Saturday, 31 July 2010

Of bigotry, class struggle and counter-insurgency

Here’s a tale of two shops which explores social attitudes in the Isle of Man, and also gives evidence that even the dispossessed can hit back from time to time.

Tale 1 – a customer in one of the island’s most decrepit charity shops approaches the counter with some items, none priced above 50p. In an obvious foreign accent she asks the bored pearl and twin-set volunteer cashier to wait a moment while she checks she has enough change to pay. The cashier ignores her to carry on conversing with another chinless wonder, punches in the numbers and rings up the total. The customer, having now sorted her change, finds she’s about 10p short.
BP&TS snaps “Well, you’ll have to put something back then”, folds her arms and sticks her nose in the air for all the world as if the innocent customer had loudly farted. The customer scans through all her potential purchases, rejects a 30p child’s T-shirt, places it carefully back on the rack, pays for the rest and puts the extra 20p in the charity tin anyway. All this while both damish dullards watch her as if to check no major shoplifting was going on.
I’m tempted to name the shop but I won’t. Suffice to say that as the charity has a royal patron it attracts the island’s most vacuous social climbers, none of whom have held down paid employment or would know enough about retail to cover the back of a matchbox. This might explain why (a) their shops are too untidy and poorly stocked to attract even the most desperate council estate pensioner and (b) the ‘charity balls’ where their supporters pat each other’s backs make no serious cash.

Tale 2 – five minutes before closing time today in one of the island’s most customer-friendly businesses, and the tannoy announces the store is closing so please make your way to the exit. This place is famously open seven days a week, every day of the year except Christmas Day, and if the staff don’t have the very thing you want they’ll not only get it but ring you to say it’s in and, if you can’t collect, have someone drop it round when it suits you. Me and Her Indoors are at the counter, paying off just such a special order.
An Afrikaner, dressed in the kind of over-priced tat no self-respecting benefit-fraudster would be seen dead in, decides to inform its equally hideous rugrat and spouse that this is a major inconvenience and it really can’t understand why a store would close at the very time on the very day when customers like it choose to visit.
After announcing this at foghorn volume it reaches for the door handle. At the same second the index finger of the shop manager’s hand slides under the counter. Mysteriously, the shop door will not open and so the Afrikaner looks increasingly vexed.
“Don’t worry, Madam, my colleague will be along to let you out just as soon as he is free”, calls the shop manager, soothingly.
‘MC’, hidden safely from sight in an office behind the counter, raises an eyebrow to us, carries on reading his paper and refills his mug with coffee. After about another minute, as we at the counter turn our back to the irate woman in a struggle to hold back our giggles, he saunters out with a large key, with which he pretends to open the door as the manager’s finger releases the security button.
“Thank you for waiting, Madam, do please come and see us again at a more convenient time” calls ‘MC’ to the three vanishing atrocities. As the door clicks shut all of us explode with suppressed laughter.
For obvious reasons I would not identify the store. Just thank the staff for proving to downtrodden decent folk that, even on the Isle of Man, from time to time we can always cut the great and the good who misrule this place down to size.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Hark, the Christians are barking again

It’s probably obvious by now I’m no tree-hugging cuddly bunny merchant. And it goes without saying I find a lot of religious ‘thinking’ ridiculous.
I’m sure both parties mean well. It’s just their priorities are a bit startling, and when they're both singing from the same hymnsheet the result is like a Christmas carol service in a padded cell.
Still, I subscribe to enough feeds from green, caring groups to make the average reader puke a bucketful, and plough my way through similar amounts of earnest religious e-sermons. All this in an attempt to be fair, though in truth I tend to stop when the Prodigy or Her Indoors complain because I’m in hysterics again.
Take the hugely important question posed on one site recently: ‘Can a dog receive communion?’
I kid not. Care2, a site dedicated to thoughts and appeals from a world community of fluffy-brained soft green campaigners, has a piece which begins: “How would you feel if you saw a dog receive Holy Communion in your church?”
Under the impression that people anywhere with an IQ in more than double figures might need to know, it then tells a tale about a rumpus in a Canadian Anglican church after the priest slipped a Jesus cracker to a mutt which accompanied one of the communicants.
Even wilder, the piece had 202 comments when I last looked! You can read it at all at in case you think I’m spinning a shaggy dog story.
Couldn’t happen here on the Isle of Man though, could it?
I doubt anyone will be surprised to know that not only did one venerable old school theological scholar here believe animals had souls, he regarded the inmates at a local dogs home as parishioners. He even (and I have witnesses to this) took what looked suspiciously like a weekly confession at a dilapidated shed in the grounds which (in theory) he used as a quiet spot in which to compose sermons in return for an hour a day’s dogwalking. I also have witnesses to the funerals for the pets of Manx government bigwigs and UK colonial klingons conducted by a bishop within the last decade.
But are other local Christians barking too?
I think we should know.

