We have to stand with Charlie Hebdo – there is no other choice

FRANCE-ATTACKS-MEDIAMuch as a very large part of me wants to curl up and become a xenophobe and a religiphobe, I do not want to cloud my vision to what is actually going on.
The senseless and violent assassinations of 12 people, including the two policemen charged with security, at Charlie Hebdo in Paris today leaves all of us numb, with developing anger, sadness and a sense of impotence that no amount of throwing something at the wall will satisfy.
We all remember the Danish cartoons, the people who were killed, the movie made by Hirsi Ali and Van Gogh, the fatwa that sent Rushdie to America for safety, and other atrocious killings. We have witnessed beheadings by terrorists of harmless journalists and aid workers posted on the internet for all to see.

We are all aware of what is definitely an upsurge in Islam-related bombings, suicide bombings, stabbings and the appalling murder in full daylight of a soldier with the perpetrators sending their dreadful message on video tape while waving blood stained hands and machetes on air.

You can go onto YouTube and find video after video after video of Islamic would-bes if they could-bes ranting and raving about the immediate world domination by Islam and the beheadings of all those who refuse to submit to the religious edicts.

All these acts are aimed at creating a miasma of fear with the aim of subjection.

There are those who insist that European countries start to repel intended immigrants if they come from war-torn Arabic or African states. There have been incidents in The Netherlands, Denmark, France, the UK and so many other countries. Here is an image; an analysis of Islamic terrorism gleaned from 12 years data collection. I can’t attest to any accuracy, obviously. It is disturbing, none-the-less.

Distribution of Islamic terrorism using collected from 2001 to 2012

Distribution of Islamic terrorism using collected from 2001 to 2012

I have to say, to any reader not familiar with me, that I have a decided antipathy to any and all religion as it is practised, proselytised and imposed. Historically religion has dominated societies and we are still trying to shake ourselves and our societies free of religious shackles. Not an easy task. As secularism grows and has a greater voice in the media (and there are many media these days), the more insular, dogmatic and hard line religions fight back. They cross the line when they resort to murder, terrorism, mutilation, mass killings etc.
It is very easy to satirise Pat Robertson with his loopy Christianity, or any of the way over the top religious charlatans who fleece gullible people. Not so easy to relegate Islamic extremism to the asylum ward.
There is an enormous movement of Muslims into Europe – Europe that has seen bloody religious wars and has no stomach for them. But Europe is worried by the growing ant-Islamic sentiments venting there.

Any reading of the histories of any/all religions shows the intolerance and internecine flavour that attends them.
I have a friend who has, for years, eschewed criticism of religion partly because it goes nowhere. Just words. However today, he has posted an essay that Christopher Hitchens wrote for Slate in 2006 and I reproduce it in full here with the introduction by Slate on today’s atrocity:
The case for mocking religion

By Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens

On Wednesday, gunmen attacked the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12. The magazine was known for printing images of the prophet Mohammed, including the 2005 cartoons that originally ran in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, leading to widespread violence. In February 2006, Christopher Hitchens addressed that controversy in his inimitable way. His article is reprinted below:

As well as being a small masterpiece of inarticulacy and self-abnegation, the statement from the State Department about this week’s international Muslim pogrom against the free press was also accidentally accurate.

“Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images, as anti-Christian images, or any other religious belief.”

Thus the hapless Sean McCormack, reading painfully slowly from what was reported as a prepared government statement. How appalling for the country of the First Amendment to be represented by such an administration. What does he mean “unacceptable”? That it should be forbidden? And how abysmal that a “spokesman” cannot distinguish between criticism of a belief system and slander against a people. However, the illiterate McCormack is right in unintentionally comparing racist libels to religious faith. Many people have pointed out that the Arab and Muslim press is replete with anti-Jewish caricature, often of the most lurid and hateful kind. In one way the comparison is hopelessly inexact. These foul items mostly appear in countries where the state decides what is published or broadcast. However, when Muslims republish the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or perpetuate the story of Jewish blood-sacrifice at Passover, they are recycling the fantasies of the Russian Orthodox Christian secret police (in the first instance) and of centuries of Roman Catholic and Lutheran propaganda (in the second). And, when an Israeli politician refers to Palestinians as snakes or pigs or monkeys, it is near to a certainty that he will be a rabbi (most usually Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the leader of the disgraceful Shas party) and will cite Talmudic authority for his racism. For most of human history, religion and bigotry have been two sides of the same coin, and it still shows.

