Monday, March 28, 2011

A Moving Picture of Some Men Telling Jokes

I posted this because I saw it on the telly and thought it was funny and thought that some people who maybe hadn't seen it on the tell would also find it funny.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


There is such a thing as nudity: either I have some clothes on, or I don't.

However, we might also say that there is a concept of nudity where there isn't particularly a concept of cardiganlessness or hatlessness. If I were writing this article with no hat, or no shoes, or in my shorts, you wouldn't be very surprised and might wonder why I mentioned it. If I were writing it in the nude, you would be amused or surprised or shocked, as indeed would the other customers in Cafe Kino.

The line between "nude" and "not nude" is quite curious: you can watch athletes in very small swimming trunks on daytime television, but if that one piece of clothing was removed, it would become shocking and X-Rated. And it isn't merely about what parts of the body are showing: a lady who runs across a football field with no clothes on at all is doing something amusingly naughty and outrageous: a man who left all his clothes on and exposed his penis would be doing something really quite sordid and disgusting. Although if either of them left on all their clothes but exposed their bottoms, you would probably take it as a harmless comic insult.

And this "concept" may very well change over time: it looks a lot like previous ages would have used "naked" to mean "having removed some of his clothes" (naked being the past participle of the verb "to nake", to strip or to peel). Quite disappointingly, when we read that William Blake and his wife sometimes took afternoon tea "naked" (and implicitly challenged their visitors to complain) it may mean no more than "in their underwear". And Victorian underwear was probably a good deal more modest than the clothes modern people wear in a mixed public gym. (When we read that Victorian miners and factory workers went naked, I think it probably means "when it got hot, they took their shirts off.")

So. If I said "I wish to abolish the very concept of nakedness" you might take it two ways.

You might think that I wished to put an end to clothessness and make a law that people keep their knickers on in the shower.

Or you might think that I wanted to change people's way of thinking, get rid of the special status of "being naked" and instead just think that at certain times people wear a lot of clothing, and at other times, very little. If I arrived at the pool to find that I'd left my swimmers at home, and said "Oh I'll manage without them for today" you wouldn't pay any more attention than if I answered the door to the postman with no shoes or socks on. It could happen. In my lifetime, it seemed funny or indecent or actually illegal for a mother to breastfeed her baby in a public place. Now, we literally don't notice.

I think that when Melanie Phillips talks about "normal" sexuality she means "heterosexuality". Being straight is normal; being gay is not. When she says that The Secret Masters of the World want to destroy "normal" sexuality, she intends her readers to infer "to stop people being heterosexual and force them to join The Gay".

However, when someone says "You're mental. Gays don't want to force anyone else to be gay: they just want ignorant arseholes like you to leave them alone" she shifts her ground and points out that some sexual radicals argue that "normality" is not a useful concept when talking about the wide gamut of human sexual behaviour. We've always suspected that a lot of weird stuff goes on in the average bedroom, to say nothing of the average mind; the Internet has decisively shown us that we were right. So wouldn't it be better to divide sexual behaviour, not into "normal" and "abnormal" but into, say consensual and the non-consensual, the safe and the not so safe, the advisable and the inadvisable.

"There you are." she replies "Some people really do want to destroy the concept of normal sexuality. They have said so. Har-har, Guardian readers are silly, Obama is a commie." 

Richard Littlejohn, another Mail columnist who combines the social attitudes of Melanie Phillips with the subtlety of Jeremy Clarkson, was outraged at the compulsory (i.e optional) gay lesson plans that were put out for Lesbians and Gay history week. 

"And why a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender month, anyway?" he frothed "Why not a Foot Fetishists, Spankers, Sadists and Masochists History Month?" 

I think he was doing the same thing that Mel was doing when she didn't say that homosexuals were on a moral par with people who practice bestiality. Setting up a link in his readers' minds between homosexuality and "weird" sexual behaviour. Implying that homosexuality is something kinky, something sordid : at best a rather eccentric hobby or quirk, at worst a disgusting perversion.

But the more I think, the more I ask myself: why not a foot fetishists spankers and sado-masochists history month?  

Could there have been a society in which people defined their identity by what they did, not who they did it with ? There have certainly been societies where it is quite okay and normal for a man to sexually penetrate another man, but very weird and shameful for a man to allow another man to sexually penetrate him.

A while back, Stonewall ran a poster campaign which said "Some people are gay. Get over it." At the time, I thought this was admirably clear message, in admirably clear anglo-saxon words. But I now think that that kind of language takes the puritans and theocrats too much on their own terms.

I think it should have said: 

"Some people are more gay than others. Some people are a bit gay, some people are very gay, some people are not at all gay. Some men think that Michelangelo's David is a thing of beauty; some men would quite like Orlando Bloom to do a nude scene. Some men go to bed with other men. Some men are into foot fetishism, spanking and sadomasochism. And some men, more than you'd think, would honestly rather stay home with a cup of tea and boxed set of classic Doctor Who. And the women as well, of course; neither me nor Queen Victoria wants to even think about what they get up to. And it's all normal. And none of it matters. And none of it's any of your business. Get over it."

I'm done.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Apparently, a man named Raabe was kicked off the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs because he had attached his name to a document which said that 25% of paedophiles were gay.

It will be remembered that last year, a man named Nutt was kicked off the same council for saying that crack cocaine was more dangerous than tobacco, tobacco was more dangerous than alcohol, and marijuana was not nearly as dangerous as either. No-one disputed his facts, but he was kicked off because his suggestion that drugs should be classified according to how dangerous they actually were didn't fit in with the governments Anti-Drugs propaganda, which is predicated on the theory that marijuana has to be illegal because it is so bad, and we know that it is bad because otherwise it wouldn't be illegal.

I am sure that Ben Goodacre or someone could tell us if Mr Raabe's figures are accurate or significant. 25% of paedophiles being gay would still mean that 75% or, in political-speak, "the vast majority" of paedophiles were straight.  I seem to think that Peter Tatchell is in favour of lowering the age of consent (from 16 to 15) because the first sexual experiences take place slightly younger in the gay community than in the straight community. Obviously, all of Mel's readers understand the difference between "25 % of paedophiles are gay" and "25% of gay men are paedophiles". No-one ever finds the distinction between "most criminals are black" and "most black people are criminals" in the least bit confusing.

However, the kicking of this man off the committee turns out to be part of The Plot. Not The Plot to keep homophobic men off drugs committees, you understand, nor even The Plot to populate government drug committees with people who agree with the government about drugs, but The Plot to bring about the End of Civilisation.

"Did he [the home office minister who sacked Rabbe] care what the facts were? Or is is Mr Brokenshire so petrified of the gay lobby that he blindly capitulates to its demands?"

Gay lobby. Blindly capitulate. Demands.

Fine word, "demands". It was discovered a long time ago that Unions only ever threaten and demand, where Employers only ever beg and plead. A few minutes ago, the Gay Lobby were the minority of gays with a strong belief in Gay Marriage (which normal Gays didn't share). Now, the Gay Lobby are merely saying that they'd rather not be called paedophiles, thank you very much.

"This is a truly terrifying totalitarian mindset from which the country cries out for deliverance. Yet, far from defending people against such bullying and seeing off the cultural subversives who are voiding morality of all meaning, Mr Cameron is going even further down this road."

I trusted you spotted that: I've been banging on about it since Christmas. Not the Political Correctness Brigade. Not the Royal Society For The Protection of Birds. Not The Gay Lobby. "Cultural Subversives".

Who are they? Cultural Subversives.

What are they doing? Voiding morality of all meaning.

Who supports them? David Cameron

Actually, that's not entirely fair. It's not Cameron, but the people who kicked the man off the committee for publishing the paper who have "voided morality of all meaning". What David Cameron has done is "gone even further."

Gone even further.

Can you go further, once you've voided morality of all meaning? Maybe once it's void of meaning you can impose some negative meaning on it. What would happen if some positive meaning and some negative meaning came into contact? Maybe you could power a spaceship?

David Cameron (the one who came to power as a result of a left wing coup) is "going even further down the road" (even further that sacking people for saying that gays may be paedophiles; even further than voiding morality of all meaning) by being prepared to discuss the possibility that you might be allowed to sing hymns during a civil partnership ceremony. (If you want to.)

"Pinch yourself a conservative prime minister effectively endorsing the idea that upholding Biblical..."

....i.e homophobic: ox coveting and Sabbath observing and refraining from usury even refraining from killing babies aren't part of the bedrock values of our civilisation....

"...upholding Biblical morality and the bedrock values of Western..."

....not just English any more: if we sing hymns in registry offices, the whole of the West will fall, and Sauron will cover all the lands with a second darkness, except the elves who will run away, away, out of Middle-earth, over the sea, if even that is wide enough to keep The Gay out....

"...Western civilisation is bigotry. He may be be Conservative but he is no conservative. True conservatives seek to conserve what is most precious in a society and defend it against those who would destroy it."

Defend it against those who would destroy it. Are you keeping track? Did you think I was exaggerating? The Gay Lobby are those who would destroy society.

"Is this his idea of morality? To erode societies core values."

Yes. I think it probably is.

"The so called culture war now raging between those determined to destroy Western Moral codes and those who seek to defend them is simply the most urgent domestic issue we face."

To recapitulate

Western Moral Codes = Saying that heterosexuals are better than homosexuals,

Those Determined to Destroy Them = Those who want to discuss the possibility of singing hymns in registry offices.

The Most Important Domestic Issue We Face = More important than unemployment, or welfare reform, or people who like nice pizza being murdered because of turnstile on bridges or the rampaging mobs of nazi birdwatchers persecuting hedgehogs, or windfarms or...

Last bit now. To get the full effect you need to have some suitable music on in the background.

Carmina Burana
The Imperial March from Star Wars

"Mr Cameron has shown that in this war..."

....the war between the cultural subversives who want to destroy civilisation as we know it, and those who, on the whole, would quite like civilisation as we now know it to carry on....

" this war, Mr Cameron..."

....the Prime Minister of England...

"....has shown that he himself is simply....."

tum tum tum
tum ta tum
tum ta tum
tum tum tum
tum ta tum




Daily Mail Poll:

How young is too young for children to have their own TV?



Sunday, March 20, 2011


So: to get back up to date. David Cameron (i.e. someone in his government) is "planning" (i.e. discussing the possibility of) allowing clergymen who wish to conduct Civil Partnership Ceremonies in churches to conduct Civil Partnership Ceremonies in churches; and to allow people who want to sing hymns at Registry Office ceremonies to sing hymns at Registry Office ceremonies. In the Melverse, this translates to "A Tory Prime Minister is upholding the idea that traditional morality is bigotry."

Why is David Cameron upholding this idea -- or, come to that, permitting these proposals to be discussed?

Because he himself thing that it is a good idea?

Because he thinks that that is what the vast majority of ordinary people want, even though he himself has reservations?

Because that nice Sir Ian had a little chat with him, and won him over with his charm and the force of his arguments?

Oh no. David Cameron is upholding these ideas / agreeing to have the discussion because he has an a priori commitment to an ideologically driven political agenda.  

"It is becoming all too plain that (Cameron) is signing up to the wilder extremes of political correctness."