Manx post office licks up to the Vatican

It’s bad enough that Benny the Boy Nazi (better known to the gullible as ‘The Pope’) gets a free UK holiday, courtesy of the taxpayer, but at least the Manx weren’t asked to contribute to the obnoxious scrote’s scrounging, or his kickbacks.
Except that we are.
A press release on the IOM Government website yesterday (see ) opens with the appalling news that:
“Two postage stamps depicting photographs of Cardinal Newman, one never published before, and a stamp label showing Pope Benedict XVI, are included in a miniature sheet to be issued by the Isle of Man Post Office on Wednesday 11 August, the 120th Anniversary of the death of Cardinal Newman. The two £1.50 special stamps received Royal Approval from HM The Queen and include the Royal Cipher.
The engaging miniature sheet is being issued to commemorate the State Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom, 16-19 September, and the Beatification of Cardinal Newman, 1801-1890, at Cofton Park, Birmingham, on Sunday 19 September.
Isle of Man Stamps & Coins is now working with the Vatican Post Office to produce a limited edition souvenir first day cover and joint special hand stamp postmark to commemorate the Beatification of Cardinal Newman on 19 September 2010. “
What next? A First Day Cover celebrating Saddam Hussein, Childrens Rights Champion, or maybe Josef Goebbels as a model parent (perhaps underwritten by Care for the Family)?
Actually, as with the rest of the potty-mouthed pontiff’s disastrous trip, it looked like the Vatican and their little helpers had screwed up again, because the press release also admits:
“The miniature sheet, a presentation pack and a first day cover and insert were printed well ahead of the four-day visit of Pope Benedict to Scotland and England and before the announcement on 24 June that the Holy See had requested a change of venue for the Beatification of Cardinal Newman from Coventry Airport to Cofton Park Birmingham.
The miniature sheet wrongly refers to the beatification of Cardinal Newman taking place: "at Coventry Airport, 19 September 2010." These special stamps depicting Cardinal Newman will be collected and treasured by stamp collectors and non collectors alike throughout the world. The inclusion of the Coventry Airport venue will add philatelic interest.”
So, screw-up or well calculated kickback for the Vatican on the value of ‘wrong’ stamps which will now be snapped up, invested, and doubtless resold at ridiculous prices in the future?
Because, by coincidence today, I also discovered that the Vatican might have picked up yet another little trick from their good friends and sometime collaborators, the Nazis. It seems that in the early days of the Third Reich, Martin Bormann had the bright idea of cutting deals with the German post office. Thus, every time Hitler’s ugly face appeared on a German stamp, the Nazi Party got a cut. It seems it was one of the biggest earners for them at a time when other funds were short and the whole country was in recession anyway.
So, wouldn’t it be interesting to know what kickback the Vatican Post Office get on this deal, and how many copies of those limited edition/special hand stamp postmark sets they get to squirrel away for a rainy day – like the next big payout on a child abuse case?