Therefore there is a strong case for saying that the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, and those who have reprinted its efforts out of solidarity, are affirming the right to criticize not merely Islam but religion in general. And the Bush administration has no business at all expressing an opinion on that. If it is to say anything, it is constitutionally obliged to uphold the right and no more. You can be sure that the relevant European newspapers have also printed their share of cartoons making fun of nuns and popes and messianic Israeli settlers, and taunting child-raping priests. There was a time when this would not have been possible. But those taboos have been broken.

Which is what taboos are for. Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all. The prohibition on picturing the prophet—who was only another male mammal—is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent. This current uneasy coexistence is only an interlude, he seems to say. For the moment, all I can do is claim to possess absolute truth and demand absolute immunity from criticism. But in the future, you will do what I say and you will do it on pain of death.

I refuse to be spoken to in that tone of voice, which as it happens I chance to find “offensive.” (By the way, hasn’t the word “offensive” become really offensive lately?) The innate human revulsion against desecration is much older than any monotheism: Its most powerful expression is in the Antigone of Sophocles. It belongs to civilization. I am not asking for the right to slaughter a pig in a synagogue or mosque or to relieve myself on a “holy” book. But I will not be told I can’t eat pork, and I will not respect those who burn books on a regular basis. I, too, have strong convictions and beliefs and value the Enlightenment above any priesthood or any sacred fetish-object. It is revolting to me to breathe the same air as wafts from the exhalations of the madrasahs, or the reeking fumes of the suicide-murderers, or the sermons of Billy Graham and Joseph Ratzinger. But these same principles of mine also prevent me from wreaking random violence on the nearest church, or kidnapping a Muslim at random and holding him hostage, or violating diplomatic immunity by attacking the embassy or the envoys of even the most despotic Islamic state, or making a moronic spectacle of myself threatening blood and fire to faraway individuals who may have hurt my feelings. The babyish rumor-fueled tantrums that erupt all the time, especially in the Islamic world, show yet again that faith belongs to the spoiled and selfish childhood of our species.

As it happens, the cartoons themselves are not very brilliant, or very mordant, either. But if Muslims do not want their alleged prophet identified with barbaric acts or adolescent fantasies, they should say publicly that random murder for virgins is not in their religion. And here one runs up against a curious reluctance. … In fact, Sunni Muslim leaders can’t even seem to condemn the blowing-up of Shiite mosques and funeral processions, which even I would describe as sacrilege. Of course there are many millions of Muslims who do worry about this, and another reason for condemning the idiots at Foggy Bottom is their assumption, dangerous in many ways, that the first lynch mob on the scene is actually the genuine voice of the people. There’s an insult to Islam, if you like.

The question of “offensiveness” is easy to decide. First: Suppose that we all agreed to comport ourselves in order to avoid offending the believers? How could we ever be sure that we had taken enough precautions? On Saturday, I appeared on CNN, which was so terrified of reprisal that it “pixilated” the very cartoons that its viewers needed to see. And this ignoble fear in Atlanta, Ga., arose because of an illustration in a small Scandinavian newspaper of which nobody had ever heard before! Is it not clear, then, that those who are determined to be “offended” will discover a provocation somewhere? We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the fanatics, and it is degrading to make the attempt.