New readers start here: Political Correctness is not "institutionalized politeness", the careful (and sometimes maybe over-careful) avoidance of non-inclusive language. Oh no. Political Correctness means Communism. Cameron's support of gay marriage means that he has actively signed up to, or has at any rate been "turned" by the Frankfurt School. When she says that David Cameron has "signed up" to Political Correctness, Mel means that he is a Cultural Marxist.

Well, no. Obviously she doesn't really think that. Only a complete lunatic would claim that the leader of the Conservative Party was a closet commie. You might as well describe the 2010 election (which the right wing Tories won) as some kind of socialist take over:

"Don't be fooled by the love-in between the Hugh Grant and Colin Firth of politics - this is a Left-wing coup...."[*](Melanie Philips, Daily Mail 17 May, 2010)
You might as well suggest that the right-wing Barack Obama was a revolutionary Marxist:

"This is to miss something of the greatest importance: that in the world of Barack Obama, community organisers are a key strategy in a different game altogether; and the name of that game is revolutionary Marxism." (Melanie Phillips, Spectator, 9 Sep 2008)

"(Obama is) a Marxisant radical who all his life has been mentored by, sat at the feet of, worshipped with, befriended, endorsed the philosophy of, funded and been in turn funded, politically promoted and supported by a nexus comprising black power anti-white racists, Jew-haters, revolutionary Marxists....." (Melanie Phillips, Spectator, 14 Oct 2008)

If you are going to get involved in that kind of fantasy, why not go the whole way and claim that Obama is a special sort of Communist who is also a Muslim?

"We are entitled to ask precisely when he stopped being a Muslim. Did Obama embrace Christianity as a tactical manoeuvre to get himself elected. Why indeed has he dissembled about his family background if not for that end?" Melanie Philips, Spectator, June 10th 2008. [**]

So no. Only a complete lunatic would think that Cameron was actively working for the downfall of Western Civilisation.


Some actions are sins, but not crimes: working on a Sunday for example, whether for the Mail On Sunday or some other paper. Some actions are sins because they are crimes: God doesn't have an opinion, particularly, on whether my income from freelance journalism is taxable, but he would, I imagine, take a serious view of my telling lies on my self-assessment form. Neither Church nor State has ever argued that all sins should be crimes; and the question "which sins should be against the law" is one which the government, not the church, has to answer. The Daily Mail, committed as it is to traditional moral values and opposed to all forms of pornography, presumably, regards masturbation as a grievous sin. Very possibly, if Melanie Phillips were Prime Minister, masturbation would become a crime: but I assume that she accepts that "We are going to stop putting wankers in the stocks" is the sort of decision which the government of the day is quite free to make. Clear-headed religious conservatives like Mr Lewis have always been very clear about this: fornication and adultery are certainly sins, but they are not the sort of sin which the state should be concerned with. This was the argument which the state made when it legalized homosexuality in 1967. We aren't saying that homosexuality is morally right, necessarily: any more than we are saying that prostitution is morally right. We are only saying that it shouldn't be against the law.

So far as I can tell, Mel had no particularly problem with the decriminalization of homosexuality, nor with the equalisation of the age of consent. (She says that she thinks it is wrong for homosexuals to be subjected to persecution and bigotry, and it is hard to think of a much more bigoted way of persecuting someone than locking them up because you don't like what they are doing with their willy.) Because the distinction between gays and straights was left intact --- one group could marry and the other group could not -- these reforms left the Core Bedrock Foundation of society intact.

But because society was built on Christianity and Christianity is reducible to homophobia, marriage is a special case: it is the one thing which the state is, by definition, not competent to interfere with. So Cameron, by threateing to create a legal category of gay marriage, is committing an act of hubris.

"It [the Government] endorses the idea that there is nothing wrong with overturning centuries of Biblical understanding of the sacrament of marriage as the union of a man and a woman."

The term sacrament isn't in the Bible, and everyone who has bothered to do even five minutes of research knows that the Church of England does not regard marriage as a sacrament. (Sorry.)  In any case, Biblical understandings get over-turned all the time: the Old Testament doesn't see marriage as irreducibly the union of one man and one woman -- the Patriarchs and the Kings of Israel were polygamous. St Paul and Jesus agree with Dave Sim that marriage is, at the very best, a necessary evil, intended as a last resort for people who really can't manage celibacy. Either the Christian understanding of marriage is capable of development, or else everything was fixed the moment Saint Paul put down his quill and Melanie Phillips must be submissive and obedient to her husband, never speak in public or appear in church without a hat.

"But those who make this argument [that marriage is just a legal partnership] reveal that they have no idea of the significance of marriage. The truth..."

....when she was on Question Time, someone tweeted that every time Mel said "this is a fact" a caption should appear on the screen saying Not Actually A Fact.

"....The truth is that marriage is a unique institution because it involves the process by which humanity reproduces itself which is only through the union of male and female."

So: from "sacrament" (Holy-God-Magic) to "institution" (thing the state thought up for a useful purpose). The state wants to regulate straight sex because straight sex makes babies. It is uninterested in gay sex because gay sex, on the whole, doesn't. As I have said, I think this may be a valid argument. But then it goes, and in recent weeks I've given up watching my language in this forum so let's put it frankly, it goes totally batshit insane.

"The sole reason marriage has universal value is that it is vital for the healthy nurture of the next generation"

The sole reason. Marriage is about bringing up babies and nothing else. The Church of England, it will be remembered, says that Marriage has four purposes --

a: A metaphor for the relationship between God and the Church

b: Babies

c: A concession to man's sinful nature. We all want nookie. We ought to do without. But a few people won't be able to manage celibacy, so God invented marriage so they could get sex without frightening the horses.

d: For companionship. The reason that God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, was that left to themselves, Adam and Steve would watch Star Wars videos every night, live on pizza and put their underpants in the fridge. (Eve was made, it will be remembered, not primarily satisfy Adam's sexual desires, but as a "help-meet".)