Sunday, 25 July 2010

A communion of twits

Jonathan Wynn-Jones, one of the numerous Torygraph religious commentators, has a piece this morning on a tweeted (twittered, twitted? I know not and have better things to do with my thumbs) communion service being offered by an earnest Methodist minister (see ).
Rev. Tim Ross, instead of bothering to turn up and communicate face-to-face with the faithful, will send out a prayer in a series of Tweets. Then those who, in turn, can’t be bothered to join him (or any other priest or congregant) read each tweet out loud before typing Amen in reply.
The service hasn’t gone live yet, but Ross says hundreds have signed up already. He claims Twitter is "….. a community that's as real and tangible as any local neighbourhood and we should be looking to minister to it”, and further that "The perception of church is often that it is rusting away in antiquated buildings and not in touch with the world around us, but this is a statement that we're prepared to embrace the technological revolution."
Actually I’d say it was more evidence that the god business is in such deep dooh-doohs that now the practitioners can’t even offer the one decent service (excuse the pun) it formerly provided, i.e. a place for the socially isolated to see another friendly face on a Sunday morning.
Curious that almost everywhere else in the press church leaders grumble that individualism has caused a decline in religion, yet quietly they’re trying to tap into technology that enables ersatz ecumenicism for spiritual geeks. Or perhaps the real target is just all the sad middle managers who go to every pretentious marketing conference and love psychobabble, not to mention taking a Blackberry on holiday and texting the office every 30 minutes to prove how ‘committed’ and ‘indispensable’ they are.
At the other end of the scale is one of Living Hell’s regular shindigs (see ), based on Nuremburg rallies and the kind of torchlit mass screamfests their mentor, Ian Paisley Senior, used to tell the world (or at least any passing TV camera) that ‘Ulster Says No To…….’, well, just about anything that involved being human or exercising more than two braincells really.
Although on the surface this is about ‘community’, beneath that it is quite exploitative. An office colleague comes under extreme pressure to attend from a housebound relative who got the Living Hell plague via Southern Befrienders. In theory SB is a social outreach scheme heavily subsidised by government for the elderly, housebound and otherwise socially isolated in the South of the island. In practice it’s another scam run by Living Hell, where wild-eyed Baptists get access to the vulnerable at home , then, rather like the Krays, ‘suggest’ that if they don’t come to church or join in their various protection schemes, life could get very, very lonely. Suggestions on the lines of ‘If, for example (and we really hope this will never happen) you should fall over in the bathroom one day nobody will hear you scream’ have been made, so I gather. In turn, because the SB team are so “busy”, the victims are given the suggestion that they could, say, ask a younger relative to take them along to the rally.......oh, and they could bring the family, it would be a nice day out……
I think you see how it works.
Not so much a growing Christian community, more of an evangelical pyramid scheme, made more practical because it has enough well placed members to ensure government never puts money or resources into real community building.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Legal draughts

Shortly after the funeral of the island’s most senior judge this week (see ) came a hilarious insight into the way justice is done here, and the less than reverential attitude of some of the island’s legal profession to those who do ‘good works’.
A friend from the legal profession mysteriously managed to be present when the Isle of Man Law Society turned out in force to show respect at the courthouse following news of Mike Kerruish’s death. I say mysterious, because My Legal Friend has officially been off-island on leave for a while – extremely inconvenient as my company and others use him almost daily for notarising documents and similar services.
So he confessed the hilarious truth about his absence.
In addition to his paid work, MLF is also known by charities as a soft touch for pro bono work. It appears some time ago he was called in suddenly by an island MONGO (‘Methodist Orientated Non-Governmental Organisation’). More precisely, the highly waged government employee who actually runs said MONGO asked him to revise a legal document at an hour or so’s notice. MLF, yet again, did this and in lieu of actual cash received his usual token payment for such favours – which is two lunchtime pints of Guinness.
This is a long-running joke between the parties in question, made all the funnier because most of these MONGOs work for the removal of easy access to strong drink at reasonable prices. The only part of the joke the HWGE and MLF refuse to reveal is if the cost of the Guinness is then billed to some obscure government expense account.
Unfortunately, MLF was then due back in court and arrived a little late, 'tired' and unprepared. The late Mike Kerruish was notoriously sharp-tongued with legal counsel who wasted court time, or offered less than a full service to clients, and he was on form that day.
However, Deemster Kerruish was no teetotaller either, and later took MLF aside to offer a less formal legal judgement. In essence, if MLF was not to face formal disciplinary proceedings, he should cancel any upcoming court work and in the near future take an extended holiday where he should consider his future. In particular, how to bring forward plans for handing over such work to younger partners.
This MLF duly did. At the time I learnt this he was in receipt of yet another ‘payment in kind’ (via a HWGE) from unwitting but grateful temperance nazis and the Manx government, both of whom will be totally unaware of the arrangement and certainly regard MLF as a bad example to upright youth they’d like to remove from our streets.

