Friday, 24 July 2009

Cat herding for dummies

I was amused by a recent conversation with another Isle of Man Freethinker. Nothing new in that, as we often amuse each other. Unlike other local groups, we also robustly criticise each other’s ideas and nobody takes umbrage, especially if debunked by a good joke or quip. As it happens, I personally have done the same thing with local clergy for decades. Where the belief and person is honest, no offence is taken at a joke.
My amusement was on hearing that apparently this blog has been taken as some sort of Freethinker ‘party line’ – I can only presume by folk who like an organisation to have one in order that they can toe it and never, ever, have to think about morality again.
Oh yawn, here we go again!
Back in the 1980’s and again in the late 1990’s, when I worked for local papers, petty fiddlers and people who took themselves more seriously than I did used to threaten my relatives and friends to stop me pointing out their antics. I was never approached directly, and even my relatives or friends only got the threats via third parties who had, in their turn, been told half a story with the pertinent facts left out by someone else. I honestly thought that even on the Isle of Man that era was over. Maybe not.
But I will assume, for the sake of argument, that there is genuine misunderstanding. I honestly cannot see how, but will now do everything short of double spacing the following clarification to indicate you should read it as if I speak so slowly and clearly that even an MLC in the latter stages of Alzheimers could understand.
My blog cannot be taken as an Isle of Man Freethinkers party line because…..
(1) if it was, some simple indication of that fact, such as actually mentioning the group, would appear in the blog title. As you will see, it does not, and furthermore you will see no link to the Isle of Man Freethinkers website here either. I decided never to put one on, in order that malicious parties could never use my personal views to attack a group I happen to be a member of so that I can talk to the type of people who read newspapers which still have news in them.
(2) a party line would be anathema to a group like the Freethinkers anyway. As one of our number says regularly, trying to organise the Freethinkers is like herding cats, because the simplest instruction to any of us causes the rest to ask why…..or even why not.
In our early days we once tried very hard to thrash out ‘ground rules’, and for a few months got no further than something on the lines of “everyone has the right to disagree with everybody else about absolutely everything at any time without any party to the conversation taking the hump.” To be serious for a minute, we did agree some basic aims and objectives but never committed that one to print because it would be self-evident to anyone who ever attended one of our meetings.
(3) if you look at the blog topics and links on the sidebar, it is immediately obvious that much of the material here has little to do with humanism per se and much more to do with pointing out ludicrous goings on here on this island, that the world is not flat and does not end at Liverpool (for the benefit of Manx people), or that a speck in the middle of the Irish Sea between Liverpool and Belfast has (relatively) intelligent life on it (for the benefit of off-island readers).
By now, the jaws of off-island readers will be bruised after hitting the floor and their ribs will hurt from laughing. If it helps, I know faith healers who will offer to ease the pain by emptying your wallet. I don’t know how that works either, I’m just stating what they do without attempting an objective analysis because apparently that interferes with the chi…or something.
For those locals who know me – you also know that I, like my fellow Freethinkers, work on practical projects with Manx people of all faiths and none to increase interfaith understanding and reduce bigotry of all kinds. If only that were true of the self-styled ‘church leaders’ whose refusal to acknowledge or talk to other faiths caused the bigotry and social breakdown in the first place.
And for anyone who has read this far and STILL isn’t convinced – if you must dabble in evangelical cults don’t hand over your house deeds. They will probably sell your home and place the proceeds in an anonymous account based in the Turks & Caicos islands.

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