Wednesday, 31 March 2010

A Very Manx Fascism

I wish I could have got to the Positive Action Group meeting last Monday on the upcoming Children’s Bill (see http://positiveactiongroup.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=207:children-bill-2010-why-all-parents-should-be-concerned-&catid=113:children-bill-2010&Itemid=132 to get the basic idea).
Tristram Llewellyn Jones has had some excellent letters in the local press about this ugly bastard offspring of Big Brother and small town fundamentalism, and I would have liked to see him speak. Ironically, the reason I couldn’t was because, being a serious parent, I have other duties in the evening!
I’m not sure what annoys me most about this dim-witted law. Is it the Big Brother aspect, is it (as Henry Porter of the Guardian pointed out last year) that the UK blueprint is more to do with depriving kids in secure care of any rights than it is with protecting any vulnerable kid, or is it just the gobsmackingly mediocre intellect of most of the people who would gain more legal rights to snoop and comment on my family life?
I have absolutely no hesitation in stating that the biggest danger to children on this island comes from Social Services, the Education Department, the Department of Home Affairs and, in particular, the moronic fundamentalist groups whose members have first dibs on any job with the above. By comparison, I've met smack dealers with more socially responsible attitudes and long term mental institution inmates with a firmer grasp on reality.
It is nothing less than a sick joke that the excuse offered by the Manx government for a further intrusion on family life is that they don’t want another double murder in a kids home – a tragedy caused by the sheer amateurism of the very government agencies which now want to pry and report on, and impede, the capable and self-reliant even more.
It reminds me, too, of the cultural critic Jon Savage’s early 1980’s prediction of what might, in this particular example, be dubbed A Very Manx Fascism.
As Savage quipped, German Nazism at least had great architecture and well tailored uniforms. But if a British variant ever evolved it would be from a dowdy collection of mean-minded, parochial know-nowts. Sad, inadequate nobodies who would turn everything social and joyous into a beige wasteland because they can’t bear to see anything good, any sign of intelligence or people creating things because it might be fun, or useful, or make us happy.
Remind you of anyone we know locally?
I will probably ignore this Bill (if it passes) just as I have (at best) been mildly amused by most efforts of the various incompetent legislators and other control freaks I’ve outlived, side-stepped and generally ignored since I was a child. A ten year old with learning difficulties would have little trouble outwitting such simpletons, so I have few fears for kids, like mine, who have been taught since birth by decent parents to think, ask pertinent questions and stay away from slack-jawed lunatics with mad-eyed stares who talk to invisible friends.
For those of more serious demeanour, take a look at Llewellyn Jones’s contribution to the debate at http://positiveactiongroup.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=209:should-they-tell-you-how-to-raise-your-child&catid=113:children-bill-2010&Itemid=132 , and also some thoughts of Iain McDonald, the gent with the ill-fated job of Data Protection Supervisor to the Manx government, at http://positiveactiongroup.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=213:children-bill-and-data-protection&catid=113:children-bill-2010&Itemid=132.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Beardie bampot caught with pants on fire - again

Stephen Green, National Director (and some say only real member) of Christian Voice continues to claim that he and fellow fundie crackpots made Classic FM drop an advertising promotion for Eric Idle’s Not the Messiah film (see 'Idle vice' from last week for explanation).
This even after the station’s MD painstakingly put the record straight following Green’s boasts earlier this week.
Just last night the Birdshit (that’s a reference to a 'divine judgement’ delivered on TV by a seagull at one of his protests, by the way) sent his supporters an e-mail claiming:

”As you will already know if you emailed Darren Henley, the Managing Director of Classic FM, they quickly dropped the blasphemous 'Not the Messiah'. If you emailed or phoned or wrote, well done for standing up for righteousness.
There was apparently a storm of protest, and the result is a triumph for prayer and action, in which we give God all the glory.
The atheists, of course, are furious. After crowing over the weekend that Classic FM would take no notice of us, now they are moaning that Britain's leading classical music station gave in to us Christians.
Darren Henley is putting a brave face on it, of course, but the reality is, all and everything to do with Not the Messiah was expunged from their website within two hours of the office opening on Monday. Just to be clear, none of the false rumours which Mr Henley speaks of in his email to those who complained originated with us. And to give credit where it is due, he is right that in the run-up to Christmas, the station is a joy to listen to with Christian music dominating the output.
PRAY: Thank God for bringing this matter to the light and for this crucial victory.
The film of Not the Messiah was shown in cinemas last night. PRAY that the turnout was poor.”


