Monday, 23 December 2013

 Marks & Muslims

Apparently, there's been a bit of backlash against Marks & Spencer because one of its check-out personnel in a London store refused to serve a customer wishing to purchase pork and alcohol, as it offended against their Muslim beliefs.

I must say, that such a refusal on the part of an employee of a major British food retailer, offends against my beliefs. 

How can it possibly be acceptable for a Muslim to refuse to serve a customer buying perfectly legal goods, yet at the same time be perfectly OK for them to work and take wages from a company which sells those goods? Massive double standards here surely? Yet no more than we've come to expect from the religion of peace and permanent offence.

Marks and Spencer have absolutely no business employing people who refuse to serve customers the items which they legitimately sell. In fact, such a refusal should be immediate grounds for dismissal. If M&S imagine that pandering to the ridiculous sensitivities of religious minorities earns them some special status in the diversity driven insanity of political correctness, then they may just find, that their consideration for the rights of their Muslim employees, clashes very seriously with the rights of their customers. 

Whats the next step I wonder, in their desire not to offend Muslim beliefs? Stop selling pork and alcohol altogether? Pause all trading six times a day for prayers? Allow all Muslim women to work in a burqa? Encourage all male empolyees to grow beards? Perhaps they'll start insisting that all customers must remove their shoes before entering their stores?

I for one, would not take kindly by being told I could not be served certain items as it offended against the religoius sensibilities of the employee working at the check-out. In fact, if I ever found myself in such an unfortunate and deeply offensive situation, I would leave all my intended purchases at the check-out, and walk away empty-handed, never to return.

I hear that many customers are calling for a boycott of all M & S stores, until they change their policy. I'm very happy to join their ranks.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Religion and Racism

Reading recent articles and watching various media posts regarding religion, particularly, although not exclusively, about Islam, there is clearly an unwelcome tendency to characterise certain critical comments about faith, as racist.

I firmly believe that religious beliefs  are both qualitatively and quantitatively different from race, and that the two should never be confused. It can never be racist to criticise someone's beliefs, since specific beliefs are not an unalterable defining human characteristic, whereas race, clearly is.

People can not choose their race, they can however choose their religion. Even Judaism, which superficially, might seem to be assigned exclusively to a particular race, is of course, no different from any any other belief system. There are many famous Jewish atheists for example, and one can convert to Judaism no matter what one's racial origins. Also, one can stop believing in the teachings of any faith; although in Islam it would be unwise to announce this publicly, since the  penalty for apostasy, is death. A powerful disincentive to stating that one is no longer a believer.

Despite this, there are brave ex-Muslims, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who've been courageous enough to publicly announce their rejection of Islam, and who now suffer the consequences of requiring constant police protection.  

This tendency, to characterise criticism of Islam as racist, is having some very unfortunate consequences. not least, upon freedom of speech. No one, should ever be granted the right in law, not to be offended. Indeed, being critical of beliefs, especially when those beliefs are held without demonstrable evidence, is not merely a human right, but I believe, a human duty.

If, as a society, we wish to preserve our hard won freedoms, then we need to confront those who would conflate criticism of religion with racism and strenuously resist their efforts to make criticising faith a criminal offence.

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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

In Defense of our Civil Liberties

Dave monitoring the Nation's emails

The tragic, yet unsurprising murder of a British soldier on the streets of London by two Islamic terrorists, has predictably inspired a call from certain politicians for the immediate revival of the discredited and oppressive Communications Data Bill. 

Well there's a surprise! Thwarted by the Liberal Democrats in their attempt to impose their totalitarian instincts upon the law abiding population of our democracy, these political control freaks once again clamour for the introduction of laws, which at best will insidiously invade everyone's privacy, and at worst give the government completely unwarranted powers to snoop and pry into every aspect of the population's internet and telephonic activity.

If I'd seen one jot of evidence, that giving the government and other agencies the right to view all our on-line activity would prevent acts of terror by Islamic extremists, then there might just be some justification for monitoring everybody's emails, telephone calls and social media posts. But, as informed and intelligent observers of national security issues have already observed: 'If you're searching for a needle in a haystack, it does not help to make the haystack bigger.' It also needs to be reiterated that: 'We cannot ensure the security, freedom and liberty of the people by extinguishing  the very principles which guarantee their existence.'

If we respond to threats of terrorism by passing into law legislation which allows the authorities to monitor everyone's private communications, then the terrorists have effectively won. At least, to the extent that they've undermined our hard fought freedoms and eroded our precious civil liberties.

It is rarely justified and never libertarian to erode the freedom and privacy of the population. To use the tragic death of Drummer Lee Rigby as an excuse to record everyone's private communications is a smoke-screen to allow the authorities to move one step closed to becoming the worst kind of surveillance state.

'It is not the government's job to monitor the people. It's the people's job to monitor the government.' 

I'm sure there is a potential price to pay for maintaining the liberty and freedom of our citizens. It may be, that some people will continue to die at the hands of Islamic terrorists, but the way to combat this threat is not to make every citizen a suspect. It is to robustly tackle the root causes of the problem, which is a course of action the government is clearly reluctant to take.

