Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘christian voice’

Hey, it’s Friday night, the weekend is here, and it’s time to paaaaaar-tay, if by paaaaaar-tay you mean find myself largely agreeing with a Christian voice article.

Seriously, I think their objections to the conviction of a street preacher for “delivering homophobic sermons” last year are basically spot on. And while this guy doesn’t sound like someone I’d generally find myself siding with, having the government take action to curtail your free speech in what seems like a pretty clear-cut case of unjust state censorship is the kind of thing that can quickly bring me on board as your ally.

I’m not going to join Stephen Green in praying that the judge in this case will repent and find Jesus, but I am going to keep looking out for chances to defend my principles at the expense of my personal biases. Threatening someone with jail time for speaking his mind in public should feel no less palatable just because I disagree with his message.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Here’s a thing I Facebooked recently:

I got more Twitter attention than I had for ages yesterday, by pointing out that homophobia is silly to people who already knew that. As you can possibly tell from my rather glib phrasing, it felt less than satisfactory or victorious.

It’s definitely worthwhile progress that being gay is coming to be seen universally as obviously completely fine, but I don’t see much of a useful endgame following from enlightened folk like me simply continuing to point it out.

I think I’m troubled by certain inbuilt methods of engaging with those who disagree, and how naturally I slide into those easy patterns. If you want people to learn to love better, and you’re not using love to teach that lesson, surely your methods are flawed from the start. Be the change you want to see in the world, and such. Otherwise your strategy is “Stop hating people different from you, or I’ll hate you for your differences from me.”

If you crush the rebellious, they’ll just learn tyranny & oppression. If you demand they be more accepting, without yourself displaying acceptance in action… Well, I don’t know. Just seems like if I want to be as revolutionary as I want to be, I’ll need to eschew easy options and put in the hours more.

This has been: @writerJames tweets from a nice warm bath while slightly tipsy on the theme of optimising the world through improved compassion and communication, then recaps it on Facebook the next morning.

Surprisingly, not everyone was instantly won over to my proposed hippie lefty love-fest of peace and harmony. I guess they must’ve just been feeling grouchy. Or maybe there’s at least one major proviso which deserves to be added to the above points.

Broadly speaking, I stand by my generalised support for being nice, and I’m strongly inclined to speak out in favour of being kinder to people than they might seem to deserve. Compassion can make real constructive progress between people of differing views possible, in ways that anger and bitterness can’t, far more often than the other way around.

But I can see, on reflection, how something as apparently innocuous at first glance as idly wishing for a charming idyll of universal tolerance might be problematic. As is so often the case, it’s largely down to the context. My context at the time of the above thoughts was a nice hot bath on a comfortably lazy afternoon. Not everyone shared in it.

(In the context of my position of comfort and security, I mean. Obviously no-one was sharing my bath. No-one ever is. Or seems to want to. I’m beginning to think I don’t know how to set up a Facebook event properly.)

The way nobody quite put it to me in the comments was: “That’s easy for you, but some of us are still dealing with shit that we deserve to be angry about, fuckdammit.” Maz pointed out how much fun it isn’t, being told essentially to “calm down dear”, something she’s heard often enough before. She objects to other people’s behaviour, and her audacity for speaking up seems to be reprimanded more severely than the genuinely objectionable remarks that earned her wrath in the first place. While I wasn’t advocating the passivity she argued against, I also wouldn’t dispute the entitlement she claims to her anger.

But my hypothetical commenter summing things up was right about something important. It is easy for me.

And if I’m one of the lucky ones for whom it’s easy, it seems like I have more responsibility than most to make some sort of effort.

My comments were coming from a place of significant privilege. Being a straight white able-bodied male, that’s true of most comments I’m ever likely to make. But the feminists who believe this means my opinions should be ignored or shouted down only really exist in the fetid imaginations of a significant slice of the men’s rights activism movement.

The remark I originally made on Twitter, which my later series of tweets referred to, was about this post by one of the UK’s foremost pitifully watered-down attempts at religious extremism, Christian Voice.

Now, to me, watching a niche outfit like Christian Voice, as they rail against the inevitable march of progress, and bluster about how those gays are undermining all you straight people and your own marriages, no really they are, you just don’t realise it – to me, it’s almost adorable. They’re too quaint to take seriously. They certainly aren’t a threat, but they’re too tragic to really be a joke either. They’re like a doddery grandparent who keeps muttering about how the blacks are everywhere these days doing jobs white people used to do, who you roll your eyes at and gently remind that that we don’t use certain slurs when we talk about people these days.

