Archive for August, 2007

As Liverpool mourns the death of an 11 year old boy, shot by another teenage boy on a bike the politicians are quick to come forward to claim they have the answer and will be implementing a series of strategies, the opposition claim in fact they have the answer and will implement a load of different strategies. Forgive my cynicism but I fail to see either of their chosen paths particularly relevent.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith thinks that a border force will stop people and guns from getting in. I’m sure that the Home Office is not at all jumping on the chance to slip some more anti-immigration legislation through tacked to some rhetoric about it being designed to get guns off our streets.

Conservative leader David Cameron’s answer is to give tax breaks to married couples, amounting most likely to around £20 a week. How they can see this as a panacea one can only speculate. I don’t know if they have really studied the figures or whether they, like Labour, have chosen to tailor make the problem to fit the solution they already wish to put in place anyway. Do they really feel that children from 2 parent families will never offend and that the culture that exists today will go away if parents are given a spare tenner each of a week. This is utter lunacy. I have a suspicion that many of the statistics that the Tories use come from a comparison that transcends local boundaries. Middle class children are less likely to offend, this is because their parents are often able to give them activities, a breadth of experience, some realistic chance of an education and employment not merely the fact that there may be 2 parents still together. It is true that a dual parent income may well enable a different upbringing but if the state provides things as it should be doing this fact will become an irrelevance.

The actual context of this area of Liverpool stems from the rivalry between the Croxteth Crew and the Strand Crew. This part of the city is pretty characterised by sink housing, unemployment, poverty and under-investment. There is little or no infrastructure in these areas nothing for children to do, same old story as in cities across the country. When the news crews did talk to Local councillors the message was clear that they didn’t feel that investment was coming in the area, and this combined with and contributed to a lack of education and jobs. Children from empoverished parents, and it doesn’t matter in this environment whether it be one or two parents present, see large sums of money and kudos changing hands in the gang and drug culture is it any wonder that it is a lure for some. Furthermore there is widespread evidence that those who choose not to get involved are persecuted as outsiders. This sort of peer pressure is already rife in children of these impressionable ages, if all your friends are dealing drugs and making money and carrying weapons…

A recent survey stated that Liverpool and Manchester were the easiest places in the country to get firearms. Whilst still a comparitively new and shocking phenomenon it is clear that this sort of crime is on the rise. As a whole crime remains in a slight downward trend over the long-term but in the short-term violent crime is increasing especially in specific city areas.

Children this age feel they are invincible, this is nothing new, we have all been there, the consequences of actions simply do not happen to us, statistics and warnings are only for those on paper. Kids used to go out mugging when I was growing up, occasionally they’d have got hold of a piece of wood or a flick knife, this was relatively common in the shit parts of West London I grew up in. Guns were pretty much confined to the US and the big boys. There weren’t a lot of guns on the streets but the mentality was there to use them of they were. The idea of carrying to protect oneself was a normal gambit for many I knew who carried knives. I carried one until someone made it clear to me that if you carry it you have to be prepared to use it and after pondering on this a while I decided I probably wouldn’t be.

Every now and again such an example will be deemed so terrible that it makes national headlines, but the events in cities such as Nottingham and parts of London barely make a ripple these days. Gun crime may be extreme but these days only murders tend to make the national news and it is generally put down to gang crime. People are shot with increasing regularity and kids are amongst the dead and wounded all the time.

When this does make the news we have a seeming scrum to offer opinions before 2 days later it has all died down. What is going on in the interim time before the next story? It would apear not a great deal. A policy being floated now is that witnesses will be compelled to give evidence and police claim, as always, that they will protect them. Their record on this is not good. This fails to take account of the fact that it is not cool to be a grass and those who are perceived to be so, whether or not there is any foundation in the accusation, are often beaten up, ostracised, mistrusted etc. Add to this the fact that if you are the wrong colour in the wrong place at the wrong time the police will stop and search or randomly arrest, this happens daily to black and asian youths alike depending on which area you are in and whom the police feel is the greatest threat. A culture of hating the police for their bigotry, harrassment and racism is becoming more and more engrained. This is not a environment conducive to obtaining information and whilst it persists the police will always be fighting a rearguard action.

A big deal has been made of the fact that the parents responsible for young offenders didn’t know where they were when they were committing the crimes. I know full well that when I was younger and went to school on my own on the bus I had the opportunity to get into trouble which I sometimes took and my Mother was not aware of where I was at a specific moment in time because she relied on good faith that I was getting the bus into school as I had been told. Should she have never let me out of her sight, I don’t believe this would have been good for my upbringing or self-reliance or social interaction.

It is being cited that central to this issue is that of home life but to my mind that is largely missing the point. Children do not spend all their time at home nor should they do so. We have to keep a healthy balance between allowing our children progressive freedom in order to face the outside world and facing the people in it and keeping them safe. Were our streets to be safe now we would have far less worry. The lack of social cohesion is always going to bite us in the arse and if we do not tackle this then no money, tax breaks or more plod is going to make much difference.