While we have politicians like Boris Johnson, the misguided Mayor of London, stating publicly that the brutal murder of a serving British soldier on the streets of our capital had nothing to do with the religion of Islam, then some of those entrusted with our safety are clearly refusing to acknowledge the truth and failing to recognise the real causes of the threats we all face from Islamic terrorism.

The clear wellsprings of the actions of Islamic terrorists are unquestionably religious, and specifically, some of the key teachings of the religion of Islam. To pretend otherwise, is a monumental failure of intelligence, honesty, reason, and most damningly, of courage.

If we in the West, are to have any chance of combating, let alone defeating the life denying medieval desert philosophy of Mohammedanism, then we must at least begin to acknowledge, that many Muslims truly believe in the teachings of The Koran, and wish to see Sharia Law and Islamic philosophy established across the entire world. Many Islamic fundamentalists have repeatedly asserted their hatred of democracy and their contempt for 'western values.' In many cases, citing their religion as the major justification for the murder of those who disagree with them.

To pretend that Islamic terrorism is simply a response to our intervention in the affairs of Muslim societies is disingenuous, dishonest and extremely dangerous.

If we, in the democratic nations of the world, are not prepared to defend our principles, in case we may offend our clearly stated enemies, then we shall have no cause to be surprised when totalitarian barbarism and tyranny rule every aspect of our lives. 

If we're not willing to fight vigorously for what we believe in, then we will most certainly and deservedly, lose. 

Note to readers: This post is a follow-up to an earlier article I wrote called 'The Surveillance Society,' which can be found under 'Older Posts.'  Your comments are welcome. 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A Visit to the Doctor

Yesterday afternoon I had an appointment to see the doctor. I say ‘the doctor,’ because it is almost impossible to book an appointment with the same practitioner for each visit.

This was an appointment insisted upon by my local medical practice, to discuss the results of an enforced blood-test to determine whether, on balance, my regular blood-pressure medication was doing me more harm than good.

Upon arrival I had to stand in a long queue to book-in with the practice receptionist, who was so deeply engrossed in a telephone conversation she was completely oblivious to the growing number of elderly patients waiting at her window to register their attendance.

I asked the rather short and portly woman in front of me, how long she’d been waiting, but she said she couldn’t be certain, because due to a chronic urinary-tract infection she’d been forced to leave the queue several times to visit the toilet, and had therefore, relinquished her place on at least three occasions to others with more robust bladders.

Despite this being too much information, I was gallant enough to promise that, if she felt compelled to visit the toilet again I’d save her place in the queue. She seemed genuinely grateful at this uncharacteristic act of consideration of her problem.

By the time the receptionist had concluded her telephone conversation and attended to all those in front of me, I was fifteen minutes late for my allotted appointment. When I pointed this out to her, and suggested that it may be a good idea to employ an additional person to answer, or make telephone calls, she responded with the information that it didn’t matter, because Dr Duffy was running thirty minutes late, and there were still four patients ahead of me.

Resigned to a further interminable wait, I climbed the two flights of stairs to the waiting area, there to be greeted by the sight of a room full of sick people, who seemed in varying states of irreversible decline.

I took the only free, intensely uncomfortable chair next to a care-worn mother, whose violent hacking cough and shivering frame, did not auger well for my future prospects of avoiding influenza this winter.  Upon her lap a revolting, snotty nosed three-year-old boy, who was obviously suffering from ‘Terminal Tantrum Syndrome’ squirmed and complained unceasingly, despite several loud warnings from his mother of an imminent smack, which of course, never materialised.

Rising to select a magazine to browse through from the few remaining dog-eared out-of-date publications scattered on a small badly stained coffee-table I was disappointed to see that, the only four left were:  Men’s Health: February 2004: How to Cope with Your Hysterectomy: indeterminate date, as cover was ripped: Summer Brides June 1998 and Women’s Weekly Nov 2005. More in despair than hope, I selected ‘Summer Brides’ and settled down to enjoy the photos of skinny models in ridiculous frocks and advertisements for exotic underwear to make the wedding night a little more enticing than simply sleeping with one’s wife.

Slowly, as various doctors emerged from their consulting rooms to summon their next patient the number of the infirm and clearly dying began to diminish. ‘Patient’ is certainly what most of them had had to be.  At least the dwindling numbers gave me the opportunity to move away from the germ-infested mother and her whining infant.

When, fifty-seven minutes after my appointed time, Dr Duffy finally emerged to call my name, I was, needless to say, wound up like the proverbial watch-spring.

Upon entering her consulting room she apologised for the long wait, but offered no explanation as to its cause. I told her that it didn’t matter, as I’d been so intrigued and impressed by a photograph of a wedding gown in Summer Brides June 1998, that I was seriously considering getting a divorce, booking myself in to a private transgender clinic and undergoing a sex change operation, so I could remarry as an attractive women in stunningly beautiful white dress,

She smiled, that kind of sickly, insincere, pitying smile, which one often receives from those who believe themselves to be superior.

Anyway, you may be pleased to know that Dr Duffy informed me that my blood-test results were all normal, but that, inexplicably my blood-pressure was higher than she would have liked. I said nothing.

James Rainsford:  January 2013

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