Second (and important enough to be insisted upon): Can the discussion be carried on without the threat of violence, or the automatic resort to it? When Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses in 1988, he did so in the hope of forwarding a discussion that was already opening in the Muslim world, between extreme Quranic literalists and those who hoped that the text could be interpreted. We know what his own reward was, and we sometimes forget that the fatwa was directed not just against him but against “all those involved in its publication,” which led to the murder of the book’s Japanese translator and the near-deaths of another translator and one publisher. I went on Crossfire at one point, to debate some spokesman for outraged faith, and said that we on our side would happily debate the propriety of using holy writ for literary and artistic purposes. But that we would not exchange a word until the person on the other side of the podium had put away his gun. (The menacing Muslim bigmouth on the other side refused to forswear state-sponsored suborning of assassination, and was of course backed up by the Catholic bigot Pat Buchanan.) The same point holds for international relations: There can be no negotiation under duress or under the threat of blackmail and assassination. And civil society means that free expression trumps the emotions of anyone to whom free expression might be inconvenient. It is depressing to have to restate these obvious precepts, and it is positively outrageous that the administration should have discarded them at the very first sign of a fight.

In the Wall Street Journal today there is this:

salman rushdieSalman Rushdie, whose book “The Satanic Verses” prompted Iran’s Ayatollah to issue a fatwa on him in 1989, responded to Wednesday’s shooting attack at the Paris offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. His statement:

“Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”  –Salman

What to do about this stuff?? I don’t know. It is no use crying to ‘get rid of them’ from ‘our’ country(ies). The problems with terrorist Islam is not going to go away soon. Each incident has to be dealt with as it happens. The US has immigrants sign a paper stating they will not bring harm to the US or they face being deported. That still only works on an individual incident and perpetrator basis.

There is a lot of money brought into different countries from oil-rich Arabic and Islamic states. Populations have become dependent on the products that oil provides. There appears to be no political will to cut off potential political funding by taking any sort of strong stance on immigrants, even if there is a suspicion that said immigrant may be problematic.

Has anyone arrived at a logistical and reasonable solution to this seemingly growing problem of religio/political terrorism? Not a polemic but a solution that can be realistically implemented? In any case, I am with Rushdie and Hitchens – mock all religious stupidity, and tyranny. The pen has to be mightier than the sword. Well – more people can write and make cartoons than can wield the sword.



When Islam Breaks Down


This image from Church&State

This image from Church&State

This is a remarkably insightful article from City Post by Theodore Dalrymple. I have to share it here – I have not read such a comprehensive piece on Islam before. I hope that everyone reading this blog gets as much from this as I do. I read the following article on the Church and State site but it was first published in City Post – a quarterly review published by The Manhattan Institute.

Editor’s note: “When Islam Breaks Down” was named the best journal article of 2004 by David Brooks in the New York Times.

There are so many appropriate quotes to be taken from this article – I have chosen this one:

‘Is there an essential element that condemns the Dar al-Islam to permanent backwardness with regard to the Dar al-Harb, a backwardness that is felt as a deep humiliation, and is exemplified, though not proved, by the fact that the whole of the Arab world, minus its oil, matters less to the rest of the world economically than the Nokia telephone company of Finland?
I think the answer is yes, and that the problem begins with Islam’s failure to make a distinction between church and state. Unlike Christianity, which had to spend its first centuries developing institutions clandestinely and so from the outset clearly had to separate church from state, Islam was from its inception both church and state, one and indivisible, with no possible distinction between temporal and religious authority. Muhammad’s power was seamlessly spiritual and secular (although the latter grew ultimately out of the former), and he bequeathed this model to his followers. Since he was, by Islamic definition, the last prophet of God upon earth, his was a political model whose perfection could not be challenged or questioned without the total abandonment of the pretensions of the entire religion.’

If I were to continue from this quote, I would mention the intractable problems that Islam faces but Dalrymple has written so lucidly that his words are the ones to read.


Assisted Suicide in the News – Again

You know whenever you come across polls, surveys and other methods that attempt to quantify the public’s attitudes to assisted suicide, euthanasia and just plain suicide, the majority opinion seems to be well in excess of the halfway mark.

YouGov has conducted an online poll of 4,437 British adults for the Westminster Faith Debates. This is a religious organisation commissioning a survey. Well done although I suggest they didn’t warm to the results.