Now why would these bampots need to pray? Surely, if their campaign was so devastating, there would be no audience anyway.
Certainly, Green’s boasts got a rise out of some in the secular humanist community - as it might, knowing Green’s previous success in stopping funds to a Scottish cancer charity that ‘offended’ him.
For example, the British Humanist Association put out a press release regretting Classic FM’s apparent cave-in to fundie bullying, and the station certainly took a stack of e-mails from outraged atheists who thought the same.
This caused Darren Henley, MD at Classic FM, to set the record straight in an e-mail by reply in which he said:

“Following an email campaign, a number of incorrect views about Classic FM’s involvement in this event appear to have gathered momentum in the online community and I hope that you will allow me to take this opportunity to correct them:
1. Classic FM broadcast an advertising campaign for this event which ran from last Wednesday until last weekend. The station also ran a competition to win tickets to the event on the station’s website which also ended last weekend. No further advertising activity was booked to run either on-air or online after the weekend.
2. At no point did Classic FM ever intend to broadcast this event on air, nor did it ever enter into any negotiations to broadcast the event on air, so any assertion that any programme content has been withdrawn from broadcast is simply incorrect.
3. Classic FM has never been a financial supporter of this event and nor was it ever the promoter of the live event – and that relationship has in no way changed over the past week.”


Now, who do you believe, Green or Henley?
And to end on a positive note, doesn’t this also prove that, whenever Green and his ilk try to stop us giggling at the more lame-brained aspects of ‘belief’, we can not only stop him, but enjoy doing so?

Sunday, 21 March 2010

No justice, just privilege for hate-filled religionists

The island’s Department of Home Affairs this week published something they’re passing off as a summary of public views on the new Criminal Justice Bill.
As with many ‘public consultations’, it’s a bad joke. Probably not as unintentionally funny ( or downright cretinous) as the time the Manx government had a public consultation on the way they did public consultations, but pretty close. They concluded then that they didn’t need to change anything in a model they’d downloaded in entirety from the UK parliament website (their only change to the download was to halve the proposed consultation periods).
This time, as ever, they’ve responded by ignoring all the points made from all the respondents apart from the religious nutters, who want to reserve the right to behave like the racist, sexist, homophobic and generally sub-human throwbacks that we know them to be without any of their sermons being regarded as hate speech. This was thought perfectly reasonable.
The section dealing with it reads in full:

Clause 72
Amendments to the POA 98
Hatred against persons on certain grounds

This clause attracted 23 comments of which 21 expressed reservations in relation to the proposal. These reservations centred on the issues of freedom of speech and freedom to express religious beliefs and convictions without being prosecuted.
Department response
The Department noted and accepted observations that the clause did not have a satisfactory definition of “hate” or “hatred”.
The Department believes it is important to ensure that all in society are able to enjoy their lives without others harming them simply because of their religious beliefs (or lack of belief), sexual orientation, disability or their racial origin. However, whilst the Department is not persuaded there is adequate provision in current law to deal with emerging issues, the Department has reluctantly decided, at this time, to withdraw this provision from this Bill.
The Island is becoming an increasingly diverse society and the Department will nevertheless keep the matter under close scrutiny.”


This raises an interesting point, as there cannot be 21 literate evangelicals on the island.
Interestingly, while on the odd consultation report the views of respondents are attributed to the respondent, on this one they are not. I supect that would be because it would emphatically prove that most ‘views’ defending religious hate speech were from off-island wingnuts.
It has happened before. In fact, it always seems to happen whenever religious privilege is challenged by new legislation.
The report in full can be found at http://www.gov.im/fsc/ViewNews.gov?page=lib/news/dha/criminaljusticeb.xml&menuid=11570 .
If you can read or write you probably won’t like it.

