacked by marriage guidance service Relate after he said he could not do anything to promote gay sex. - BBC News

He alleged Relate had refused to accommodate his Christian beliefs.

Gay couple turned away from B&B in Cookham – Sunday, 21st March 2010

A gay couple were turned away from a Berkshire guest house by the owner who said it was “against her convictions” for two men to share a bed.

Susanne and Francis Wilkinson would not allow a gay couple to stay together in one of their rooms ‘because it was against their Christian beliefs’. Her husband Francis… said it was a question of living by their faith. ‘We live according to our values and our Christian beliefs. We are not homophobic,’ he said. - BBC News

Why highlight the above recent examples of homosexuality conflicting with Christian beliefs? Well, as I said above, Jesus Christ – Christianity’s base, home and avower of everything it means to be a Christian – said not a single word about homosexuality. Not once… ever… even in passing.

So where does homophobia get a Biblical mention? In the Old Testament. The OT, to clarify, was the grounds of a pre-Jesus Jewish world which gave birth to the Jewish prophet. Jesus was said to have given his followers a new covenant… which is given in the New Testament. The NT gives no mention of homosexuality on the grounds of Jesus’s words, beliefs or teachings. The closest the NT gets towards such a position come in a few brief letters from Saul of Tarsus (later known as St Paul) amongst some of which were included the word “sodomites” in a category of bad people.

The original word used (in Greek) wasn’t the known word for homosexuals. It was a reference to the un-godly inhabitants of the city of Sodom – and the perversities they followed… which consisted of a lot more than anal sex, which the word is associated with in modernity. Even so, St Paul was a follower of Jesus who never met Jesus, so it would be contentious (to say the least) to say that St Paul knew Jesus’s beliefs better than Jesus did. And Jesus had no (known) views on homosexuality.

If modern Christians are to claim that homosexuality is contrary to their Christian beliefs, I would suggest that they learn their beliefs a good deal better than they currently have. If they disavow homosexuals, they are either (Orthodox) Jews or Paulians. They sure as hell aren’t Christians. As with many other obtuse bigotories which are backed up by religious claims, religion is merely being used to lay claim to non-religious, pre-existing bigotry. Such bigotry should have no protection under the name of religion… especially when that religion doesn’t back up that bigotry.

Bad non-Christians claiming to be Christians.

B&B owner Susanne Wilkinson deserves to be sued for illegally refusing to accept a gay couple as guests and Gary MacFarlane fully deserved to be sacked. Having an occupation which involves dealing with the public doesn’t allow you to pick and choose which public you deal with.

Bad non-Christians.

If you’re curious about the OT references to homosexuality, here’s the primary reference from the King James Version of the bible:-

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. - Leviticus 18:22

This reference comes from Leviticus chapter 18. Leviticus (in the biblical OT) forms a part of the Jewish Torah. Its purpose was to purport the civil expectations of the Jewish people as they settled in Palestine following the exodus from Egypt. A large section is dedicated to the foods which can and cannot be eaten (kosher and non-kosher). A section which, most interestingly, Christians ignore. Later, a full section (chapter 18) covers the sexual proclivities of a good Jew.

No men are allowed to see their kin naked: their father, mother, step-mother, sister, step-sister, grand-daughter, step-sister (again), paternal aunt, maternal aunt, paternal uncle, paternal aunt (by marriage), daughter-in-law and sister-in-law.

Family aside, the author explores his sexual imagination to find other taboos. They include; no menage a trois with a mother and daughter combo. No menage a trois with a woman and her granddaughter. No menage a trois with your wife and her sister. And no getting jiggy with a menstruating woman.

All of these (somewhat interesting) combinations are rounded-off with a clear statement that having sex with your neighbour’s wife is strictly verboten. How many sexually non-perverse Christians (having refrained from incest and freaky threesomes) have found themselves scuppered by that last little zinger? All as bad as each other, apparently. Yahweh said so.

The next reference is more than a little obscure; none of your seed should pass through the fire to Molech. I’d like to see how many Hail Marys that would produce… and how many priests would know what the hell had just been confessed.

The next command returns us to more familiar grounds… sex with men is an abomination. As is the last sexual demand; bestiality is forbidden to both men and women. It isn’t an abomination, though… it is merely a “confusion”. Confusing to the poor beast, certainly. As a related aside, it is curious (to say the least) that the Levitican list of sexual abominations does not include paedophelia.