Looking at the youth as an entity is like holding up a mirror to our future. If we do not want things to escalate as they have done in the US where gun crime is far more normal then we must act now to give young people inclusion and a stake in the community in which they live. You cannot expect them to care for people or places when they have grown up in a culture that sees them only as a nuisance and to be locked up after the sun goes down. To my mind there should be a form of national service, it should be gender agnostic and put school leavers of 16 to work for 2 years and leavers of 18 for 1 year if going to University/Technical College (it is important not to favour merely the academic as this is not the only form of education) or 18 months if they are not going into some form of tertiary education. No buts, no exemptions. The work should be in hospitals, youth clubs, old folks homes, drying out hostels, nurseries. Everyone should get the chance to try these things out it is good for the community and good for the individual.

It can be achieved, even in this modern world but the will has to be there and at present that is open to question. Canada is right next to the US and yet it does not have the same level of gun crime as the US despite gun ownership being of similar proportion. If you invest with this in mind you are taking care of the future, it’s a bit of a no-brainer. But it has to be an integrated policy and it has to be continuous, there is no quick fix and there never will be. Until we start to address this we will watch young people kill themselves.

Song Of The Day ~Gary Numan & Tubeway Army – Are Friends Electric?


I heard Rev Jesse Jackson talk about the battle for the Democrat Presidential Candidate nomination yesterday, he has publically endorsed Barack Obama but he referred to the fact that having a black male and a woman stand must be good for democracy. On the face of it, this is an easy claim to make and it lends itself well to a soundbite to declare that US democracy must be healthy to have put up 2 high profile candidates from groups formerly ill-represented at the higher levels of political representation.

I have respect for Jackson, he has consistently stuck his head above the parapet when on many occasions it was imprudent even to the point of danger to do so. In spite of this something about this point of ‘good for democracy’ didn’t quite sit right. I got to thinking about why.

Firstly taking the specific example of US democracy my thoughts at present are that Barack Obama is not a great move away from the status quo anyway, he may possibly be slightly less establishment than John Kerry this hardly constitutes any great achievement. However Obama has stated this month that he would carry out attacks on Pakistan if intelligence suggested there were terrorists meeting there, this was in response to accusations levelled by Hilary Clinton that his foreign policy was naive which in turn was in response to his claim that if successful in the presidential race he would pull troops out of Iraq. It is one thing to say that you will withdraw from a deeply unpopular and drawn-out conflict where there is little hope of a measure of success, it is quite another to say that you are anti the reasons for the war and the US’ interventionalist and imperialist foreign policy in the first place. Neither Barack Obama nor Hilary Clinton’s stance give any indication that they anything but another shade of establishment colour, albeit a slightly diluted one.

It is one thing to think that the US might vote for a woman president, and this is by no means a sure thing – but let us not forget that woman is now as embroiled a political establishment figure as the Kennedys, Obama may be a part of the status quo rather than that of the people he seeks to represent but he remains a black man in a country that is fiercely divided and at times out and out rascist and this will, in my opinion, prevent him from being elected. If the Christian right can swing an election for a dangerous war criminal then I am quite certain they can ensure that no black man will become President and I remain as yet unconvinced that they will not prevent Hilary Clinton as well.

This gave rise to thought about a wider debate, hence the title of the piece and it is the dangers that we face as the opposition because we are so sectarian in our outlooks. This is not entirely our faults, it is not generally intentional but it is ruthlessly exploited by the other side. By not working together our impact is restricted and often negligible and any gains achieved will only happen in small areas and this is problematic because those things can be picked off later with minimal fuss in times of “crisis”. One only has to look at the repeal of a great many human rights that were conceeded as part of the war on terror as well as worker’s rights previously ceded in the Reagan/Thatcher era in homage to rampant materialist capitalism under the guise of being part of the 1980’s boom.

The struggle for rights sticks so often to specific pressure groups and stays within the confines of those single issues. This could be seen as being strong and having particular focus. However those that fight actively for women’s rights frequently remain seperate from those fighting for say ethnic minorities or rights for the disabled or children or environmental issues. That is not to say that they disagree with the issues one another fight for, in fact the more reactionary the incumbant regime the more these groups are likely to be in agreement with one another, but in turn they may also be more wary if under any level of repression. Many may simply not get so involved with multiple causes because one cannot spread oneself too thin. Others may feel that involvement at a grass roots level can bring greater changes. The flip side is that if each cause can only look to its ardent followers and activists it may therefore seem to be a much more specialised group than if one were to be able to count those who actually agreed with the issues themselves.

For example let us look at the perception of the political opposition – by which I mean those opposed to the Washington Consensus not those merely arguing over the minutiae of exploitation within it. We were traditionally seen as a bunch of extremists, marginalised and ridiculed like the environmental protesters beforehand. That was until Seattle in 1999 and the huge anti-war demonstrations in 2003 – then it became clear that there was a vast section of disgruntled people prepared to go out and say ‘enough’ and the establishment seemed a little unclear how to handle this coherent force that appeared to be gathering in strength and support and uniting groups who traditionally had kept a distance from one another. Since then as the impetus has faded somewhat and so the drive to continue working together as a movement to force political change has waned. Groups have started to go back to talking about the areas in which they disagree rather than the areas of common ground. A number of things have led to this including certain influential groups going back to the areas they see as of the most paramount importance. Additionally there is the annexation of ideals by the establishment in an effort to suggest that, on what appear to be the most fervent issues, they have taken note.

