Monday, 26 November 2012

Multiculturalism, the Failed Ideology

So, yet again the toxic combination of political-correctness, multiculturalism and cultural-relativism, have coalesced in the minds of mediocre thinkers to produce predictably unwelcome outcomes.

Following the failure of social-services, the police and the liberal media to protect vulnerable young girls from the predations of Asian men in Rochdale; we perhaps should not be surprised that the same poisonous prejudices have resulted in another failure in Rotherham.

Having used the discredited concept of multiculturalism as a reason to remove three young children from their foster care placement, Joyce Thacker, the strategic director of children’s services at Rotherham Council, has prompted understandable concerns about her suitability for office.

It strikes me, that in both the above cases, it has been the very people responsible for children’s protection and welfare, who’ve turned out to be a significant threat to their well-being.

In the Rochdale case, by a complete failure to fulfil their statutory duties and in the Rotherham fiasco by an over-zealous desire to execute their perceived responsibilities in a dictatorial manner, driven by political-correctness and a lamentable lack of intelligence and compassion.

It is a sad fact, that all too frequently, the main threat to children’s happiness and security emanates from the prejudices of the very people charged with their protection.

Unfortunately, this is unlikely to change, unless and until those in authority fully recognise the failure of multiculturalism as a political ideology and robustly embrace the moral and cultural values of The Enlightenment.

Don’t however, hold your breath. 

Note to readers: If you'd like to know more concerning the story which has prompted this post then I suggest you 'google' Rotherham Fostering Controversy.
Please click on the tab below if you wish to comment. 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Freedom of Speech Part 2

Due to comments received on my recent post regarding the freedom of speech, it’s clear that some issues I raised in that article require expansion and clarification.

Over the last few decades several forces have been at work in certain liberal western democracies, which have unfortunately, weakened our willingness and ability to confront a number of unsupportable and clearly harmful beliefs and dogmas.

I believe that key among these forces are:

1  The expansion of human rights legislation

2  The doctrine of multiculturalism

3  The rise and promulgation of political correctness

4  The growth and spread of moral and cultural relativism as an acceptable philosophical position.

In many ways these four forces are inextricably linked and believing in the opinions they promulgate has led to a diminution of both free speech and freedom of conscience. Many of the ideas in the above areas have unquestionably been adopted from the best of intentions and the noblest of motives. However, I believe they have also worked to undermine resistance to toxic and irrational opinions. 

In our desire to be seen to be fair and even-handed, we have fallen into the trap of attempting to treat all moral and cultural differences as equally valid and of equal value.

This has inevitably led to some pretty unedifying attempts to justify clearly unacceptable practises as not necessarily ‘worse,’ but simply ‘different.’ 

We need to have the courage and conviction to acknowledge the superiority of some moral positions and cultural practises over others and stop asserting that all beliefs, opinions and actions possess equal moral value.

For example, I would wish to argue that it is not simply different not to kill people for apostasy and adultery, it’s better

It’s better not to mutilate the genitals of young children. It’s better not to subjugate women and deny them equal rights. It’s better not to believe things without good evidence. It’s better not to brainwash children into believing in invisible sky monsters. It’s better not to allow courts based upon belief in an unknowable god to decide upon questions of justice. It’s better not to condemn people to death because they write a book, make a film, publish a cartoon or any other way insult one’s beliefs. 

Everyone has an absolute right to believe whatever they wish. What they do not have, not now, and I hope not ever, is the right to have their beliefs respected. You as an individual have rights. Your beliefs do not. I’m afraid that this clear and absolute distinction has tragically escaped the minds of many liberal and left-leaning thinkers.

Unless we in the West begin to vigorously assert the inviolability of our hard won freedoms, we shall find them eroded and diminished by default.

It would be an immense tragedy for the whole of western civilisation if were we to lose our rights and freedoms to a world view born in the minds of bronze-age, illiterate dessert tribesmen, who thought the earth was flat and for whom the wheelbarrow was the pinnacle of technological achievement.

However, it would be absolutely unforgivable, if we gave them away without a fight.

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Thursday, 27 September 2012

Freedom of Speech 

Freedom of speech is a concept which has been much in the news of late. Mostly I’m afraid to say, as a result of the reaction in the Islamic world to a film made in America, which Muslims claim insults their prophet Muhammad.

For me, freedom of speech is an inalienable human right. That said, it is clear that there are some human rights which should be exercised with caution. Not least, because they can result in harmful consequences. 

The real question therefore, is should the possibility of harmful consequences cause people to be silent on certain topics, or issues? My own view is a resounding ‘no.’

To be free to criticise, or offend others, is exactly what the concept of free speech entails. It is nonsense to pretend that free speech can be circumscribed, either by laws, or appeals to good taste. After all, everyone is actually free to say exactly what they wish. Of course, exercising such a freedom may have unwanted outcomes.