Not dead, just sleeping

Apologies to those who have actually missed my blogging for a couple of weeks, and my deep gratitude to those who even contacted me to check all is OK.
In a nutshell, it wasn't but now it is.
Partly just having some good books to read and time to read them, due to others having more need of the internet. Otherwise -not worth dwelling on the issues. This isn't Iran or Uganda, and every time I read a story about what folk go through there I wonder why I worry about anything or anyone obnoxious on the Isle of Man.
Anyway folks. Abnormal service is about to be resumed.

Missing, inaction

In all the excitement of Tynwald Day and other Manx events during July, an important change at two of our government’s pet ‘social service providers’ has gone un-noticed. Hard to know why, as the individual at the heart of the changes spent so much time in the office of the Director of Social Services it’s rumoured he kept a mug there (who the public pays a £100K+ salary).
It was known for months beforehand that Nigel Collins was leaving the island this summer. See for example.
The thing is, Nigel and Lynne ran the local branch of the Salvation Army, which has had a strict policy since the 19th century of rotating officers every few years to stop things getting too stale. They were sent here specifically because previously they’d run the SA’s largest UK homelessness shelter, and David Gray House (the island’s only bail hostel, and run by the Salvation Army) was - to be blunt - not working.
Incidentally, though both shared skills and duties equally (as is usual SA practice), because the island is in a sexist timewarp Nigel had to be the public face as the Rotary Club and other causes of social inequality still don’t know how to deal with girlies. For the same reason it was Nigel who was then ‘suggested’ by one of his employees at a regional Rotary club night where the management committee for Kemmyrk (the government run ‘independent’ homelessness charity) was decided – even before the steering committee which officially set things up had a chance to consider possible candidates.
So, DGH now lacks a Salvation Army officer to oversee things 'officially’ - thus distancing the DHA (Department of Home Affairs) staff who dictate policy decisions. And Kemmyrk lacks a chairman, with the possibility that the temporary replacement may lack even a basic grounding in either homelessness in general or the particular difficulties faced by the Manx homeless (some, it must be said, actually caused by those who control that charity). Additionally, the replacements for the Collins’s are not thought to have a social work background and by coincidence the Salvationists who aided them liasing between the worship activities and ‘Christian outreach’ activity such as DGH are also leaving the island.
Their departure leaves other difficulties too. For one thing, the real fate of DGH is now to be decided between the Salvation Army’s regional headquarters (who see the island as nothing but an offshore adjunct to their Cheshire and North Wales activity, and the hostel and other property as little more than potential capital to be realised if onshore business goes slack), the ‘independent’ trustees of Manx SA philanthropy (a group of non-Salvationist bigwigs whose past record – e.g. flogging a building earmarked as a youth centre to a brewery via a Guernsey trust – shows distinct ignorance of or respect for Salvationist values) and the DHA, who frankly never had a clue or gave a monkeys about the Manx dispossessed anyway.
Not, in short, good news for anyone local either with social difficulties or with good intentions for resolving them.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Here's to a libertarian anti-theology

