Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last Post....

Oh God....cannot believe I have not posted on here for months....but then I should all things considering, not reading a daily paper and all! I have upset some members of a forum (mostly men - what a surprise!) for writing how I talk and ranting. One of them suggested a start a blog cos he did not want to read my 'essays'. I told him I have two, but there were issues that there forum was for that this blog is not, and is not the place I wish to write about them.

I don't know what to say here, because the truth is I have seen little of the news lately, and this was supposed to be a news/journalism blog whereas music and lyrics are more what I do now. I wanted to post my lyrics on the fish out of water blog but I want to sort out copyright issues first, so meanwhile I have been posting videos by artists that have inspired me and the occasional rant about jerks who anger the hell out of me.

People have a reaction to me in that they either hate me or love me - that is my nature. I was bullied at school for being different, and I have made two friends on the mentioned forum, kindred spirits who are good to find because there are not many people like me! Most of those dudes hated me......but thats another story, morning glory hey there!

I have come to accept my madness - the struggle I find now is dealing with it rather than letting madness deal with me, so to speak.

Friends of mine - thank you for your love and support for me through hard times, I am a survivor and I will 'Live Through This' (to quote Courtney Love) as I have lived through the other madness in my crazy life. I lived through a mad childhood, and I had a go at being a politico - I guess I didn't do a bad job but it aint for me. I care about what goes on in the world still, believe in anarchy etc, but I have my reasons for dropping out of left politics and that form of journalism, the reasons for which I shall soon write of in 'Fish out of Water'. I intend to continue with writing as well as music but a different kind of lit, underground semi fiction. Wish me luck that the coming year will be better than the last. Not everyone may agree with all my choices but they are mine.

I've gotten too close to the sun and been burnt, got too far and frozen. I am still here, alive and kicking!

This is the last post I am making on this blog, but fish out of water will stay alive and well like many and any future posts will be on there. Thx for those who have read this so far, and a happy new year to all of you!

See me on FOOW,

Liz xxxxxxx

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sex Workers Rights Under Attack - Sign Petition Today!

Once again the paternal New Labour government (with, of course, it's supporters among do gooder middle class Guardian journos and the rad fems) are proposing a bill to criminalise the purchase of sexual services, putting not only the livelihood but also the safety of sex workers at risk. This lovely idea originates from Sweden - where such a law is in practice and has been for the past few years. It has made the lives of sex workers in that country intolerable. Women have been finding it harder to work indoors due to the 'anti procurement laws' which make it impossible to advertise, and often have no option but to work from the streets. They have to be less choosy about clients, as naturally men with jobs, families etc do not wish to be labelled as sex offenders. Men who are criminally inclined towards sex workers, however, have no such fear. Street prostitution in Sweden has not decreased since the law was introduced, and neither has violence against sex workers. Neither has trafficking or 'white slavery' - a practice that the law was ostensibly designed to help reduce.

Sex workers in Sweden will tell you that the government propaganda (swallowed by the establishment feminists in this country) is based on distortions and outright lies. A far better idea would be to work on the New Zealand model, which totally decriminalises both the selling and purchasing of sexual services.

To voice your opposition to this bill, please sign a petition here.

Here is an article I wrote for the Morning Star paper a few years ago on the New Zealand law, and here is another I wrote back in 2006 opposing the proposed law when it was being pontificated about even then.

Here can be found a useful site with some good articles criticising the law in Sweden and it's awful consequences for the lives of vulnerable women.

From a libertarian standpoint any consensual sexual acts are a private matter and the government should keep the hell out. Whether money is involved or not is irrelevant. Any patronising talk of sex workers being too vulnerable to be able to consent to sex, be it due to substance abuse, financial exploitation or whatever other problems they may face is an insult to the intelligence of women. While it is true that financial pressure applies to women in the sex industry, it is true for any job. I once had a low paid, boring job in an office and I hated it. My boss was financially exploiting me, but I saw no sign of police raiding his office door to put him away. Neither was I told by do gooders that I was 'unable to consent' to typing his letters or answering the phone for him because I was vulnerable. And substances? Hell, £5.50 an hour is barely enough for recreational use of anything, let alone to support an addiction. But being off my face would have made that job a bit more bearable, it just didn't pay enough. But I made sure at least I got drunk over weekends to relieve the boredom of the week.

Rad fems cry crocodile tears over the view of the sex worker as being the epitomy of the suffering of all women at the hands of the brutal male, and they objectify her as much as do the men they claim to despise. Ok, so there may be some rad fems who have been sex workers and have not had a good time. Their voices and views are valid, and I take them more seriously than I do those middle class women who are in no position to speak as they have never worked in that profession. However, the fact that these women have had bad experiences in that profession does not mean they have the right to speak on behalf of all sex workers and universalise their own experiences - or, even worse, try to make their own subjective feelings into law. They don't seem to mind the fact that they are held up as trophies and used by middle class women for political ends. They do not represent all sex workers (or former sex workers) any more than I can say that I have the right to speak on behalf of all low paid office workers, or former ones. Some women may just love working in offices - if so good luck to them, it just aint for me. Not all sex workers see themselves as victims, and to insist that they are unconscious of the fact they are being abused is a patronising and offensive attitude. It sure as hell offends me.

Radical feminists, the Swedish and British establishments, don't really give a damn about the safety or suffering of sex workers. What really outrages them is the offending of their middle class sensibilities. And hell, I love to offend middle class sensibilities and stupid prejudices. And I also despise the pinning of labels onto people - I've had people try to do so with me and have given them a surprise when they find I do not fit into the boxes they assign. Sex workers, of course, are more than just sex workers, they are individuals like anyone and you'll find that their attitudes and feelings about their work vary, as with any profession. Some may dislike what they do, others may enjoy it, and some are in the middle - they may not love what they do but find it preferable to working long and fixed hours for low pay in some factory, shop, or office - due to the fact that the hours are more flexible and the money is better.

Another important thing is not to confuse sexual slavery (forced prostitution) with sex work that is consensual, even if practiced under financial pressure. 'Trafficking' is not about sex work - it is about sexual abuse, rape, and slavery - a different thing. And even that is on shaky ground as the lines can be blurred. The numbers and extent of it are hard to estimate, but it seems to be rarer than the media promotes that women are literally taken off the street and bundled into vans and literally forced at gunpoint in that sense - although I don't deny it does occur, tragically. Or, for that matter, it is unlikely that so many women are so naive as to be blatantly deceived into thinking they will be working as nannies etc. What seems more likely is that they know what kind of work they will be doing but are lied to about pay and conditions, being financially exploited in a severe way. Their bosses do not allow them the liberty of leaving their job, so it does result in what is essentially slavery. But, the establishment would have little sympathy for the women involved if they admitted that they were aware of the nature of the work, so to say one has been forced is an easier way of gaining sympathy and avoiding deportation. And I don't blame them, hell, I'd do the same thing if needed be. Migrant workers of all description are harshly exploited, and the Chinese cockle pickers found dead on Morecambe Bay were working for a gang under bonded labour.

