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Archive for December, 2010

While I was offline for a month, I kept a note of any links and news stories worth commenting on. Now that I’m back, I’m aiming to post two short items a day here, about stuff that happened during my online absence, until I’ve cleared the backlog. This is one of those.


One of the primary arguments that campaigners against capital punishment have used for a while is that, if the state executes a convicted prisoner, and it’s somehow later proven that the conviction was mistaken and the executed victim was innocent, then no-one can ever undo this cruellest imaginable miscarriage of justice.

It’s never worth the risk, they argue, that the state might kill an innocent person by mistake.

Well, there’s a good chance that that’s totally happened.

Claude Jones was executed for murder ten years ago. In 2010, DNA evidence undermined the best evidence that tied him to the crime. And it was a pretty flimsy-sounding bunch of evidence to begin with.

It’s not an exoneration, but go to that link and read up on the rest of the details about how he was found guilty. Then ask yourself if that’s really the kind of evidence you’re okay with your government using to justify putting someone to death.

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While I was offline for a month, I kept a note of any links and news stories worth commenting on. Now that I’m back, I’m aiming to post two short items a day here, about stuff that happened during my online absence, until I’ve cleared the backlog. This is one of those.


At the start of December, Christina Martin wrote a blog post in which she got uppity and moaned about some so-called offensive comedy on Channel 4, and decided to be all over-sensitive about Frankie Boyle and someone called Morgana. This whole big fuss kicked off, just because these comedians made a few jokes about how shit the mentally handicapped are, and invited millions of viewers to join them in laughing at disabled people’s comical inability to conform to more familiar patterns of behaviour.

Honestly, the political correctness these days is out of control. It’s getting so you can’t even pull someone out of their wheelchair and punch them in the face before stoning a few gay people to death and raping your wife any more without offending somebody. People are so touchy.

I forgot what my point was.

Oh, yes. The point of the above entirely unfair characterisation was that, whenever there are complaints of offense being caused in the name of humour, there’ll always be a crowd who refuse to accept any kind of compromise. They’re adamantly decided ahead of time that any decision not to make a particular joke at the expense of someone who can’t defend themselves is nothing more than pandering and over-sensitivity by woolly liberals, not to mention that utmost of horrors, censorship of their free speech.

The point was that some people fail to differentiate between “over-sensitivity” and, y’know, “sensitivity”.

And if someone from a minority demographic who have it pretty tough at the best of times (or someone not unreasonably speaking for them) says that these jokes are hurtful, and damaging, and perpetuate an unjust social disparity amounting to discrimination and bullying, then the least you can do is shut up and listen long enough to honestly consider whether they might be right.

I know a lot of people whine about being offended just because they’re thin-skinned and don’t know how to change the channel. But that’s not the only reason people complain that something’s offensive. Sometimes things really are unkind and unnecessary.

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While I was offline for a month, I kept a note of any links and news stories worth commenting on. Now that I’m back, I’m aiming to post two short items a day here, about stuff that happened during my online absence, until I’ve cleared the backlog. This is one of those.


I don’t have much to add in this particular case, but I thought it was worth drawing another smidge of attention to. The Blag Hag had a great description up of what feminism should be about, referencing a rather more explicit and detailed post over at Pervocracy.

The main thrust is that it’s not about simply adhering to or avoiding a pre-ordained list of actions, but about the reasons for choosing those actions:

It’s the difference between dressing modestly because it’s comfortable or keeps you warm, and dressing modestly to avoid being jailed or raped because you were “asking for it.” Between liking football and Grand Theft Auto because they entertain you, and liking football and Grand Theft Auto because you don’t want to dare to have stereotypically “girly” hobbies. Between forgoing makeup because you’re too lazy in the morning and forgoing makeup because otherwise you won’t be taken seriously at work.

This is what I mean when I call myself a feminist. I know some people are put off the label by what other people seem to mean by it, and by the sex-negative or gynarchal opinions that seem to be popular in some feminist quarters, but I’m okay with the idea that what I mean by this word doesn’t have to be identical to what everyone else means by it.

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Catching up

No one would have believed, in the last days of the year 2010, that skeptical affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of Sydenham.

No one could have dreamed they were being scrutinized, as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few men even considered the possibility of bloggers in southeast London and yet, across the gulf of cyberspace, minds immeasurably superior to yours regarded this blogosphere with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, I drew my plans against you.

Bit too much?

What I’m saying is, I’m back online, properly this time. The internet’s all hooked up in the new flat at last, I’ve had my Christmas break, and I’ve got no excuse not to be back on the wagon, writing stuff regularly again. I’m very nearly as settled in here as I’m going to be now, so I can’t keep putting it off with rationalisations about not being comfortable yet.

However, although I’ve been lamentably uncreative in my absence, I have been able to more or less keep up with my RSS feed, and I’ve been taking careful note of the various exciting things that have been going on. So, now that it’s all totally out of date and any topical interest is completely lost, you get to hear what I would have thought about everything that’s happened in the past month if I’d been there.

I’m going to aim for two short posts on this a day, and should get the backlog cleared in a couple of weeks. The first one will follow immediately after this.

If you’ve no idea what I was going on about at the start, let Richard Burton explain.

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Ho ho ho

Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan.

Blogging will return next week. I hope you’re all having a lovely time.

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The hiatus continues

Virgin Media are being impressively useless. I was supposed to be back in action by now, but I am still disconnected at home. A whole lot of nothing continues to happen. Just thought I’d let you know I haven’t died in the meantime.

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