Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A tear, Sarah-Jane?

no, no, no, no, no, no, no

What if they gave an election and no-one came? (2)


The Queen, of course, is not really in charge of anything. The person who is really in charge is the Prime Minister, and we choose him by an arcane process called voting. Here is how it works.

Suppose you live in a Parish of 1,000 citizens. Let's call it Little Gidding.

And suppose you have to chose a representative to send to the national assembly. Let's call it The Thing.

And let's suppose that you have four political parties: the Red Party, the White Party, the Blue Party and the Black Party.

And let's suppose that the Red Party, the White Party and the Blue Party are all united in their hatred of the Black Party, the leader of which is a swivel-eyed lunatic who starts foreign wars on flimsy pretexts. But let's also suppose that the supporters of the Black Party are all loyal party men who hate Red, White and Blue equally, on the unassailable grounds that they are not Black.

When the votes of the citizens of the parish of Little Gidding are counted, they come out as:

Black Party - 251
Red Party -250
White Party - 250
Blue Party - 249

So the representative of the Black Party is duly elected and sent to the Thing, where he claims to speak on behalf of all (or at any rate the vastmaj ority) of the people of Little Gidding, even though 74.9% of them didn't want him as their representative. Indeed, when he decides to chop down the rose garden and build a car-park, he reminds the 749 parishoners who stage a "save the rose garden" demonstration that they had an election, that he won, that it is therefore the will of the people of Little Gidding that the rose garden be chopped down, that it would be positively undemocratic to listen to their objections (and that in any case he feels in his heart that chopping down the rose-bush is the right thing to do, and that he will some day have to answer to God on the matter).

Clearly, this is not an ideal system.

The ideal system -- if you think that an election result which reflects the wishes of the people who voted in the election is a good result, which, I grant you, is not self-evident -- would be to let the people of Little Gidding send not 1 but 4 representative to the Thing: a Black one, a Red one, a White one, and a Blue one. The down-side of this is that it would quadruple the size of the Thing. The villagers would have to contribute to the cost of 4 times as many postage stamps; 4 times as many cups of coffee 4 times as many moats and 4 times as many duck-houses. And it always seems to turn out that the only way of obtaining this money would be to close hospitals, sack teachers, make vets redundant and cause thousands of cute kittens to die in horrible agony. The idea that you could raise the funds by, say, dropping fewer bombs on fewer foreigners never seems to occur to anybody.

The second best system would be to merge the parish of Little Gidding with the three nearby parishes called, for the sake of a joke that wasn't particularly funny to begin with, East Coker, Burnt Norton and Dry Salvage. You'd count up the votes of the newly merged mega-parish and send representatives to the Thing based on how those 4,000 votes were cast -- say, two Blues, one Black and one Red. This would, of course, mean that the people of Little Gidding might end up being represented by someone who was born and bred in East Coker. And the one thing that unites everyone in the Red party, the White party, the Blue party and the Black party is that no-one from East Coker could possibly understand what happens in Little Gidding. If you haven't lived all your life near the rose garden, you simply won't understand the strong feelings that rose gardens engender. The Red Party, the White Party and the Blue Party all agree that the Black Party candidate is a swivel-eyed lunatic: but at least he's a local swivel-eyed lunatic. They'd rather be represented by him than some furriner from the village next door.

Since the two sensible options are clearly too silly to consider, the villagers decide that the best thing to do is count up the votes in a more complicated way -- a way which reflects the fact that the vastmaj ority of the villager really do hate the Black Party.

"Here is what we will do," they say. "We will decide that a simple majority of votes cast will no longer be sufficient to win an election. From now on, you will only be allowed to represent us if you have more votes than all the other candidates put together. If no candidate gets that magical 50% of the votes, we will declare the election null and void, and run it all over again. But, and this is the cunning bit, if we have to have a second election, the candidate who got the least votes -- the Blue one, in this case -- will not be allowed to stand a second time. And will carry on knocking candidates out and having new elections until someone gets overall majority."