Interestingly, The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines free speech as: “the right to express opinions of any kind without incurring a penalty.” Clearly, under such a definition, free speech does not, and probably never has existed. Not simply because, as a so called civilised society, we have laws to protect us from discrimination in certain areas, but also, because in the current climate, expressing certain opinions could, and has resulted, in people being killed.

I believe that mostly, the law has been used wisely to circumscribe those areas where freedom of speech needs to be curtailed. These are generally those aspects of an individual’s life over which they have no personal control and for which they cannot be considered responsible.  These quite rightly include: their race, skin-colour, height, age, sex, disability, etc.

However, in certain sections of our society, there is growing demand that we should also pass laws to protect people’s individual opinions, beliefs and other sensibilities. This I’m afraid, is where we need to draw the line. 

In my view, no-one on earth has the right not to be offended. Being offended and dealing with it appropriately, is a mark of an enlightened and mature person. Far from protecting individuals from personal attacks upon their beliefs, it’s my view, it is the state’s responsibility to ensure that we live in a society where such attacks are not only permitted, but encouraged, particularly when the beliefs in question are held without good evidence. 

Due to the very real threat of death from offending the sensibilities of certain fundamentalist Muslims, we have gradually allowed ourselves to become timid and self-censoring. In some cases, even going so far as blame freedom of speech itself as being responsible for causing the death and destruction we face every time someone lampoons their intolerant faith.

We need to toughen up, and demonstrate in unequivocal language that our values will not change due to threats and intimidation. We are in danger of becoming like a frightened and inadequate parent, who fearful of losing the love and affection of an unruly child, indulges its every whim and gives in to its every tantrum.

That way will lead to certain disaster. Rewarding bad behaviour, like appeasing intolerance is neither noble, or in the log run, likely to be effective. 

Note to readers: Your views are welcome. Please click on the tab below if you wish to leave a comment.

Friday, 17 August 2012

The London Olympics 2012

Now that the incessant hyperbole surrounding the 2012 London Olympics has finally dissipated it's time for an alternative view of some of its more cringe-making manifestations.

I'm sure that for many participants the games were an inspiring and genuinely memorable experience. What has made them memorable for some, has of course, also made them nauseatingly sycophantic for others.

The spectacle of the BBC's commentary team attempting to inject extra emotion into what was an already a highly charged atmosphere of excessive emoting was both embarrassing and puerile. When interviewing the mostly successful performers they acted like a baying mob of ravenous emotional vampires. They fed vicariously upon the sweat, euphoria, tears, and disappointments of each participant, receiving succour from each triumph or disaster like junkies desperate for their next emotional fix. Their continual attempts to wring every last drop of potential feeling from every situation was both crass and unedifying.

It the pinnacle of inanity to ask a medal winner how they are feeling. Every person with a mental age above six years, has an excellent grasp of how a winner might be feeling in the circumstances of just having beaten the competition.

Also, the avalanche of adjectives which greeted every performance, loaded words with a weight they were never designed to bear.  The BBC commentary team all need to take a more careful note of the specific meaning of words. It is clearly not 'unbelievalbe' when one skinny athlete runs slightly faster than a whole bunch of other skinny athletes. Not even if they achieve this feat twice in the same week. What is certainly unbelievable however, is the assertion that such achievements are in someway due to assistance from Allah.

As for the opening and closing ceremonies, the least said the better. I only wish to observe that as an Englishman most of the opening ceremony was incomprehensible and the closing ceremony an embarrassment of ageing rock stars with uninspiring song choices.

I am grateful that this expensive spectacle of sporting and national tribalism is finally over and that its next appearance will not occur here again within my remaining lifetime.

Friday, 15 June 2012

The Surveillance Society

Cameron the Chief Controller

Is Dave starting his search through the Nation's emails?

The government's proposed Communications Data Bill, following as it does, the granny tax, the fuel fiasco, the pasty farce, has proven beyond reasonable doubt the complete incompetence of Dave's mediocre cabinet. Their desire for this 'snooper's charter,' proves conclusively, how out of touch with public opinion this bunch of nincompoops have truly become.

The latest policy initiative to emerge from Cameron, May and their barmy cronies, is to monitor everyone's electronic communications. This is not only one of Dave's daftest initiatives, it's also one of his most undemocratic.

It has already been pointed out by people far wiser than Dave, that if you're searching for a needle in a haystack, it doesn't help to make the haystack bigger. 

The police, are naturally very keen to obtain these new powers. This is not surprising, but it should worry every citizen who believes that privacy, liberty and freedom of speech are the marks of a civilised society. Our forebears fought and died to uphold such rights. Freedom from intrusive monitoring by the state. is a precious freedom indeed and is not one we should have to battle with our own elected government to preserve.