In biblical terms, the word “abomination” is an interesting one. In the OT, it appears a somewhat magnificent 146 times, with Leviticus (16 times), Deuteronomy (17 times), Proverbs (21 times) and Ezekiel (46 times) taking the lion’s share for its appearance. The NT mentions it a mere 6 times… 3 of which are in the fire ‘n’ brimstone of Revelations. None of those appearances relate to homosexuality. It seems that the God of Jesus is much less judgemental than the Yahweh of pre-Jesus Judaism.

Christians (and non-Christians) take note.

And (for a final emphasis) shut the fuck up about homosexuality contravening your Christian beliefs, you lying fuckwads. (It’s OK. Swearing isn’t anti-Christian – I’ll explain why in another post.)


P.S. If it really, really contravenes your religious views (despite all of the above) then you are utterly false in those views if you don’t execute the required prosecution for homosexual activity:-

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. – Leviticus 20:13

So you can’t make the complaint about gay people if you don’t also kill them.

P.P.S. None of any of the above applies to women. It seems like God would like to watch. Which, if nothing else, proves that God is male.

Edit: Why do people treat us with the same contempt we show homosexuals, ask Christians

Nov 272010

If you see someone and, in your mind, you do the equivalent of holding up a Dulux colour chart to decide what you think of them… could I ask, in all seriousness, what goes on in your mind? What drives the cogs in your brain? What colour is the sky where you live (without resorting to a colour chart)?

In what way is the colour of someone’s skin an indicator of their worth or value – to society as a whole, or you as an individual? Is melanin an indicator of badness; the more you have the worse you are? Could you please provide scientific (neurological) evidence that melanin plays such a role? Otherwise, I’m just going to have to assume that such beliefs are irrational, naive and (because no other word is suitable) stupid.

During the course of my online life, I’ve had occasion to talk to, debate with and (I’ll admit) ridicule people who identify themself as white supremacists. Their premise is that white people are superior to black people. They see it as self-evident and, if you disagree with them, you are labelled as a traitor to your race… if you’re white. If you’re black, they’ll have all sorts of other labels for you – none of them complimentary.

For those who believe that skin-colour makes a difference to who a person is, I’d like to provide a little historical insight regarding the supremacy of white people. When civilisation first began, the first block of stone was levelled onto another block of stone to make the first city in a land that, today, is known as Iraq. They invented the wheel, crop irrigation, writing and the bow and arrow. Around 2500 years later, on an island off the west coast of Europe, people of a very different culture arranged a group of stones which would later be known as Stonehenge. The henge-builders were a lighter shade on the Dulux chart than the inventors of cities; 2500 years earlier.

If the supremacist in you isn’t convinced by the ancient evidence of your non-supremacy, and you point to examples in the modern world to back your claims, allow me to burst that bubble, too. The industrialised (mostly white) Western world was built upon the exchange of goods between 3 key regions: Africa, America and Europe. The “goods” from Africa were slaves. So, sure, the Western (mostly white) industrialised (technologically-driven) advancement over the “inferior” blacks in Africa makes white people (in your mind) “superior”… but never forget how that so-called supremacy was derived.

Africa is a recurring theme amongst white supremacists. They highlight it as a flawed continent that proves the inferiority of black people. Whilst (somehow) forgetting that Egypt (and its ancient civilisational wonders) are in Africa, they highlight how flawed the continent is. Again, they should always be mindful of the role that white people played in that continent. The slave-driven rape of its people aside, for now, modern Africa is a divided continent, with those divisions drawn on the maps of white empire builders.

Sure, Africa is reknowned for corrupt governments, weak democracy and poorly-organised, famine-ridden poverty zones, but the Post Empirical condition of those weak democracies are the direct result of a foreign political climate imposed upon those who weren’t familiar with such a system. Africans, for the most part, lived nomadically or rurally under the guise of tribal leaderships. If it is taking them some time to establish stable democracies, within non-tribal state-boundaries, appreciate (if you can) the prolonged, blood-bathed turmoil that Western democracies undertook whilst trying to do the same thing – over a much longer timeframe.

White supremacy, my hairy (white) arse.

As white people, we’ve been lulled into thinking it’s safe to be around other white people. We’ve been taught since birth that it’s the people of that other color we need to fear. They’re the ones who’ll slit your throat!

