2019

As you get older the years seem to go faster. I remember 1982-83 and thinking that they went on and on. But what is in store for 2019 and will it be a great year that people hope it will be.

The current climate as we have witnessed over the past few days seems like we can scream and shout whatever we want as long as we are heard. The MP Anna Soubry has had to endure appalling abuse by far-right thugs who harassed her in the most dreadful way while trying to get into the Houses of Parliament.

Majority of people in this country are law abiding decent citizens who are appalled at this sort of mindless behaviour which show a lack of respect for someone else’s opinions and beliefs. When we become abusive and using terminology which is offensive that’s when we lost the argument.

I explained in a post back in 2017 the differences between free speech and hate speech. There is a line that shouldn’t be crossed but the emboldenment of the far-right and other hate groups has somehow legitimised the use of people making threats to others. Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (Tommy Robinson) has complained for years about not being able to say what he thinks about Muslims and the religion of Islam while saying what he believes about Muslims and Islam.

Another thug appearing on the scene is someone called James Goddard who has fallen for the conspiracy that somehow Muslims are looking to take over the world and if we don’t so something about it we will be living under their rule in a few years time. Echoing the horrific anti-semitic mood that poisoned the minds of some during the 1930s when Jews were vilified not only in the press but through carefully constructed propaganda of the Nazis.

It a sad situation that this country faces. Brexit for some means that we should be allowed to say what we like to people regardless of how offensive some of that speech is. Well we can’t. There are, rightly so, laws protecting all of us from suffering under the hands of mindless uneducated thugs.

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My honest belief that the will get worse before it gets better and others make a stand that we cannot continue as a nation while other abuse those who are in power and who are democratically elected to represent us on a governmental level.

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Parsons Green Tube bomber Ahmed Hassan sentenced to life

Teenager Ahmed Hassan is sentenced to life with a minimum term of 34 years after leaving a homemade bomb on a packed underground train.

He just looks like any other teenager. His hair is a little crazy and looks like he hasn’t slept or eaten a decent meal in weeks. But Ahmed Hassan is a convicted terrorist who brought shock and panic to the capital September last year.

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‘I sentence you to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 34 years. You will have plenty of time to read the Koran in prison. The Koran is a book of peace. Islam forbids breaking the law of the land. Islam forbids terrorism. You have violated Islam and the Koran by your actions.’

These are the words of Mr Justice Haddon-Cave the judge who sentenced Hassan. These aren’t taken lightly and not out of malice. They aren’t words that have been used in the heat of radicalisation or without knowledge and experience. Yet there are those people still in this country who have no idea how and what Muslims believe. They have taken it upon themselves to be educated by tabloid newspapers and right-wing commentators who claim to speak for the ordinary working man.

I have seen all sorts of ridiculous claims over the last few months about misconceptions and blatant fallacies when it comes to Islam. I challenged one person who said ‘They never arrest any Muslims and send them to prison like they do to Britain First leaders’. I gave them numerous examples of how this wasn’t the case; facts don’t matter to them.

Islam is a religion of peace. I will say that until my dying day. It is those who chose to distort, lie and make up their own rules to suit their interpretations of Qu’ran. You can take any holy teachings or writings and mangle them to your own way of thinking. You will see the world how terrorists and right-wing commentators want you to see it that process is called radicalisation. You are believing misconceptions, biased opinions, perverted and altered for their own ends.

I want peace, calm and tranquillity. I want unity among people of different faiths, religions and practices. I want to live in a world were people of different backgrounds and countries can learn from each other. I want to know how and why people think they way they do and educate myself. Make myself a better person and not shutting myself off from other human beings. This planet is an amazing place. It is full of decent, wonderful, hardworking people who make a great contribution to it. Closing your mind to the world is ignorance.

Conspiracy theories the new religion

You used to be laughed at if you believed in conspiracy theories and not the truth. Now the tables are turned. You aren’t normal if you don’t believe in them. 

I am really having a hard time with the internet and humans at the moment. I have spoken a few years ago about the ridiculousness of conspiracy theories. People who have revisionistic ideas about how they view past events and some atrocities claiming certain things didn’t take place.

I want to know why people believe in conspiracy theories and can this be linked in the same way that humans attach religion to themselves by giving their lives meaning, purpose and hope.

The fact that as humans we look for an explanation of events and occurrences. We want to know why things happen. The part of our brain the amygdala is the thing that kick-starts the processes of emotion. It starts out processing fear of something so when we are confronted with that which should scare us into running eg. enormous cat with a mallet chasing after us.