There is of course, a very serious point to be made here, and that is, in a democratic and civilised society, governments should be monitored by the people and not the people monitored by the government.

To use the erroneous and fatuous argument that we'd all be better protected from terrorists, paedophiles and perverts, if only all our personal emails, website visits, on-line purchases, facebook postings, twitter messages, texts, voicemails and phone conversations were continually monitored by the government, is not simply disingenuous, it is also false.

We cannot ensure the security, freedom and liberty of the people by extinguishing  the very principles which guarantee their existence. 

It's interesting to quote Cameron's response when Labour tried (unsuccessfully) to introduce a similar snooper's charter. He claimed the government were using: "scare tactics to herd more disempowered citizens into the clutches of officialdom, as people surrender more and more information about their lives, giving the state more and more powers over their lives. If we want to stop the state controlling us, we must confront the surveillance state." 

What's changed Dave? If you opposed it then, you should oppose it now. Otherwise, 'the people' might just conclude you can't be trusted with the reins of power.

If this bill proceeds in anything like its present form, the citizens of the UK will be among the most monitored on earth, up there with the peoples of Iran and North Korea. Quite a result for a government which would like us to believe it values liberty and freedom.

It's depressing, but perhaps not surprising, that politicians' clear commitment to high principle, is much more evident when in opposition, than when in power. 

Note to readers: Your views are welcome. Please click on the comments tab below to record your opinion. Thanks for visiting 'Irascible Isights' James Rainsford.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Olympic Torch Relay
A Contrarian's View

The London 2012 Olympic Torch.
Affectionately, known as 'The Cheesegrater'

So, finally, after four years of hysterical hype and embarrassing self-congratulations, the faux-golden, airtex, over-sized ice-cream cone, that is The Olympic Torch, touches down on our sullied shores.

Ignited in Greece, and having unfortunately, survived its perilous first class flight from the Acropolis; that famous Greek ruin, which structurally, is in a similar state to their crumbling economy, this ridiculous symbol of sporting stupidity has now  commenced its seventy-day journey along the highways and bye-ways of Britain's usually litter strewn streets. Which will, of course, have been swept and cleaned for the first time in twenty years, so foreigners don't perceive the truth, that in reality, we are a nation of ill-educated and uncaring litter louts. 

Carried by a motley selection of the good, the bad, the ugly and past Olympians, whose athletic prowess has long departed, the torch will be transported round the country by land sea and air.
It will be held aloft in a sickening display of enforced national pride by specially selected, supposedly inspirational figures, dressed in wholly inappropriate white pyjamas.
It will be visiting almost every part of 'Broken Britain' on its tortuous route to its final destination, the new Olympic stadium. A construction so unbelievably underwhelming, that it will leave most visitors amazed at our lack of architectural talent.

Obviously designed by a bunch of architects and engineers who'd remembered from their school technology lessons the enduring strength of the triangle, this doughnut of dreams will be the Olympic flame's final home, before its ceremonial transfer to the next country unlucky enough to host this expensive spectacle of sporting sycophancy.

Unfortunately, the praise heaped upon the heads of the pyjama wearing torch-bearers, will be as nothing if one of our athlete's wins a medal, and if that medal happens to be gold, then the eulogies and adoration will continue for months, decades, years, and if the winning margin is significant, centuries.
Any recipient of gold medal honour, will be interviewed analysed and worshipped ad nauseam. The ubiquitous media will seek opinions for their success from, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, distant cousins, school-friends, friends of school-friends, kids who attended a neighbouring school. ex-teachers, coaches, priests, vicars, ex-scout and cub-mistresses, infant teachers, the child claiming to have been a best friend in nursery school, and of course, the mid-wife responsible for the unfortunate winner's delivery.

If I believed in him, I'd cry, 'God help us all!'

Note to readers: I shall be returning later to report again on The Olympics closer to the start. Your views are welcome, just click on the comments tab below.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Some independent comments on my new novel

All the unsolicited comments below are from writers who have a book on the Harper Collins Authonomy website. I hope their opinions will inspire you to come and meet 'Layla' for yourself.

The Incredible Layla Moon

1. "An almost flawless piece of British eccentricity, this is beautifully written and goes off in wonderfully weaved tangents of comic gold-dust.
The characterisation is beautiful and the sheer depravity of the sex manages to be both erotic and hilarious at the same time - the most difficult feat of all to pull-off.
Layla's victims, be they hideous child trolls, or nasty childrens' party magicians, are a wonderful bunch of grotesques.
In the end though, it is the writing here which is so accomplished. The best Authonomy books make it all look so very, very easy - the literary equivalents of Sinatra's voice. This is most certainly amongst them and stands as a very accomplished work."
Steve Carter. Author of:  'Love, Sex and Tesco's finest Cava.'