Considering that I describe myself as a libertarian and freethinker, I have been a bit lax of late in promoting the libertarian view, and especially at suggesting how the two might be linked.
To me, the two things are interlinked, and the obsession of many atheists/humanists with soft left/liberal views of the world which are (in practice) paternalistic, over-reliant on welfare-statism or (at times) just plain dead in the water is a constant frustration for me. I know from new alliances I've made in the last few years it is for many others 'written out' of mainstream humanism too, which is why we've been kicking off about it.
While I was one of the first to pop my head above the parapet, sadly, introducing the concept of ‘secular methodism’ to humanist circles might have been my only contribution to this noble struggle. Meanwhile, I see Diesel Balaam, for example, plugging away in the letters pages of The Freethinker to push us secularists beyond a wishy-washy middle of the road version of liberalism and back to thinking about the real meaning of the term.
So, if I was a young schoolie my end of term report this month probably would be saying ‘must try harder’. This I undertake to do, always providing I don't have to stop joking about it too. To paraphrase Emma Goldman, 'If I can't laugh, I don't want any part in the revolution.'
For a start, as nobody in the UK except the Spiked posse is taking on the vacuous new British temperance-nazi lobby (which, in turn, causes nonsense like the island’s ‘voluntary’ alcohol sales codes) I had to turn to the US for a spot of inspiration laced with a strong slug of humour.
I found some recently in the work of Jeffrey A. Tucker (and you do have to like a bloke who writes a book called Bourbon for Breakfast: Living outside the Statist Quo).
In Repeal the Drinking Age (see ) Tucker lays into the ridiculous nationwide US ban on anyone under 21 consuming booze. As almost anyone who’s been to the US knows, in practice this ban is ignored, except for times when it suits authority to stop other activities. For example, any attempts at a self-sufficient youth culture where kids actually discuss and do intelligent, socially progressive stuff instead of vegging out and/or reading the Bible.
He goes on to argue that: “With the two-thirds and more of people under the age of 21 reporting that they have consumed alcohol in the last year, it should be obvious that the law is doing nothing but providing a gigantic excuse for arbitrary police-state impositions on human liberty, and also socializing young people in a habit of hypocrisy and law breaking. It’s like the old Soviet-style joke: they pretend to regulate us and we pretend to be regulated.”
Writing just after Independence Day, Tucker ends his piece by saying: “The founders would have never imagined such a thing as a national law regulating the age at which beer, wine, port, and other alcoholic beverages are consumed. If we are serious about embracing their vision of a free society, as opposed to just blathering about it, let’s start with something that is supremely practical and would have immediate effects on an entire generation: repeal the national minimum drinking age law.
You say that this is unthinkable? I say that you don’t really believe in human liberty. “
Closer to home, I’d not only agree with the above but add that the last thing on the minds of the pathetic church-led, state-sponsored Manx agencies theoretically ‘concerned’ with the ‘welfare’ of young people is encouraging any sort of social set-up in which teenagers take control of their own lives, or parents and guardians are allowed to help them do so.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Plane stupidity

Sometimes the combination of lies, deception and pig-ignorance that passes for Manx government activity is so blatant you wonder why people fall for it.
Take an article which you will be reading in the Manx press next week, though if you can’t wait you can read most of what it will say now at .
It will begin by trying to tell you that:

“The Small Countries Financial Management Centre is set to welcome representatives from 29 different nations on Sunday (July 11, 2010) for the start of its second annual international capacity-building programme.
The Centre, located at the Isle of Man International Business School, aims to build on the success of the inaugural event in 2009 which helped small countries from around the world to respond to the global economic downturn. The Small Countries Financial Management Programme is a major initiative developed through a partnership between the Isle of Man Government, the World Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Small States Network for Economic Development, and the University of Oxford.”

…and so it potters on, and on, and on… with ‘comments’ from one muppet at the World Bank, another halfwit from the misleadingly entitled Isle of Man International Business School, and so on ad sodding nauseum.
Oh, I can’t even be bothered to rip this tosh apart bit by bit!
So I’ll just cut to the chase.
The Oxford University Said Business School is so named because the main benefactor is Wafic Said. Just Google ‘Al Yamamah’, remember a time not long ago when the UK’s Labour Government blocked all attempts to investigate just how British Aerospace gained so many lucrative Saudi arms contracts, and then wonder if, say, a dead slug with a history of hebephrenic schizophrenia could do a worse job of ‘advising’ the Manx government on improving our international image than any of the overpaid consultants currently failing to do so.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Heritage strategies from La La Land

