Saturday, 20 April 2013

Old Holborn

The last 48 hours have shown some of the fouler side of human nature.

A blogger, who uses the pseudonym of Old Holborn, made a handful of tweets that were, to be fair, a bit near-the-knuckle.  This is his habit; there are no sacred cows to OH, and everyone comes under fire at some point.

On this occasion, he got himself into a spat with a number of Liverpudlians over that city's lasting grievance over the Hillsborough tragedy.  As is becoming increasingly normal, a number of scousers called him a paedophile for doing so, to which he responded that the killers of James Bulger were themselves scousers.  Not particularly relevant, but then neither was the paedophile comment.  Rather ugly, but with such is what happens when you argue with people who are, shall we say, somewhat below the salt.

Things became rather heated, with several twitterers making threats against Old Holborn.  Some of them then managed to identify him, or at least obtain a name and address for him, which they then published online.

This is a vile thing to do; to publish the personal details of an individual in the full knowledge that there are people out there who are sufficiently unbalanced as to physically seek out the individual involved.

And seek him they did.  His employers were contacted; death threats were made to OH and his wife, and his children may also have been threatened.  Naturally enough, he has shut down his Twitter account and facebook account.

And he has been arrested. In a country where we are supposed to have free speech, a man has been arrested for saying something unpleasant.  You will notice, of course, that no mention is made in the linked article of the death threats received.  These are insignificant when compared to saying something tasteless.  And I very much doubt that those who have threatened Old Holborn, or those who published his details, will ever face any kind of charge.  I would be surprised if the police even bother to investigate the matter.

And this is the worst part of it all.  The police are involved now in a matter where someone has said something that wasn't very nice - but what business does the law have in becoming involved in this at all?  It doesn't. Why is the law siding with those that make death threats against their fellow citizens?

We have now reached a point of almost full inversion.

Making death threats is not seen as much of a crime. Saying something offensive, however, is.

The law involves itself in matters that no law should ever try to influence, yet divorces itself from those areas with which it should be concerned; it is a greater crime now to hurt another's feelings, but their body may be harmed - or at least threatened - with impunity.

Under the law, offence is now given, not taken.  Whether a crime has been committed is determined not by the thought or action of the perpetrator, but by the emotions of the alleged victim - or anyone else who cares to take offence.

This is only going to get worse.

If buttercups buzzed after the bee,
If boats were on land,
Churches on sea,
If ponies rode men,
And if grass ate the corn,
And if cats should be chased
Into holes by the mouse,
If the mammas sold their babies
To the Gypsies for half a crown,
If summer were spring,
And the other way 'round,
Then all the world would be upside down.

Offence, Political Correctness and Censorship

Could someone please tell me when it became the greatest cultural taboo to cause offence - almost, it sometimes seems, worse than murder? When did it become such an evil thing to say something that upsets people?  And why is our language now being twisted by neologisms that are as tortuous as they are execrable?  What are these terms that blossom on the tongue of the zeitgeist like a cancer?

We could blame Political Correctness - the tabloids frequently do so - but this isn't the cause.  Rather, it is the supposedly more palatable term for censorship - or more to the point, self-censorship.  Political correctness is not the cause, but the symptom of the malady.

And the malady, when dissected, comprises three main parts.

The first part we shall simply call:


Part of the problem seems to be that we are expected to make everyone feel 'included' in any discourse; to consider every possible form that humanity might take, and then tippy-toe around any characteristic that might make any of those that have such a characteristic feel in any way different.  Skin colour, physical disabilities, sexual orientation and anything else that one might care to name or think of.  But different from what, or whom?  The largest set outside their particular subset?  Their interlocutor?

Black people are now Afro-Caribbean.  Never mind that Africans and Caribbeans often dislike one another intensely, as many Caribbean people harbour a grudge towards Africans, as the ancestors of the latter sold the ancestors of the former into slavery (Europeans may have been responsible for the slave trade, but raptor states such as Dahomey grew fat on the trade and supplied the 'merchandise' quite happily).

Disabled people are now 'differently-abled' because they might get upset by anyone mentioning that they cannot walk, see, hear or whatever.  But the shying-away from the obvious fact that someone has a physical impairment that affects one of their senses or their mobility or cognitive ability really does seem ridiculous; the difficulty they have makes them no less of a person, it just makes them a person with a difficulty.  What is the point of trying to hide from the fact?

This, however, is by far the lesser part of the disease.  The usage of nouns and adjectives such as these have a habit of shifting around every few years; it is simply the language redecorating the walls, not making structural alterations, and with about as much real significance.