Idle vice

Just when I thought Christians were in danger of becoming sane and reasonable, I get the following e-mail from Stephen Green of Christian Voice, an organisation so far out even the lunatic fringe disown them.

“Dear Mr Hartill,

Please forward this email to your Christian contacts (please see below for how to do that).
You can even print it off and take it to church in the morning ...

CLASSIC FM PROMOTING 'NOT THE MESSIAH'

Classic FM are promoting the showing of the blasphemous 'Not the Messiah', on the Classic FM website and in trailers. 'Not the Messiah' is by Monty Python's Eric Idle. It is being screened in cinemas this Thursday (25th). It is a musical version of 'The Life of Brian' in which Brian gets mistaken for the real Messiah and is crucified. Well-meaning people will urge us to see it all as not about Christ but about Brian and to see the funny side.

But the film sponges off the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ and this mock-oratorio parodies the glorious music of Handel's masterwork. It is even billed as 'a spoof of Handel's Messiah'. It has the song from 'Life of Brian' which 'Brian' sang while hanging from the cross, 'Always look on the bright side of life.' Crucifixion is not funny. It even has 'Hail to the Shoe' sung to the music of the Hallelujah Chorus. That isn't funny either.

While pretending 'Not the Messiah' is not blasphemous or offensive, Idle is well aware of what he is doing - mocking the Gospel of Jesus Christ. According to Eric Idle: "There is no controversy .. it's only people stupid enough to realise Christ is in the movie twice, and Christ isn't Christ, so there's no real controversy... It's very simple - you either get it or you don't."

But Eric Idle is an avowed atheist and a supporter and reader of both Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. He has a song on Atheist Nexus: 'F*** Christmas'. This is a man with an agenda and a big anti-Christ chip on his shoulder. I think we get it. He is out to mock religion and people of faith; and it's a great pity that Classic FM has joined him, showing contempt for their Christian listeners.

It is worth taking a look at the LIBRETTO: The show opens with the words: 'The Book of Brian'. It then mocks the Biblical apocalypse, which it calls 'Apocalypso', blasphemes the Christian doctrines of the awesomeness of God and depravity of man, refers to 'The Evangelist Monty' - and we are still only on page 3 of a 22-page libretto. Instead of the shepherds glorifying God, they ask 'is it AD yet?' and sing about how much they love sheep. Take a look, and see if all you hold dear isn't being dragged through the mud, vilified and ridiculed.
EMI pulled the funding of a 2007 DVD release of 'The Life of Brian' after the CEO read the script. Classic FM should have kept well away from 'Not the Messiah' as well.

READ: Unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable and unto every good work reprobate. (Titus 1:15-16).
Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth and a two-edged sword in their hand. (Psalm 149:5-6)

PRAY: that Classic FM will pull all the trailers and the competition they are running for this event. Pray that audiences will not turn up at the cinemas. Pray that atheist Eric Idle will repent and turn to the Christ he is mocking.
EMAIL: darren.henley@classicfm.com (Managing Director). Copy to requests@classicfm.com
Let Mr Henley him know that his promotion of 'Not the Messiah' offends and insults you and Almighty God. If you are a regular listener, tell him so. Ask him to stop promoting it on Classic FM.
The land address is Classic FM PLC, 7 Swallow Place, W1B 2AG. Office phone (office hours): 020 7343 9000. Phone-In: 08457 491812 (when it is answered). Text line: 07870 150100 (that does work!).

Yours in our gracious Lord's mighty name,

Stephen Green,

National Director, Christian Voice.”