Yet as I look back on my life, a strange but unmistakable pattern seems to emerge. Every person who has ever harmed me in my lifetime—the boss who fired me, the teacher who flunked me, the principal who punished me, the kid who hit me in the eye with a rock, the other kid who shot me with his BB gun, the executive who didn’t renew TVNation, the guy who was stalking me for three years, the accountant who double-paid my taxes, the drunk who smashed into me, the burglar who stole my stereo, the contractor who overcharged me, the girlfriend who left me, the next girlfriend who left even sooner, the pilot of the plane I was on who hit a truck on the runway (he probably hadn’t eaten in days), the other pilot who decided to fly through a tornado, the person in the office who stole checks from my checkbook and wrote them out to himself for a total of $16,000—every one of these individuals has been a white person! Coincidence? I think not!

I have never been attacked by a black person, never been evicted by a black person, never had my security deposit ripped off by a black landlord, never had a black landlord, never had a meeting at a Hollywood studio with a black executive in charge, never seen a black agent at the film /IV agency that used to represent me, never had a black person deny my child the college of her choice, never been puked on by a black teenager at a Motley Crue concert, never been pulled over by a black cop, never been sold a lemon by a black car salesman, never seen a black car salesman, never had a black person deny me a bank loan, never had a black person try to bury my movie, and I’ve never heard a black person say, “We’re going to eliminate ten thousand jobs here—have a nice day!”

I don’t think I’m the only white guy who can make these claims. Every mean word, every cruel act, every bit of pain and suffering in my life has had a Caucasian face attached to it. - Michael Moore, Stupid White Men

To embrace Michael Moore’s concept fully, we’d have to accept that white people are worse than black people. That, to put it mildly, would be untrue. Some people are good. Some people are bad. The key ingredients which make them like that aren’t decided by the colour of their skin. The above anecdote should, however, be kept in mind by every white person who decides that black people are the ones they should always be wary of.

Of course, xenophobia isn’t only found amongst white people regarding black people – but that subject will be for another post, another day.

Nov 242010

World peace is a notion that often finds itself at the top of many a wishlist, if such a list could be granted any chance of actually happening. It is a common meme and admirable for its perceived pan-altruism. On a tipping balance of better world / worse world, all out peace must inevitably be better than all out war.

Of course, some would disagree. Annoyingly, uppermost amongst them are the ones who actually have a chance of making it happen. To many, wars are good. They are an opportunity for some world leaders to show other world leaders who is leading a “better” country; machismo on a horribly grand scale. Leaders who win wars also become more adored by their countryfolk; sadly, even in democracies.

Unfortunately, it is true that war does have benefits. Compare the technology available prior to the preparations of WW2 with those available afterwards, including the rocket technology that would evolve into Apollo missions to the moon. Another benefit is the depopulation of an ever-overcrowded world. Imagine this immensely populous world along with every life (and the descendants) of those killed during WW2. And, of course, the leading classes are always keen on sending their nation’s poorest into harm’s way, whilst keeping their own children in safe-keeping. So add the dampening of unemployment figures into the pro list of war’s pros and cons.

If, however, we can assume that there are more humane ways of controlling unemployment figures, or managing population figures and their impact upon depleting resources, and that a marginal lessening of technological progress isn’t too high a price for the loss of so many lives… is the ideal of world peace an achievable ideal?

I would argue that it is.

If you’ve ever watched news reports, where UN forces have sat by, their embarrasment thinly masked under their blue berets whilst one militia or the next has destroyed another region of the world, you might appreciate my suggestion that UN forces should be more forceful. Rather than peace-keeping troops, why not use them as an actual world army?

Every country in the world should abolish their armies, their troops being subjugated into the remit of the UN. Their purpose, then, would be to establish themselves in regions where force is the only available option. In one swift step, we could eradicate warfare between countries. Any country which refuses to adhere to this would find themselves at conflict with the rest of the world; a move which even the most machismo-ridden leader would think twice about contemplating.

Nuclear arms would be removed, naturally, and arms manufacturers would either be scrapped or have the UN as their only client. Any nation which then souped-up their police force to act as a national deterrent on their populace would also risk facing the wrath of intervention by the UN.

At the moment, the world already has a global police force which finds a way of policing nations based on their own desires. As such, the USA is (to coin a phrase) a bent cop. When you have a bent cop, you’ll have people who ignore them or actively fight against them. They also rather hate them. With the UN acting as a global police force, the world would have a straight cop – even if the USA provided much of the military hardware and troops. If they acted under the auspices of (an improved version of) the UN, their motives for intervention would be as beyond reproach as any such ideal could be.

Terrorism would, naturally, still be an issue. Much of today’s terrorism is done in the name of Islam, supposedly fuelled against a modern Crusade against their faith. This is, in no small part, fuelled by the West’s uneven treatment of the Middle East – particularly when it comes to Israel and Palestine. With the USA’s pro-Israel/anti-Palestine stance taken out of the equation, Israel would find itself in need of furthering its global situation by being a better neighbour. This could best be established by the dismantlement of all illegal occupying settlements and a firm two-state situation of Israel and Palestine. Jerusalem could be assigned as an independent state (rather like the Vatican City) so that neither country could try and claim it as their capital. In Jerusalem, under a tri-party governance of Jews, Muslims and Christians, it could be safeguarded as a neutral place of worship for all three religions.

Assuming that they wouldn’t buy the argument that all three religions are founded upon the same mythological deity – that doesn’t exist, so can’t care which of the three ways they decide to worship it.

The abolition of all world religions would certainly hasten a world that knew true peace but, sadly, people tend to cling on to their superstitions and, well, it’s always nice to think that life never comes to an absolute end… so long as you don’t expect an afterlife where you’re rewarded for your martyrdom.

World peace is, then, a possibility. With no country-on-country conflict and a drastic lessening of the motivations for terroristic extremes, we would only need to look at how we treat each other in order to bring true peace about. For that, we’d need to embrace the NDC.

Nov 222010

Someone once said to me that society basically exists around a basis of the notion that “if you don’t try to kill me, I won’t try to kill you”. The idea of killing can be spread to theft and any other concept which involves one person behaving in an ill manner to their societal neighbour. It is a simple concept, yet a very true one.

The idea has been around for as long as (recorded) ideas have been around and has been mentioned by every great thinker in humanity’s long history. In early Christianity, it was voiced in a way that you will (most likely) be familiar with it; Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The idea has become known as the Golden Rule.

As powerful as the GR is, it is sadly incomplete in such a simple formula. If someone were to punch you in the face, the GR would have it that you do nothing in return. Self-defence and (more importantly) retribution is totally absent. The GR is totally devoid of anything resembling justice. In society, justice is more than a little important. Without justice, nobody would want to use the GR – unless they believe in a divine justice meted out in other ways, whether in this life or the next.

In the absence of an after-life, the philosophy I use is the MGR (Modified Golden Rule) whereby people are treated with kindness up until the point where they cease to do likewise. This is a version of non-divine karma; bad people have bad things done to them.

Not particulary happy with the MGR being an actual rule, rather than a guideline (plenty of people reject the idea that rules should apply to them as they’re [hippy-mode=ON]not part of the system… man[hippy-mode=OFF]) nor the clumsiness of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you up until such a time as they cease to do likewise”, I simplified the concept into the Notion of Deserved Consideration (NDC). The notion is that you show consideration to those who deserve consideration, so long as they deserve such a thing. Those showed consideration should include yourself.

As I’ve shared this concept with others, it has also picked up the subtitle of “Treat dicks like dicks”.

So, if you see me treating someone like a dick, you will know that the treatment has been earned, not arbitrarily assigned. If you think that I am a dick – then you can be assured that you, yourself, are a dick. Or you have dickish friends, who you don’t like being treated like dicks. Which gains you bonus points for your loyalty, whilst also losing you bonus points for having dicks as friends.

I’m always polite to non-dicks.

Unless they become dicks.

Nov 212010

Back in 2007, the UK celebrity version of Endemol’s Big Brother caused a controversy regarding racist comments. It made big news, causing Gordon Brown to comment on the situation. Subsequently, the following non-celebrity version of Big Brother was more than a little anxious to avoid a repeat of the situation. Big Brother got all serious when the show’s participants entered the realms of discriminatory conduct and behaviour.

One white contestant was reprimanded for saying “nigger” to a black contestant during faux-ghetto conversation. Another was reprimanded for using the word “poof”. Discrimination was being carefully controlled. Except, it wasn’t. The day after the “poof” incident, two women were sat in the bedroom talking about men. Men, apparently, were all (among other things) liars, cheats and undeserving of anything resembling consideration. Now… as a man, I kinda took offence at being labelled so unambiguously due to something as arbitrary as a condition of birth. The women weren’t reprimanded by Big Brother. If the word “men” had been replaced by “blacks” or “gays” they most certainly would have been.

Sexism, it seems, is only bad when it happens against one of the genders.