Either she doesn't know that the Church of England teaches this, or she knows but doesn't care. So much for upholding "normative" Christian values.

Marriage is only about babies, because marriage is vital -- essential -- for bringing them up. You can't raise children without it. It is quite true that although two men may love each other very much, no amount of hugging and drinking brightly coloured cocktails will ever produce a baby. It is equally true that if everyone decided to become gay, there would be no more people. If you are worried about the speed with which humans are burning up the world's resources, this might be quite a good idea. Probably the most sensible arrangement would be if nearly everyone was gay (or celibate, or just stayed in and look at very tasteful adult websites) and only a small number of highly motivated individuals embarked on the arduous task of parenthood.

But marriage is clearly not vital for baby production. A man and a woman are only too likely to produce a child, whether they are married or not. Even if they aren't in love. (Mel doesn't approve of abortion. The Daily Mail doesn't really think children should be taught the facts of life. It's quite doubtful about birth control, which it believes causes pregnancy, and very possibly, cancer.)

So why is marriage "vital"?

"This is because children need to be brought up by the two people who created them."


Quick straw poll.

Raise your hands anyone reading this who was adopted?

Raise your hands anyone whose parents split up, and who was raised by their Mum or their Dad's and their Mum or Dad's new partner?

Anyone raised in an institution or children's home?

Anyone whose Dad was away at sea, and who went to boarding school from a young age?

Anyone posh who was mostly brought up by a Nanny?

Anyone whose Dad died, and who was raised by just Mum?

Or whose Mum died, and was raised by just Dad?

Anyone sent to be Page and then a Squire in a great Lord's court? (Okay, that's a bit of a long-shot)

Do any of you people feel specially messed up? I mean, they fuck you up, you mum and dad, and all that, but do you necessarily think that you'd be less fucked up if the people passing on the misery had shared more of your D.N.A?

Probably, it is better for a child to be raised by a Mother and Father than by just a Mother, just a Father, two Mothers, two Fathers, a trained professional, an institution or a village. Maybe (I doubt this) it is necessarily better for a child to be raised by its biological parents than by some other committed and loving couple. But the inability to perceive shades of grey is quite breathtaking. Good, better, best. Bad, less bad, okay. It would have been better if Mummy and Daddy and not been eaten by the Grizzly Bear, but since what has happened has happened, being raised by Mummy's brother David (who I know and like) and his special friend Jonathan (who has always been very kind to me) may be better than living with Fred and Wilma (who are strangers, who I don't much like): but even living with Fred and Wilma may be better than living in an orphanage, although everyone in the orphanage will be very kind to me and I will probably turn out OK -- much better than if I'd been turned out onto the streets to steal handkerchiefs on behalf of nasty Jewish stereotypes.

On Mel's view, it is necessary and vital for me to live with the people who "created" me, even if Mummy brings home a different drug-addicted "friend" every night and Daddy gets drunk and hits me. (Well, she's probably OK with the hitting part, though not the drunk part.) This is necessarily better than being taken away and raised by two kind people who did not "create me." This was not the prevailing view after the grotesque case of "Baby P", who was neglected and killed by at least one of the people who had created him. "Why did the social workers leave this child with his parents?", was the battle cry, "Why aren't we much more willing to take kids into state care?"

And then it goes deranged. Actually unhinged. Impossible to parse into actually plain English.

"If the status of marriage is extended to other relationships ...the institution will be undermined. If still in doubt, try this thought experiment. Imagine the Government was planning to recognise polygamy and polyandry (marriage with more than one woman or man), or marriage between 'zoophiles' (people who have 'loving and committed relationships with mammals', or bestiality to you and me) and their, er, partners. If you think this is merely grotesque satire, you would be sadly out of date. There are now campaigns in North America to recognise the 'equal rights' of such people and end 'discrimination' against them."

There may very well be such campaigns in North America. (I really like the "North" part. I think she's probably still sore about the War of Independence.) There are also people carrying placards saying God Hates Fags at military funerals, people who think that aliens have stuck sharp object up their bottoms and a whole lot of people who think that the world is precisely 6015 years old. There are more people in America than in England, so naturally, there are more silly people.

From the state's point of view, it would be logically impossible for a man to marry a cow because marriage is about property and pensions and tax and a cow can't own things.

From the church's point of view, it would be wrong for a man to marry a cow -- either because it is forbidden in Leviticus 18.23 or because, while harmless in itself, it doesn't symbolize the relationship of Jesus to the Church.

From the social point of view....

Actually, I'm far from sure that marrying a pet dog is that much more grotesque than burying a pet dog in a cemetery with a marble headstone, or operating under the delusion that your pet cat prefers Marks and Spencer's organic prawns. It's a fine thing for a human to have an animal companion, but much pet-owning is an expensive anthropomorphic game that the hamster or the guinea pig or the stick insect can't possibly understand. Some people do love their pets very much. It doesn't surprise me that some people do want a public ceremony in which they can affirm that their dog is the most important thing in the life. Maybe they think that such a ceremony will make it easier for their friends to accept it when they bring their dog to parties, and not ask questions about what may or may not happen in the kennel after dark. Whether their friends would accept that, I can't say. I'm not sure that it would be a terribly big deal if they did.

"(And no, before the hate mail starts, I’m not suggesting gays are on a moral par with zoophiles.)"