But the main issue is this - wage slavery (A Marxian term used for any kind of work in exchange for money, where a person is free to leave one's job and find another 'free' labour in other words) and slavery or bonded labour (where one is not free to leave and is literally the property of one's master or boss). This applies to the sex industry as much as any other, but the fact that it is underground and semi criminal makes it more liable to financial exploitation and abuse. The unionisation of sex workers is of course a step in the right direction, but adding repressive laws will make things like this harder to do, and leave women more open to the abuse that the government and the rad fems claim to oppose.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sex Workers and Domestic Violence........

Interestingly anonymous posted a comment on the financial issues regarding men and women and possible power imbalances while I was drafting this post.

I have a few words about the financial exploitation of women who sell sex - and it is often the men they live with who take this role.

Not all women who sell sex hook up with violent and abusive men who are financially exploitative. However, some do, it is not uncommon. Perhaps one issue is that not many men would feel comfortable with a partner who has such a job, and women in that profession attract men who are predatory and out for what they can get for that reason. But like any kind of domestic abuse, the tendency of women to put up with such treatment lies partly in a lack of self esteem or self doubt.

But what I don't believe is this - that men who are the partners of sex workers who are abusive (financially, physically, emotionally or otherwise - they can be all of those things) should be jailed for living off 'immoral' earnings. What their partners do for a living is really not the issue - the issue is that they are abusive, end of. They should be treated as any other abusers - if they are to be arrested for anything it should be for assault or extortion - not outdated and vague terms of immorality. Would it be any less 'immoral' if, say, a woman worked in a bank, had an unemployed husband at home who not only hit her but demanded control over their joint account? I think not. He would be arrested for assault - not for being the partner of a bank employee!

Also, there are labels given to male partners of sex workers which are innappropriate and unhelpful. In the old days a 'ponce' was a homosexual male. Now the term is taken to mean a man who is on the take - and is most commonly referred to men on the take from women who sell sex. What link is there here with homosexuality? There is none - unless it is taken for given that a 'real man' is a breadwinner and provider - while a man who stays at home is taking on a feminine role. This is a sexist and outdated term that is used by police as well as being street slang.

Truly if a woman wishes to stay in a relationship where the man does not contribute financially (even exploits her in that way) it is down to her. If she wishes to get out of an abusive relationship she should be given the support to do so - but what is the point in arresting her partner due to what she does for a living? Even if she is being taken for a ride, it is up to her to learn. Demonising her male partner due to her profession is unfair on her as it only ensures she will remain socially stigmatised. He is stigmatised not due to what he is (an abuser) but due to what she does and therefore is perceived as being.

The issue is therefore diverted from the main one (that of domestic abuse) and channelled into the futile debate over the rights and perceived wrongs of her profession.

What women do for a living is irrelevant to whether or not their partners abuse them physically, emotionally, or financially.

Those are my thoughts for the day. Don't know why I got onto that one but financial exploitation of any kind is always an issue, I guess.

Monday, August 24, 2009

About Emotional Abuse

My ex down to a tee - sadly I once believed that the man loved me intensely and believed his lies that the abuse was a sign of his love - that if he didn't love me I would not have 'made him mad'. I know now it was all lies. That is not love.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

Too familiar....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More on Domestic Abuse....

Please don't believe the myth that abusive men 'cannot control their anger'. They can and they do. If they truly could not control it they would lose it with men as well as women. In fact, it is not all women they 'lose it' with - only their partners. They may indeed be angry men, but they are selective and controlled as to who they lose with.

They do not need anger management classes because they can already 'manage' their anger. They are manipulative men, and they express anger in order to control, because they are control freaks. Charm and seduction is another method of control. Abusers are the most romantic men in the beginning, it is only after a time into the relationship that they show their dark side. They only do this when they have already hooked their women. The first explosion can start over something seemingly trivial like a pan of burnt rice, but there is no going back after that point. You will find yourself living with a man who switches from charm to rage in a matter of seconds. You will live in fear of him, he will be your personal jailer. He will be jealous and possessive, persistently calling or texting to ask where you are and who you are with. You will no longer be allowed any opinions of your own, and he will belittle any tastes or opinions you have independent from him. You will be expected to read his mind and he will believe he can read yours. You will only be allowed to think in one way - his. Any shortcomings of his own he will project onto you, rarely himself. 'I'll be Your Mirror' is an apt phrase.

Many women fall into the trap of making excuses for their partners or hoping against all odds that he will change. I know because I have done both. When I was in an abusive relationship and my friends told me how shitty they thought his behaviour was, I would make excuses such as 'he's not well at the moment' or 'he's been stressed' etc. Like all abusive men, he would apologise after a flare up and promise to change his behaviour. He would turn the tears on, a tactic that is not uncommon. I would hope that that time he meant it. He never did. It did not last and he did not change, and his promises to make amends came to nothing. They never do. The next flare up could occur after a matter of hours, even minutes.

Men like this do not change unless they themselves are willing to admit that they have a problem, and they very rarely do.

It came to a point when I realised I could no longer justify his behaviour to myself or anyone else. I realised he was not going to change, and I realised I had to walk away.

The trouble is that many women have low self esteem and are too willing to play the victim. Predatory men pick up on these signals and move accordingly. It is time to realise that nobody deserves to be treated like a piece of dirt. Self esteem is a valuable resource - and, sisters, it may just save your life one day, or at least your sanity.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More deadly than cancer.......

Just upsets me that this state of affairs continues and that there are so many jerks out there who seem to think wife beating is ok.

I used to wonder why people stayed in situations that are abusive, even though I had some idea. Now I know. An unhealthy emotional attachment is a part of it, but it isn't all there is. And it is not masochism, women generally do not enjoy abuse (I wish to knock that myth right on the head!!).

Part of it is fear, it is fear of what the other person may do if you leave. Depends how much of a psycho he is, and a lot of the time you don't want to put it to the test. Fear makes you apologise for things you know not to be your fault, it makes you consent to sex you don't want, it makes you stay in a relationship you are past wanting.

I say this because I've been there, sadly. Thank God I am out, now. But the emotional scars are still there.

Another thing to bear in mind is that physical abuse, while it may create more visable injuries, is not the only kind of violence. There is mental, verbal, mental violence, which is often even harder to cope with - being told everyday that you are stupid, ugly, nothing. The intention of the abuser is to make you feel like a piece of dirt - and eventually you do. It is mind control - repeat something to a person often enough and they will believe that. The aim of these sad man is to put their partners down to bring themselves up, they are deep down sad and sick men.

