Tuesday, 5 May 2009

I Agree with Inayat Bunglawala!

The Home Office has published a list of 16 people who have been banned from Britain.  They optimistically say that they are “naming and shaming” them.

The only shaming that is going on here is the government’s increasing authoritarian approach to “free speech”.  There are already draconian anti-free speech laws in the UK, and banning people before they come here (especially for those people who do not advocate violence) just smacks of thought crime.

The worst outcome is that if you’re not banned, does that mean that you have a “Home Office Approved” stamp on what you say?

Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain says in The Times:

If they step over the line and break the law, it’s at that moment the law should be enacted, not beforehand. If people are keeping their odious views to themselves, that’s their business. We should not be in the business of policing people’s minds.

Quite right, although I think there is a line to be drawn for those who have incited violence (and have not publically renounced those views). 

Many of the people on the list are just odious.  The best antiseptic for odious views is to have them exposed – most people will be able to see how foul Fred Phelps is as soon as he opens his mouth, for example.

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Thursday, 30 April 2009

Perhaps the Best Anti Christianity Sarcasm Ever!

I love to see a Christian answer this!

NonStampCollector, my hat is off to you! 

Please subscribe to his channel, there’s loads more brilliant stuff there.


Not on the tele

I got bumped from The Big Questions, but they have my details, so hopefully they’ll be in touch when they’re next in London.

I’ll watch the show and post my comments.

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May be going on The Big Questions on Sunday

I got an email from Simon saying BBC One’s The Big Questions had invited him onto the front row in the show, but he couldn’t make it, and that he had suggested me (thanks Simon!)

I spoke to the Production Assistant, Hannah, at some length about the theme of the show: that society would be better if we all belonged to a religion.  Hannah will get back to me today.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a TV show, so my fingers are crossed that they will be able to fit me in!

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Saturday, 4 April 2009

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Comedy Archbishop

Can we be sure that the Archbishop of Canterbury is not actually one of us?  That he’s infiltrated the Church of England in order to mock it from the inside?  I’m not sure, on the evidence, that we can entirely dismiss this hypothesis. The latest evidence is this nonsense:

I think that to suggest that God might intervene to protect us from the corporate folly of our practices is as unchristian and unbiblical as to suggest that he protects us from the results of our individual folly or sin.

WTF?!  It’s unbiblical to suggest that God doesn’t intervene?  I must have misread the Bible.  You know, the Creation, the Fall, the Flood, God talking to Noah, Moses, Abraham and Issac, God allowing Satan to torment Job, Mary’s rape by God himself, any of Jesus’ miracles, the Resurrection… The Bible is absolutely full of God intervening in the world!

But the muppet ABC tells us what Atheists argue – that God never intervenes in the world!  God acts in exactly the same way that He would act if he was completely imaginary.  But never mind, the Archbish lets us know that even as God allows million to die from starvation, drowning, or war from global warming that

God's faithfulness stands, assuring us that even in the most appalling disaster love will not let us go

So that’s all right then!

What a git.

Monday, 23 March 2009

A Helping Hand

Melanie Phillips has published a blog entry in which she asks what Patrician Hewitt would do if she were walking along Beachy Head and found someone about to jump off – would she help them?  What if they were in a wheelchair?

I think it’s clear that there is a difference between someone who is impetuously attempting to commit suicide, and someone who is seeking to end their own life on their own terms and timing to give themselves a good death.

I have some experience with suicide.  I was driving across Grafton Bridge, a well known suicide spot in Auckland, when I saw a crowd of people.  They were all looking at a young man who was clinging to the other side of the railings.  I stopped my car, and walked through the crowd.  A woman was keeping everyone away from him (she was doing her best), but I thought the best thing to do would be to talk to him – he seemed awfully lonely standing there with so many people watching him, but all by himself.  I introduced myself to him, and asked him why was he standing as he was.  He told me that he had had some terrible times, and that he felt desperate, but nobody would help him.  I suggested that jumping off the bridge would not solve anything (while it might bring his problems to an end).  I also told him of the tragic consequences for those below who he might fall onto or  in front of.  Just months earlier, I had had that very experience – seeing what I thought was a bundle of laundry falling off the bridge, except a second later, I realised that bundles of laundry don’t have arms and legs – a patient with schizophrenia who had absconded from the hospital leapt to his death, and landed right in front of my car.  The young man on the bridge agreed that he didn’t want to die, and as he turned to climb back, the whole crowd of watchers moved forward to help pull him over to safety.

A childhood friend of mine made many attempts at suicide during her teens and early twenties.  She has the scars up and down her arms.  I remember visiting her in a secure psychiatric facility after one attempt, and her showing me the healing wounds on her arms.  She had been having some very difficult times, and she felt very desperate to end the psychic pain she was experiencing.

If the person at the top of Beachy Head is in this situation, then I hope Patricia Hewitt (or Melanie Phillips) would do all they could to reason with, or help get support for the person facing such desperation.  And help can be got.  Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened to the young man, but my friend is now in full time employment, in a long-term and stable relationship and is a loving mother to her little daughter.

But there is a different case altogether.  I don’t have personal stories about this, but I’ve read of many, and corresponded with a few people.  Someone who doesn’t have their whole life ahead of them anymore – someone who will shortly die, or who will lose all their dignity and ability to function in life as they have been doing.  If you contemplate a death whereby you will end up choking on your own saliva or where you will slowly lose all control of your body until it succumbs to an infection in the indefinite future is not a death that many of us would relish (if Melanie Phillips disagrees, she is welcome to experience a death of her own choosing).  Asking for someone to help you die in a manner, time and place of your own choosing is a liberation for many people.  They are taking from fate and empowering themselves.  They have a chance to put their affairs in order, say goodbye to their loved ones and slip into a sleep from which they won’t awake.  I acknowledge and understand that some frail people might feel pressured to “do the right thing” and there must be strong procedures in place to prevent that, but to deny a good death to someone because you’re comparing their act with that of a mentally unstable desperate person is folly of the highest order.

We are the authors of our own lives.  Let us be the authors (if we so choose) of our own deaths.  If we need help, it is only right and compassionate that help should be forthcoming.  I support Patricia Hewitt’s amendment.