I find it hard to understand why masturbating with a kitten is necessarily more immoral than than masturbating with a doll, or a melon, or certain very tasteful adult websites, granted that you aren't hurting the kitten. Weird, yes. Inadvisable, very probably. Unsanitary. Silly. "Sad". But "immoral"?

This parenthesis tells us a good deal about the logic behind the Daily Mel's homophobia, actually. Bestiality is more "immoral" than homosexuality: homosexuality is less immoral than bestiality. But marriage between people of the same gender or different species would be equally destructive to civilisation. "Morality" isn't the main thing she's interested in.

I can see why someone might think that the question "Can a man marry his hamster?" is logically meaningless, like "Can a beetroot serve in the military" or "Do I need a TV licence for my cheesecake?" And I think I can see why someone might think that the question "Can a woman marry another woman?" is on the same level. But Mel puts a nasty, nasty, nasty, nasty, evil, nasty spin on it. The problem with a marriage between two men, or two women, or a man and a cat, or a man and a beetroot is not that it's immoral. It's not even that it's illogical. It's that it will make straight marriages look silly: 
"If 'marriage' were extended to such groups [relationships between human and animals] people would rightly conclude that the institution was being turned into a meaningless joke."

If a man could marry his cow (a fairly remote contingency) you would feel that the party you held to affirm your love for your wife in front of your friends (or your God, if you are that way inclined) would lose its significance. And this would be a bad thing, because... Why, exactly? Because you would no longer be faithful to your husband or wife (because of the man and the cow)? Because you would no longer want to raise your children properly (because of the man and the cow)? Or would you say "If a man can affirm his love for his cow, there is no point in me affirming my love for my boyfriend or girlfriend"? So you wouldn't get married at all. And this would be a bad thing, because it's "vital" for children to be raised by their genetic parents. And if you haven't got a legally binding piece of paper, it will be impossible for you to raise your genetic children. And no-one will want that piece of paper if they hear that similar pieces of paper have been issued to Farmer Giles and Ermentrude. And since that is what would happen if we permitted human/cow marriages, the same thing will happen is we allow people to sing hymns at civil partnerships.

I am straight. You are gay. I am better than you. I have more expensive buttons and I eat more expensive pizza. If anyone says I am not better than you, civilisation will collapse.

Don't you know who I am? Don't you know who I am?

[*] The idea that we might discuss a different system for counting up the votes at elections, or change the rules about when elections are called, is "nothing less than a coup against parliamentary democracy."

[**] He is also, incidentally, a special kind of Communist Muslim who is also a Nazi -- or is, at any rate, plotting a "final solution" against the state of Israel.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


There was a time, quite recently, when more or less everything was perfectly okay on these islands of ours. Everyone worked hard, everyone played cricket, everyone went to church and everyone listened to the wireless. There was no crime and all the children were well behaved. You could still use the word "gay" in its proper context. There were one of two Bleck Piple and Hoh Moh Sexuals, but they knew their place. There may even have been on or two bad people, but they had their bottoms spanked and their necks broken and lived happily ever after, or not, as the case may be.

Then, quite recently, everything on these islands became awful. Really awful. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, excrementally awful the Daily Mail believes that modern Britain really is. Children cannot read or write; teachers are imprisoned for subtly reprimanding them; middle-class women have no higher aspiration than to become prostitutes; parts of the North of England are under Al Quaeda control. When the Chinese government donated two Pandas to London Zoo, Mac submitted a cartoon in which the animals threatened to commit suicide.

"But Andrew: haven't all people at all times looked back with nostalgia on the olden days? Hasn't everyone over 30 always thought that in their day, the summers were better behaved and the children were hotter and the women were braver and the soldiers were prettier? Don't you yourself think that the children's TV and the comic books were better when you were growing up, even if the pop music was much, much worse?"

Indeed. But the Daily Mail is not just telling the story of how the world used to be wonderful and how it recently became shitty. It tells the story of a world in which Somebody Is Responsible.

We didn't merely go to hell in a handcart. Someone sent us there. Deliberately.

It is the propagation of this story which makes the Daily Mail so pernicious. Daily Mail Woman may be bright enough to realise that there is no such thing as Winterval, that the dark skinned family next door are not actively working towards the establishment of a European caliphate and the two elderly spinsters next door but one are not part of a lobby hellbent on the destruction of civilisation. 

But when the individual lies are forgotten, the meta-narrative remains. Everything was lovely. Everything is shitty. Someone is responsible. Blacks? Gays? The Political Correctness Brigade? The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds? But it would be relatively easy to change it back. Bring back hanging. Bring back the cane. Abolish immigration. Ban veils. Then everything in the garden will be lovely.

And this meta-narrative haa poisoned political discourse. Politicians on both sides believe in it, or pretend to believe in it. You can't have a sensible discussion about border controls, or running schools, or how to help people who don't have jobs: because discussion about IMMIGRANTS, DISCIPLINE and WELFARE SCOUNGERS are predicated on the theory that everything used to be fine and everything recently became awful.

During the election, David Cameron made the expression Broken Britain something of a mantra. Disgraced former Prime Minister Tony Blair said, explicitly, that before he came to power society had pretty much ceased to exist and been replaced with a maelstrom in which children murdered children in every shopping mall. It was his moral duty to restore civilisation through ASBOs, identity cards, literacy hours, war with Iraq etc.  

There is nothing wrong with hyperbole. I myself have used hyperbole on millions of occasions. We shouldn't hold a demagogue to account for the literal truth of everything she says during a full blown rant. If I say that in the entire history of the universe, no Scotchsman has ever left a tip in a restaurant, then it is not very helpful to say that in 1968, your friend Tavish McHamish said "Jings! What fine haggis" and left a threepenny bit under his napkin. I probably didn't expect you take me literally. But I probably did expect you to infer that I thought that Scottish people were a bit mean with money.