Now. You may well argue that, over many generations (over thousands of years) women have been subjected to sexism and that when it is returned, we can have no good reason to complain. Except, that sexism was committed by people other than me. The guilt of the father becomes the guilt of the son? Seriously? So, when my mother’s egg was fertilised, the sheer chance of an XY chromosome pairing determined whether I was an oppressor, rather than the oppressed? I’m somehow guilty of all of the sins committed by people who share my gender?

If you look down at a newborn baby boy and think “you evil little bastard” then there’s something seriously wrong with your mind. A person should be judged by the acts that they commit during their life, not by the acts of people that (by sheer chromosomal chance) share their gender.

This anti-male meme has become prevalent in recent years, courtesy of ardent feminism. By “ardent” I mean feminism that, rather than stopping at the border when fighting for women’s rights, continues against male rights. The fight for justice and equality for women was long-overdue and much needed. It was a fight against a patriarchy that had existed (in the West) largely due to the misogyny of Christian thinking. The war has been won. What remains is a series of battles which need to be maintained in order for dinosaur thinking to be eradicated for true, pure, equality.

But equality cannot be found by being anti-male. That is something other than equality, and is as wrong in one direction as it is the other.

Feminism’s time is at an end. Let us instead embrace humanism, fighting for actual equality – regardless of birth differences, be they gender, race or sexual attraction. The humanist fight is a far-reaching one, with many instances of unnecessary segregation where differences (attributed at birth) become barriers in instances where barriers are unhelpful, rather than helpful. It is a fight that can best be made by people of all genders, races and sexual attraction.

Some instances (already mentioned) include SheThought, LWDS and HerCampus. Because, yes, they are as sexist as HeThought, GWDS and HisCampus – all of which (thankfully) can’t be linked as they don’t exist… and if they did, I’d be haranguing their existence with the same level of depressed intolerance.

Humanism. Please.

Nov 202010

The Queen of Bad Thinking continues to live up to her name. An ad hominem is to attack the person instead of their position. Attacking them as well as their position isn’t ad hominem.

1. You’re an idiot.
2. A is not equal to B because A is equal to C and C is not equal to B… you idiot.

1 is ad hominem 2 is not ad hominem. It’s insulting, but sometimes insults are deserved. Anybody who disagrees with that sentiment should perhaps (as an example) stop referring to David Icke as the King of Bullshit, if they are unhappy about their own flaws earning them a title.

She is also claiming that my post was censored due to privately-delivered personal insults. This is not true. Trystan Swale (co-presenter of Righteous Indignation) incorrectly claimed that I was making accusations about the leaking of personal information, suggesting that those accusations somehow excused the censorship.

1. This isn’t true.
2. Even if it were true, it doesn’t excuse the censorship.

I was asking questions and (privately) airing suspicions. I didn’t make any accusations. The difference between a suspicion and an accusation isn’t a small one. Trystan’s failure was with logic and poor judgement, finding fault where no fault existed. Standing up for a friend is something to be admired; however, if your friend is in the wrong then so are you.

Edit: The Queen of Bad Thinking has left a comment on a forum that I can read, but can’t reply to. The ad hominem reference, I already covered. The complaint of censorship, whilst leaving this blog comment-disabled… the RI forum is a public forum, for listeners to the podcast to contribute. Being removed from a public forum and having your words removed – that’s censoring. Not being able to reply to a non-public blog isn’t censorship. You have your own mediums to express yourself, uncensored. I have mine. Whether I allow/disallow comments to be added isn’t censorship, but a lack of a right-to-reply in this, solitary, non-public non-forum.

Both of those points were tweeted to you, Hayley. Could you try thinking for yourself, from time to time? I’m not generally hateful. I treat dicks like dicks.

The thread became a huge discussion and debate and ended with me being called sexist and the poster in question sending Trystan what I gather were quite rude posts and accusations in private (which led to another admin banning said poster.) – Hayley Stevens, Queen of Bad Thinking

An interesting version of events. They say that if you tell a lie often enough, you start to believe it to be true. Perhaps the “what I gather” and “quite rude posts” are seen as justification for a group applying censorship due to a difference of opinion… and not, for instance, quite rude posts. That same group having a headline of “Fight for Free Speech!” on November 10th. Perhaps it was a short-lived ideal. There were no rude posts, btw. Even if you stretch the word “quite” to its absolute limits.

Nov 202010

One of the reasons for revisiting my oft-neglected blog is the issue of censorship. Today, I was removed from a group that I’d been a visitor of for the last few months. My last post and comments were censored; the ideas deleted, the thoughts expunged.

Now. It must have been a hideously bad post to have received such hard-handed treatment, eh? Perhaps it was incongruous to the group it was posted to? Did I flame? Did I troll? The easy answer to those questions is no, no, no and no.