Dr Anne Turner with her son - to Dignitas

Dr Anne Turner with her son – to Dignitas

‘Overall 70% of those questioned said they backed a change in the law.’

Interestingly in this survey 56% of those responders following Catholicism supported a change in the law. The percentage changes were upwards for those not so active in public adherence to their faith. Anglicans, Jewish and Sikh faiths had a majority in favour of a change in the law.

Typically a spokesman (this time for the Church of England) opined that such surveys were the wrong way to go about testing opinion on this issue. Presumably because the results didn’t match his expectations.

In April this year, another petitioner for the right to die with the help of a doctor has made a case that continues the legal challenge mounted by the late Tony Nicklinson.

The inability or refusal of the legal and political fraternity to address this issue head on seems to me to smack of the utter meanness that religion displays in its mantra that suffering is the way to god. It may be naïve to describe it in this way and no doubt I can be taken to task for being simplistic about religious faith and its aspirations. I don’t really give a damn.

Religiosity is simplistic in essence and its tenets are man-made injunctions both for and against specific behaviour. I hold no brook with religiosity of any stripe. Why should I? I am not religious. My point is that I should not be held prisoner to religious privilege in the political agenda nor should any medical attendant have to suffer threats or indictment for murder under a ridiculous archaic and exceedingly antiquated law.

This law was made under the thrall of religiosity and is really and truly antiquated in the 21st century. We have a population (at least in developed countries) where medical technology is able to increase longevity (not necessarily quality of life) with medications and palliative care et al.

Some of us do not want that sort of longevity. Some of us have had enough and some of us, like Nicklinson and Lamb, Purdy and others, want help to end our assessment of the travesty of our lives.

He has mounted a challenge to the law

Paul Lamb – He has mounted a challenge to the law

What is so hard about this? I really do not understand why UK law would consider the compassionate act of a medical person in administering a drug that would end such a life to be murder. It isn’t murder when a vet puts a dog, cat, horse, donkey, cow or any other animal under an anaesthetic and then administers a lethal dose to end its suffering. We are just animals after all. We like to think that because we have developed consciousness that we are special and ‘above’ other animals. Our physical bodies attest that this is not so. We are like every other mammal; we just don’t call each other ‘it’. With tears, love and regret we acquiesce to the induced death of our best loved domestic companions. We grieve, sometimes for years if not decades. If only we could do this with our best friends and family easily with no religious angst.

It is over ten years since the first Briton went to Dignitas to end his life.

Ten years of over 180 Britons having to pay thousands of pounds to go to a Switzerland-based clinic, located in an industrial estate, to end the lives that they consider intolerable. And, make no mistake, it is they who know their lives are intolerable, not some granny state. The extra cost of taking a family member as support for the end of their life is substantial. The Act governing this was made in 1961. Those travelling with the patient could be indicted. So far no one has. That’s not quite good enough They have to be legally immune from arrest as accessories.

They have had to make this decision well before their self-assessed use-by-date because they have not been able to access their own country’s NHS system to find the compassion and willingness to help them through this final hurdle. Why? Maybe it is partly because there is an established religion in this country. There may be a fear of funds for politicking being withdrawn. Maybe big pharma has something to do with it. But I doubt it. 180 people is hardly worth the effort. Many more would not have the funds to enable such a Dignitas visit. So let’s quadruple the number just for fun. 720 people out of a population of some 55 million. And the sky will fall in?? Our moral values will fail – you have to be joking!!

Britain likes to see itself as civilised but I question this. Especially in relation to assisted suicide, the shilly shallying over acceptable criteria to employ for such a euthanasia act is quite pathetic.

In Australia there is currently a window of opportunity::

‘there’s a bill about to be introduced into NSW State Parliament that would give patients the legal right to request a humane, medically-assisted death (voluntary euthanasia). This option includes robust legal safeguards and would only apply to individuals suffering from painful terminal illness.’