Thus I am unsurprised at there being an establishment white woman and an establishment black man standing for the democratic nomination – this is perfect political positioning and will split the dissention vote. If there were to be a black woman standing, that might well herald some change for it would unify much of those who traditionally are marginalised and disenfranchised by mainstream politics, especially in the biparteid US. Equally a black female would be too much for much of the current electorate to bear and possibly also galvanise the ultra reactionary Christian right.

I believe this is why Marx called on the need for a party to be representative of these concerns and herein lies our problem, most of us on the political opposition have become utterly dissolutioned with party politics because it is not representative of us, it merely morphes into different guises to garner votes before continuing to represent those in power, those with money and land and influence. I have not as yet been able to think of a solution to this problem, it seems unlikely that another party would be able to form and take on this task, there was a chance in the UK with Respect, and the media furore against it appeared to suggest a genuine fear of it’s potential following the anti-war movement but this has since petered out and Respect has become very much weaker in the political conviction of its position on issues such as religion and secular republicanism in an effort to retain the votes of large sections of its supporters such as the Muslim block vote. I am not opposed to the inclusion of other disaffected groups working for a common cause, after all I am talking about unity etc here but to me secularism is at the heart of any left-wing popular movement, this does not preclude people’s own rights to worship in whatever way they see fit, it merely draws a distinction between that being part of any state apparatus. To my mind the US Christian right illustrates all too well the dangers that this can pose.

Song Of The Day ~ Ben Folds Five – Battle Of Who Could Care Less

OK I recognise that my current direction has alienated the Christian Right (like they ain’t long gone from around here!), the Populist Right so now it’s time to offend the Politically Correct! Hell let’s see if I can’t one day get an excommunication into the bargain!

Language has always been a fascination, I love it’s nuances, it’s power, it’s foibles. The myriad assortment of differences in dialect, vocabulary, accent and mistakes make us as unique as our physical features. Our language imprint and style is tantamount to a current fingerprint of who and where we are at a particular time. Our vocabularly reflects local influences some may be long-standing others more recent, it can reflect class as well as cultural heritage.

I saw a program called ‘The C-Word’ the other day, a fairly easy-going etymological study of this word, perhaps the most taboo word in the English language. The program did not seek to say that everyone who says it is either good or bad, neither did it seek to denigrate those who abhor its usage. However it did look at some interesting points which in fact transcend simply this word and strike at what the underlying problem often is. The word cunt was used frequently in the 12th to the 18th centuries without any eyebrow-raising. Grove Lane in Oxford was formerly called Gropecunt Lane (the name signifying that it was an area used by prostitutes) and part of people’s names in 13th Century frequently contained it. Since the word always carried the same meaning it is not as if suddenly lexical inference has meant it has taken on hitherto uncharacteristic slang tendencies. So it is a relatively modern phenomenon and it is unsurprisingly the Victorians who are principally responsible for it’s transition to the heavy profane word that it is today.

It was interesting that in the program they spoke to a comedian from East London who explained that it was a common word used in slang conversations without necessarily implying offence and this certainly mirrors my time in SE London particularly. I could call my best friend a silly cunt, a daft cunt, a drunk cunt, a sick cunt or a poor old cunt without him taking umbrage. However this is because of the way I would use the word. If, however I used it in anger at someone the consonents are practically spat out – “you (fucking) cunt” would indeed be intending to cause offence. In London people would know the difference between the two without any ambiguity. It would be pretty unrealistic to expect any standard slang not to include an extensive use of the vernacular, I can only speak for London and if I were offended at the use of profanity I wouldn’t have been able to go out!

By the same token my best mate and I frequently refer to one another as a homo or a gaylord, not to signify homosexuality, nor in a way which is designed to offend, it is just a light-hearted way to say berk or pillock. Just as I have heard gay men refer to other gay men as a ‘right old queen’ or such like. Most people would not raise their eyebrows were we to call one another a berk, despite it’s origin being Cockney-rhyming slang Berkley Hunt – meaning cunt. Likewise the term getting on my wick has become mainstream despite its derivation being Cockney rhyming slang – Hampton Wick – dick. In real cockney usage though rather than getting on my wick you would normally say it was getting on your Hampton, the actual rhyming word being the one that is frequently dropped. (Someone tell me please why Hampton in SW London is used in this Cockney sense and not Hackney Wick which is in Cockney heartland of E. London?).

The reason I would defend our usage of what the politically correct might term homophobic insults in this context is because for either of us to be called gay is not an insult, we are not homophobic, the word gaylord is more used in its retro sense because we both recall it being used in the playground in the 1970s as an almost show-stopping insult before anyone was aware what it actually signified. This in fact illustrates perfectly how words can be used because of the significance others attach to it – so much language of the playground is used because children have overheard the way it has been used by people older than them and the weight that it has appeared to carry. However familiarity with words can lead to a lessening of their power as it ceases to retain its shock value.