Ah well, I’m not the only one then. The great Manx public also think Tynwald Day is rubbish, and in particular we think all that churchy twaddle sucks.
Last week’s IOM Newspapers online poll asked: “What do you enjoy best about Tynwald Day”.
Today the results are up on the site. For 74% it was “Having the day off to stay at home”, for 10% “The ceremony on the hill”, for 7% “Looking round the fair's stalls”, 6% “The music and entertainment” and a mere 3% like the church service.
The other local rabble-rousing atheist media whore called Stuart (Peters) even took a pop at it in his weekly Indie column today, ending by suggesting it might be time to: “make Tynwald a truly Manx occasion, celebrating all the good things about the Isle of Man, sidelining the preening politicians in their top hats and chains of office, and bringing it more up to date and much less a reminder of how grateful we should be to our ultimate landlady.”
Now you might imagine that public bodies – especially those ‘marketing’ the gaff – would have sussed the public mood, maybe done a survey or two of their own to ascertain how we like to spend our time and what would get the ‘bucket and spade brigade’ back on boats and planes to spend some loot.
Well….no! At least not if a government press release (see ) for an event this Sunday is anything to go by.
We are invited to:
“join Manx National Heritage at Rushen Abbey and enjoy the sounds of choral music at the annual Songs of Praise service in the Abbey Gardens.
The service begins at 2.30pm and visitors will be invited to join in with the well-known hymns performed by the Meadowside Choir, with an accompanying dance display provided by Ballasalla Dance Group ‘Academy of Dance’. “
Oh yes, let’s….................not bother getting out of bed.
This is actually quite worrying.
What it tells us is that not only are our politicians way out of touch and stuck in a tiny, fast-dying myopic subculture that still thinks religion is a big deal, but that the ‘professionals’ they employ to advise on what constitutes Manx life and culture are equally clueless, equally trapped in some sepia-tinted time-warp.
Where they live on our money and make our lives ever duller, all the time covering their ears and singing ‘La, la, la’ tunelessly.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Another year, another colonial clown show

We’re just back from the Tynwald Fair, and, as I suspected, it was another washout.
As we never bother with the colonial clown show on the hill anyway, I couldn’t even tell you which royal inbreed (if any) was guest of honour. Instead, it was straight to what I think is now officially designated the charities field.
Originally, this was a fairly open space for any community group that wanted to come along – you just lined up with everyone else at a government office, put your name down and had a spot allocated according to how early you got there.
Then, the year Madge herself was booked and there was an excuse to change the security arrangements, this changed and (mysteriously) groups with a slight political edge (e.g. Amnesty International) found their pitch uprooted overnight and moved out of sight of either royalty or roving TV cameras, then subsequent years found their application was simply ‘overlooked’.
So, the only serious community political activity at this year’s fair was Mec Vannin, the Positive Action Group and….well, sadly that was it. There really isn’t any other evidence of any Manx group who are even half-awake and taking a serious interest in Manx affairs from the presence on the Tynwald Field. The other stalls on the field – a random selection of British paramilitary organisations, right wing ‘heritage’ groups, cuddly bunny charities and braindead evangelical outfits – could safely all collapse tomorrow and there wouldn’t be the slightest damage to Manx life. If anything, it might improve considerably.
If this is the sum total of ‘community’ activity on the island, we’re dead already. And if the organisations able to set up on the fair field are the sum total of political interest, we’re a nonsensical colony stuck in the middle of the Irish Sea, run from somewhere else.
Oh, I forgot. We are anyway. It’s just our colonial Quislings run a pathetic sideshow with a lot of flag-waving, singing of an absolutely vacuous ‘national anthem’, folk-dancing and loons in homemade costumes proclaiming twaddle in a language nobody actually uses for any practical, everyday purpose to try and distract the peasants.
Which works depressingly well, by the looks of things.
One brighter note, as it is most years, was the Tynwald Day edition of Yn Pabyr Seyr ('The Free Paper) by Mec Vannin. To see this little gem, go to and download the whole paper.
It is always guaranteed to show the whole island hasn’t quite gone to sleep, and always takes a few pops at government incompetence. Some past editions are collectors items. If they aren't stored in the Manx Museum's library (and I suspect they are not) then there is no national record of the only significant political literature on the island in the last couple of decades.
This year the piece that caught my eye was Mec Vannin’s objections to the truly obnoxious 'Armed Forces Day' and the inevitable show of British military incompetence at Tynwald Day itself. In addition, there’s the matter of inviting these colonial enforcers into Manx schools – under the pretence of running ‘physical fitness’ sessions which are curiously combined with crude recruiting films. As Mec Vannin say, instead of renaming our Department of (mis)Education the Department of Education and Children they could be honest and call it the Department of Indoctrination and Recruitment.
Considering my own worries over the once insidious, now quite blatant, entry of borderline fascist Christian organisations into schools (and as someone who has actually studied the phenomena academically, I do mean fascist) it appears things are going from bad to worse at the Department of Education. Thankfully, it also appears I am not the only one remarking on it.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Stop the stoning of Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani

Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani is a forty-three year old mother of two children, 16 & 20 years old respectively,and has been sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery. Despite the best efforts of her lawyer and children, her stoning has just been finalized by the Iranian court.
Sakine is now in Tabriz prison awaiting her imminent death at the hands of superstitious throwbacks. On days like these, maybe we should be grateful that the chunterings of our homegrown fundamentalists are too pathetic to get much of an audience (always excepting the idle educationalists and overpaid social services consultants).
International Coalition Against Stoning distributed the following ‘plea to the world’ made on June 26th by Sakine's children.

”Do not allow our nightmare to become a reality, Protest against our mother’s stoning!
Today we stretch out our hands to the people of the whole world. It is now five years that we have lived in fear and in horror, deprived of motherly love. Is the world so cruel that it can watch this catastrophe and do nothing about it?
We are Sakine Mohammadi e Ashtiani’s children, Fasride and Sajjad Mohamamadi e Ashtiani. Since our childhood we have been acquainted with the pain of knowing that our mother is imprisoned and awaiting a catastrophe. To tell the truth, the term "stoning" is so horrific that we try never to use it. We instead say our mother is in danger, she might be killed, and she deserves everyone's help.
Today, when nearly all options have reached dead-ends, and our mother's lawyer says that she is in a dangerous situation, we resort to you. We resort to the people of the world, no matter who you are and where in the world you live. We resort to you, people of Iran, all of you who have experienced the pain and anguish of the horror of losing a loved one.
Please help our mother return home!
We especially stretch our hand out to the Iranians living abroad.
Help to prevent this nightmare from becoming reality. Save our mother. We are unable to explain the anguish of every moment, every second of our lives.
Words are unable to articulate our fear…
Help to save our mother. Write to and ask officials to free her.
Tell them that she doesn’t have a civil complainant and has not done any wrong. Our mother should not be killed. Is there any one hearing this and rushing to our assistance?

Faride and Sajjad Mohammadi e Ashtiani

(Disseminated by the International Committee Against Stoning)

To join a petition being sent to Iranian officials, plus the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, go to

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Holiday fun in Trumpton

Next Monday is our National Day here on L'Isle de Homme. Or, more precisely, the day when the triumph of English colonialism over anything vaguely resembling a Manx identity is most crushingly obvious anyone except the loons who perpetuate the Tynwald Day farce.
I’ve already covered the lunacies and delusions of the ceremony itself (see last July’s Tynwald Day for Dummies ) so won’t repeat myself here.
This year, according to the local press (see ) “organisers have decided to put an emphasis on family fun with a picture treasure hunt and a special question from Tynwald President Noel Cringle MLC.”
Actually, I have a special question in return for Noel.
Why do you bother?
For the benefit of off-island readers, Cringle is what you might get if you crossed Benny from Crossroads with a sheep, then programmed it to parrot the philosophical musings of a particularly vacuous small town Unionist politician. When not laying on Manx whimsy with a trowel as part of his doddery uncle act in Tynwald he’s abusing his privilege (and public resources) to run ‘prayer breakfasts’, at which yet-to-be-convicted war criminals and international fraudsters raise the aspirations of the most dishonest and dull-witted elements of local life (i.e. church leaders, overpaid civil servants and evangelical Christians in general).
As for the nature of the ’family fun’, you can get a taste of that by downloading the Tynwald Day programme at . Not, to be honest, the kind of family life to be seen anywhere else on the planet (unless you include, say, a few three-nippled kissing cousins in Alabama).
You can see just how dire it all is by noting that most of the week’s ‘entertainment’ is the Ramsey National Week (see ), which in turn is underpinning the Manx Flower Festival (see ), a particularly twee small town church fundraiser.
This isn’t to say families can’t have fun.
For example, you can snoop around all the drabbest or most startling examples of two eejits-and-a-mutt Manx ‘charities’ on the heavily censored fair field ( from which every last example of Manx democracy or independent thinking apart from Mec Vannin/the Manx National Party has now been airbrushed).
Try slipping a copy of, say, Valerie Solanas’s Scum Manifesto into the Mothers Union display of homely tracts, or slip an old Wayne County & the Electric Chairs tape into a blank case and place it next to the tape recorder on the SPUC stall. You’ll be well gone by the time If You Don’t Want To Fuck Me Baby, Baby Fuck Off blasts out at full volume instead of Pat Boone.
Or you can play our family favourite. Walk up to a Flower Festival participant church hand-in-hand in a nice family group, watch the staff salivate……
..and then turn around, run away and do something interesting instead.
Hours of innocent fun to be had – you just have to use your imagination. Which is more than the organisers of these toytown idiotfests ever do.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Horrible history