2. "The Incredible Layla Moon is an effervescent, sardonic and irreverent fantasy tale for adults. The mood is dry, tongue-in-cheek and humorously impious and increasingly erotic. The prose is exceptionally well crafted and polished, displaying a powerful fluency and command of the written word."
Robert Davidson. Author of:  'The Tuzla Run.'

3. "The names you give your characters and the maternity home and other establishments are enough to split your sides, and the tears of laughter have to be wiped away from your eyes before you can carry on reading. Once dry again you keep scrolling down, entranced by the impeccable syntax and rhythm of the prose.
This roller-coaster of a read is breath-taking in its richness of word-power, description, humour and fast moving action. Every sentence is a gem. The comedy, black humour and the casually thrown in erotic references are mixed in with astute characterisation and exquisite detail of place and setting.
I would like to curl up on a soft sofa with this book and a large slab of chocolate and a bottle of pink champagne, and not move until I finish it."
Sheila Mary Taylor. Author of:  'Pinpoint.'

4. A tale for the present. Well written comedic brilliance. The subtleness of your pen as it seeks to define the eccentricities of your subjects is divine. The sex would make a 'madam' blush, that is if she found time between bouts of uproarious laughter.
I love it!
Phil McQuinen. Author of:  'Danny Murphy.'

5. I read up to Chapter 4. It's a very astounding piece of work. The detail is immense, and I couldn't help but see the story happening. The whole time I was thinking conflicting thoughts about the characters, the story and many other things that were happening, wondering whether or not to be excited, aroused, or just plain scared.It's flawless, beautifully organised and most of all, a GREAT read. I hope to see it on the shelf very soon.
Rachelle. Author of : 'To Save Ella.'

6. I hope I don't come on too strong when I say I F-ing love this book. I could see myself picking up this book in my local bookstore, reading it straight through, and then forcing all my acquaintances to read it also. Your voice and wit in this story is remarkable and I would put it the leagues of Terry Pratchett and Gregory Maguire, it's that good.
Kayla Shaw.

7. I am awed by the author's ability to flow his prose from one time to another, one character and generation to another so flawlessly as to not interrupt the reader's digestion of this superior book. My congratulations. 
Lenore. Author of: 'Surviving the Seaweed.'

If you're not easily shocked, why not come and meet The Incredible Layla Moon for yourself?
Here's the link:

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Religion on the Ropes?

In the Blue Corner
Baroness Warsi of Dewsbury
Not content with exposing her considerable intellectual deficiencies on a recent edition of  BBC's Question Time, the undeservedly enobled Baroness Sayeed Warsi of Dewsbury has been very busy this week confirming her status as a seriously mediocre thinker.

Championed by the right-wing Daily Telegraph, her religious views, like those of her woolly-minded leader, have been given more column inches than all the empty pews in all the churches in the shire counties of England. 

This unelected Muslim peer has jumped on Cameron's ridiculous religious bandwaggon and been calling for a large injection of 'faith' in public life. Her call for a defence of Christian values, against the dangers of secularism, is not only unwelcome to most rational people, but also ill-advised, given the clear intolerance of her own inherited faith.

She compares secularism to totalitarianism. A claim so patently ridiculous and seriously inaccurate that one must question her suitability for her current role as Co-Chairperson of the Conservative Party. With such incendiary and ill-informed views she should certainly be removed from office. 

Her claims for the value of faith at the heart of politics, would be laughable, were they not potentially, also dangerous. Faith is belief without evidence, and whilst I fully accept that the Baroness may find the existence of an invisible, intangile unknowable god believable, I don't really want people who hold such untestable beliefs making important decisions in the public sphere.

It's understandable, that due to enforced religious indoctrination during the impressionable years of childhood, many people grow to believe things collectively, which, if believed uniquely, would mark them as insane. It must be stated and restated, that the truth of any proposition is not proven by the number of people who believe, or wish it to be true. Truth is established by evidence, not by faith or wish fulfilment.

It's asserted by Warsi and others, that we require religious faith to make us more tolerant and understanding of our fellow man.  Yet how is morality, or sound judgement served by threats of eternal damnation simply because we believe it unreasonable to worship and adore the imaginary and capricious tyrant portrayed in the holy writings of Christendom  and Islam?

What we really require in public life is not more religion, but a very large injection of intelligence and rationality. We do not need a return to the values of an obscure desert tribe in Bronze-Age Palestine, for whom the wheelbarrow was the pinnacle of technological achievement.

If the deluded Baroness sincerely wishes to live in a society where religion plays a truly significant role in public affairs, then may I respectfully suggest she relocates to Iran. She would not be missed by those of us who value intelligence above stupidity and evidence above faith.

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