I have discussed the word nigger many times before. I will not refer to it as ‘the n word’ because this affords it more linguistic power than the word itself is due. Nigger has been in circulation for a while coming originally from the Latin niger meaning black, the word negars was used in 1619 by John Rolfe, describing slaves shipped to Virginia colony. Neger or neggar was widely used in Dutch communities to refer to African slaves. It is generally thought to have become a word used in pejorative terms around the late 18th early/19th centuries. Nowadays it would be uncommon to hear white people use the word nigger, outside the urban working class youth, unless they are using it in a racist sense, such has been the political correct campaign against it, however amongst black youths it has long since been re-appropriated and this has been a great deal more effect in diffusing its impact.

Pakis has been similarly repatriated by the Pakistani community and rightly so, it renders it useless as an insult and therefore the discomfort of the white middle classes is merely symptomatic of their outdated morality. It is quite normal now to see banners for ‘Paki Power’ at cricket matches in this country. I remember certainly in the 70s it was relatively common in London to see graffitti saying ‘Pakis out’ or ‘Pakis go home’ the irony was that most of the supposed Pakis these people were referring to were in fact Indian, a great many via Uganda, and yet the term wog which had been used from the days of the British Empire, but more commonly since the 1950s was largely declining in circulation then, I haven’t heard wog used now for many years.

Spastics is an interesting one, it is not generally used any more to refer to those with spastic diplegia and cerebral palsy. and it would be interesting to therefore chart its decline as a word used in offensive situations particularly in the young who have not grown up with the word being around. The word spastics being used derogatively had a direct result on the Spastics Society changing their name to Scope because their research had shown that parents were less likely to contact the society for fear of their children being tarnished with the label and businesses were uneasy about linking themselves with a perceived stigmatic term. Did this change in name halt the use of the word spastic, I suspect it has had a large impact on it, I would contend that one hears it a great deal less these days, however in answer to the bigger question of whether this name change did anything to increase awareness and tolerance of those with cerebral palsy and other such conditions I would say probably not. Furthermore the emergence of terms like Scoper or Scopers or Scopey, which I am told have come into existence, appears to counter the assumption that the word spastic disappeared following a concerted campaign by the anti-discrimination movement of the 1980’s as I have seen claimed. Words such as spaz, spacker, cripple are still in pretty common usage and spaz illustrates another example of the problem with removing words because it is widely used as an accepted and inoffensive word in the US whilst it is slang and generally considered offensive in the UK. An example of how quickly language can adapt to circumstance can be seen in the case of Joey Deacon, a cerebral palsy sufferer who had overcome great physical handicap and showed that his mental capacity was unimpaired. His story was shown on Blue Peter which at the time was almost universally watched by schoolchildren. The insults, Joey and Deacon which were widesread and instantaneous remain to this day, seldom used, as most who were alive at the time are older and wiser, but they would still be understood by any of the generation brought up in the 1970s to early 80s which coincided with the broadcasting of Joey Deacon’s story in 1981 as part of the International Year Of The Disabled.

In conclusion we will always use words for different purposes and to convey our feeling to other people. The word itself is a mere conduit to those emotions, it is the vehicle by which we carry them and we will always use the word we feel most befits not only how we feel but how we will make the other person best understand, this is what I like to call linguistic chameleonism as I feel that describes the whole process by which many of us change our accent and our vocabulary to fit our surroundings. If people are driving whilst drunk you don’t remove the car and allow the driver to find another one to drive you take the driver out of the system. The same rule applies to language. If you remove the words cunt, nigger, paki, spastic etc from the system you do not stop those who seek to use these words to cause offence and to do harm from still wishing to do so, you merely deprive them of their primary means of doing so for a short period of time they will adapt and find different words that have or will come to have the same meaning. This to me is one of the biggest impediments to the success of political correctness and why the movement is doomed to abject failure because it seeks to tackle the effect of a problem and not the cause. Forcing children to sing Baa Baa Green Sheep or changing the colour of bin bags really does nothing to increase interracial harmony, removing the word cunt from the English language would not make mysogany disappear overnight and changing names to appease people’s sensitivities is fighting a rearguard action because when a new name comes to represent the same stigma are you going to be forced to change again, surely this is allowing the bigotted to dicate terms?

This sort of approach offered by the political correct lobby has also the problem of no clearly definable limits after all should we abolish the word sinister because it comes from Latin sinistra meaning left and like the term cack-handed can be used to imply derogative connotations to those who are left-handed. Western European society and language is founded on the principle of right being right – the English proves that, but the French droit also means right in both senses as does the German recht. In Irish, deas means both right side and nice. Ciotóg is the left hand and is related to ciotach meaning awkward. Even people who can do things with both hands are said to be ambidextrous drawing on the stem of dexter Latin for right.

By changing or removing words we will not change the issue that people mock, insult, mistrust or fear those who are different. A decent system of education with a breadth of understanding and exposure to a myriad assortment of people and backgrounds and cultures is far more likely to instill a comprehension that people’s differences are merely part of what makes up who they are, to be celebrated for their own sake but only within the context that we all remain at heart human beings and in the scheme of things such differences are trivial. Maybe at that point we can then move on and respect the other apes and not see them merely as big monkeys.

Anyone deeply offended by this entry has missed the point entirely.