I don't know to what extent Melanie Phillips literally believes that the singing of hymns in Civil Partnership ceremonies will bring about the end of civilisation as we know it. I don't know the extent to which the Campaign Against Political Correctness and all the other rentaquotes believe that Political Correctness was invented by t he Frankfurt School of Cultural Marxists with the specific objective of bringing down western civilisation.

I don't even know to what extent any anti-semite ever really believed that a committee of evil Rabbis, operating out of a secret bunker under the Mount of Olives, was issuing edicts that, at 9.30PM on Channel 4, during a changing room scene in Footballers Wives, a man's penis should briefly hove into view. ("That will inflame the passions of goy women, cause them to leave their husband, bring down their society and hastern the coming of the Messiah. Oy! This roast baby is awfully good, isn't it?") Many of them really did, and really do, believe that the Media and especially Hollywood, is controlled by "Jews" and that this explains why the telly and the pictures are so rude and violent nowadays. 

Have you noticed, by the way, that no-one ever complains about shadowy Fenian puppet masters manipulating history from behind the scenes, or implies that the government of the State of Israel is like a thick, drunken navvy?

When Mel says that The Gay are plotting to bring about the end of civilisation as we know it, we may suspect her of going over the top for effect. But unless her typing is simply to be regarded as the newspaper equivalent of an idiot-boy going "burr-burr-burr", we have to assume that it is an exaggeration of something. Unless she believes that The Gay are, at some level, deliberately and intentionally doing harm, for politically motivated reasons, nothing she says makes the slightest sense. 

Mr Karl Marx believed that society had been dreadful and oppressive for most of human history, but that, real soon now, a fundamental change would occur and everything would be perfect and utopian for ever and ever, amen (although he didn't  believe in God). Mr Marx also believed that society was defined by its economic base -- one half of society controls the means of production, and the other half doesn't -- and that everything else grew out of that fundamental inequality. You can't fix the church or the schools or the family until you fix the economic basis: once the proletariat control the means of production, everything else will come right as surely as night follows day.

The Daily Mel, as we have seen, believe that society is defined  -- built on -- the privileged status afforded to heterosexuals and the inferior or subordinate status afforded to homosexuals. This is the core, the foundation, the bedrock the thing everything else was built on. As long as that bedrock of sexual inequality remained in place, society was good and perfect and idyllic. But someone has, or is just about to, overturn that fundamental base. We started regarding homosexuals as normal; now, we regard them as superior; pretty soon, heterosexuality will be forbidden. As a result, things have fallen apart and the centre is unable to hold  If mere anarchy were shortly to be loosed upon the world, I shouldn't be in the least bit surprised.

Everyone creates an enemy in their own image. The Daily Mel's fictional universe is a mirror image of the Marxism which she abominates As mythologies goes, it's neat, it's compelling, it could almost be true and it's completely barking mad.

Friday, March 18, 2011


So: why does singing hymns in registry offices, particularly, represent an attack on Christian civilisation? We need to wind back ten months, to May 2010 when an amateur Christian evangelist named Dale McAlipine was arrested and charged (but not prosecuted) "simply" for preaching Christian principles in public. 

Naturally Melanie Phillips leapt to his defence :

"Terrifying as this may seem, the attempt to stamp out Christianity in Britain appears to be gathering pace....a gentle, unaggressive Christian is arrested and charged simply for preaching Christian principles....It would appear that Christianity, the normative faith of this country on which its morality, values and civilisation are based, is effectively being turned into a crime. "

Well, yes.

Or rather "no". The preacher was not arrested for  simply preaching Christian principles. He was not arrested for simply saying that Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures, or for simply saying that He rose again on the Third Day. He was not arrested for simply saying that the First and Second persons of the Holy Trinity shared a single essence. (He'd probably, to be fair, have had to have said that in a fairly complicated way.) He was arrested for saying, in what the police judged to be incendiary language, that homosexuality was a sin.

You could only say that he was "simply" arrested for preaching Christian principals if you already believed that "Christianity" and "the sinfulness of homosexuality" were synonymous or interchangable terms. Which would, obviously, be completely mad. Some Christians think being gay is a sin. Some don't. Rowan Williams' whole problem is that his church is split on the issue. Even the more traditional Christians, who think that gay sex (and playing with your thing, and having sex of any kind before you are married) is Very Naughty don't generally think that it is the most important part of the Christian faith. Mr C.S Lewis was quite careful to preface his (extremely conservative) chapter on Christian Marriage by saying that some muddle-headed Christians talked as if this was the heart of Christian morality, but that it wasn't. (Pride, since you asked.) 

There seems to be a general agreement that the police action  in arresting the soap-box preacher was over-the-top. Peter Tatchell himself thought that it went well beyond what the incitement to hatred laws ought to cover. (He thought there should be a certain quid pro quo: if he had the right to stand up in public and say that the Pope was a child abuser and a bigot then other people should have the right to stand up in public and say that Peter Tatchell was a hell-bound sodomite. This is what used to be called "secular liberalism", I believe.)

In any case, the soap-box man was never prosecuted. The Gay Lobby aren't trying nearly as hard to stamp out Christianity as the State Lobby is to stamp out Student Protests.

I did a bit of street preaching myself in my reckless youth. If the police think you are obstructing the highway or making a nuisance of yourself, they "move you on". Only if you positively refuse to move do they arrest you. Some of the keener brothers rather wanted this to happen since it would give them the opportunity to tell the local beak that unless he repented, he too would perish, in the manner of Saint Paul on Mars Hill. The bobbies never, in my experience, obliged.
One police officer arrested one street preacher on one occasion. That doesn't amount to a blanket ban on street preaching. One police officer moved on one group of children on one occasion: that does not mean that sinister forces in the government are pursuing an ideologically driven anti-hopscotch agenda. 