The sheer cretinism of Isle of Man Department of Education staff beggars belief sometimes. In particular, their willingness to hand vulnerable kids over to fundamentalist pondlife really is a national disgrace.
Take last week, when according to the Isle of Man Courier, nine and ten year olds from local schools attended Lifepaths, a week of evangelical brainwashing at Rushen Abbey co-organised ( in theory) by the Education Department, Manx Heritage and…Scripture Union Ministries Trust.
Supposedly, the Education Department used Manx Heritage to give the kids a historical experience. Fair enough, even though Manx Heritage’s idea of history is (at best) fact-lite plastic patriotism and (more often) little more than tourist-orientated shite.
So why were SUMT there?
Well, again according to the Courier, to give “perspective on being a younger Christian in the 21st century”. In short, to brainwash kids too small and scared to fight back.
This (see is the official line on SUMT. And if you check under ‘events’ you’ll be interested to find that:

“Lifepath is an education day for Year 5 pupils, they will have the opportunity to come and explore the concept of faith, prayer and the lifestyle of a Christ follower, through the life of a Cistercian Monk from the 11th Century.
300 children are coming to join SUMT across the week. With a team of 60 volunteers throughout the week each day will be packed with energy, craft activities, songs, drama, laughter, wigs and a whole lot more!”

So, pure Christofascist brainwashing and nothing to do with objective education then. And so again you have to ask, why were the Education Department letting a dangerous bunch of fundie flat-earthers with form for child-molesting loose with hundreds of local kids?
Because, make no mistake, SUMT are not just harmless sad-acts with an imaginary invisible friend.
Amongst last week's volunteers, to my certain knowledge, were people who in 1998 helped ‘persuade’ the victims of a notorious faith-biased kiddy-fiddler not to give evidence in court. Thankfully, though most caved in to the threats and so the full extent of this perv's actions were never revealed in court, one family stood their ground and he was convicted. His friends (including a protege of James Anderton) 'stood by him' as he went to jail. The brave family who stood up to the evangelical scum left the island soon after to avoid retaliations.
Also amongst last week's SUMT staff was a character who has, several times, been reported to the Dept of Education for harassing under age girls with text messages while, in theory, ‘mentoring’ teenagers at a local school.
Needless to say (at a time when the Education Minister was himself of notoriously fundamentalist views) the Department of Education took no action. Even worse, two Education Ministers later and this sad, middle aged loser is still ‘mentoring’ (i.e. pestering teenage girls whose personal contact details he obtains with the help of schoolteachers who share his sad delusions about imaginary friends).
At least SUMT’s tactics aren’t working at my daughter’s primary school, where she tells me their sad efforts to run a lunchtime Bible club are being outwitted.
In an effort to draw at least a few kids in, SUMT volunteers are reduced to offering handfuls of sweets to anyone who’ll enter the room. So, in response the kids have created a new game called ‘Take the Smarties and run’.