Song Of The Day ~ Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Down Boy

I Have Every Sympathy But…

I don’t know if it is just me but on the issue of Maddie McCann I am disturbed by the mass hysteria and complete blanket coverage. Obviously as a parent I can quite see that the parents of the little girl will do everything and exploit any conceivable situation in order to find and expedite the safe return of their child. It is not their position of which I am critical or at least questioning, it is that of our society at large.

There seems something wrong, something very false about all the posters and memorial services, as if it’s a collective confessional and everyone must make themselves a part of the charade or risk being branded part of the problem. I can’t help but think that this is something akin to an attempt to wash off the guilt of a system that demonises older children and exploits and sexualises younger ones. After all in the midst of the memorial services, internet chain mails, local paper connection stories there is no debate taking place, no questioning, a singular lack of introspection. It is as if this is all lip service, the Catholic confession that gives absolution in return for hollow promises without any genuine need to change.

Under normal circumstances I believe there would have been a moderate amount of news discussion about a child going missing, some recriminations at the parents of the child being allegedly in a restaurant down the road when it happened and after a few days there would have been the presumption that she was dead. Naturally one would not expect parents to have to believe this until it was confirmed unequivocally, I cannot imagine any parent is likely to give up hope until the absolute last and that is why so many hang on to the last shreds of hope when there appears really to be nothing left, kids who haven’t been seen in 20 years that sort of thing. There are many in this situation who whilst they would not wish to find out their child may be dead would welcome some news one way or another in order to achieve some kind of closure, how can you mourn one of the most important people in your life when you don’t know if they may one day be coming home?

This case differs in many ways. Firstly the depth and breadth of coverage has been something to behold it has at times been utterly pervasive, bordering on the hysterical. At a time when soldiers are being killed in both Afghanistan and Iraq where flood waters are causing billions of £s worth of damage to some major cities across the UK the lead story has often remained that the girl is still missing and Mr X is being questioned or that there has been a sighting in Country Y. A £1.5 million reward has been offered, small wonder then that there have been alleged sightings across Europe. On the internet there are official websites, unofficial websites, blog commentaries and daily columns of nothing in particular on the sites of every tabloid and TV channel.

The parents have had audiences with major politicians and religious leaders including the Pope. What anyone expected the Pope to be able to do about this Lord alone knows (I use that phrase advisedly!) but it did keep the headlines and column inches ticking. I can’t help but think that the only ones who really gain from this is the media itself. Such news is soft work, it thrives on speculation and the hope of the desperate and stories and facts require little if any substantiation.

Wristbands have been made and sold (I confess I genuinely don’t know what the money has gone towards). They have even had the entire English Premier League football players coming out with T-shirts on at the start of the first game of the season.

I can never remember this sort of concerted publicity campaign for anything and certainly it eclipses every other comparable scenario. I can’t help but wonder what other parents of lost or deceased children must be feeling, combined with the obvious hope of a happy end to the story I’m sure must be an element of frustration and anger that such attention was not afforded their family in its hour of need.

Recently I have seen posters of bunny girls and high street honeys put up at the same time as sex attacks were taking place, where people are being shot more regularly because violence is becoming an accepted part of life and its glorification by some and acquiesence by others allows this all to continue.

I would not be so bold as to suggest that the current state of this country’s oppressed majority is entirely a product of a concerted effort of the status quo but they have the option to do nothing about it knowing that the internal turmoil, fear and violence is enough to keep the downtrodden where they are. Our detached, individualist, exploitative world devoid of cohesion, unity, responsibility comes at a price, and as more and more people are forced to pay it there has to come a time when it is just too expensive. As long as there is no realisation of this fact that situation will only perpetuate and we will keep having to look for and ultimately bury our children and the only real hope in life is that they continue to be someone else’s.

Song Of The Day ~ Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight

***Stop Press*** ***4000 Immigrants Per Week*** ***Someone Call The Right-Wing nut-jobs***

According to an article in The Express there are 4,000 people a week applying to leave the UK.

Can you imagine the furore if this were people coming in to this country? My God they’d be standing on the White Cliffs of Dover, pitchforks in hand, foaming at the mouths and talking about Agincourt and Trafalgar.

Ironically The Express claims that one of the main reasons people are leaving is the immigration to the UK!!! Surely only the English right could attempt to justify such a position?! I can see the cartoon-like character now “I don’t like immigration, all these bloody foreigners coming over ‘ere, so I’m going to sod off to a foreign country.” These are of course the same people who insist on speaking louder to foreigners who don’t understand English and attempt to turn what little enclave in which they have landed into a British theme park. For further information on the British abroad see Big John.

Of course The Express does not cite actual references as to where it has obtained its information on what is actually going through the minds of those who are departing these shores nor has it named any names or conducted proper interviews. After all it would not be especially conducive to a right-wing rant if these people were former foreign nationals, or were leaving to avoid staggeringly high property prices, or leaving because they favoured a more cosmopolitan and less bigotted lifestyle. Just as it is not capricious to look too carefully at the state of the infrastructure and the reasons for it of the countries whence immigrants often come before criticising them for leaving. Of course the British emigrées will expect a warm welcome in whatever country they chose to go to and they will not give a moments consideration as to whether or not they have a right to be there.