I should explain that I got on Mr Green’s mailing list after signing a ridiculous petition he circulated a couple of years ago. The thing is, most who signed did so merely to say how profoundly we disagreed with his wacky views, so in effect it became an ‘Anti Christian Voice’ petition. Ever since, he has e-mailed whenever he’s blowing hot air about things which tend to highlight or close down the idiocies or privileges of some aspect or other of Christianity.
I have no intention of removing myself from the list as it’s such a regular source of unintentional fun! Also, by following the helpful links, it’s possible to send a message to the organisation or individual he’s haranguing, but one of congratulation or encouragement for standing up to things ranging from sheer lunacy to blatent homophobia or other misogynistic sentiment.
Why not do the same.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Let Constance take her girlfriend to the Prom

Take a couple of minutes to visit http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=45065875259#!/pages/Let-Constance-Take-Her-Girlfriend-to-Prom/357686784817?ref=nf and send a message of support to an American teenager standing up to a homophobic school board.
Constance McMillen, an 18 year-old student at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, approached her school’s administration because she wanted to attend the Senior Prom with her girlfriend and knew that same-sex dates had been banned in the past. After meeting with school officials, she was told that she and her girlfriend would not be allowed to attend together.
The ACLU then sent a demand letter to the school on her behalf, pointing put that school officials violated Constance’s First Amendment rights to freedom of expression.
Instead of responding like adults with civic responsibilities, the school chose to cancel the event entirely — rather than let Constance attend with her girlfriend and wear a tuxedo.
Sad or what?

Essential reading

My favourite monthly online reading is now up on the net.
Gay & Lesbian Humanist is published by the Pink Triangle Trust, previously in print form but these days as an e-mag. I dutifully plod through other humanist/atheist publications to check I haven’t missed anything vital, but this and The Freethinker are the ones I actually look to for relevant information - and sheer enjoyment.
This month, while mainstream media meekly kiss the Papal Ring, G&LH reports that:
“The man who has colluded in protecting priests who have abused children, who has been responsible for the deaths of many in Africa and elsewhere who might have benefited from the use of condoms to stave off disease, who has probably contributed to the suicides of many gay people and who wants to dictate to the UK how it should frame its equality laws is to be a guest of honour in the United Kingdom this coming autumn.”
Elsewhere Michael Campbell of Young Freethought explains why he set the site up, and how the hardbitten cynics of militant atheism (no really, the Torygraph, Times and many a bishop say it, so it must be true) got behind a much needed resource for young non-believers.
There’s also coverage of another vital youth issue, homophobia in schools, in a piece on FIT, a film being sent to all UK schools. Sadly, I doubt that includes Manx schools, where pupils still have to tackle the institutional homophobia of the Manx Educational Department rather than relying on their elders to stamp out a prejudice.
Maybe Manx kids could just hook up with another contributor, Arsham Parsi of Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees: after all, both countries are run by profusely whiskered throwbacks with imaginary friends..
Lots more good stuff there too, so go to http://www.gayandlesbianhumanist.org/index.htm for inspiration to kick against the pricks.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Imagine

If you follow other atheist or secularist websites you may have picked up the story of Harry Taylor, who’s facing seven years in jail.
For those who haven’t, Harry decided to leave a few cartoons mocking religious figures in the prayer room at Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport. You can get a taste of what happened next at http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2010/03/03/atheist-accused-of-leaving-insulting-religious-images-in-liverpool-s-john-lennon-airport-prayer-room-100252-25948815/.
Unbelievable!
Now the first funny thing is that this place actually warrants a chaplain. The second is that at an airport named after a guy who had a few run-ins with fundies himself (e.g. that “Beatles are bigger than Jesus” row in the 1960’s), which features lines from Lennon songs in the d├ęcor (including “Imagine no religion” in large letters in the reception lounge), located in a city famed for black humour…..this cleric has no sense of humour, and no common sense.
Neither, it appears, do the management or the police.
The average chaplain in such a Micky Mouse church might have quietly binned the cartoons. A more enlightened and open one might even have left some in place.
This one chose to be offended, chose to involve several levels of airport management and police, and as far as I can see to go absolutely out of her way to make sure that (a)the world and its dog knew how upset she was because someone had the temerity to mock her delusions and that (b) Harry ended up in a court.
…and someone gives this muppet a salary? How sad is that?
Only one answer to such lunacy.
More and funnier lunacy.
I’m calling for John Lennon Airport to be renamed Ayatollah Khomeini Airport if it can’t see a joke, and at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=353720796197#!/group.php?gid=353720796197&ref=nf you will find the first Facebook site I’ve ever tried to set up, in order that the world can join in.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Looters gather in a dying town