Their attempt at oppressive bigotry is such a misguided, overblown, tiny little gnat of a thing, it feels inappropriate for me to get all fiery and indignant over it. It’d be like trying to become righteously enraged at the unacceptable behaviour of a toddler throwing a tantrum on the living room floor, flailing at you with their tiny balled-up fists.

And the context of all this is that I’m still a straight white able-bodied male. The thing I know – but didn’t explicitly acknowledge in my original burble – is that for many people homophobia is really not in any way adorable. People are still shamed, humiliated, harassed, brutalised, and attacked for their sexuality. And that’s just in the kinds of progressive countries where these attitudes are obviously on the way out, let alone in somewhere like Uganda. A lot of folk are made seriously fucking miserable by the kind of prejudice at which I sigh and shake my head with weary indulgence.

Now, being aware of that context doesn’t negate the value of bringing compassion to these arguments, or undermine my basic point that fighting hate with hate is a suboptimal method for reaching a conclusion of love and tolerance. But if people are feeling hectored about their tone, I’ve done something wrong.

Judging anyone else’s moral obligation to be kind, patient, and compassionate to people unwilling to return the favour is absolutely not a game I meant to play. However much I might uphold that ideal, I know that berating anyone else for failing to live up to it, without considering their own circumstances and why it may not be a realistic goal in their case, will only add to the world’s level of dickitude. The one person whose situation I’m sufficiently familiar with to make that kind of moral judgment on is me.

I’ll need to eschew easy options and put in the hours more, is what I said. I can hold myself to that standard, while recognising that my straight-white-male-ness is part of what makes this a practical expectation for me, and that not everyone shares those features. It was a pondering on my own capacity for self-improvement that set me off on this road. Which is also why the later comment that “from what I recall of your blogging about religion, you don’t write in the style you’re suggesting here” is quite accurate.

Part of the reason for this apparent double-standard is that, while homophobia has always been almost entirely unthreatening to me, I’ve not always identified with the same privileged position when it comes to religion. I’ve been part of the atheist movement, as it were, and railed against the many and varied injustices of religious oppression as if they were in some way personal affronts. But, if I’m honest, my rights and personal safety have never been under serious threat from any Christian bigots or Islamic extremists or Jain nutjobs. I don’t need to defend my right to my anger the way some people do.

So, I don’t need to be an asshole to outspoken religious people any more than I do to anachronistic homophobes. I don’t need to give them a free pass if they’re going to be hateful or irrational or make the world a notably worse place in any way, but I also don’t need to be hostile in order to stand up for reality and kindness. If you can do that too, then wonderful, I recommend it. If you can’t, then it’s not for me to expect it of you. It may be an unreasonable ask, if these issues are actually affecting you personally and fucking up your life. We’ve all got our own shit to deal with. You’re entitled to work through yours however. I can dig it.

Hopefully that makes a bit more sense of things. Either way I think I’ll stop talking about it now.

Oh and by the way we’ve sold our house but can’t buy a new one yet and it’s all a ridiculous mess.

Bye.

(P.S. I read this only after drafting all the above, which makes a more interesting point more concisely than I did.)

Read Full Post »

I am so done with being in the middle of moving house.

We’re probably like 90% of the way through the overall, incredibly tediously and drawn-out process, if you count from the very start of the “hey let’s sell our house, oh and hey that other house looks nice let’s go and live there instead” impulse. But we’re currently stuck in an awkward interim bit where we’re moved out and into the in-laws’ guest wing, most of our stuff is boxed up, and we’re still waiting for the last bits of interminable legal wankery to be settled before we get to actually be living in our own home with our own stuff again.

I’ve got a bunch of half-started blog posts which I’ll get back to once I have a computer in a place where I can actually sit and work on things regularly again. Right now it’s sitting in an otherwise almost empty room, everything else having been packed up. The clacking of my keyboard has started echoing weirdly in here. I guess the curtains used to muffle that? I dunno.

Anyway. Christian Voice recently reminded me why I still read their blog. In an article about a suggestion to abandon the obligation for Christian assemblies in state schools, something which seems utterly bizarre that it wasn’t done years ago, they provide several unremarkable paragraphs of fairly straightforward, unemotional reporting on the objective course of events, and then completely out of nowhere they hit you with a sentence like:

However, it isn’t at all clear what ‘spiritual, moral, social and cultural’ values would qualify as ‘inclusive’ nor whom or what they could be founded on if not on the God who brought this nation victorious through two world wars.

Wonderful.

And then a week later, they actually end up being largely in the right (though perhaps by accident) on another recent matter – the right to turn down a commission without having to justify yourself seems a fairly clear one in this case – and come up with an interesting point I don’t recall seeing in any other analysis. Could the bakery have claimed they were afraid of breaching copyright?