The trouble is that this media brownwash is so pervasive, the hegemony is now so strongly anchored in the hard-line right that voices of the slightly right of centre are used to provide “balance” because they are different from the norm. The right these days see the genuine left as a spent force and that there only minor threat comes from the liberals. It is a grand Washington Consensus, so pervasive that it is so often unquestioned and therefore unfettered. The media is so positively under the control of the select few as to draw Orwellian compatisons or even those with Alfred Hugenberg and the Goebbels annexation in Nazi Germany. In the US for example establishment figure Michael Moore is held up to be the great swashbuckling radical and yet Moore is merely an state-annexed version of the wet centre ground. A figure brought out by the establishment as a bogey man to be booed and hissed like a Punch & Judy performance. The real left is therefore denied a franchise completely.

We can battle on the fringes and know we are right and convinced of the virtue of our own arguments, but in order to effect any change the hegemony must be constantly and consistently challenged from all different points of view. The seeds of doubt must be sown in the minds of those who have not bought into the bullshit but do not know where else to look for information. This is not about a conversion, it is about an awakening. You cannot force a person to think things are wrong, you can only draw their attention to it and allow them to have the information at their disposal to make up their own mind. I do not leave comments on right-wing blogs in an attempt to be big and clever, or in a mis-guided attempt to win back those who have turned to the fervent right, I do so to capture the interest of the casual observer in order that they know that there is another opinion out there. They can do with this information what they will it is not for me to indoctrinate. Things are not all shades of the same grey. I’m red and proud to be so, I do not ask you to be so, just hear the arguments and make up your own mind when you have the facts.

Ask yourself this – do the Right actively seek reasoned debate? When asked to account for their opinions do they argue rationally and strongly or do they turn to personal insults? Pick at the seams of any ideal and see whether it unravels. Question everything, it’s the only way you’ll ever learn, those who don’t wish to be questioned are generally the ones who have the most to hide.

Song Of The Day ~ Maximo Park – Girls Who Play Guitars

You knew it had to be in The Sun really didn’t you?!

The story they describe is that Helen Green, deputy head at Wakefield’s Newlands Primary School, had pupils writing Muslim oaths such as “Allah is the greatest” and “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah” as handwriting practice. The event was reported to them by the stepmother of one of the pupils who when she had asked for an explanation from the school was told that the children were learning about Islam in RE (Religious Education). Hayley Clayton, the stepmother claimed this was unsatisfactory “this was like he was taking an oath. A Muslim child would never be asked to write a Bible passage. Why didn’t she choose a passage from a normal story book to teach handwriting?”

However The Sun, not unexpectedly, does not go into any great detail regarding the actual logistical facts of the story. Why muddy the waters of a good bit of hysteria with facts eh?! They do not take Ms Clayton to task on the fact that in an RE class the likelihood is that “normal story books” will not be used. That is of course unless like me you are an atheist and therefore see RE as being entirely a study based on story books.

Recommendations are made in Unit 5A, Section 1 of DfES guidelines for religious education in the National Curriculum for children aged 10 that they copy the Shahadah (the oath that Muslims take when they affirm their faith) and write a short explanation of the beliefs it expresses.”. Now one could certainly critique the prudence or necessity of religious education as I frequently do but the reality of a study on the Shahadah portrays a different picture to an indoctrination of children by some evil fundamentalist teacher as The Sun article would seek to portray.

Another cul-de-sac point made in the article which is widely reproduced is that this issue is especially sensitive because the 7/7 bombers came from Leeds 15 miles away. What significance does this play? I live not far from the Battle of Bosworth where King Richard III was killed in 1485 – does this mean I have to be careful what I say about republicanism?! Is there an islamic exclusion zone around Beeston, Leeds because 3 men who blew people up came from there and happened to do so in the name of what they perceived to be Islam? If so where is the Catholic and Protestant exclusion zone around Ulster? I don’t see many American bloggers citing that in pieces about Ireland. What about the militant Israelis? Or does this arbitrary mistrust only apply to Muslims at the moment?

What precisely is the nature of the objection? Is it that the teachings of Islam are fundamentally wrong? I cannot imagine so since Islam shares so much of it’s teachings with Christianity drawing much from it just as Christianity had drawn from Judaism beforehand. Were this to be the objection it would be tantamount to an exoneration of the Crusades, something that most people with an ounce of education and sense look back on as shameful totalitarianism and intolerance almost exclusively from the Christian side. Were it to be the case why would the Christian world not be roundly denouncing the texts of other religions as being false prophets and false idols?

Or is the objection to do with the fact that it is now going on here? In which case this would suggest a deep-seated insecurity in how to combat the spread of Islam for anyone who knows their argument has won and has the evidence to prove it has nothing to fear from an open debate and a complete dismantling of their opponents ideas. Those however who recognise that their house is built on the sand have everything to fear. Witness as an example the numerous right-wing political commentators in the US and across the Western World who if they cannot win a debate with someone by shouting them down will instead wait and have their say when their opponent is no longer their in order that there be no right to reply and no recourse to counteract supposition and lies.