Now, I realise female on male DV is not unheard of these days, in fact I've written on here about it in the past. But it is a lot rarer. The number of men murdered by their female partners is miniscule compared with the number of women killed by men.

Of course, not all men are abusers. But sadly some still are, and these are the men I am talking about here. These sick men are like miniature dictators - with the large, inflatable egos of any tyrant. Yet however big their egos are, they are fragile. One prick with a pin and they burst, covering who is nearest to them with all the dirty water that lies in the dark recesses of their souls. Hence the blowing into rages over trivial things and their lack of tolerance of any criticism of their behaviour, however mild. Yet they are selective, it is fine for them to batter at their partner's ego because they feel they are entitled to. Because they are men.

Zero tolerance for this kind of sexual facism as I am concerned. Wife beaters are cowards at heart - nine times out of ten they are charming in public and everyone down the local pub says what wonderful guys they are. All the hatred and venom is reserved for their partners. Usually they will back away from a confrontation with a man, because bullies cannot pick on those their own size.

Like any bullies they are sad and small inside, psychologically they feel like dirt so they feel the need to bring someone else down to their level and make them feel like dirt as well. It is time to say no more. Learning to understand it will help stop this problem. This series will be updated.
A good article here:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hello all,

Just to let all my readers know I am alive and well after not writing for a good while due to a few problems, partly concerned with recovering from a turbulent time and finding myself again.

I have to say that while my views are largely the same, a few have been modified due to experience. I am still in favour of the legalisation/decriminalisation of narcotics, left leaning libertarian and all. This site from now on is going to focus on current affairs (when I feel the inclination to comment on them) but there is also a new blog of mine I am starting which is stated on my profile - Fish out of Water. That site will be concerned with my personal musings, along with my music and lyrics. Nothing has been written on there so far but it will be up and running soon. I'll upload a couple of pictures soon too.

All the Best and thanks to my readers from the past, sorry for not having written so long,

Liz xxx

Saturday, May 05, 2007

There is a thing I feel the need to share for the benefit of one of my readers (he'll know who he is). I can now look back at the behaviour of my hosts on that awful trip I had to New Zealand, and, well, just laugh at it. I drew the conclusion a little while ago that the attitudes and behaviour of some people just is not worth getting angry or upset about. All it does is empower them anyway. If people's behaviour is either very strange or very unpleasant in your view the best remedy can be to make light of it. Political Umpire told me that such a day would come and I did not believe it at the time. I do now, even if it is impossible to recall the trip with any fondness due to my personal experiences. I won't say any more about my hosts as they don't know I'm writing this, as far as I know don't care to read this blog so it's not really fair bitching about people online who aren't in a position where they can defend themselves.

What the trip did do was tell me that I could not live in New Zealand for any extended period. It is just way too remote and small population wise for my liking. Christchurch and possibly Auckland I could handle temporarily. But Wellies, or God forbid New Edinburgh? I think I'd rather curl up and, you know the rest. I cannot articulate for why I feel this way exactly. I don't believe that it was just my personal experiences on the trip, I believe there was something which I picked up about the actual places. Wellington with it's green belt of hills felt claustrophobic to me, although the locals felt that was part of the towns beauty. But I don't think it was just that really.

As for Dunedin I recall wondering where the Maori were, and I then heard most had been slaughtered there by the British settlers. I noticed it was a very white town. Who knows, perhaps the place had bad karma? The noticable protestantism and the prominent Queen Victoria statue was also telling. I also dislike the fact that it has been and still is an ongoing tradition in that country of pretending that it does not have a problem with racism.

New Zealanders tend to see themselves as South Pacific Canadian (being to Australia what Canada is to the United States. But I think they are still more English than they care to admit, as one very honest man on the West Coast of the South Island admitted to me. Funnily Dunedin seemed proud of it's Scottish background while the English settlements seemed to wish to shun theirs. It aint cool to be English these days, even in England itself one appears more attractive and exotic if they can claim foreign ancestry. I get told quite often that I appear Eastern European. I believe my grandmother had some Roma in her background so that may have something to do with it. At least I get looked at more often! It seems that the English have a bad reputation and a sense of guilt due to having been blood soaked imperialists.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be unfair on New Zealand. It is a lovely place for scenery, the pace of life is a lot slower and the people are for the most friendly. But I found the national insecurity that often expressed itself in an immature patriotism very grating (don't worry, I find Brit patriotism just as irritating, if not more so). I received a particularly nasty dose of it (combined with an anti English feel) from a girl who had two English parents. New Zealand as a country appeared to believe it had something to prove, probably because it is a young country which has not yet fully developed a full sense of it's own identity, like for instance Canada has, and Australia. This would account for a lot of the anti English sentiment there. There is also some anti American and anti Australian sentiment, but the anti English thing stands out more because it seems a little closer to self hatred. A prejudice seems to exist in that country that the English are lax in matters of personal hygiene. I think this might be due to the tradition of baths in England as opposed to the shower. However, I disliked being at a party when the person right next to me stated that 'English people don't wash' not knowing that I was British until I opened my mouth and said 'Don't they?' in the poshest voice I could speak in. I should have sniffed under my armpits. It also turned out that the person in question was a meat lover and seemed to have a slight distaste for vegetarians (I notice that this attitude is not uncommon among meat eaters of a certain class, i.e those who enjoy their fancy cuisine, I really haven't encountered much of that attitude among the proles, who seem pretty indifferent to the eating habits of others, whether or not they deem dietary preferences strange or not). That is a thing that probably does not matter wherever you go. However, when I left that night one of the guests nearby said it had been nice meeting me. I repeated the courtesy to my bette noir as well as to the person who gave the initial farewell. The result? I was not only ignored but given a dirty look. Perhaps being not only English but a vegetarian too was too much for that individual, who had should I say very Anglo features and if average demographics are anything to go by most likely had grandparents or great grandparents, if not an actual parent, who had grown up in England.

It is small things like that which made much of it seem incongruious, although on an intellectual level I can see the reasons. The country strikes me as being slightly akin to a surly adolescent child of what was the British Empire.
Here is a column from the death row prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal:


(Column written 4/14/07 by Mumia Abu–Jamal)

( With the ending of Don Imus’s radio and TV career has arisen a perverse (if utterly stupid) caterwaul from conservatives, who are (to hear them tell it) newly–born converts of free speech, and equally frenzied adherents of attacks on the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, as if, but for their activism, their pal Imus would still be on the airwaves.

Some have added the oral antics of various rap artists, to somehow prove that Imus was treated unfairly for using equally ugly terms to refer to Black women.