As we've seen, in Little Gidding, the Black candidate is very unpopular with everybody except a rump of swivel-eyed lunatics. So when the Blue candidate drops out, some of his supporters vote RED and some of his supporters vote WHITE, but NONE of them vote BLACK. So after the second election, you get a result like this

BLACK 251 + 0 =251
RED 250+125=375
WHITE 250+124=374

Oh dear! The poor villagers still haven't managed to come up with an overall majority. So they have to have the election all over again. This time the BLACK candidate bows out. Hooray! At the next election, some of his supporters vote RED and some of them vote WHITE. This leaves us with a final result:

RED: 375 + 126 = 501
WHITE: 374 +125 = 499

So after three goes, and by the closest of margins, RED is elected. [*]

The BLACK candidate is very sad.

The RED candidate is very happy.

The WHITE candidate is sadder than he would have been if he'd won, but happier than he would have been if BLACK had won.

The BLUE candidate is sadder than he'd been if he'd won, but happier than he would have been if BLACK had won.

It's not an ideal system, but we've just rejected the ideal system on general principles. Overall, more people are less unhappy this way than they would have been under the old system which gave all the power to the least popular candidate.

Now, actually holding the election over and over again would be a terrible nuisance. You'd have to close the library or the school hall on three consecutive Thursdays, and pay council vote counting officials money that could have been better be spent on bombs and duck houses. So, and this is also the cunning bit, we say that the villagers are not allowed to change their mind in the second or the third elections. If you vote RED the first time, you have to vote RED the second time. Only the people whose candidate has been kicked out get to change their mind. But, and this is the most cunning bit of all, because it would be a nuisance to have to keep walking down to the Parish Hall over and over again, they ask everyone to say how they would vote if a second or third election had to be held.

This isn't as complicated as it sounds. Instead of doing this

BLUE     X

the villagers have to do this

BLACK   4 (fourth choice)
RED    2 (second choice)
WHITE    3 (third choice)
BLUE   1(first choice)

The supporters of the Black Party, not surprisingly, don't like this system. They say that it is unfair, and goes against the traditions of Little Gidding: they say it violates a basic principle of "We've always done it this way." (As a matter of fact, they HAVEN'T done always done it that way at all. 25 years ago, only people over 30 were allowed to vote. 50 years ago, only men were allowed to vote. 100 years ago, only people with at least two turnip fields were allowed to vote.) And they say that because people who supported the RED party in the first election have to vote for the RED party in the second election, but people who voted for the BLUE party are allowed to change their mind, the BLUE party is somehow getting more influence than the RED, WHITE, and BLACK parties. They say that some people get more say in the election than others. They say that some people get more votes than others. They say that if I go into the Little Gidding Tea Shop "I'd like mint tea, if you've got it, other wise, de caff coffee is fine, but if you don't have that either, I'd be happy with ordinary tea" I end up with more drinks than the person who just ordered, and got, a cup of tea. Either they don't understand the system themselves, or they do understand it and are actively trying to confuse everyone else.

[*] In the event of a dead heat, the returning officer gets an extra vote, which he must cast in favour of the encumbent. Or maybe they settle it by a game of tiddlywinks. Doesn't matter. Isn't going to happen.


Monday, April 18, 2011

What if they gave an election and no-one came? (1)

Remember 1977?

There seemed to be a widespread and genuine enthusiasm for celebrating the Queen's Silver Jubilee. The Queen still looked a little like the pretty girl who had been coronated 25 years earlier; people in their 30s remembered the 1953 celebrations with some affection and wanted to recapture some of that fun and optimism; the avenue from Buck House to Trafalgar Square was genuinely filled with people, only 16 or 17 of whom stood any chance of actually seeing the balcony, and the chants of "We want our Queen!" didn't seem to have been orchestrated. There were also some good movies showing at the Odeon.

It was against this background that groups of young men with spiky noses and safety pins in their hair got banned from the wireless for singing anti-monarchist "pop" songs, which seem to have arisen from a genuinely nihilistic outrage against the whole charade. I don't suppose that being anti-monarchist in 1977 was particularly brave -- no-one was actually going to punch you. But it was at least very slightly non-conformist.

It may be that, after the sordid tale of Charles and Di and the national dementia which followed its pathetic final act, there is a conscious effort to play down the wedding of William and Thingy. (And protocol says that the marriage of the second in line to the throne doesn't count as a State occasion.) But I get the impression that this time around nobody really cares all that much about the wedding. It isn't that we've all suddenly gone anti-monarchist and republican: we just aren't very interested.