Only a complete lunatic would think that it did.

Mel takes two rather incompatible lines over this kind of thing. The first is a simple free speech position: if we are truly a tolerant society then intolerance is one of the things we should tolerate.

"Surreally, this intolerant denial of freedom is being perpetrated under the rubric of promoting tolerance and equality - but only towards approved groups. Never has George Orwell's famous satirical observation, that some people are more equal than others, appeared more true."

It doesn't matter what we think about Sodomy: what matters is that the Hotel Martyrs sincerely believed it to be a sin, and sincerely didn't want any sin going on in their double beds. A tolerant society must allow then to act on these sincere beliefs. 
This doesn't hold water for five minutes. I may very well have a sincere belief that God has instructed me to go around shouting "fire!" in crowded theatres, but that doesn't mean that my right to do so is protected under "freedom of worship" laws. I can believe that God disproves of miscegenation as strongly as want: I just can't turn mixed race couples away from my hotel. The "NO DOGS OR JEWS" sign hanging outside my shop may be a perfectly honest and sincere reflection of my belief that the Jews killed Jesus, drink the blood of infants, and, moreover, smell of wee. It's still against the law. 

Everyone has the right to practice, or not practice whichever religion they like and society must, indeed, be very careful indeed of making laws which impact disproportionately on particular communities. I have no particular human right to stick vegetables in my clothes, but a law prohibiting anyone from putting leaks in their headwear during March would be judged to be a bad law, because it would have fairly obviously been invented with the specific aim of annoying Welsh people. It seems unfair that there is a special law against hunting foxes, with dogs, on horses, while wearing natty red jackets, because that law seems to single out a particular social class (rich country people) while leaving the fascist R.S.P.B quite free to gas hedgehogs if that's what they get off on. Laws preventing people from covering their faces in public, or changing the regulations about the humane slaughter of animals are open to the accusation of unfairly singling out particular minority religions. 

But that doesn't mean that all laws become optional if you can plausibly claim that breaking them is part of your religious identity. Every military officer and every schoolteacher knows this: it's one thing to say "Can I be excused chapel because I'm a Muslim" or "Can I take my day off on Saturday, rather than Sunday, because I'm Jewish" but quite another to say "I have just invented, off the top of my head, a religion called Jedi, and, as you know, it is against the Jedist faith to peel potatoes or go on cross-country runs." Satanists are perfectly free to be Satanists, Rastafarians are perfectly free to be Rastafarians and creepy evangelicals are perfectly free to be creepy evangelicals but the laws against performing human sacrifice, smoking weed and spanking schoolboys apply to them just the same as they apply to everybody else, however sincerely they believe that Satan / Jah / Dr Dobson told them otherwise.

So: since the argument that street preachers should be allowed to preach homophobia simply because that is what they sincerely believe is unsustainable, Mel has to resort to a deeper, more sophisticated, stupider argument. Preachers and hoteliers have a special right to discriminate against homosexuals because homosexuality is a special case.


Most Christians are Christians because they believe that Christianity is true or at any rate, wish that it were. They believe in God and think that Jesus, or the Church of England, or Cliff Richard provided a good path, or the best path, or the only path for getting in touch with Her. Some of them -- some Quakers, maybe, Catholic Modernists, Sea of Faith Anglicans, the Archbishop of Canterbury -- may not even go this far. "I don't know if there's a God" they say "But I do know that everyone would be much nicer and much happier if they just pretended." Nearly all of them have some feeling that Jesus is, or was, or would have been, or am, a really cool dude. They think that God and Jesus and Christianity are good things in themselves. 

Melanie Philips never mentions Jesus. (She's Jewish.) She doesn't regard Christianity as a good thing in itself. She takes a purely instrumental view of religion. It is a means to an end. The end is a mysterious entity variously described as "this country" or "society" or "civilisation". Christianity is "the normative faith of this country on which its morality, values and civilisation are based". Christian opinions represent "the bedrock values of this society". Biblical morals are "the bedrock values of Western civilisation" and "society's core values." If a preacher is arrested (but not prosecuted) for using incendiary homophobic language in public, it follows that "the faith Britain was built on" is becoming a crime. We need to be Christian, or to pretend to be Christian, or to have Christian morals, because that's the only thing which will keep "this country" or "society" or "western civilisation" ticking over.

Well, now. 

If by "culture" you mean "the stuff we've all got in common" then anyone might say that Christianity is a big part of British culture. Shakespeare, Chaucer, Henry VIII, Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Cliff Richard were, or claimed to be, Christians. Parliament, the Church of England, Oxford and Cambridge University, Eton College, the BBC and the Beano were all founded by people who thought of themselves as Christians  (John Stewart Mill, Charles Darwin, Aleister Crowley, David Attenborough, John Lennon and Ricky Gervais were of course, atheists, but they were Church of England atheists. It was an Anglican God they didn't believe in.) And we could probably all agree that it would be a Bad Thing if Christianity, in this sense, were to be "stamped out" by an Orwellian boot. It would involve falsifying our history and our "culture". It would be quite odd if Kenyan children grew up knowing all about the Eskimos and the Highland Clearances, but little about the history of their corner of Africa. It would be equally odd if we decided to raise a generation who did not know who Friar Tuck, Solomon, Falstaff, Doubting Thomas, Sir Francis Drake, Daniel, Mr Micawber and Polycarp of Smyrna were. 