This noise from the fascistic rightwing of American political life is a vital clue into how they see the world, and thus a reflection of how they sell this view to others.

It shows how deeply race dwells in white consciousness, and how it is like an inner searchlight that blinds as much as it illuminates.

These so–called conservatives see Imus as ‘one of us’, and as such they shared his pompous, good ole’ boy, spit–on–the–rabble racism that passes for the norm in the nation: it just so happens that he spat on the wrong group of girls this time.

And neither the Revs. Al nor Jesse starting the ball rolling against Imus, although it may’ve seemed so from TV.

The videotape of Imus went from an almost unseen perch on MSNBC to the net, where it spread like a virus. Nonetheless, bloggers picked it up and passed it on, and the more folks saw it, the more it spread. It became a living thing, nastier and nastier each time it was replayed.

The almost juvenile rant against rappers also fades upon a moment’s reflection; for, while it is undeniable that some of what is said is naked misogyny–a profound hatred of women–it’s obvious that rappers have no where near the social or political clout of Imus.

When’s the last time you’ve seen a rapper kick it with a candidate for U.S. Senator? When’s the last time you’ve heard of a rapper poppin’ some questions to a Mayor–or a Governor?

People who wanted to be president flocked to Imus, like supplicants kissing the ring of a bishop, because he had the daily ear of millions, and his blessings meant votes.

No rapper in America can say the same.

Ultimately, it’s not about power, and precious few rappers have any power. In fact, their ‘bling’ is an attempt to project a power (or wealth) that most of them do not possess.

Sociologist Zine Magubane, of Boston College, made that point in dramatic terms in his article, “Globalization and Gangster Rap: Hip Hop in the Post–Apartheid City” (citing the work of journalist Norman Kelley):

In an insightful article on the political economy of Black music, Norman Kelley describes how the relationship between the six major record firms (Warner, Polygram, MCA, BMG, Sony, and CEMA/UNI) and African–American artists as a ‘postmodern form of colonialism.’ He notes that rap music, although it ‘forms the very foundation of the $12 billion dollar music industry in the United States’, exhibits an history pattern typical of African–American aesthetic products like jazz and blues which, although created largely by Blacks, were under the corporate control of Whites. Black–owned production companies like Uptown Records, Def Jam, and Bad Boy, Kelley explains, ‘do not control a key component of the music–making nexus, namely, distribution.’ For example, the albums produced by Master P’s No Limit Records as well as those by Roc–A–Fella Records (owned by Damon Dash) are distributed by Priority Records. Those produced by Cash Money Records are distributed by Universal, while Sean Combs’ Bad Boy label is distributed by Arista. Thus, although young Black entrepreneurs have ‘been able to swing the balance of power somewhat in their direction, they are still far from having complete dominion (because) in the music business distribution is the final battle ground. Because African–American artists have virtually no control over the domestic distribution of their music, they likewise have no control over international distribution. Thus, white owned and controlled media conglomerates determine which African–American cultural products enter the global arena. (Fr.: Magubane, Z., in: Basu, Dipannita and Sydney J. Lemelle, eds., The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture. (London/Ann Arbor, MI.: Pluto Press, 2006), p. 211.)

Imus was a creature of white corporate and political power, who made millions playing to the smallmindedness of millions, who wanted to snicker at the lot of those worse off than them.

Unless I miss my guess, someone will hire him to do it again.

There’s always a market for that.


I to believe that while the cretin he writes of can say what he likes no radio station is obliged to have him on their airwaves.

A few words about music, though. I must confess that I quite like rap, in spite of (or maybe even partly because of) the violence in some of it's lyrics. Whether it's intention is satire is to me not the point - the point is that it reads as a satire of the excesses of American capitalism. So does the whole 'bling' or 'ghetto' culture, large cars, big gold chains etc. It hence works as an exposure of capitalism by taking it's excesses to the most extreme, with no subtlety whatsoever, and showing us that it is all ultimately fake. The fact that it is an act resulting from a lack of power rather than power gives it a subversive edge.

Now - I do not wish to be accused of being pro guns, violence, sexism and all the rest. I am not. But those who sing about such subjects seem to me to be simply tallking about what they have seen and the conditions they have grown up in, whether they do so critically or not isn't the point. Realism is not obliged to be critical. If people complain about the lyrics in such music I would tend to suggest that they take measures to allieviate poverty and crime. If they did so people would feel less of a need to sing about them and issues related to them. If the music sometimes seems to glorify crime it is only because people have ways of coping with their lives. One way of tolerating conditions that are, on the whole, negative, is learning to put a positive spin on them if not exactly enjoying them.

As for the misogyny of the lyrics - All those unsubtle men are doing is making explicit in a not very subtle way the way that most men, with their distrust of women, feel from time to time. It is no crime to expose what is already implicit in society. I'm not saying that distrust of the opposite sex is unique to men - women no doubt often distrust men as much as the other way round. However, although this is changing men have traditionally held more power in society. Black men who produce rap music perhaps feel this power (i.e over women) is the only power they have, although it is an illusory power. Black women, I have often noticed, can be extremely strong, not exactly downtrodden or oppressed. The women who tend to revel in victim status are those who are white, middle class, and very privileged in comparsion with many of their Black sisters.

As far as rap goes, though, sisters are quite capable of fighting back. Anyone heard Lil Kim, Missy Elliot? I'll end with a pic.....

Monday, April 30, 2007

This explains why the proposed restrictions on underage drinking are purely absurd. The logical conclusion of it would be to employ State inspectors to attend people's houses and have people prosecuted for, umm, putting too much sugar in their cake?

Again the puritans show their nasty police State mentality, calling for State intervention into every aspect of people's lives. It is the same type of logic displayed by do gooders both of the right and the left who support the drug laws and any other piece of legislation which determines what people can and cannot do with their personal time.

Friday, April 27, 2007

While browsing I came across this. Now I have not yet mentioned that I now live in Bournemouth. The reasons for it are a bit drawn out. But it does seem necessary to mention it now it appears relevant politically.

I have noticed, having known the town quite well for a while, that it does appear to have a climate where racists feel relatively welcome. The hostile (and sometimes racist) remarks the journalist received say quite a lot. Bear in mind that the Echo is owned by News West (who also own the Mail, not exactly a bastion of liberalism). She seems to get accused of being a 'wet liberal' simply for writing a straightforward report on the issue. It also appears that she has a point - I can imagine the council would hesitate to allow them there due to fear over the activities of anti fascists, a large proportion of them being communists of some stripe.

I am a believer in freedom of speech and believe the BNP should be entitled to air their views, no matter how obnoxious they may be. I have come to realise that such is the price you pay in a democracy. If you silence one group - the question remains of who will be next. It would not be logical to suppose that those who wish to silence the far right would stop there. There are no doubt some among them who would ideally like the 'no platform' principle applied to anybody who questioned their views, even those from the left as well as from the right.

I was for a time an activist on the far left and did have my reservations about the tactics of 'anti fascism'. I always suspected that it may have had the potential of being the mirror image of what it claimed to oppose. Fascists support the use of force - does this mean I must become like them and get involved in breaking up the meetings? Breaking up the meetings of opponents by force seems to imply that you cannot handle opposition. This is a tool which fascists have in fact used against the left in order to prove it's undemocratic nature. It can be a gift to them.

I believe in counteracting racist propaganda by challenging it. Challenging the BNP by exposing who they are. There is nothing wrong in standing outside a hall with leaflets and banners, but to physically stop a meeting? Count me out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Human Rights Abuses in China.......

Forced abortions appear to still be continuing in China. No matter what you think about abortion you must agree that this is a travesty of human rights and of reproductive freedom. Please help draw attention to the issue by circulating this story.

A far too sympathetic obituary of the late Boris Yeltsin. The Western media tend to be soft on Yeltsin due to the fact he helped end the communist tyranny. All he did however, was replace one form of dictatorship with another. This man was no democrat.

In 1993 Yeltsin sent tanks against parliament when it disagreed with him. There is little evidence to prove his re-election was fair. He brutally crushed the drive for independence Chechnya. Putin's war in the region is a mere extension of Yeltsin's prior policy there.

Putin, who is often criticised by the West, was Yeltsin's appointed sucessor. The system seen today in Russia is Yeltsin's system.

Yeltsin's shock therapy of the early 1990s consigned many Russians to lives of unemployment, hunger, homelessness and despair. Freedom of speech means relatively little to those who have no food or no home. And besides, how deep goes freedom of speech in Russia?

Putin long ago passed anti trade union laws (i.e a curb on the right of the masses to democratically self organise for their own einterests). Journalists are afraid to speak their minds lest they um, get killed. The State controls a very large proportion of the media. What kind of democracy is this?

Monday, April 16, 2007

God, I have not updated this blog in ages - partly because I have been too busy, secondly because I have only just recently re-acquirred a reliable internet connection.

Meanwhile I saw this in relation to the topic of blogging. Some may put the guy's dislike of the medium down to the snobbery of the professional elite towards the amateurs, although he does point out the fact that many professional journalists do also have blogs. He does make a few very valid points though on the nature of much online debating. Much of it is little more substantial than the antics of a playground, and you even find the same kind of hierarchy developing on many boards - i.e the cliques, the bullies, the losers who are their victims and the cool and popular. The Graun's own talkboard, Unlimited Talk, is very much of this nature. If anything it was the most unfriendly and hostile site I had ever come accross. But perhaps much of that is due to the nature of internet debate itself. The fact that being behind a computer screen enables one to say things they would not have the audacity to say to somebody in person leaves plenty of scope for abuse. This makes the internet an ideal refuge for immature cowards and bullies. People tend to be less likely to monitor and think over comments they make online than they would be with a more traditional debating forum, so the nature of the comments is far more likely to be flippant. What tends to annoy me more than anything is the way that people tend to make dogmatic statements without thinking them over properly.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Two Controversies Surrounding the Issue of Racism


Most people agree that racism is wrong. More under debate is the issue of what constitutes it.

Does, for example, voicing the view that there are too many immigrants in Britain amount to racism? Some may hold that it does. I would dispute this and say it depends on what one's motivations are. If it is a question of wishing to preserve 'racial purity' or something along those lines then there can be little doubt. If, on the other hand, it is due to worries over Britain being 'overcrowded' or the potential costs of immigration then I would not call this in and of itself racist. I believe it is possible to hold this view without necessarily discriminating inherently against people of a different race or culture, or believing that people of certain ethnicities are inferior in whatever area you wish to attribute. Although it may of course lead to propping up or giving ammunition to people who do hold racist views. I for one do not hold such views and have no objection to immigration, I believe it can often bring benefits. But by simply writing off all those who disagree with me as being racist I will not do my own argument any favour; it will simply be intellectual laziness and a disingenuous method of arguing.

This issue was brought to the news last week, the story being outlined here. I understand why 'Star' wished to raise attention to the matter. What I am suspicious of is the demand for Oxford to fire Coleman, which Oxford has said it will not do anyway. I go along with the freedom of speech argument. Academic institutions should be places where any views should be open for discussion and argument. If a view is simply not credible it will not be taken seriously. Take David Irving, the holocaust denier in jail in Austria. Despite the fact that his persecution by the authorities played into his hands as it enabled him to play the victim and be a martyr for the far right, nobody save for a few groupies took his ideas seriously. The fact that 6 million Jews did die in the holocaust has been established as a historical fact, and no credible historian would claim otherwise.

On the other hand it is possible to debate on the benefits of immigration. It is one thing argue that migrants should be welcome on humanitarian grounds, another argument to say that they bring economic benefit to the country at large. It would appear that the jury is still out on the issue.

Coleman has not, to anyone’s knowledge, been putting forward his own views as being those of Oxford. Star argued that advertising his appearances at the Migrant Watch events as being ‘David Coleman, Professor of Demographics, Oxford University’, would be using his status and the name of Oxford to give the organisation academic ‘credibility’. Hmmm. Whether they like it or not, Coleman’s position and his subject matter do give him some qualification to speak on related matters, whether or not you agree with the conclusions he draws.

At a university students are able to disagree with and to challenge the views of an academic when they wish. In fact, education is supposed to facilitate critical thinking in individuals.

The Head Office of Star stopped the campaign in the end, and have distanced themselves from their Oxford branch. This could well be due to the fact that they are publicly funded.

Meanwhile, is Coleman actually a racist? Not having attended any of his lectures nor read his papers I cannot say for certain. However, I looked online and found nothing that looked heavily incriminating in that direction. Yes, he is the co-founder of Migration Watch (see here). The titles of some his papers seem to indicate that he argues from a Malthusian standpoint (i.e. that overpopulation causes poverty and other social ills). Racists can seize upon this view, and it does tend to blame the poor for their problems, rather than focusing on inequality and exploitation, prime causes of poverty. Malthusianism was sometimes tied in with eugenics early last century.

But it is not necessarily racist in and of itself, although it is very easy to use it for such ends. Some people’s views of what constitutes racism are clearly broader than others.


Secondly there was the Mercer affair. Patrick Mercer had made some comments that were insensitive, especially in the current climate. But they did contain an element of truth – namely that the army is a place in which bullying is common. He stated that soldiers with ginger hair were also subject to bullying, which he interestingly claimed was more severe.

Now I don’t wish to claim that the bullying of ginger haired people is the same as racism. It does not have the same historical significance or context. Gingers have not been sold into slavery, deported, been victimised by imperialism or sent into concentration camps. This is partly what makes race such a sensitive issue. Having said that, though, I do not believe that the bullying of ginger haired people is acceptable. Indeed there are wider issues of bullying concerned. Race can simply be a pretext for bullying. Then again, there are wider factors surrounding racism, it is not a simple discrimination along grounds of appearance in the form of one's skin colour, or the way one dresses, what food they eat etc.

Another factor is scapegoating – finding an ‘out group’ then blaming them for your own grievances and for social ill in general, attributing to them traits you find repellent or are afraid of in yourself (also known as projection). I have no idea where the anti ginger tendency originated from – but one thing it does have in common with racism may be fear of ‘the other’ – an irrational fear of anybody who looks different or who is different in other ways (having ginger hair is less common than say, blonde or brown hair).

I blogged on the Celebrity Big Brother issue at around the time of the incident. While there was racism involved in the treatment of Shilpa Shetty this was far from the only or even the primary factor. Shetty was different from the others in ways besides race – she was smarter and more successful than they, for instance, and not on their wavelength. Much of the bullying seemed down to jealousy, along with the fact she was not one of them.

What focusing on the race issue seems to do is mask the wider issue of bullying. The question can reasonably be asked as to why it is deemed unacceptable to call somebody a Black c*** but not a ginger c***. And you will come to the stark truth that there are all manner of insults and bullying remarks. Yet you cannot pass a law as to make anti ginger insults illegal, as where would you stop? It would be impossible to make every form of insult a crime, even if they are designed to provoke hatred towards an individual. This is why legislation cannot solve the race issue. To forbid people voicing a sentiment will not cure them of it. At the most it will simply let it fester while driving it underground. The far right are fond of claiming victimhood by stating that they are being persecuted.

The wider issues surrounding bullying deserve some investigation. The State has a tendency to fetishise race. But in order to fight racism we should first understand what it is and what it is not. Arguing for censorship or other measures to extend the arm of the State does no favours. Neither does belittling racism by simply using it as an insult and/or a way of attempting to discredit somebody. It will get to the stage where people are frightened of even raising certain issues lest they offend someone. People may rather remain silent rather then suffering the insults of racist, sexist, homophobe etc.

It probably goes without saying that I do not believe Mercer should have been sacked. His remarks were careless but I by no means consider him to be a racist and neither should any other reasonable person.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

"The Great Global Warming Swindle"

I have no scientific qualifications and I have little knowledge about the science surrounding global warming. Unfortunately I did not see the offending television programme on Thursday either. This article, however, does raise some interesting points. Despite my disagreement with many of their views I have always quite liked 'Spiked'. I tend to go with them on their 'culture of fear' arguments (how the media has a tendency to scaremonger).

It does pose the question: Why are those without scientific qualifications allowed to write about climate change or contribute to the discussion only if they agree with the accepted theory? The scientific world, as always, has it's dissenting and minority views. Although it is hard to believe that Spiked had nothing to do with the programme as they claim, the questions the article poses are nonetheless valid.
George Monbiot and his pals at the Graun put it down to a sinister conspiracy theory, and so do other environmentalists. I believe it os not so simple, and until I see the evidence of both sides and understand the science behind it better than I currently do I shall not adhere rigidly to either side. Yet man made global warming appears to have become the established truth in the current climate. Only a maverick loon or somebody in the pay of big business would doubt this allegedly incontrovertible 'truth'. Why do the media (and for their part, the majority in the scientific community) wish to shut down debate and discredit those who dissent? If one was to claim the Earth is flat they would simply not be taken seriously, as the proof that it is a sphere is taken for granted today.
Global warming perhaps only provokes such feeling because the proof is not so irrevocable as that.

Red Maria posted on this matter herself and I thank her for alerting me on it. Something which I find extremely irritating about the Green movement is the sanctomoniousness and self righteousness displayed by some of it's adherents and promoters. George Monbiot most readily springs to my mind, and so do some of the other Graunistas. Bear in mind that they have no more scientific credibility or expertise than the people they like to discredit. They fail the test themselves, so by their own standards would fall short of the qualifications they demand from the dissenters. They hold the dissenting scientists to be part of a big capitalist conspiracy, which doesn't wash.

Sensationalism sells newspapers. There is always something we should be very afriad of. People should be scared, so silence the dissenters as to better sell this package. Silencing debate is not going to save the planet. Looking at the issue from a less impassioned and calmer standpoint would surely be far more productive in the way of finding solutions as to dealing with potential problems? But no, people must be made to feel guilty. They must be scared so as to make them act.

It seems like a cause like that gives some people a sense of moral righteousness. Perhaps it is an attempt of the middle classes to gain credibility and assuage their liberal guilt. Case in point: A television clip showed a queue of cars outside a recycling unit, causing more pollution than dispensing of their rubbish in the normal manner would have done. Being 'green' is an easy thing for someone to hold up as proof they are kind and caring people, and to hold themselves above those who are wasteful. So easy to moralise about and install guilt into others.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

House of Lords....

I was very surprised to hear about the majority of MPs last night voting for a wholly elected second chamber. It rather took me aback. It must partly be due to the cash for honours scandal, which lost the chamber any shreds of credibility it still possessed. Blair had simply been replacing hereditary peers with his own cronies.

I support this move in principal. I can't think who would defend the House of Lords as it is presently constituted, as it is undemocratic by it's very nature. Then again I do believe in the need for some kind of a second chamber. Giving the commons all the power would not do, as something is needed to keep the government in check. It would result in too much concentration of power.

The issue is on how a second chamber is going to run as not to resemble a mirror image of the commons. It should be somewhat different in it's composition. If it is to be directly elected then a large number of independents (not affiliated to any political party) should be given room to stand, along with some from smaller parties that would benefit from proportional representation. Voting reform should be another thing on the agenda, another issue that has been delayed for years. Most candidates for the second chamber should be people with a track record in a profession such as law or academia, or another field that does the public a service such as medicine or the trade unions. Spokespeople from religious organisations should be allowed to stand but their numbers should of course be limited. A wholly elected second chamber should mean that the Anglican bishops do not automatically get a seat, especially when it is not even the majority faith among those who are religious. How the candidates are to be selected is another issue, as is when the elections would take place. They should be held at a different time from the commons vote, by all account.

It is worthwhile to bear in mind that this is not yet cut and dried. There may well be opposition, not just from the Lords but by rebel MPs. It may end with something of a compromise, such as 20% appointed and 80% elected.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

This has really made me angry. Yet it is so typical of this government to stifle the media when it is it's own interests. But they will only look worse for doing so.

This country has a government riddled with corruption. It's authoritarian social policies (i.e I.D cards, detention without trial), along with cronyism and now media censorship make it look less like a democracy but far more like a corrupt dictatorship. Taking one look at the opulence displayed by the Blairs says quite a lot.

I, for one, won't be too sorry to see them go. I somehow doubt the Tories could be very much worse. The results of what little good this government has done don't stand up to very much. The harm seems to outweigh any good that has been achieved.
'Education, Education'

When my parents were at school high hopes were put into the prospects of comprehensive education. It had been noticed that there had been a high socio-economic gap between the children attending grammer schools and those in secondary moderns. Comprehensive schools, it was hoped, would alleviate this. Education would no longer discriminate, and all children from all classes and all abilities would be given equal opportunites.

Alas, it was not to be. What we have instead is a new form of two tier education. Well performing state schools look more like grammer schools with their large intake of children from middle class backgrounds, while those not born in such fortunate circumstances tend to be segregated in what look like badly run secondary moderns.
The government could not afford to ignore this problem, but their proposed measures seem to be doing little to change it.

The rhetoric of parental choice did nothing to address the issues surrounding children in those 'failing' schools, as what kind of parent would 'choose' to send their children to a badly performing school? In reality there is no substance behind the rhetoric, save for appealing to the consumerist tendencies of the class it seeked to impress.

I understand parents wanting the best for their children. But the very idea of professing to believe in a religion you do not truly believe in in order to get your child into the right school is abhorrent to me. And what do you tell the child in question when you are taking him and her to the services? Do you lie and tell them you believe everything they are taught in catechism/Sunday school is all true? Or do you tell the truth and say you don't believe it but you are putting them through it for their education? Either way you would be a fraud.

Segregation in schools by class is not easy to tackle. The poor don't have the same choices that the more prosperous have. A school in a wealthy suburb is likely to be high on the league tables, which is not the case for a school in a run down area of the inner city. Knowing the system the middle classes can move to the right catchment areas, guaranteeing their child a place. Besides the fact that they may not know how to work the system so well, poor families have fewer options on where they live anyway. A sought after school is likely to drive property prices in the surrounding area up.

I don't see the idea of poorly performing schools taking on a quota of middle class children as being workable. Their parents simply will not have it. Yet perhaps hihg performers being forced to accept a quota of children from lower socio economic backgrounds/lower achievement record may just be workable.

Poorer children do not tend to underachieve because they are stupid, it is due to a myriad of factors. Culture is one issue. Poorer children may have fewer aspirations, for one thing. If you know the result may well be a dead end job or welfare as you see your parents and their peers then there would seem little motivation. The exceptional may pull themselves out of this but not everyone is exceptional. Somebody born in the right circumstances may do very well, while go with the flow if they were not so fortunate. Doing well when you are in a run school where studiousness is frowned upon by your peers, and your parents don't have a computer or a range of books on their shelf requires much harder effort.

Singling out failing schools and 'naming and shaming' them was an unpleasant measure which the already stressed teachers could have done without. Rather those schools could be given extra help and facilities. A few of the city academies seemed to have worked out well, while others have not been so fortunate.

It is very sad to still see this problem in the 21st century. It certainly shows we are not 'all middle class now', and it brings shame on the UK for being one of the most unequal societies in the West. It is needless to say that educational segregation, whether or not it is a deliberate policy, further obstructs social mobility.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Stars Down to Earth.....

The spare (and rather old) pc I have been temporarily using is near it's dying day. Hopefully I should have a new one by the weekend (fingers crossed). My own phase of depression right now has stopped me also from keeping abreast with the current affairs as I do normally. Hence my recent absence from the blogosphere in general. But while this pc may be dying I can assure you all that I am still alive and so will this blog be. I will soon update my links as to include Ms Melancholy's interesting blog among them, and Elle's too.

Something I have found worthy of blogging about - I have been reading a curious essay by Theodore Adorno, a philosopher who was involved in what was known as the 'Frankfurt School'. It is the first time I have given him a shot. It is not easy reading but nonetheless it is worth persevering with. The name of the essay is 'The Stars Down to Earth' - it is an indictment of astrology. I intend also to read 'The Culture Industry' when I get the chance.

'The Stars Down to Earth' has made me think. While I have never presumed to take astrological columns seriously I have regarded them as mostly being for their part harmless. I have thought twice after reading that.

As far as Adorno was concerned their insidiousness lied partly in the fact that nobody really professes to read them for anything other than a bit of fun. He compares their sense of unseriousness with some of the exagerration involved in some fascist propaganda. However, if the columns had no psychological appeal they would not be so widely read. He points to the fact that their 'predictions' usually say nothing or at least very little about the source from where their supposed authority derives. There is also the irrational belief that astrology not only can predict what may happen in our day and how our time should be used but can also tell us about our respective personalities.

What the newspaper and magazine columns promote is a very bland form of social conformity. They both condescend to and similtaneously flatter their readers. The intended audience is comprised of what Adorno termed the 'semi erudite', or the lower middle classes. The columns address their audience as though their actions are far more important to the scheme of the system than they actually are.

The status quo is taken for granted, and the readers are advised (no matter what their date of birth) to roll along with it so that things run smoothly. Work and pleasure must be kept strictly seperate and one may never intrude upon the other. Hence work must remain pure drudgery while no seriousness should intrude on leisure, making it in effect rather empty. This is one of the legacies of the protestant work ethic and the effects of industrialisation and a technological society, bringing in work which is largely monotonous, tedious and even pointless a lot of the time.

The stars are an external authority that cannot be challenged. The only control the believer has over his or her fate is to behave according to the advice of the experts so that disaster may be averted and they may prosper in the system which is taken as pre-ordained. The columns give the illusion that the reader is in control while at the same time promoting obedience to a higher authority which is as impersonal as the social system itself.

The appeal of these superstitions is largely down to people losing what was their animistic attachment with nature (dependence on the will of the gods and the seasons, etc) while not yet developing the maturity to be able to think with complete independence and rationality. Hence the contradiction with modern superstition. Astrology columns are also unique in the sense that they find their circulation via mass media, there is no direct contact with the witch doctor or shaman. Hence Adorno's description of them as being a 'secondary' rather than a primary superstition. They do not fulfill the function of religion yet they are a small daily dose of comfort rather like a soap opera.

I will not go too far in debunking astrology myself - but I have long been amazed at the unquestioning faith displayed by believers. By modern calculations there should not be 12 but 13 signs of the zodiac. Everybody's sun sign by traditional standards would therefore be wrong as it would be one month ahead. Hence I would not be Pisces but Aquarius, the preceeding sign. Yet the 'experts' have ignored this and so do their followers when it is pointed out to them. See: here and here.

