Friday, May 29, 2009

Child abuse report

Speechless and in tears - after watching this.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More Double Standards?

Melanie Phillips draws our attention to the suffering of civilians under Sri Lankan bombardment. "Hospitals have been repeatedly shelled. Thousands of civilians have been trapped and unknown numbers have died. The BBC says more than 70,000 people have been killed in this conflict, while the United Nations says it thinks 265,000 people have been displaced."

"Sure, there are some protests. But where are the calls by academics or trade unions to boycott Sri Lanka? Where are the denunciations of Sri Lankan ‘atrocities’ by the bishops and archbishops of the Church of England? Where are the passionate and emotive TV documentaries about the plight of the Tamils, the one-sided grillings of the Sri Lankans on the Today programme, the front page splashes and multi-part newspaper features on the Sri Lankans’ supposed breaches of international law, the NGOs’ appeals for humanitarian aid for the besieged Tamils, the attempts by human rights lawyers to prosecute Sri Lanka’s military for ‘war crimes’? No, all these things are reserved instead for Israel, which has demonstrably gone out of its way to avoid civilian casualties as far as humanly possible and yet upon whose imagined crimes against humanity the western intelligentsia – which has barely bestirred itself over the Tamils -- obsessively dwells."

At Further Expense

The British people have been scapegoating Parliament because of members on the fiddle. Now MPs are piling all the blame on their Speaker.

As Oscar Wilde opined, 'Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.' We don't like MPs. We don't understand or appreciate what they do, or benefit from it ourselves in any immediate or obvious way.

We have a problem here but it's not about lying and cheating, because we all do that, especially when we can get away with it.

A letter in yesterday's Times proposed a moral audit of the whole nation. Must have been a Rabbi.

Monday, May 18, 2009

At Enormous Expense

I seem to be one of the few people who sees the current outcry against Members of Parliament as just another case of what Thomas Macauley termed the ridiculous sight of 'the British public in one of its periodic fits of morality'.

The proposition that these particular culprits are untypical of the rest of our society at work and play is the most nauseating nonsense. How many of us, for instance, would turn down an offer of workmanship done well, efficiently, cheaply, quickly, paid for cash-in-hand, no questions asked, at known expense to the public purse through non-declaration and thus non-payment of Income Tax and, probably, VAT? This is cheating - just as much as wrongly claiming state benefits. But I do not know anyone who hasn't done it and wouldn't do it - even my friend who happens to be a retired police officer.

Who wouldn't, in claiming expenses from an employer or estimating expenses to set against their earnings for tax purposes, give themselves the benefit of the doubt, generously if permitted?

Church spokesmen, unable to resist, have of course jumped on the bandwagon of moral condemnation. Like most others they have forgotten how easily and unhealthily we project our shortcomings onto others and make scapegoats of easily definable groups. Worst of all they have forgotten their own scriptures which warn against human greed, against casting stones at other sinners, against moral sadism in all its forms.

Let's hope that there are not individuals and groups with malicious intent waiting in the wings to exploit for their own nefarious ends our collective, sanctimonious indignation.

From Harry's Place

Surely the BNP hopes to gain votes from people who are very keen to “support our troops”.

Well, I support the troops. People like Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, for example.

Grenada-born L/Cpl Beharry was honoured in 2005 after twice saving lives under enemy fire. He became the Army’s most high-profile war hero when he received the VC for “repeated extreme gallantry and unquestioned valour” for the two rescues in May and June 2004 “despite a harrowing weight of incoming fire”.

He was at the head of a five-vehicle convoy when it came under attack in the town of al-Amarah on 1 May 2004. He guided the column through a mile of enemy ground to drop off wounded comrades at great risk to his own safety, his citation said.

Weeks later, his vehicle was hit by an rocket-propelled grenade round. Despite receiving horrific head injuries, he drove out of the ambush and again saved his crew.

The BNP is unimpressed.

The BNP, led by Nick Griffin, called Johnson Beharry “an immigrant” and claimed his heroics, which saved the lives of 30 fellow soldiers, were simply “routine”.

On its website the far-right political party states that Lance Corporal Beharry only received Britain’s top military honour because of “positive discrimination by the PC-mad government”.

It comes just days after the party held an Armed Forces Awareness Day to try to portray themselves as “the only party that supports our troops”.

Whatever their views on wars and politics, in March many people were horrified by the hateful Islamist protest against soldiers in Luton.

This racist belittling of bravery by BNP scum is no better than that.

Anyone who really does support British troops should never vote for the BNP.

NPG 6803, Johnson Gideon Beharry

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Blog or Twitter?

Not sure which way to go.

Quite like short, not necessarily grammatical, notes with hyperlinks.

Went to a lecture Thursday night at Manchester Cathedral. Michael Schmidt, Professor of Poetry. Not the best lecture so far. I was left feeling not very clever, certainly not as clever as the speaker, and afterwards not much wiser. Especially horrified by the way he praised Rowan Williams' initiative on Sharia Law, one of the few things I think he has, as Abp of C, got catastrophically wrong.

Disturbing account in the Church Times of how serious religious violence in Nigeria is being ignored. Might cause the Abp to have second thoughts.

Carol Ann Duffy's appointment as Poet Laureate has been widely welcomed. In the past her lesbian stance might have prevented it, but, as she says, “I think we’ve all grown up a lot over the past ten years. Sexuality is now celebrated. It is a lovely, ordinary, normal thing.”

There's probably a philosophical label for this but I'm struck by how much trouble we make for ourselves by using nouns rather than verbs. Two have just occurred to me - depressive and failure. To be either a depressive or a failure is to be stuck in or with something, something you have to be cured of or delivered from. To be depressed sometimes, or to fail, is part of being human and of itself no big deal. I think, for example, the political left have wrongly judged that failing makes you a failure, and diminishes your worth as an individual, something you must be protected from, by state intervention if necessary. Is this the "all must have prizes" philosophy?