You can guarantee that when a community starts dying three groups of parasites move in to offer ‘help’ – smack dealers, fascists and evangelical cults.
You gauge the extent to which the community is in trouble by whether all three are dug in and bleeding the dispossessed dry. When it gets to the extent that they’re not only present, but that one or more of those three elements are fighting turf wars with others of their kind then things are going downhill fast.
Which brings me to another item about faith-based antisocial elements not to make it online this week. This one concerns Living Hell (that’s ‘The Living Hope Community Church’ to those who don’t follow this blog regularly) and their efforts to further destabilise the community in Peel.
Curiously, another item about Ramsey’s ‘Faith in Action’ crew made it not only into Tuesday’s Examiner but online (see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/north-news/New-man-at-Faith-helm.6113318.jp), so it isn’t that the regional news pages haven’t been updated.
So could it be that there’s now some kind of quota on the amount of drivel from the lunatic fringe of the zombie-worshipping community IOM Newspapers is prepared to admit it prints? Or is it just the editors accept that nobody except the diminishing and increasingly senile churchoing community reads this guff any more.
Whatever.
As you can’t read it, I can only tell you that it’s a puff piece to tell us that Living Hell are running some of those embarrassing pop orientated church services in a community centre. I suspect because even the Dept of Education have wised up to these scam artists and refused them use of a local school.
It is, more seriously, a snapshot of the way the war between our evangelical Crips and Bloods is going in another community. Broadway Baptists don’t have a presence in Peel. They left the territory to an ally, Grace Baptists, who ran a few ‘charitable’ moneyspinners such as an Indian ‘street mission’ (which is, technically, illegal in India, by the way) but were losing ground even before their godfather, Matthew Else, popped his clogs last year.
Sadly, Peel has been going downhill fast since the happy times in the late 1980’s when it even had a town newspaper and I worked on it. Then it was a poor but respectable community where folk looked after each other. Now….it’s a mess.
The rot set in when the House of Manannan, a heritage museum, was built there in the early 1990’s, supposedly to ‘revive’ the town but having the effect of killing it. This happened because Manx Heritage sit on planning committees, so when plans for improving the Peel roads and transport links came up MNH blocked them until the one way system took cars outside and around the main street, diverting buses, coaches and tourist cars straight to the door of House of Manannan and then out of town again to Stepford Central (Tynwald Mills Shopping Centre). Small business and shops closed, and by the time the main shopping street was pedestrianised there were no shops left.
I’m sorry to see things going so badly, and the ‘help’ of self-interested churches is no help at all, just a shameless pitch for public money which will inevitably prop up institutions for the deluded while further keeping resources away from the real community.
I can’t help noticing, for example, that the ‘business interests’ in developing the Cathedral as an ‘educational’ and ‘heritage’ facility are exactly those which benefited most when the new traffic system killed off the retail trade and the social superstructure it kept intact in the first place.

Keeping nonsense offline

As locals know, the second reading of the Isle of Man's long needed Civil Partnership Bill has been suspended.
Officially this is because MHKs need to have a presentation on the proposals first (Are they really so dim or misinformed they don’t understand yet? That’s really terrifying!). Unofficially it will be to allow the zombie worshippers more time to delay the fair and necessary.
What’s more interesting is why otherwise balanced coverage doesn’t include putting online with the rest of the IOM Newspapers material (see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/Civil-Partnership-Bill-to-go.6111922.jp ) a highly publicised statement in the Isle of Man Examiner by Sentamu’s Apprentice (AKA ‘The Lord Bishop of Sodor and Mann’).
My guess is SA and his advisors demanded it be run separately to mark his ‘importance’, then couldn’t deliver it on time, then when the editor finally read it he was too embarrassed to run it anywhere except a newspaper now only read in print form by the elderly and other socially disconnected folk.
It was, frankly, confused and rambling tosh which avoided all the issues and bore marks of having been composed by a committee who couldn’t agree on anything (I suspect the executive committee of Churches Together in Mann as it has their usual lack of coherence).
Even so, not putting it online deprives us of the chance to snigger at just how out of touch the church is with 21st century reality.
What a shame.