No, there is a deeper aspect to the illness, marked not by the labels it insists upon but with the shift in thinking it demands of everybody.

And so to the second (and unorignally named) part of the malady:


Not only must we be vary careful with the nouns and adjectives that we use, but also the verbs.  We must avoid any mention of anything at all that could possibly allude to there being any kind of a difference between those perceived as being the 'mainstream' and those who are of a 'different' group.

Helen Lewis sets this out very succinctly - and far better than I ever could - on her tumblr article 'Perfection in Language'. She uses a wonderful example:

...Imagine walking out of your front door, stopping the first person you meet and explaining your beliefs to them....
 Of course, I’ve already done something wrong in that opening paragraph. I’ve asked you to imagine walking out of your front door. But I can guarantee you that if I wrote that in a piece, I would get at least one comment “gently reminding” me that some people can’t walk, and some people can’t leave their houses. I’ve been ableist.

Now, what is wrong with walking out of your front door?  What could be more normal, more quotidian, than that?  Are we supposed to believe that those who are unable to walk, or to leave the house, will be mortally wounded by the reminder that the vast majority of others are able to do so?  That those that cannot see must be cossetted with a false belief that there is no such thing as sight?

So we are to avoid any reference to walking, to seeing, to hearing, to running, to living.  And to avoid any reference to these things we must erase them from our thoughts.  We must curtail not only our tongues, but also our brains.  We are to deny to ourselves that our everyday, normal actions are everyday or normal; we must not only pretend to a blind man that there is no such thing as sight, but we must pretend it to ourselves.

Now, it has been the case from time immemorial that if there is an enemy to fight, a process of 'othering' is first undertaken.  It is the psychological distancing of one's own group form the target group; propaganda is often used as part of this process.  In so many of the major wars that have been fought, each side has demonised the other, to make the other side hateful and something less than human.  Because then, the slaughter can begin in earnest.

Now, however, we find that this process has been turned inwards, and we are forced to 'other', to demonise, ourselves.  Be it skin colour, being able-bodied, mental acuity, wealth, ability - whatever you care to name.  If you find yourself in an advantaged or majority group, you are to apologise for yourself and believe yourself to somehow be at fault simply because - to continue Ms. Lewis' example - you are able to walk out of your front door.  Nothing less will do than everyone prostrates themselves at the feet of everyone else, each begging for forgiveness whilst simultaneously demanding that as many others as possible kneel before him as penitents keening their mea culpas.  Genuflect before the masses, the few that are many and the many that are few.

And this leads us to the third, and deepest, part of the disease - the very thing that political correctness, this cultural Marxism that has crept into our world, purportedly seeks to cure:


The aim of the politically correct mode of thought is to be all-inclusive. We are to censor ourselves in order to not cause offence to any 'group', or to those that get offended on their behalf.  But this is where we find the cancer at the heart of the left-wing mind, the worm that devours the root of the ideology.  And it is this:

By treating every conceivable 'disadvantaged' group with kid gloves, by singling them out for special treatment, any differences between that group and everyone else is highlighted, not diminished.  By refusing to allow any subset to be treated in the same manner as the main set, division is created.  The left would seek to invert what they perceive as being the historic order of things, to turn the 'privileged' white heterosexual male from being at the 'apex' of society into being the lowest and most despised group, and to take those at the very 'bottom' of the pyramid and raise them to a position of exalted status.  And of course, to be at the top of this new world order requires no effort on the part of the new elite; rather a lack of effort is all that is demanded.

This inversion is intended not only to affect the perceived hierarchy of society but also the effort required to reach any particular station.  Are you able-bodied? Hard-working? Independent? Determined? Ambitious? Talented? Then you are a sucker.  Because in this new order, the harder you work, the further down you will go.  You cannot work your way up the ladder - all you can do is slide all the way down.  Refuse to work, blame your background, society, anything you like, and you will rise.  The great shall be abased and the abased made great - the promise of Christianity has come about, but in a wholly secular and hateful manner.

Naturally, the proponents of this way of thinking countenance no dissent.  This uber-tolerant mob can tolerate anything other than a difference in opinion.  Do not dare to speak out, do not think of pointing out the absurdity of the premises, do not imagine that you can go against something that so clearly has the love of humanity at its heart and above all do not, do not examine that discomfort, that cognitive dissonance that perturbs you.

Helen Lewis did, this very week.  Within hours, her feminist and politically correct comrades had hounded her into closing down her Twitter account, to suspending her blogging and writing.  What hatred and bile spewed forth, simply because she dared to try to apply reason.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher - Initial Thoughts

So, today Margaret Thatcher died.