Our evolutionary brain helps us decide that which is a real or false threat. Then we look for the reason why something happened. One assumes that in child-psychology and development as a young person grows constantly as the question  ‘why?’ – a characteristic that parents no doubt will attest.

Our brains are processing that all that information and it’s not to say some conspiracy theories are all false, some do in fact turn out to be true. Someone, like myself, claims to be a free-thinker we are able to process quite clearly that which is true and that which is complete bullshit.

Take for example these posts from The Daily Star I have collected over the last year. These are all headline news topics written and presented to get you to (click bate) click and read. If you were to only get your news and information from this one site you probably be a nervous wreck unsure whether to the world is coming to end by either freezing to death, nuclear war or being fried in your own juices due to a heatwave.

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When I was researching this post I found it fascinating that some people have a propensity to believe in conspiracy theories and this then moves on to confirmation bias. So even if you have all the facts in front of you people will still tend to trust their own thoughts and beliefs. That which you think is true is confirmed eg. all Chinese people eat green rice. You will seek out that information which confirms your belief rather than rationally choosing to look over information provided to form a new opinion. You don’t challenge facts and information even though you are told otherwise which leads to belief perseverance.

Every time I hear or read of some spurious claim on social media I have to test the information rather than relaying it others to make sure I am not sharing blatant lies. Our connection to social media now has allowed being sucked into all sorts of conspiracies and falsehoods.

Religion tends to rely on higher powers and hierarchical structures to confirm and guide people in all situations. Lots of people will claim that they are not a slave to anyone else yet allow facebook sites, twitter accounts, fanatical leaders to provide them with their own assumptions of the world.

So for me, I think those people who dance behind the pied-pipers of conspiracy theories are just the same as those who readily make decisions about their own lives according to how their holy scriptures or priests tell them. There’s no such thing as a free-thinking follower of religion neither is there someone who subscribes to organisations who promote and encourage ridiculous conspiracies.

Religious Hate Crime

Golding and Fransen jailed for what the judge said: “It was a campaign to draw attention to the race, religion and immigrant background of the defendants.”

I am no fan of the Christian Institute. I think their reporting is biased and targets the LGBT community unfairly. In a blog post, I wrote in July last year I explained to them that despite their claim that LGBT community is only 1.7% of the population nearly 50% of their youtube videos were about or mentioned LGBT people.

“I still believe despite the progress that this country as made we have a long way to go to be accepted in society. I did a short survey of the Christian Institute’s YouTube channel and tallied up the number of videos they had posted in 2017 to their site. It’s a total of 170 videos and out of that 69 videos mentioned LGBT issues; that’s nearly 41%. Even in their own videos, they quote that LGBT people only make up 1.7% of society; they devote nearly half of their content to LGBT issues.”

I know that I don’t like their views and I am certainly unhappy that they target people in the gay community with their own ideas about sexuality. I accept they hold those views as they are entitled to do so. That’s what is meant by free speech.

Let’s say for example got really angry with them and travelled to their offices and demanded to speak to someone in their organisation. If didn’t feel I had been heard and to make my views known again I could return to their premises and ask them why they held such views about LGBT community. I could follow their director after he left work and ask him questions.

Now, this is where the law comes in. At what point do the ideas of free speech end and religiously aggravated harassment start? There is a fine line between the two and laws were set up to protect people of faith from such harassment. This is what we are as a country whether we like it or not. When you read about those laws they are there to protect the people. This is what makes us a great country of respect for others religion.

But I have read comments about Fransen and Golding:

“18 WEEKS IN JAIL BUT MUSLIM RAPISTS AND KILLERS GET NOTHING FOR THEIR CRIMES AND THEIR CRIMES ARE REAL CRIMES…..SCREW EUROPE I’M STAYING RIGHT HERE…” – Lack of knowledge about the case. The perpetrators were jailed.

Other comments are either to foul to write or completely left-field and have nothing to do with the case.

I have said it before more education is needed in religion, not the lack of it or total removal as some have advocated. Just because you understand something does not mean that you have to agree with it.

Detective Inspector Bill Thornton of Kent Police said: ‘The crimes committed by Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen were abhorrent and motivated by religious insensitivities.

‘They claimed to be exposing the men who had been accused of rape when in reality they knew little about the case in question and could have put the trial at risk due to their reckless actions.