It still doesn’t go far enough but it is a start. The Northern Territory passed an Act which was overturned federally because the Northern Territory was ‘just’ a territory and deemed unable to make its own laws. So a mealy mouthed religite conservative put up a bill overturning the Territory’s bill after only one or two people had made use of it.

This quote from the lobby group GetUp says much the same thing I have blogged about before:

‘ … too many Australians choose to end their suffering by the only legal means available to them. Options such as ending life support treatment, cutting off food and water or suiciding, often violently. These options are distressing, prolong suffering and cause further grief and anxiety. They can also push family, friends and medical support away when they’re needed most.’

Can we all please be civilised in the proper sense of the word and leave superstition, religiosity and misplaced pro-life quasi-arguments behind?

People who have made a decision to die because life has become intolerable need help not hindrance.

For those of you who haven’t seen The Barbarian Invasions http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338135/

I suggest you watch it.

Religious Observance vs Comparative Religion

Ah well. One can hope they don't take it seriously, I guess.

One can only hope they don’t take it seriously, I guess.

This interesting and welcome article in the on-line BBC News will no doubt garner a heap of support. As it should. Whether or not the City of Edinburgh Council will have the gumption to take on the Church of Scotland and the other denominations that have their religious hooks into the (devolved) education system and curricula in Scotland is another matter entirely. And I can’t add my name because I live in Fife.

The Headline reads: Parent calls to remove ‘religious observance’ in non-denominational schools

‘A parent in Edinburgh has launched a petition calling on the city council to look at banning religious observance in non-denominational schools.’

The article does point out that parents are entitled to let their children ‘opt out’ of such religious observance, however that option tends to isolate and disadvantage the child. And, it appears, that parents are not being apprised of the right to opt out. Another BBC on-line News item several months ago

‘… only 20% of parents asked by YouGov on behalf of the Humanist Society of Scotland said they had picked up this information from schools.’

There has been a suggestion that if the damn thing is to stay, then the legislation or regulations need to change to allow the option of ‘opting in’. I can’t see that option flying though. I do remember opting out in the ‘50s and with a few others spent the weekly religious period in the library. I don’t recall being traumatised though or feeling victimised. I think we few, we happy few, felt we had escaped – whew!

My preference, like that of Veronica Wikman the parent, is to get rid of religion all together in schools. The only way to treat religion is through an historical perspective. Teach Comparative Religion. Teach that human beings have, from time immemorial, developed ideas of supernatural beings and events to explain what was, at the time, un-explainable. List and discuss various religions and why beliefs were held. Not a problem really. We teach history and the differing views held by different factions in wars, political movements, patriotic stances etc.

Ms Wikman’s point and that of the Edinburgh Secular Society that is backing this petition, is that the churches’ schools chaplains have unfettered access to vulnerable children. Indeed, the media contact for the ESS likened it to direct marketing and said it was inappropriate when he was on BBC Radio Scotland’s programme a couple of days ago.

The religious callers to the programme tried to rationalise their trenchant views in various ways. One said that because the streets were not safe anymore, that children were exposed to a sense of spiritual community and growth in the safety of the schools. Another tried to say that indoctrination was not the aim, but to grow up as healthy human beings children had to be taught about ‘light’ and ‘dark’ – I heard this woman on talk-back and the religious over and undertones were blazingly apparent. They are getting more clever at marketing the BS, that’s all.

School kiddies in thrall (I hope not)

School kiddies in thrall (I hope not)

I realise that in the western world, at least, religion is fading and a good thing too so far as the intellectual health of our societies is concerned.

With the churches targeting the poor of Africa and with Islam moving outwards into the further reaches from its home base in the middle east, we are seeing quite a battle being enjoined for the hearts and minds of ordinary people.