Cameron has made a rather ridiculous attempt to get his retaliation in first. He has assumed emergency presidential powers with regard to local council traffic by-laws. "It doesn't matter what local council by laws say: I'm damn well Prime Minister and if you want to hold an outdoor party in the middle of a busy road you can, because I said so, so there." So when it turns out that people stayed away in droves, he'll be able to blame elf and safety, left wing councils, political correctness gone mad. Oh, everyone wanted a street-party, he will say, but the cultural Marxist killjoys needed them to fill out a form, do that they didn't bother. (See also: Christian Good Friday Parades, by Marxist Muslim Health and Safety Committees, Banning Of.)

So the attempts to hold "f**k the royal wedding" parties -- or just to mischeivously weed the garden and pretend the TV coverage isn't happening -- look increasingly pathetic. Small minded. It isn't big. It isn't clever. It's mainstream. You can buy anti-royalist tee shirts in Primark, for goodness sake. I did enjoy the suggestion that people who think that it is really really important that we should have an elected head of state with no power (as opposed to a hereditary heard of state with no power) should, instead of watching the big wedding on the telly, invite their neighbours round for a slice of cake and a cosy chat about constitutional reform. A sort of republican tea-party.

Abolishing the monarchy used to be a great big political idea, argued for vociferously by the far left, yelled about furiously by anarchists, debated about in terms of Way Tyler and Tom Paine. Now it's part of a general, cynical, whining background noise. The leftists, liberals and intellectuals didn't exactly win the argument. They just bored everybody else into submission. It looks very much as if we are going to wake up one morning, say, in 2025 and find that the Royal Family went away five years ago and nobody noticed. Oh, there will still be someone with the title "King of England" but that title will only be meaningful to a handful of fellow eccentrics. The same thing has, I think, already happened to the great big arguments about the separation of Church and State. King William V may very well be given a piece of paper that says he is supreme governor of the Church of England. He may keep it in a drawer and bring it out at parties, or have it framed and hang it in the loo. But no-one will know or care because the Church of England will have long since stopped mattering, and I will no longer have any excuse to use the word antidisestablishmentarianism. The people who argue that because 0.04% of the members of the House of Lords are Anglican bishops, England is a theocracy on a level with Iran already look ridiculous, fighting a war which ended a hundred years ago. 0.04% of bugger-all is bugger-all.

This doesn't mean that I don't retain a nostalgic affection for the Queen. And it doesn't mean that I don't find these new anti-monarchists incredibly smug and irritating. "Look at me, putting forward a mainstream point of view! How incredibly daring of me!" But I always found the keen Royal Family fans incredibly irritating as well. Why can't I be a nonconformist like everybody else?


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nothing to see here.

You really need to read this page and also this one . I have got into the habit of responding to evil lying tabloid pondscum and evil lying political pondscum through a mixture of smugness and sarcasm, but there really is a need for this kind of rage as well. We are the men of England and we have not punched you in the face yet. And we're probably not going to because we probably can't be bothered, but it's the thought which counts.

No interest whatsoever in the Archers, but the Bellowhead theme is straight in at number 5 in the "unofficial national anthem" stakes.

I realise everybody else within a vague interest in Americana knew this already, but I didn't. The words are religious, you see, but the tune is oddly familiar....

Obviously, stealing tunes is what folk singers do, by definition, but hearing this makes me admire Mr Guthrie even more than I did before.

Which reminds me: came across this in the Joe Klein biography (quite the most depressing book I have ever read, in a good way):

"The national debit is one thing I caint figger out. I heard a senator on a radeo a-saying that we owed somebody 15 jillion dollars. I don't know their name but I remember the price. Called it the national debit. If the nation is the government and the government is the people, then I guess that means the people owes the people, that means I owe me and you owe you, and I forget the regular fee, but if I owe myself something, I would be willing to just call it off rather than have senators argue about it, and I know you would do the same thing and then we wouldn't have no national debit." (Woody Sez newspaper column, c 1939.)

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....

"....in 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.