Also the continued insistence with which some people put the quotes around gay “marriage” is just funny.

I’ll be better at this again soon. Until then I’m getting a new kitten tomorrow so I don’t give a fuck about any of you anyway. Seeya, losers!

Read Full Post »

I’m not in a very writey place lately. Here’s some things I haven’t got around to talking about at more length:

The patent system in the US is completely fucked.

– The dangers of self-regulation. If you’re a cop who tries arresting another cop for dangerously breaking the law, other cops will destroy you for it. The residual media image of the friendly British Bobby still has some effect on our interactions with the police over here, I think, but in America I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t just be scared of them. It seems to be a hotbed of an aggressively defensive kind of workplace culture. And they all carry guns all the time.

– If you still think there’s any chance Sylvia Browne is psychically connected to some kind of deep universal truth, and isn’t just a huckster making shit up, you are paying no goddamn attention.

– A vocal Christian minority in the UK are still feeling deeply threatened by gay marriage. Christian Voice have taken a sudden interest in the apparent impossibility of “consummation” in the case of same-sex couples, and appear to have put a good deal of thought into whether “two homosexuals” can ever “be one flesh”. Apparently to these particular followers of Jesus, the sacrament of marriage is all about the fuckin’. And their list of civil liberties they claim are under threat are almost entirely liberties to discriminate against gays, which they’re worried might not be allowed any more.

Should ginger-bashing be considered a hate crime? Or, more to the point, should the government be in the business of deciding which particular flavours of hatred merit special attention, regardless of the criminal behaviour in question?

– Lastly but not leastly, I fucking love this conversation. It was actually posted a few years ago, which I’ve only just noticed, but it came to my attention just recently so I’m sharing it here. Eliezer Yudkowsky is a huge deal, and the stuff he and Massimo talk about here is important and awesome. There’s a transcript here which you might find an easier format.

Read Full Post »

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.


Elton John’s had a baby.

Okay, that deserves some clarification.

Elton John and his partner David Furnish have a child, born recently to a surrogate mother. Good for that kid. The couple have been going to some lengths trying to adopt for some time, so there seems little doubt that this baby will grow up being loved and well taken care of.

If they were a straight couple who’d had a child naturally, there’d be absolutely no chance of the state taking it away unless they could prove their suitability as parents.

But when the BBC reported on this moderately interesting celebrity gossip which isn’t really any of our business, they decided to balance out the heart-warming family-centric nature of this story.

Specifically, they interviewed a guy who wants all gay people to be executed.

Both sides!

You might have heard of this guy, Stephen Green. He’s the front-man for a bunch of fanatical right-wing fundamentalist zealots who speak for no-one, called Christian Voice. They’re best known for things like trying to outlaw a play which was a bit rude, supporting a proposed law in Uganda which would make homosexuality punishable by death, and living a life of humility and poverty in the way Jesus wanted his followers to do.

I made one of those up.

And it’s not the one about supporting capital punishment for all gay people. Stephen Green praised the Ugandan politician who put that bill forward as “trying to protect his nation’s children”, and expressed hope that the country would “stand by their Christian values”.

I wonder what counterpoint he might bring to this story about two men raising a child together.

The fact that Stephen Green’s a dick isn’t news, but the BBC’s decision to give him a platform in this situation is baffling. No sane reporter would turn to Fred Phelps for an alternative viewpoint when covering the funeral of a war hero. Nobody’s obliged to give a shit about Kent Hovind’s “perspective” on any new biological discovery.

You don’t need to cater to the vicious, cruel, inhumane, wrong fringe opinion, just through fear of not being sufficiently “fair”.

(h/t noodlemaz)

Read Full Post »

The weather has completely broken London, and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be much improvement this week. There were no buses running anywhere today, and most of the trains gave up after a brief struggle too. This kind of thing is yet another reason why I like having a temp job utterly devoid of any commitments of any kind. I had quite a nice day inside in the warm, writing stories and watching a fox chew through some bin-bags outside.

Anyway. Turns out there were a few fun quotes I missed from Stephen Green when I talked about his ads being banned a few days ago.

It is simple common sense to realise that with the HPV vaccine, girls will think they are covered against everything, especially if they are on the pill as well, so promiscuity will rise and there will be even more gonorrhoea and chlamydia cases and even more infertility.

Stephen Green of Christian Voice there, reminding us that all teenage women are moronic sluts. It’s just simple common sense.

Meanwhile, in “Fuck Yes” news, The Amaz!ng Meeting is coming to London this October. I am deeply, emphatically, profoundly there, and I really mean it this time.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: