Saturday, 31 October 2015

At Last People Are Waking Up To The Tactics Of The New Puritans

It is a shame anything involving Germaine Greer and her vile comments about transgender people seems to have helped bring some sanity back to the world of political commentary. As we have seen there has been a new puritan spirit rising across the nation as politicians try to ban/filter porn, suppress sex workers freedoms and ban some magazines. And it isn't just in those sort of initiatives one can see it... there's a creeping sense of conformity drifting back across various aspects of our lives. Just look at the adulation given to same-sex married couples and their kids on the gay news outlets for an example of this (having children isn't exactly pioneering, my other half has 4).

Anyway. After some students sought to ban Germaine Greer from giving a talk at a university because, well let's be frank, she's a really horrible person there finally seems to be a few more voices rising up to defend free speech (even if its hers). Ironically many of these voices are ones who didn't stand up against porn blocks or other infringements of our freedoms, but hey the number of Labourites standing up for marriage equality prior to 2010 could be counted on one hand. These things change gradually. Referring to the neo-progressives as a cult is pretty much on the nose except I don't really like the word cult. One person's cult, is another person's religion. Certainly neo-progressives, with their love of woo and hatred of the atheist movement, share much with the religious.

Howard Jacobson has also got the measure of the latest type of prude.

Our country is in a censorious mood. The more educated we are, the less we are prepared to tolerate views contrary to our own. Shake any institution of higher learning and a dozen boycotters will fall out of it. If the academic community gets its way, we will soon all be speaking with a single voice.
Others are also getting a sense of just how far things have already gone. In universities the students are cleansing their courses of anything that might offend.

Using tactics like trying to get someone fired to silence them (then getting upset that their own businesses might get hurt in the blowback), we are seeing the real "morality" these puritans are preaching.

But more are starting to stand against the shaming.

Nick Cohen says it all here.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Escalating Criminalisation Of Youthful Sexuality

Last year I expressed concern that Stonewall's advise to teachers and parents would lead to kids being criminalised for expressing themselves sexually. That concern appears very well placed given the latest news that a 14 year old boy sending a sext to a girl (who then appears to have engaged in some revenge porning against him by sharing it around the school) has had his actions recorded as a crime with some serious consequences for his future.

Kids do stupid things. Kids do stupid sexual things. Kids really are dumb. And the job of adults is not to criminalise their minor indiscretions but to counsel and point them in a better direction.

Did I do stupid things as a teenage? TONS. Did I do stupid sexual things? Hell yes (and I don't regret one of them!). I came out the other side alright.

It is time adults stopped outsourcing their responsibility of care for children to the police and instead stood up and became the role models this kids deserve.

It is disgusting that our society is criminalising children who are just discovering their sexuality rather than giving them guidance.

Shame on the adults involved in this case.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Experience Of Watching Ray Comfort's Latest Movie "Audacity"

Like Tim Farron, Ray Comfort believes homosexuality is a sin (equal to stealing, adultery and "fornication"). His latest movie "Audacity" is dedicated to the subject of witnessing to homosexuals. It makes for some uncomfortable viewing.

Uncomfortable mainly because of Ray Comfort's excruciating "gotcha" footage where he wanders up to people in the street and leads them off down the garden path.

Just like watching this video of Richard Dawkins destroying an ill-prepared Brandon Flowers (I love Dawkins but seeing him up against Flowers is as uncomfortable as watching a lorry drive over a rabbit), Comfort bamboozles these unprepared people by playing with words.

For instance he gets them to say whether they think homosexuals are "born that way". If they agree he then asks if they think adulterers are "born that way". This is draw a comparison between betraying the trust of someone you love and loving someone of the same sex. Like deers in headlights they are taken aback by this "logic". Yet Comfort's belief that these two things are both equally sinful is based solely on scripture whereas adultery and homosexuality are facets of human existence that have extremely complicated genetic, social and psychological causes and explanations that require a lot more discussion than just a "gotcha" attempt at conversion.

And his question "Are you a good person?" seems to bring out the worse in people. Who on Earth just says "Yes" or "I think I am"? All of us know we are in some way flawed (and no I'm not suggesting we're all sinners but that we could all be better people), the only way I could ever answer that question is "I try every day to be better". He then uses their silly answer to tell them they are sinners and they need to repent. It is like watching a cat play with mice. Painful.

The movie itself, set around these visual asides, is full of cardboard characters who don't appear fully human. The angry gay. The good Christian boy. The questioning girl. The easily converted gay (okay there are actually a fair number of these). I'm really not sure this movie was aimed at actually converting anyone, it is all very much "soul food" for the converted. Maybe I'm just not the target audience but it just seems to rely too much on a belief that the Bible is true. I mean if you don't accept that, how on Earth does the rest of it make sense?


Monday, 24 August 2015

A Cultural Libertarian? I Guess I Am

After I got off my "EQUAL MARRIAGE NOW!!!" kick I got on to my "Ugh! New Purtians are the worst" kick. From the desperately rubbish lose the lad's mags campaign through to persecuting innocent young people off of university campuses, the new Puritans have been pushing further and further into our lives.

Breitbart (yes I know) has a wonderful article today about the "Rise of the Cultural Libertarians". I have to say that, despite it being a little too fawning in its praise of the movement, I found myself nodding at every "belief" it described.

Yes, many of the Cultural Libertarians doing the loudest shouting are obnoxious and, may I say, odious. But... they are also often pretty spot-on on many political issues. Somehow they manage the seemingly, if you spend any time on social media anyway, difficult task of opposing rape AND opposing false accusations.

I'm not a fan of labels and I guess I share little politically with many Cultural Libertarians. But hey it fits me better than a lot of other labels. And one I feel I can adopt with some sort of pride.