Needless to say, there were many who trumpeted and brayed about the fact and claimed they would be celebrating her death.  Predictable enough; a quick Google search of 'Maggie's Dead' shows a large number of websites that had been counting down to her demise and were crowing about it loudly. Comparisons with Hitler have been trotted out (Godwin's Law, anyone?) along with cries of 'Ding dong, the witch is dead'.

You might admire her.  You might hate her.  But to celebrate her death is...well, unseemly.

You see, many of those who have been cheering her passing are the same people who preach tolerance and respect to all.  Yet now they show themselves as being deeply intolerant and disrespectful - and yet will still claim to possess and indeed exemplify those virtues that they so openly flout.

And that's what galls me the most; the assumption that morality is something to be forced on others but disregarded on an individual basis.  That the person doing the speaking may judge others, but wishes never to be judged themselves.  Yet how can anyone cite, let alone lay claim to, a morality that they themselves choose to ignore when it suits them?

I shall explore the topic further in another post.  Suffice it to say for now that the time to celebrate Margaret Thatcher's passing was in 1990, when she was removed from office.  Not today.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Patriarchy? Seriously?

Well now.  Have you ever heard the term 'The Patriarchy'?  I'm sure you have.  It's the go-to boogeyman of feminists, leftists and right-on types, and it gets used and blamed a lot.

They do seem very reluctant to truly define it, though.  Requests for clarification are met with answers like:  "You know.  The Patriarchy."

Which doesn't really help clear things up any.

It's either that or some allusion to the oppression of women by men.  Which is also rather vague, I feel.

So I thought I'd have a little look and see if I couldn't find out for myself what it might be.  Now, this research below didn't take long, and if anyone can give me a better explanation, I'd like to hear it.


Let's start with the name.  The term 'Patriarchy' means that men - or more specifically given its etymology - fathers, rule society.  And indeed, men have ruled over many societies, not just western ones, since time immemorial.  No argument from me there.

The problem I see is that this has lead to the assumption that all men rule over the society of which they are a part.  And this simply is not true. Moreover, there is the idea that men have oppressed women since the dawn of time, and this is also not true.

Allow me to explain.

These twin assumptions would lead one to the impression that all men, throughout the ages, have lived well and had a say in how society is run.  They also would lead you to believe that the lot of women has been far worse, that women have had no say at all in how society is run, and have generally been held in thralldom to the wills of the men to whom they are related or married, and boy have they suffered for it.

Here's the thing:  whilst civilisation has invariably been run by men, it has only been the men at the top: those belonging to an elite class.  Nobody else had a say at all, for a very long time.  Even here in the West, in our much-vaunted democracies, it was pretty much a closed shop.

Allow me to present, as an example, a timeline for the right to vote here in the UK:

1800: Voting allowed on the basis of wealth and class.  About 3% of the population could vote.

1832: The Reform Act allowed certain leaseholders and householders the vote, taking the figure to 5%.

1867: The Second Reform Act extended the voting population to about 20%.

1884: The Third Reform Act extended the vote to any adult male owning or occupying land with an annual rateable value of £10 or more could vote - and the figure went up to 24%

1918: The Representation of the People Act meant that all men over the age of 21 could vote, and all women over the age of 30 could vote.

1969: All adults over the age of 18 could vote.

So, until 1918, the majority of men were unable to vote; even after 1884, less than 50% of men could vote or have any say in what went on.

And in the meantime, who fought the wars that the government decided to fight?  Who worked in the dangerous jobs?

When women were campaigning for suffrage in 1916, where were their men?  Where would you have rather been at that time - chained to railings in Belgravia to campaign for the right to vote, or conscripted against your will to a mud-filled trench in France to get a facefull of mustard gas?

My point being, the Patriarchy, if such we are to call it, oppressed men a damned sight more than it did women.  Which leads one to think that the Patriarchy is, in fact, a myth.

It was a monarchy.  It was an aristocracy.  It was an oligarchy.  Given the use of the militia to quell, inter alia, the chartist riots, it was arguably a timarchy.

But I cannot see how it has ever been a patriarchy.

The Men's Rights Movement

OK, bear with me here.  I'm a newcomer to blogging, the 'blogosphere', whatever you want to call it.  I'm not all that interested in the conventions of it, other than keeping a relatively civilised tone and trying to back up my opinions with facts, or at the very least, convincing justification.  Or, failing either of these, bad language.  The internet is too full of idiots who want their voices to be heard, but have nothing to say.  Maybe I'm just adding to that, judge for yourself.

If you have noticed my little bit of profile detail off to the right there, I'm an atheist, a libertarian and favour (to a point) the Men's Rights Movement.  The first two because anyone with an ounce of sense (in my opinion) ought to be if they just think about it, and the last because I have in the past been in a particularly poisonous relationship, which really opened my eyes.  Whilst my intention is to explore the atheism and my political views, I shall make a bit of a start with the MRM thing.

So now - I have found an awful lot of MRM blogs and websites out there.  Some of them have something to say, and say it well.  Others have something to say, but say it badly.  And some are just misogynists, plain and simple.  I am not a misogynist, whatever anyone wants to say, but there are a few fundamental issues where modern feminism falls flat on its face, and it needs pointing out.  The emperor is fucking naked, and I refuse to pretend otherwise.

Feminists have for many years sought equal rights for women.  Hear, hear, I say.  Women should have equal rights and equal opportunities; that view goes right along with my libertarian leanings.  We all want the same things when you get down to it, regardless of age, gender, creed, ethnicity and so on.  The trouble seems to come when people fail to recognise that we all want the same things, or believe that these things have to be competed for - as if there were not quite enough rights or opportunities to go round, and that some sectors of society ought to have a greater share than others.  They all want a larger slice of the abstract concept pie, which is about as ludicrous as you can get.  Rights are not a zero-sum game.

Anyway - I digress.  My beef with feminism is that they seek ever greater rights for women, and seem to have over-shot the turning somewhat; women have for years had rights that are more-or-less equal to those of men (I'll not deny that some fine tuning is still needed here and there).  Women can vote, got to university, get jobs in just about every sector - bar combat roles in the military, although that is starting to shift. Yet still, they call for greater rights, to the point where they have privileges greater than those enjoyed by men, yet still this is not enough.

For example, I have worked with a number of Local Authorities and Housing Associations here in England, and have found in these a number of women who have been promoted far beyond their abilities.  I don't mean just a level or so above where they should be; that is in the nature of promotion, that everyone gets promoted to a point or level just beyond where they should be, and there they stop. However, I have encountered a number of women who have been pushed ever-higher up the ladder, and they lack the aptitude and capability to be anywhere near where they are.  I do NOT mean all women at high level management, but there are quite a few out there.  Organisations - particularly those that are publicly funded - seem to believe that one way to establish their right-on credentials is to fast track such people to the upper echelons, with the result that incompetent twats end up running the show. Not semi-competent twats, as is the natural order of things, you understand; fully paid-up, need-someone-to-hold-the-map-while-they-use-both-hands-to-find-their-arse incompetent twats. People who are fundamentally (is that a pun?) useless.

But it is not just this that irks me.  You see, as I mentioned earlier, I was in a relationship that I can only describe as abusive.  It did not start that way; they seldom do. It creeps in, gradual-like.  You make a small compromise or concession, then another, then another, until you realise that you have been gradually alienated from friends and family alike, and that your self-confidence has been subtly eroded away. You are scorned and upbraided by your 'loving' partner for things that she (or he) does with impunity. You might suffer this in silence, until one day they push their luck a bit too far, and it brings you up short.

My own epiphany came when, after having listened to some neurotic bullshit for - I kid you not - six hours, I lost my rag and shouted.  Fully justified in doing so, as well.

"If you raise your voice to me again," I was told, "I'll call the police and tell them that you are unstable and get you sectioned under the Mental Health Act!  They'll take my word for it, and it will just be one tired doctor who wants to go home and he'll sign anything!"

Fuck me.  This woman thinks she can get me sectioned just for shouting? When she has been screaming, slamming doors and trying to physically push me around the room?  She's mental, I thought.

Yes.  But here's the kicker; a good friend of mine, a criminal law barrister, has told me that she could indeed get me sectioned.

Imagine that.

On the uncorroborated testimony of one person, another person can find themselves arrested, incarcerated and considered insane just because they raised their voice.  No due process to speak of.  Just one person making an allegation that is unfounded, and that's it - the machinery of the state swings into action, and you're fucked.  The state as a tool of abuse.

And this is where it gets really messed up; were I to try the same thing on her, what do you think my chances would be?  Zero.  I am a man, she is a woman, and therefore I am totally at her mercy.

Now - someone tell me that I am not alone in thinking that that is totally fucked-up.

So, I started to look into the matter.  And that is where it got really scary.  

Needless to say, she is no longer a part of my life.  Can you say hallelujah?