The trouble with the religious is so often their assumption that they are the only ones with any morality. I see Christian missions and others go and offer aid and services to empoverished countries in an effort to alleviate their plight. This is not necessarily because they are religious, there are after all many areligious and apolitical NGOs who go out and work equally hard to achieve the same ends, it is because their suffering is a blight on our comfort and goes against the teachings of so many religious texts that teach compassion, understanding, tolerance and to treat ones neighbour the way one would have them treat us. Right-wing religious is such a ridiculous oxymoron if one actually reads the religious texts in the allegorical spirit to which they are intended. It is just a pity that the literalists are not deep enough to understand the irony of their position. What a pity God won’t be there to judge them on it!

The fundamentalists preach a concerted program of mistrust and hate. They are not interested in compassion, tolerance, redistribution of wealth, they are out only for their own ends, reminds me of the Pharisees and from what I recall Jesus dealt with them rather well! One only has to look at how quickly this Sun article (which was published today) has spread around the United States. What is also noticeable is that none of the rehashes of the report in the US seek to find any further information or context about the story, which approximately 1/2 hour’s research yielded for me. Furthermore a google search on the story brings up a deluge of religious right-wing bloggers commentaries and you have to delve past the first page to garner any factual information. These bloggers serve it up to a greedy conservative audience who are already looking for excuses to justify their war and who wade in on how disgraceful it is that there is one law for the Muslims and one for the Christians, they are right on that score the Christians make the laws for the Muslims to follow and now Islam is strong enough and widespread enough to be voicing an objection to that hegemony. I have even been accused of being part of a liberal pro-Muslim agenda which I confess made me smile because I do love right-wing insults, I was called Red Ba-fuck-ron, and my initial thought was immediately, ‘damn I’ve clearly so lost the argument because this guy knows his stuff!’ Sadly he calls himself ‘homer simpson’ which also signifies that he misunderstands Matt Groening’s creation in much the way many ignorant right-wingers misunderstood Johnny Speight’s Alf Garnett!

I have entered into the debate at the Ace Of Spades HQ and Assaulting The Spire a site which boasts the lofty claim of providing “An endless assault upon all topics where the zealous shall reside”. I leave you to decide whether or not one should call in a breach of the Trades And Descriptions Act! Feel free to wade in and enjoy. Tell your friends, make it a family day out. It’s like the 2005 fly pasts all over again!

*Wakefield Trinity happens to be the name of the local rugby league club, I think it amusingly ironic.

Song Of The Day ~ The Black Seeds – The Answer

I shall leave aside the irony depicted in this photo of Prince Harry wearing a t-shirt bearing the image of Che Guevara, it is an improvement on his previous fashion choices but whilst I am sure Rommel would have little problem with the Prince sporting his Nazi-emblazoned Afrika Corps uniform I think Che might have slightly more objection in this picture which suggests abject ignorance at best. Harry is currently the 3rd in line to the throne. He is also a member of the Armed Forces. There has for some time been a debate surrounding his unit’s deployment to Iraq and whether or not Harry should accompany them. It has recently been decided by the army that they will not take the risk of sending him.

So the Windsors get to keep their blue-eyed boy safe. One wonders what the Williams from Cardiff or the Walshes from Manchester would really think of this as their boys and girls join the countless thousands who have been packed off to war before them. Some of them will not come back. Is that fair, or is it a case of one law for the poor and a totally different set of standards for the bluebloods?

The military’s view is that Harry would be a target for the insurgents. Personally I think all the British troops are targets for the insurgents and I question whether the disparate rebels in Iraq really have access to the sort of highly specialised intelligence to pinpoint an individual soldier within his battallion. Or is the army coming clean about its inability to protect its own servicemen. It would of course be a PR disaster were Harry to be wounded or killed, as we are no longer in the times when the royals lead their troops into active service. It would be even more of a catastrophe were he to be killed by friendly fire. Again one has to ask whether it is possible for intelligence to pinpoint an individual soldier when it comprehensibly fails to prevent people being killed by their own side.

Furthermore it would be highly likely that were Harry to be killed there would have to be an enquiry and at present one cannot see the army being altogether keen to get into that sort of territory whereby potentially a Pandora’s box may be opened. What with friendly fire casualties, collateral damage and prisoner brutalities it would take one hell of a cover-up not to let any of that out.

So we are expected to wear the fact that a minor royal of precious little if any actual significance to anyone’s life, save his own family and thus no more or less important than all the other sons and daughters out there, will be granted a Get Out Of Death Free card through no merit of his own but by the arbitrary coincidence of his place and lineage of birth. This angers me because my politics make me believe that we are all genuinely born equal, so such exceptions for some and not for others are an anathema to me.

So why do we have the monarchy? They are good for tourism apparently, which would appear to suggest that were they not to be there we would lose revenue. This is interesting as I have never seen a comparitive study as to whether the royals bring more in than we are required to spend on them but I do know that in spite of France having got rid of its blue-blooded parasites sometime ago there are still a great many visitors to Paris and the palace at Versailles and I am quite sure that paying for the upkeep of the regal history of France costs the French Republic a great deal less than the British population pay in taxes in order to prop up the money-vacuuming bastards in Buck House.