‘It was the bravery of the female who was attacked and the tireless work of Kent Police detectives who ensured the men responsible are now serving a significant period of time behind bars, not because of any misguided attempt by Golding and Fransen to claim credit for their conviction by bringing religion into the equation.

‘The fact that completely innocent members of the public were accused of being rapists, making them fear for their own safety, shows how little regard they have for the consequences of their actions.

‘Kent Police simply will not tolerate any offences that are motivated by prejudice and hate, and will investigate all such incidents thoroughly in order to bring those responsible in front of the courts.

Christian Institute

I got a pathetic response but hey at least it was a response. 

This week parents of a pupil removed their child from a school because a boy wanted to wear a dress and be known as a girl. In 2017 it might seem laughable and trivial but to a Christian couple it meant disrupting a child’s education.

I remember being hauled into the head’s office at school to help deal with a pupil who had been bullied. He wasn’t getting support or receiving praise for being different but my boss at the time was berating him for bringing in a school back that was different.

“Why can you bring something in that’s like everyone else?” She asked.

“Because I want to be me and this is who I am…” he replied.

There wasn’t a ‘Glee moment’ where the head teacher congratulates the pupil for their individuality and praises them for being who they are but tries to solve the intolerance and bullying by denying one person’s freedom of expression. All in a school bag.

My thoughts are clear on my former boss. She was a morally corrupt and bereft of humanity and empathy. She didn’t give a shit about her charges but was terrified that the  whole system would come down crashing at her feet.

My letter to the Christian Institute asking to speak about why their news feed was unbalanced was finally met with a response.

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Their opinion was that they just wouldn’t engage.

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Despite my years of experience dealing with church matters and education in this area.

The parents action which no doubt will be backed by the Christian Institute to further their growing sense of victimisation. But this is just the very reason why so many people now say that they have no religion. They are turning away from established religions in many parts of the world. The church and their non-sensical illogical beliefs have isolated themselves from the world. They will soon be made of mainly fanatical fringe belief systems. Where once the Church of England was the back bone of English society and culture soon it will become nothing more than Westboro Baptist lite.

 

 

Freedom of speech

Have we lost the ability to speak freely and have the right to say how we feel without offending?

As a committed ‘lefty loony’ and part of the ‘liberal establishment elite,’ I’m aware that I am committed to equality for everyone and that hate speech has no place in a normal civilized world. But have we gone too far? Are we actually able to say what we feel?

In the 80s I used to watch a programme called ‘Allo ‘Allo. It was a comedy programme set during the Second World War and was extremely funny. I mentioned it to a friend who said that she didn’t watch it as it perpetrated stereotypes of people from other countries. I thought it was a little harsh and over the years I realised I just couldn’t agree with her.

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If you look at comedies and other forms of humour a lot of characterisations are based on stereotypes. The slightly racist (Basil Fawlty – Germans) the homophobic (Jack – Will and Grace – Girl Trouble) where Jack makes derogatory remarks about a lesbian couple. We delight in characters that can make us laugh about our lives and try not to take things too seriously.

In the UK hate speech is defined if someone “Using threatening abusive, insult words or behaviour …” whether it’s spoken or written and likely to stir up racial hatred. So parody of someone with the intent of humour is certainly different from someone who intends to cause a reaction whereas it will inflame hatred amongst certain groups.

Free-Speech

I don’t like Milo Yiannopoulos. I think he is an appalling person with abhorrent views. But his right to free speech turns problematic when he like others of the ‘alt-right’ make gross generalisations of certain groups. It becomes more problematic as social media and similar platforms have allowed everyone to have their say and at the moment it’s a deafening cacophony of noise. Where no one hears anything or understands it.

In watching some reaction to protests in the USA it’s interesting to see that people seem to be ‘triggered’. That the minute that someone opens their mouths to speak it seems to offend.

A lot seem to be protesting that we cannot say anything without being censored. Although the above cartoon is a parody of this, there are numerous incidents when genuine free speech has been censored. This worries me greatly and I think this, like other trends that have come from the USA, will soon arrive in the UK and increase over next few years.

I know that a lot people don’t like gay people and marriage equality. I will defend the right of people to say that they don’t agree with it. But when you try and stop someone marrying or even having a relationship with someone of the same sex then it becomes a problem.

*Gay people shouldn’t be able to marry – no problem

*Gay people should be killed for who they are – Hate speech

*White, black, interracial, old, young.