So what did I do that warranted my removal? I raised the suggestion that a closely-affiliated (linked, plugged and interviewed) group was counterproductively emphasising differences in society, rather than embracing/ignoring those differences. They were, in summary, being sexist.

Here’s the image that accompanied my post.

Gentlemen who do Skepticism is a parody of Ladies who do Skepticism. Without word-for-word repeating what I argued (which would be tricky, after it being censored) I made the point that gender-based issues in something as non-gender-based as skepticism is a faulty (to put it mildly) premise.

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of my position, as with any discussion, I’d expected debate in both directions. That isn’t what happened. I quickly had ad hominems thrown my way. An ad hominem is (simply put) argument by attacking someone’s character, rather that attacking their ideas. As a group of skeptics, who are normally well-informed about logical debate and poorly-presented arguments (when approaching the world of the paranormal or bad science) they should have been fully knowledgeable about the ineffectiveness of using ad hominems. They should also have been fully knowledgeable about the ineffectiveness of argument-by-numbers.

If one person has an idea, that idea is no less wrong if he is in a minority – even if that minority is one. Proving him wrong requires reasoned, logical argument. Finding security in numbers (either in the thread, or comforting “you’re right, he’s wrong” comments on Twitter) is less-than-agreeable, when holding a debate.

The group in question is called Righteous Indignation. Except, there is nothing righteous about their indignation. One of the founders of Righteous Indignation is someone called Hayley Stevens, a “rather friendly skeptic”. Except, there is nothing rather friendly… well, you can see a recurring theme, here. I hadn’t expected a positive, warm response from Hayley as she also contributes to a site called SheThought. Yes, that’s right, “She Thought”, a website that is based upon the neural capacities of people with an XX chromosome where (if you’re fortunate) people with XY chromosomes can also contribute. Except it isn’t called “Thought” or “Our Thought” or “Human Thought”. It’s called “She Thought”. Yes. Embrace every critical thinker, so long as the coin-toss of genetics gave them the same chromosome pairings as you. If those pairings gave you a different skin colour, you might be outraged that they are less interested in you. But hey, if it was a gender difference, we’ll welcome the differentation as if there’s nothing even remotely abhorrent about making that distinction.

I wasn’t expecting an easy ride from someone who has sexist views, but I was happily hoping for at least a little more of something that could adequately be described as debate. But that’s not what happened. What happened was censorship.

So, as a final note to today’s sorry tale of censorship from a group who can now be trusted less than they could before… I’ll add a little Quackery Quote a la Righteous Indignation.

“…I am an atheist. This doesn’t make me an evil person. It just means that I choose to believe one god less than religious people.” – Hayley Stevens, Queen of Bad Thinking (which is just as catchy as Righteous Indignation’s moniker of “King of Bullshit” for David Icke).

If a religious person is a polytheist, believing in one less god than them doesn’t equate to atheism, Hayley. Now, it would be easy to say that everyone can make a simple mistake of flawed logic, but (much as the same allowance isn’t made for David Icke) this is one of many examples of bad thinking.

And now, I shall censor myself, and stop writing.

Nov 202010

As with every diary I’ve ever been bought, my blog got used for the first few days and weeks… with the rest of it being left as a great desert of emptiness. Whether empty pages or unproduced blog posts, I’ve always lacked the impetus to record my thoughts on a regular basis.

Why bother? Thoughts and personality change on a regular basis. With a diary, how interesting is it (ultimately) to have a record of the sort of person you were many years ago? You are directly related to who that person was – yet they are not you and you are not them.

An ancient Greek named Heraclitus once said that we cannot step into the same river twice. The obvious (and most readily-understood) part of that statement is that the river is constantly changing, with the water around your feet never being the same during a repeat visit. The additional message is that the person entering the stream has also changed. We change from day to day, from second to second, as our neurons flow into different (but related) patterns.

The river changes; as do we.

So I’ve never been a huge advocate of diary-keeping. So what about blogs? Well, blogs don’t just record who we are and what we’re thinking. They can be used to advertise our thoughts amongst a greater audience than any (unpublished) diary was ever meant to. It’s in the outside world, open to all… rather than hidden at the back of our sock drawer.

Lately, I’ve been more and more eager to have a voice that can be advertised – in a forum that is in the control of me, uncensored by anyone but me. So I’ve returned to this wastrel of a blog to do just that.

Let’s see how long I last this time.