Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Burning issue

….and back again! Think I may just have found the impetus to get back into this stuff.
It may seem an odd jump from the life-or-death Ugandan issue I blogged on yesterday, but if you are serious about civil liberties, then when a local issue comes up you act – even if you might cross the road to avoid those most affected.
And so it is with the smoking survey reminder at http://www.gov.im/lib/news/health/lessthantwoweeks.xml
I am in a unique position in that the removal of freedom & choice here doesn’t really affect me individually, except that every time anti-democratic prodnoses manage to take away a right from the public we all suffer, because it makes it that much easier for them to remove another one in future. But the notion that the ideas, opinions or objections of people who smoke must be automatically discounted because they might be wrong or deluded, while an anti-smoking lobby underwritten by government cannot be questioned - and must be assumed to be honest and accurate – is ridiculous and insulting.
Even minimal investigation of the ‘surveys’ and ‘evidence’ of that government-sponsored lobby shows basic mistakes and a failure to correct or even acknowledge this, while the way in which false information is presented again and again (and heavy-handed attempts to screen out ‘unhelpful’ public views in the government and public funded ‘surveys’ which are supposed to precede any change in legislation) is a matter which ought to be of grave concern to anyone who still believes we are living in a democratic country and that government is there to provide the services and society the electorate and taxpayers want.
There is also something plain wrong about government paying to lobby itself, then pretending to ask our opinion ( but skewing the survey questions so that we cannot object to the ill-informed decision they made in the first place), then expecting us to pick up the bill for the lot while they take away another of our liberties.
It seems there is an element in the public sector which now believes it is the electorate’s job to simply sanction a government which will do as it pleases, while the taxpayers are supposed to fund this and not ask embarrassing questions, such as whether it is professionally and objectively done, good value for money, or even fit for purpose.
Time to cut that element down to size, I would suggest. And if you need a joke to help you along, try http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/smoking-makes-smokers-more-like-non-smokers-2012112650493 .
No seriously, fill in that survey, but stop reacting to all the kneejerk tabloid twaddle and think about what happens when a bunch of prodnoses (probably in naff armbands and badly fitting peaked caps) get public money to invade the privacy of people’s homes and property and start ordering them around.
Because that is what we are talking about here. Nothing else. And think about what happens when, having done it once, they feel like doing it again, but this time to interfere with some simple pleasure of yours which ISN’T HARMING ANYONE ELSE AND ISN’T ANYBODY ELSE’S BUSINESS.
Because when health strategy is in the hands of the kind of thin-lipped puritans who come up with this nonsense, that is, if anything, a damn good reason to take up smoking. Because dying earlier as a result would be a merciful release from a drawn out, miserable death in whatever kind of joyless government facility these mean-spirited, anti-human fiends will come up with.
Over the top reaction?
Compared to the way Manx government officials and their dim little ‘third sector’ friends behave every time they want to brighten up their dull little lives by screwing up ours, and even expect another handout from us to do it?
Get real.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Kill this Bill, not gays

Real world problems have kept me away from the blog for a while but, as the Manx press don’t seem interested, I have to post something here about a nasty bit of legislation in Uganda, and the sheer hypocrisy of Manx evangelicals about such stuff.
This all started as the latest misleading salvo in the particularly mean-minded letters page debate about overseas aid. As I’ve said before, I’ve felt hamstrung because the major local defenders of the principle are mainstream churchgoers and a major beneficiary mainstream religious aid agencies (e.g. Christian Aid, Tearfund), while the most virulent attacks come from individuals who spout fundamentalist variants of free market views on charity - or indeed any form of compassion.
From my day job in our finance sector I am painfully aware of huge irony, in that the viciously deceptive American magazines from which such misanthropes quote freely are heavily underwritten by ‘educational foundations’ formed to channel money towards the ‘Tea Party’ tendency of Republicanism, and the biggest donors to those foundations are wealthy evangelicals eager to avoid tax. 
But when Manx supporters of a dubious religious aid agency wrongly claimed that the international community was cutting Ugandan aid because of Ugandan political corruption I saw red. So in response, I sent a letter to the Indie outlining the history of the horrendous ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill which has actually caused aid to be frozen since 2009.
In particular I linked the Bill’s sponsor, David Bahati, to the Fellowship Foundation (a US-based Christian and political organisation - better known as ‘the Family’-  which arranges an annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington), and also explained how the Bill originated in the March 2009 Ugandan tour of Abiding Truth Ministries (another US evangelical group) to promote The Pink Swastika, a very silly book co-authored by Abiding Truth’s president, Scott Lively, which presented Nazism as a ‘gay conspiracy’.
The Indie never printed it. Not sure why. Maybe they’re as bored as I am by the sad procession of knuckle-dragging throwbacks who think we should cut all aid, or the almost as pathetic attempts by some of the key recipients to retain it, but on the present terms (i.e. the public get no say in the matter, we just hand our tax money to a self-elected bunch of numpties with vested interests, who decide which of their mates get it all this year).
Or maybe the Indie just won’t risk upsetting those key advertisers who insist evangelical twaddle gets printed ad nauseum, and pull their ads when anyone points out what twaddle it is or the damage religiots actually do in the world.
The point is the Bill is back on.
In fact Ugandan politicians seem to have promised it as some sort of sick ‘Christmas present’ to their rich but retarded Yank bible-bashing friends.
 In fact Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of the Ugandan parliament, actually used those words ‘(Christmas present’, that is, not ‘rich but retarded Yank bible-bashing friends’.
As I said in the unprinted letter, we in the West need to stop blaming easy targets for African poverty. Instead, it is high time we acknowledged that myths and prejudices we created, and hateful parasites whose activities we failed to prevent, are a major factor in the problem.
So you could help by signing two emergency protests to the Ugandan government. You can find them at www.allout.org/uganda  and http://www.avaaz.org/en/uganda_stop_gay_death_law/?tyOERab. But you have to sign NOW. Even the end of this week could be too late to save lives.
27/11/12 Update - if you want to send a message to five US senators who are members of the 'family' mentioned above, there's a petition at http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6535/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=12199 .