If that is really happening, which it isn't, then the stamping is being done, not by the Political Correctness Brigade but by gradgrindian Tories -- Daily Mail readers to a man -- who don't see how Shakespeare and Dickens and the Bible are going to help kids get out and compete in the global marketplace, or at any rate work in McDonalds. (Education for its own sake is a bit of a dodgy idea, as one of Blair's simians once remarked.) Even Richard Dawkins and Phillip Pullman agree about this: you may not believe in the Bible but you ought to know what it says. It's only the halfwits who contribute to the Guardian's religion blog who can't hear the word "Bible" or "Church" without blubbering "why even mention ancient savage bronze age stupid fairy tale primitive grapefruit segments har har Christians are silly".


Even if it is true that some or all British institutions were originally Christian, or Christian in inspiration, it could not possibly follow that the "stamping out" of Christianity would cause those institutions, and therefore the nation as a whole, to collapse.  I suspect that this part of Mel's argument is based on a rather silly piece of metaphor abuse. If my school was founded by a Christian teacher, using money donated by Christians, and if for 600 years a prayer has been said in the chapel each morning, then I might very well say "this school is built upon Christian foundations". It doesn't follow that if you stop singing hymns or appoint a Muslim headmaster, the building will fall down. It might be quite silly and quite petty to decide that prayers would no longer be said in the House of Commons, but the business of law-making could carry on quite happily without them. 

But there is not the remotest suggestion that this is going to happen. Mel's case for Christianity being turned into a crime depends on four examples. 

1: The aforementioned preacher, who was arrested, but not prosecuted, for what an individual police officer judged, wrongly, to be hate speech.

2: The aforementioned hotel owners, who were successfully prosecuted for refusing to allow gay couples to share a bed under their roof.

3: A local government official who was fired for refusing to perform civil partnership ceremonies. (She was offered a transfer to a different department, but refused to accept the offer.)[*]

4: Nothing else. 

That is: when Mel says that "Christianity" is being criminalized, what is being criminalized is prejudice against homosexuals. But that's okay, because prejudice against homosexuals is at the heart of the Christian message. It practically is the Christian message.  

What follows is a direct quote from her column: it is not a piece of satirical exaggeration on my part:

"Many of these cases involve the issue of homosexuality since this is the principal area where orthodox [**] Christian beliefs cannot co-exist with the law. This is in contrast to other contentious issues such as abortion, where the law specifically provides exemptions for conscience. This is because unlike the specific and limited issue of abortion, the militant gay rights agenda represents an attack on the entire value system of our society by destroying the very idea that any sexual behaviour is normal. "

Now abortion is the kind of issue which makes liberal believers -- liberals in general, I think -- uncomfortable. How can a horse, a dog, a rat have rights, and an unborn human no rights at all? Why are so many of us so absolutely certain that killing Nazi soldiers is wrong, killing murderers and paedophiles is wrong but killing unborn people is sometimes perfectly OK? Even if its a matter of life and death, why do we choose to kill the innocent who had no choice with the less innocent who, might have done? 

Don't bother to write in and tell me the the answer to these questions. I've already placed my bet firmly on the "pro-choice" side of the coin. I'm only saying that it's a difficult question. A question about morals. And that if you think -- as Mel I believe Mel does, and as I imagine the soap-box preacher does -- that abortion is wrong, you believe that it is wrong on simple, straightforward grounds that anyone, of any religious or philosophical persuasion, could easily understand. Killing babies is wrong. 

In the Melverse, it passes in a second. It is unimportant. "Saying that you can't preach inflammatory anti-gay sermons in public places" and "Saying that if you want to work in a Registry Office you have to perform civil partnership ceremonies" represents and attack on the entire -- the ENTIRE -- value system of our society whereas killing babies does not.

I am going to say that again.

Saying that two men or two women can form a legally binding civil partnership is an attack on the entire value system of our society.

Saying that it's sometimes okay to kill babies is NOT an attack on the entire value system of our society.

Why is the right of someone to preach homophobic sermons, or the right of someone else to turn gay men away from their hotel such an inalienable right? 

Because the idea of gay equality represents an attack on society because it would "destroy the very idea that any sexual behaviour is normal". It is "the very idea that any sexual behaviour is normal" which is the " core" or "bedrock" which she has been talking about. The distinction between normal and abnormal sexual behaviour is the thing which our society is based on.

To summarize:

The Entire Value System of Our Society (V) is based on the idea that heterosexuality is normal and homosexuality is not normal (H)

The Entire Value System of Our Society (V) is based on Christianity (X).

If V = H and V = X than H = X

Christianity can therefore be defined as "the belief that heterosexuality is normal and homosexuality is not normal." 

In the Mel lexicon, Christianity means homophobia.

Having dealt with the more sensible part of her argument, I now wish to turn to the part where she goes a little bit crazy:

[*] That really is a bit like a Muslim working in a hotel, who refuses a offer to be transferred to the kitchen, the waiting staff, or the coffee bar. "No" he says "I demand to be allowed to serve in the bar, but to have my conscientious objection to serving beer respected." He would not have been fired for "refusing to serve alcohol" so much as for "being a dick."

[**] She talked about Christianity as a "normative" faith; she's now talking about "orthodox" Christian belief. I am not sure what either of these two qualifying words mean. I know what an Orthodox Christian is; I think I know what an Orthodox Jews is: they aren't "orthodox" in the same sense. I think I know what a Normative Jew is. I have no idea what a Normative Christian is. (Does it mean "one who follows Christian norms, whether or not he believes in Christian theology". Or does it mean "The consensus among ordinary people as to what Christianity means, regardless of the what the clergy teaches.) I hope she is not using these big words just to throw sand in our eyes.