Monday, 3 August 2015

On #CecilTheLion, It Is Time To Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

Gosh. The articles, blogs and tweets on the agonising death of Cecil the lion have been voluminous (and varied). From hate pieces against the barbarian(s) that caused his death (you might be starting to get a feel for how I feel about this), through the "Twitter mobs are evil" articles and the "You eat meat so don't be a hypocrite!" and out to pieces on the evil of white people and how the trophy hunting industry is a boon to needy Africans.

I'm not here to deal with any of that though. There are more than enough foul-mouthed folks out there after the blood of Walter Palmer (and other trophy hunters). There are more than enough people spot on about the evils of social media hate mobs and how helpful any financial input into some African economies can be.

No I'm here to talk directly to the people who stand on the principle that killing endangered (or at least at risk) animals for fun is morally different to killing for food or population control but don't like being too mean to others and want to do something positive instead.

We'll never stop trophy hunting (and poaching for other purposes such as supply the Chinese "medicinal" industry) if we don't think about how we can stop the reliance on this trade of the local people in the areas concerned and deal with their concerns and issues (like predation of livestock and damage and danger to life and property from the local megafauna). And that is why, if you really care about African megafauna, you need to put your money where your heart is... If you aren't already start donating to one of the many good conservation organisations working in Africa.

I've joined the Born Free Foundation today. Partly because I find their approach to be right and partly because I remember buying a few Born Free books as a kid as a jumble sale and falling in love with Elsa.

Yes we can all sit around waving our virtual pitchforks and call for the death of a total stranger. But if we can start funding organisations on the ground who can help change things for the better for the people and animals of Africa then we'll really make a difference (and honour the story of Cecil the lion).

Let's make Cecil the Elsa of this generation and push forward with making our world a little nicer for everyone and everything.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Homosexuality Is Not A Sin

If I was a gay/bi teenage liberal just coming to terms with my sexuality, reading some of the stuff posted by defenders of Tim Farron would probably be enough to send me scuttling back in to the closet.

So to them I want to be very, very clear: homosexuality is not a sin. It is a not a "condition", let alone one that requires other's compassion. It is not a "second-best" option. It is not inferior. The quality of love between two men (I can't speak for others but I'm sure it is also the same between two women) is not one iota less than that between a man and a woman.

I've seen Lib Dems suggest a Christian's distaste to homosexuality to be akin to most people's distaste for heroin users. I.e. "I believe in the right of someone to inject themselves with heroin but I think it is bad for them and I'd argue that they shouldn't". Well isn't that a beautiful message to send out to young gay and bi people? "You have the right to do what you do, but it's a sin!"

My love for my other half is NOT equivalent in anyway to the love a heroin user has for a needle. And I will not sit silently by whilst that sort of message is sent out to vulnerable young people.

Now Tim Farron hasn't said the above, thankfully, so I'm only directing about 10% of my anger at him for his failure to be clearer. I am disturbed though by those defending the concept of believing homosexuality is a sin.

Some have said "We're liberals, we should support people holding beliefs we find objectionable as long as they harm no one else". Totally agree. But I wouldn't want someone who thinks Africans are an inferior race leading a party I was a member of, regardless of the fact he supports their equality 100% in his public life.

A disturbing number of people, both heterosexual and other, seem to accept the idea that homosexuality "isn't ideal". They very much support our rights and freedoms. But in their heart of hearts they really do not accept us.

My message to LGBT young people is this... THERE IS NOTHING SINFUL ABOUT LOVING SOMEONE OF THE SAME GENDER. Nothing. Not one thing. Our love is not inferior to anybody else's . We must never forget that.

Further reading.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Bye Bye Lib Dems

11 years have come and gone so quickly. Yet those happy days supporting Peter Carroll for Folkestone and Hythe and getting excited about a visit from Charles Kennedy seem like a lifetime ago. 

My membership came up for renewal a couple of weeks back. I put off renewing until after payday for entirely practical reasons. I had been on a bit of a "Lib Dem high" of late with the Lib Dem fightback rhetoric and the prospect of a new leader. I even decided to defend my choice for leader, Tim Farron, from some attacks on his record on same-sex marriage.  

How quickly my mood can change. I must be very fickle. But in the wake of his interview with Cathy Newman on Channel 4, I can no longer force myself to give Tim Farron the benefit of the doubt. I'd done that after serious concerns before and this... this is the straw that broke the camel's back.

If someone asked me "Do you think practicing Christianity is stupid?", I'd say no. So I'm not really sure I share others nuanced views of Farron's inability to answer a similar question about homosexuality and sin. I get the theological arguments. I get that "it's complicated" probably is a good answer for a short interview and expressing his views might take forever. But really, ultimately, it is a yes or no question. The fact he couldn't answer broke my liberal heart. How different things are under Farron than under Clegg... 

But far worse than his interview has been watching Lib Dems engage in theological and philosophical debates over homosexuality, stretching partisan apologia into the realms of Christian apologists. This just isn't the party I thought it was. I got it wrong, I'm sure the party is the same as ever. 

As some have said "Well you didn't mind Kennedy?". I didn't. But I thought the way Clegg dealt with religion and sexuality was a breath of fresh air. I've been spoilt and obviously ruined. 

I'd say one of my personal fundamental red lines is "homosexuality is not a sin". I cannot follow a man who believes otherwise or refuses to take a stand on that stance. Thus I won't be renewing my lapsed membership. I hope, for this country's sake, the Lib Dems prosper and flourish under Tim Farron's leadership. I see no other party even close to matching my political beliefs. But I won't be there to prosper along side you.