We are told that the Queen volunteered to pay income tax, which was magnanimous of her to do so, in the context of an era where the Tory government of the time had brought the top rate of tax down to an almost all-time low. The Queen does not pay the London congestion charge for her state cars. She pays Council tax on a voluntary basis but then she can afford to since receiving a large proportion of the Queen Mother’s estate valued at between £50 million -£70 million for which she is not required to pay inheritance tax. (There is an exemption for sovereign to sovereign bequests, interesting since the Queen Mother was not the monarch) The Civil List which pays for the royal estate is currently fixed until 2010 at £7.59 million a year. The individual figures who were fixed to gain from it in 1993 were The Queen, the Duke Of Edinburgh and the Queen Mother, so the Queen Mother’s estate has been largely funded by the tax payer. The Duke of Edinburgh receives £359,000 annual salary which has to be one of the contenders for the title of biggest example of money for old rope.

It’s the 21st century people, have we really not outgrown this bloated parasitic institution which installs a glass ceiling of privilege and oppulence beyond which we and our children may not reach? Can we not find a better use for £7.9 million such as education, housing, healthcare rather than propping up an arcane outdated set of in-bred reactionaries?

Song Of The Day ~ Skinnyman – Council Estate Of Mind

It still never ceases to amaze me the sort of stuff that is out there, scary, weird or just plain shite. They have amused me for some time and this is probably the last selection I will do. Go forth my children find the crap that is out there and publicise it for wider ridicule!


Eulenspygel 2

Everything about this is just wrong wrong wrong! I could make a comment about out of the frying pan…etc but frankly I just feel ill and breakfast is looking considerably less appetising!


Orion – Reborn

Bless his little cotton socks, he’s trying so hard to be “reborn” but in all seriousness Orion isn’t fooling anyone behind that camp mask and equally camp pose, I mean wearing that ensemble it could only be one man. Been a while since we saw partings that low too!

Swampp Dogg 2

Swamp Dogg – If I Ever Kiss It, He Can Kiss It Goodbye

Another offering from Snoop’s Dad proving that like father like son he ain’t going for none of that homo shizzle!


Boned – Up At The Crack

Bit of Morning Glory going on for Boned here, that’s got to chafe a bit, and you ain’t getting that back inside those tight strides


Stryken – First Strike

Ah the 80s where men weren’t afraid to dress in spandex even if it made them look like dodgy wankers! With the benefit of hindsight, Stryken probably wish that they’d been on strike when it came to making the album cover.


The Handsome Beasts – Beastiality

Yer man certainly isn’t looking to feed the pig, he has other things on his mind and the album title leaves us in no doubt as to what this is. The fat hog looks pretty pleased with himself and the pig seems quite up for it too.


The Handsome Beasts – 04

The Handsome Beasts again, yer man has got a little older, and presumably shaved his beard so as to escape the cops and farmers who be out for him, he’s still a bit of a pig fancier, tho’ he’s developed a bit of a habit (sorry!) for nuns in lingerie now and I think if he tries anything saucy on the doberman he’ll get more than he bargained for!


Heino – Liebe Mutter

[Shudder] Heino is a very very scary man. If I were his Mother I’d be very very afraid, you get the feeling those roses are likely to be the last thing she sees. For the non-German speakers the blue sticker says “A Present For The Whole Year”. This is not a consoling statement.


I really don’t need to step in here do I?! It’s how Paddy is ascertaining just which are the dogs he’s singing for that concerns me!


Elliot Lawrence & His Orchestra – Music For Trapping

There was after all a surfeit of your bog standard serial killers in the 60s, but Elliot was a pioneer and in the 50s there seemed to be a gap in the market for decapitation and mounting. Something of an amateur chemist Elliot perfected the procedure known as botox injections in order to preserve the smiles on his victims.


Fundamental – Erotic Terrorism

Erotic terrorism was a new one on me but Fundie’s got a big weapon and he’s looking for an opportunity to use it.


Music To Light Your Pilot By

It’s a gas! (Sorry!). Dave Lee Travis here got hold of the wrong end of the stick entirely and his missus who’s been freezing her arse off since the heating went off has just bloody had enough and is going to throttle him with his scarf.


Chicken – Coup De Ville

Nice to see some of the shortlisted guys for the Darwin awards spreading their career net out. Chicken here had the hairstyle and the politics right, but when it came to the pink car with a French name the locals regarded him as something of a homo and potentially a book-reader and he was run out of town. Last seen clearing tables in an Alabama Theme Restaurant in San Fransisco.


The Stanley Johnson Orchestra – Have Harp, Can’t Travel

What a bunch of lads eh, that Stanley Johnson lot, they’re a hoot, ‘course Paddy O’Shaunnessy here didn’t see the humour, he was under the impression that his role in the percussion group was to play the triangle until he turned up for the tour bus to find he got what was left.


Milk Man – Deerhoof

Obviously since Pac Man work has dried up a little for the ghost population they’ve been forced to resort to desperate measures, but I think the market for games machine violent fruit porn is somewhat limited!

Song Of The Day ~ Arctic Monkeys – From The Ritz To The Rubble

The Original Dodgy LPs

Sixth Dodgy LPs