All religions are charged by their superstitious godhead through the holy books to proselytise. Islam is more violent than modern day Christianity but Judaism is more barricaded against the outside world. The slight resurgent hiccup in religious extremism being experienced in post industrial western cultures will fade fairly quickly, I would think – a generation maybe. But Islam is still a fierce wild eyed ideology that threatens and carries out murder for apostasy or conversion to another religion. It also has some deeply held belief that its particular brand of religious law needs to supplant the laws of any land it starts to populate. This, of course, is a problem with two cultures clashing in a single society and this is what is happening now in Britain and in some European countries.

I seriously think it is time to get religion out of everywhere in society except the churches premises. Out of education system, out of health and hospitals, out of the armed forces, out of the legislature and out of the judicial system.

It is time – to quote several politicians’ catch phrase. Maybe parents of other countries could try to eradicate the assumed arrogance of the religious to easy access to schools. To say they are not trying to indoctrinate is simply disingenuous and they need to be called out on that.

Same Sex Marriage & Real News

Well, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has passed the second reading in the House of Commons. Now it is off to committee for tweaking and going to the House of Lords. A hard task because there are 26 unelected Bishops of one flavour or another who are members of that House.

I have to say that in this, I stand with Cameron (even though nearly half of his Tories voted against the Bill) because this is the right thing to do.

This is Cameron

This is Cameron

Cameron enjoys my wrath on most things, but on this he earned a qualified respect.

The bleating of the religites in the papers and on the comment threads has been staggering. All the irrational arguments you can think of:

*The sky will fall in

*Next thing will be polygamy and/or polyandry and/or bestial sex

*Or – the next thing will be incest

*The debasement of traditional marriage

*Betrayal of the electorate

*Increased incidence of child abuse

*Increased incidence of bullying

*Increased incidence of HIV/AIDS

*God’s wrath will be upon us

*Great Britain will be the laughing stock of the world

*Homosexuality will become a much larger percentage of the population

It has gone on and on and on and on. Mind you the newspapers have had a field day. Up to their eyeballs in articles, blogs, opinion pieces, quotes from the bishops and others, hand wringing and despair. Loud wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But, I think this is one step closer to a state run and managed civil marriage register and celebrants will be state employees.

The Humanists don’t want this because they think it will threaten some of their income stream. The Secularists want this because it removes some religious privilege which is the aim of secularism.

This is Great Britain where there is an established church and it gets the special privilege regardless. I mean the Queen heads the Church and is Defender of the faith anyway and even if Charlie takes over from her, he has said that he wants to be the Defender of all faiths. Good grief.

In the meantime, in the real world, a Tunisian democrat politician, lawyer and activist has been assassinated presumably by Islamic extremists as he was outspoken against Sharia law and Islamists in his country. (Late edit) The Tunisian Government has collapsed because of this.

Shokri Belaid - shot to death

Shokri Belaid – shot to death

Lars Hedegaard - the guman missed

Lars Hedegaard – the gunman missed


A Danish critic of Islam was shot at by (probably) an Islamist.

Nahla Mahoud

Nahla Mahmoud






And this woman Nahla Mahmoud slams the idea of Sharia law in the UK or anywhere else. Read what she has to say – the possibility of this law being acceptable in the UK makes me sick.

Japan and China keep fronting up to each other over disputed territory. A tsunami hits the Solomons and people are dead. The French and Malian forces clash with militant Islamists outside Gao.

Little girls are still having their genitals cut by trusted mothers and other female relatives. Although, a small light of care comes from Comic Relief and other trusts including Rosa that have collaborated on a £1.6m programme to tackle FGM in the UK. In the UK, can you believe it!!

Rosa's Chairman

Rosa’s Chairman

But the Mother Grundies are bleating about same sex marriage in the UK, shock, horror and how it will end civilisation as we know it. Unbelievable.

Religious nuttery – alive and well (sort of)

I know that I keep banging on intermittently and vociferously about religious privilege that now goes under the banner of religious freedom. There seem to be more of us making the same point. This is good and to be applauded.

Several things have happened over the past little while:

 Firstly – the Catholic educational establishments in parts of America are falling foul of the National Labor Relations Board that made a ruling in favour of adjunct professors in a Catholic tertiary institution asking for their first pay rise in 5 years. The NLRB’s statement included the observation that ‘neither the university, nor its faculty, nor their courses were actually religious in any meaningful sense.’

Entry view to St Xavier’s, Chicago

Never the less St Xavier’s University in Chicago opposed the effort of the professors to unionise and lobby for a pay rise on the grounds that St Xavier’s was a religious institution and was allowed special powers that exempt them from laws of the land. The University will not win this one; the adjunct professors will. Good!

I note this bleating by the religious that their ‘freedom is in jeopardy’ is occurring with increased regularity and tedious repetition all over the post-industrial religious world. Of course, America is by far the most religious of all western democracies and the impact of its nutty religious views is becoming glaringly obvious.

While public (and private, privileged) education is being reinvented in the western world, America has a big problem. Educational standards are slipping in America; as the biggest slave to capitalism it is losing the race. Its paranoia that it is in danger of misplacing the American dream (as Carlin pointed out, you have to be asleep to believe in the American dream anyway) and that it is entitled to plunder the lion’s share of everything the planet has on tap is further diminishing the country. Its slowing innovative capacity is a problem; America is in danger of disappearing up its own fundament. It would seem that its citizens have little if any idea of what lies outside the shores of America which increases its predilection to greater isolation and self imposed dangerous insularity.

SecondlyGermany has made circumcision for religious reasons illegal. Well, great! It is about time. Desert dust, unsanitary conditions, control over sexuality and thousands of years of inappropriate rubbish promoted and adhered to by a barbaric group of uneducated people needs to be disbanded. Good. I am glad. However the religious organisations are up in arms screaming lack of religious freedom. If religious freedom means the legally sanctioned practice of cutting off the foreskin of young boys’ penises, then all I can say is that such barbarism needs to be banned and good on Germany. Other countries (all European, I bet) will follow. Good.

There is an argument that circumcision doesn’t hurt baby boys within the first day or so of life. If you have ever heard a baby scream while this ‘operation’ is carried out, you know that that is utter rot. Some baby boys have died from blood loss as well. The circumcision of boys at later stages of their early lives is horrendous. There are Jewish sects where the ‘holy man’ uses his teeth to rip the foreskin from the boy’s penis. Nice! The Muslims are protesting their religious freedom as well. Tough. Good on Germany.

Thirdly – Bavaria has issued a statement that Islam will not be able to run its parallel legal system called Sharia law in concert with the law of the land. Good. Unfortunately, the use of Sharia law is likely to be driven underground which is always a problem. Here in Britain, the devout Muslims use their self styled Imams to instruct them on behaviour that sometimes includes female genital mutilation, honour killings and forced marriages together with polygamy and divorce procedures. This is not good. Young pubescent girls still get sent to Pakistan by their families into arranged but not agreed to marriages. Some suicides result, some facial mutilation occurs, often by the throwing of acid, if the girls dissent and some honour killings are perpetrated if the girls refuse.

Please don’t try to tell me or any other person who has grown into this century that these things are right. They are not. Not under any circumstances.

Fourthly – The City of Edinburgh has cancelled prayers and made asking guidance from the sky daddy a private thing to be exercised outside the chamber. This is good. A number of other councils in both Scotland and the rest of Britain are doing the same. Ireland has suffered through the Catholic paedophilia scandals and the Irish are turning away from religion in droves. In hind sight (always a good, if biased way to turn one’s neck), Ireland may just save itself from the current religiosity earlier than the rest of us.

Finally! Good grief – now I have just read of a group of Sikhs in Wiltshire who occupied their community’s temple called a gurdwara in order to halt a marriage ceremony between a Sikh woman of their community and a Christian man – who just happens to be of West African background. What I noticed in the news reports is that these protesters are being referred to as ‘hardliners’ not religious fanatics or fundamentalists. Just racial bigots I guess.

“This new trend of interfaith marriages in Sikh places of worship directly breaks the Sikh code of conduct and tenants (sic)…”, they claimed, adding that they held a “peaceful protest” to stop the “beadbi ” (insult) of the gurdwara.”