I have a friend who bores me endlessly with her astro babble. Every quirk in a persons' behaviour is, according to her, down to when they were born. Despite my protests that I am not a believer she still works on the assumption that I am or must be deep down as who can deny what is to her the ultimate truth? My mother is also a believer and I recall having that nonsense rammed down my throat even as a child. I tire of men using astrology as a chat up line on me, working on the assumption that all women believe in astrology. Unfortunately more women do seem to go for this than do men, and I don't have the time in this post to explore the reasons why. Perhaps it is partly due to the fact women have been more likely to be in a subordinate or dependent position. People who are or have been oppressed in a particular way may be more inclined to look for certainties, when they themselves have little control over their lives. This, for Adorno, was one explanation for the general appeal of astrology. Also it offers a sense of comfort to a weak ego or a low sense of self worth. Whatever one's educational level or place in the hierarchy they can still find themselves 'in the know' via possessing knowledge not shared by the ignorant or uninitiated.

The only grain of truth this superstition may have is the simple law of gravity. The phases of the moon do affect women's menstrual cycles and it has been speculated that it may affect our moods too (both sexes). Maybe the location of other bodies can have some impact on our bodily chemistry and our minds, but this is by no means a scientific fact but a mere speculation. And it gives me no reason whatsoever to treat an entire superstititon with no scientific basis or rationality at all as though it were fact. There is far more sense behind traditional religion as while unproven the existence of a creator may be a philosophical possibility. Not astrology, though.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

UK Worst Place for Kids....

This story has distressed me for several reasons. It serves to remind me of why I have strong doubts about bringing children into this world for one thing. Living in a non child friendly country like Britain does not help.

Like most people I can only speculate on the reasons for it. The individualism of the 1980s with it's economic restructuring went a long way towards breaking down community ties and led to a greater degree of social atomisation, for one thing. The Scandinavian countries with their strong Welfare States seem not to have so much of a problem with their youth, and neither do countries where family ties remain strong.

Alongside this goes the long work hours culture of Britain. Most two parent families these days have little choice but for both parents to work, often full time, and this results in them not being able to spend as much time with their children as is ideally needed for their growth. The State is still trying to grasp an idea of flexible working hours and a family friendly workplace but much of it remains hot air. A rush to make profits now appears not to make for good investment in the future - children of course being the future.

It is little wonder that the birth rate is declining as the incentives for having children are highly neglible in the UK. But something will have to be done to reverse this trend if the government do not want to struggle with an ageing population with not enough people of working age to support them.

Aside from the obvious things which spring to mind such as flexible working, better welfare for poor families and children, accessible child care etc we could also do with treating our children as human beings in their own right, not as mere extensions of ourselves. A child friendly society recognises children's needs and accepts them as part of that society. We have a long way to go. The constant demonisation youth receive in the media is a big part of this problem.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

I have a working pc once again at home so I should be back in circuit. It has not only been that inconvenience which has kept me away but a slight lack of motivation for writing. Not having a pc always to hand does not really help with a case of writer's block (for want of anything better to call it).

But I shall get myself back in gear by beginning my musings once more, starting with a controversial subject (as is my nature!).

What dominated the news when I returned from my disaster of a trip was the issue surrounding Catholic adoption agencies and gay adoption. It may be a bit old now but the issue has had me thinking.

To be blunt I have been wondering what the big fuss is really all about. To begin with it strikes me as unlikely that a gay couple would use a Catholic adoption agency to anyway. If it is the issue of public money being spent then a clause could have easily been added that obliged the respective organisations to refer the hypothetical couples elsewhere in the unlikely scenario in which they were approached. Who would be hurt by this, really? But as always this has brought out the usual chorus of Catholic bashers in the form of militant secularists and intolerant liberals.

Now it may be argued that an exemption on religious grounds could set a dangerous precedent. It could be speculated, for instance, that a Muslim restaurant could refuse to serve Hindus, or vice versa. Or that religious hoteliers of any persuasion could refuse to admit gay couples. However, accessing a public service such as a hotel or restaurant is not the same thing as adopting a child. It raises a different set of issues.

However, setting an exemption clause for religious organisations alone on this matter raises other problems. For instance, an organisation could conceivably object to gay adoption on non religious grounds - merely on a traditionalist belief that a child needs both a father and a mother. Why should such a secular group have to comply while religious groups have an opt out clause?

Surely a simple solution would have been to allow it to be a matter of conscience.
A simple clause that obliged organisations which objected to refer potential adopters to other organisatons which would be able to help them would have seemed a fair enough compromise. There would of course have been some people on either side of the spectrum who this would not have sufficed for but you cannot please everyone. Most reasonable people understand that in life there will come situations where one must compromise.

Despite the commonly held liberal orthodoxy I do not feel that objecting to gay adoption on the belief that children need both a father and a mother amounts to homophobia or even discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Ask me honestly if I think a child would be better off in a traditional family set up and I will give the honest answer that I simply do not know. Who can say in all seriousness that they do? There have not been enough case studies to find out and it may be unlikely that there ever will be.

The closest parallel I can think of is the opt out clause doctors and other medical staff have been given in regards to performing abortions. 'Pro choice' extremists have sometimes opposed this, voicing the ludicrous idea that it amounts to a form of discrimination. This idea is ludicrous simply because refusing to perform an operation because it is against your ethical code is not the same thing as refusing to treat somebody on the grounds of their colour.

Enforcing by law adoption agencies to serve gay couples may indeed set a dangerous precedent. It may well encourage people like those described above to be bolder in demanding that abortion be recognised as a legal right. If this was to be the case then the right to opt out could become a thing of the past. Doctors who refused to participate could find themselves struck off on the grounds that they would be refusing patients what is their legal right. Or people with ethics not unlike my own would cease to enter the profession in the first place. Catholics and Muslims would in effect be barred from the practice.

Such a framework is not what amounts to tolerance. Paradoxically it is an authoritarian form of liberalism that is unable to accept that not everyone shares it's value system. It is willing to use the force of the State to ensure that everybody does share it at least in practice. Whether or not they really do in their hearts is secondary - why use a carrot when the stick suffices to do the job?

Using the might of the State does nothing to shift people's basic value systems. All this will result in will be Catholic adoption agencies shutting up shop, organisations which by all other means have provided a good service over the years. What it will not do is change the view of the church towards homosexuality. A view that for the record I will say that I would like to see change. But I certainly do not believe that this is the way to change it. If anything it has merely created more pain and tension with the gay and Catholic communities (leaving aside gay Catholics for the moment, who I would suspect don't like being once more in the middle of this). I for one would not like being pitted against my own organisation by an agressive and intolerant 'liberal' State.