This is the gurdwara in question

And apparently protesting is hungry work – the protesters are reported as having eaten the wedding feast that had been laid out in advance of the ceremony that was eventually solemnised in the Registry Office, sans wedding breakfast.

It is hard not to laugh and snigger at the idiocy that is religious belief and the adherence to some silly dogma or three. Like the Mormons and their magic underpants to protect their precious genetic material from radiation damage. Or the suicide bombers who wrap their family jewels in kitchen foil to ensure their intactness when they get to their 72 virgins in paradise. Never mind they will never find their eyes scattered all over the place so they can never feast them on the beauty of their allotted virgins. Let alone their fingers – so no touchy touchy either.

I mean really! Am I supposed to respect this crap and be smiley polite to people who actually believe this sort of rubbish? Like virgin births? Levitation? Angels? Fishes and loaves? Winged horses? Devils and magi? Resurrections?

What we do need now is the banning of religious indoctrination in any and all educational establishments anywhere in the world and we may have a hope of survival in this century. I can’t really see it myself. We have a deep flaw that has us scrabbling to outdo each other in the magic that we imagine and turn into our own hubris. And expect others to believe obvious nuttery.

Not this little duck, I am glad to say.

Homophobia – why and what for?

What is it about homophobia, same sex marriage and gays adopting children? What engenders such heated and fearful reactions in especially religiously oriented societies?

I have always thought of myself as a fairly normal sexual human being. I began to get sexual urgings at the time my body’s response started to include menstruation in its repertoire. It sort of sounded normal to me (at a later time of reflection, of course).

I just went along with my body’s dictates. Actually I embraced my body’s dictates with gusto and enjoyed very varied physical contact with fellow human beings and a sometimes tortured emotional reaction to rejection and my shyness.

I do not believe that I am or was so different from my (now) 7 billion fellows spread all over the globe, living in cultural situations that are the same or are different from mine.

Homosexuality is perceived by a certain (large) section of all human societies as evil. I find this interesting in itself.

This attitude emanates from religious dogma, basically of the monotheistic variety. I have never adopted even selected parts of religious teachings as my raison d’être for living a good fulfilled life. Religious equations are quite horrific insofar as they allow for the murder of homosexuals and other minority groups in a number of human societies. The number of countries seems to me to be polarising into a rational Europe (they went through the religious wars and that was an horrific time) and an increasingly irrational set of other countries that are not controlling the spread of evangelical religion. It is this evangelical cultish religious dogma that is the problem today.

This sort of persecution doesn’t happen in other species. It’s not that homosexuality doesn’t happen – it does. Homosexual isolation and murder doesn’t happen in other species; only in human societies.

To my mind all negativity to human homosexuality has to do with religion. All religions start off as underground cultures. Academic, illiterate, downtrodden, disenfranchised – add as many more disadvantaged and marginalised groups as you like. They all start as small groups of fanatics. And they all want to grow their numbers in an attempt to become politically powerful. So the female becomes the repository of fecundity to enhance and improve the society of the faithful.

You could try the argument that men’s millions of sperm swimming against the tide to fertilise one female egg offers bets against the odds. And then that generation is born – a wee bit of a problem in this century where we have already hit 7 billion and don’t look like curtailing our growth numbers – pretty selfish really when you consider the effect on so many marginally operating species with which we share the planet and which contribute in their own ways to its management. If you start looking at the extinction numbers and the potentially extinct species’ numbers, you would think that we would become aware of our own hubris. But we don’t. We are superbly self-centred.

We are in the middle of an extinction period; whether or not the bleeding hearts want to accept it.

So please can we let the homosexuals alone? Can we please just let them be? They are not adding to the overall population explosion but they are prepared to look after and care for the often irresponsible issue of the wilful heterosexuals in our societies.

Stop hounding homosexual people and gather them to our collective bosom as the least aggressive members of our human population. Oh! and they appear to care more than a lot of us heterosexuals!