Saturday, December 29, 2012

Join me for New Year's Eve!

Hello readers!  Just to let you know - or if you know anyone who lives in or near London please pass this on - that I'm going to be performing at a brilliant fun New Year's Eve show/party.  It's called The Ultimate Intimate Comedy and Sing-Along New Year's Eve Party and it also features some of my favourite comics: Greek whirlwind Katerina Vrana, Chris Coltrane (host of lefty show Lolitics) and cabaret favourite Luke Meredith.  Then after we've done our respective things, including silly games and prizes Luke is going to lead us in a lovely sing-along all the way up to midnight and then the bar stays open til 3am.  The best part is it's a really small intimate venue so EVERYONE will get to be part of the games and fun and it's only £20 a head including nibbles.  Tickets onsale here and strictly limited so book soon!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bigotry double-speak alert

Eww, this is creepy.  The Guardian has published a piece by Timothy Radcliffe sinisterly trying to say, without giving any real reasons, that religious opposition to gay marriage is not homophobia.  It's a cavalcade of nonsense.  Here's why, line-by-line:

"It is heartening to see the wave of support for gay marriages."

Yeah, shame the church is still a hotbed of bigotry.

"It shows a society that aspires to an open tolerance of all sorts of people, a desire for us to live together in mutual acceptance." 

Tolerance and acceptance?  I want to live in a society that does not tolerate or accept bigotry of any kind. Including that kind that comes, as it so often does, from organised religion.

"It seems obviously fair and right that if straight people can get married, why not gay people?"

Yes it does. Because it is.  The article should end here.

"But we must resist the easy seduction of the obvious."

We must also not forget Occam's razor. If it looks like bigotry and it smells like bigotry... it's probably bigotry.

"It once seemed obvious that the sun revolved around the Earth..."

Not wholly true, but it was science that showed the earth revolves the sun, not religion.

"...and that women were inferior to men."

This is still "obvious" to millions of people around the world, and almost always because religion teaches that it's true and that it should be perpetuated by denying women their basic rights.

"Society only evolves when we have the mental liberty to challenge what seems to be common sense."

Yes we should challenge things that seem to be common sense, but we shouldn't reject them outright unless we find compelling evidence. Doh.

"Many Christians oppose gay marriage not because we are homophobic..."

No - thinking gay people should have less rights than straight people IS homophobic.

"...or reject the equal dignity of gay people..."

If people have equal dignity, they probably ought to have equal rights.

"...but because "gay marriage" ultimately..."

Putting it in quotation marks is stupid and offensive. If gay people get married, that is, or would be, gay marriage.

"...we believe, demeans gay people by forcing them to conform to the straight world."

No it doesn't, unless you plan to make gay marriage compulsory. It gives them the option of having what others have and also all the other options straight people have, live living together, dating, being single, having group sex, whatever. And marriage wouldn't be part of the "straight world" if we made it available to all.  And there's no such thing as the "straight world", we live in the "real world".

"Richard Sennett of the LSE argues in Together, the Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Co-operation, that western society fears difference."

All human beings instinctively fear difference because we don't fully understand people who aren't like us.  This is the root of intolerance, we need to overcome it. One of the main barriers to that is organised religion.  Organised religion almost always teaches that anyone who doesn't live a certain way and believe a certain pile of nonsense is going to be punished for it, often violently and torturously.

"Because of growing inequality and a fluid society in which people move rapidly from one job and place to another (if they can get a job at all), we do not learn the art of living with people who are unlike us."

Actually in the West we live in a more mixed culture than at any time in history.

"We are highly tribalised."

No we used to be tribalised. When we lived in tribes. That's where the word comes from. Yes there are remnants of tribal living around still but in general we no longer live in tribes.

"He asserts that "tribalism couples solidarity with others like yourself to aggression against those who are different"."

Not always true in some ways.  Historically tribes would only have been "like-minded" because they were blood-related and because infants were communally raised by elder tribe members who passed on values.  It's likely many people in tribes disagreed with tribe leaders or felt they were different to other members. But often they may have kept quiet because falling out with the rest of the tribe meant great personal risk. It's unlikely they knew how individuals in other tribes felt about issues, and in some cases tribes co-operated and in others they fought or competed.

"The internet enables us to bond with like-minded people."

And yet here I am reading your twaddle Tim! But good - if I can reach out to others who also hate bigotry, I'd like to do that.

"If we disagree, we can disengage in a second."

Which is much better than having a war isn't it?  Would it be better to force people to live full time with people they don't actually get on with?  Also I've never "disengaged" with someone online because of their sexual orientation.  Nor would I.

"Zygmunt Bauman argues that the mobility of modern society encourages "the impulse to withdraw from risk-ridden complexity into the shelter of uniformity"."

Well we certainly can use the internet to find others whose opinions we agree with if we want.  And that's a brilliant thing for people who feel different to those around them and may be being bullied or having their needs and feelings ignored. This would include gay and trans people as well as, for example, those trapped in religious communities who do not believe supernatural nonsense.

"Tolerance means, literally, to engage with other people who are different."

Engage with them by fighting to deny them the same rights as you?

"It implies an attention to the particularity of the other person, a savouring of how he or she is unlike me, in their faith, their ethnicity, their sexual orientation."

Remind me to go round savouring how others are different to me in their ethnicity.  Mmmm, a brown person... How the hell does this work? Or savouring their different sexual orientation.  Mmmm, boy-on-boy action, tasty. Gay men and women don't want to be savoured by creepy old religious dudes, they want to be treated equally by everyone and by the law.  And when it comes to your homophobic faith, excuse me if savouring it doesn't leave rather a bitter taste.

"A society that flees difference and pretends we are all just the same may have outlawed intolerance in one form, and yet instituted it in other ways."

But we are all different - some people want to marry in their 20s, others in their 80s. Some want to marry more than once, some never at all. And some people want to marry someone the same sex as them. We're not pretending everyone is the same, we're insisting everyone should have the same rights. To describe legalising gay marriage as "instituting intolerance" is real double-speak.

"It says, "we shall tolerate you as long as you pretend to be just like us"."

But gay people don't need to pretend to be "just like us". They are "just like us". In fact they are "some of us". Doh!

"We put up with various religious faiths as long as they are confined to the private sphere, or reduced to decorative role."

Actually we go to enormous lengths to encourage religion. If churches paid tax none of the recent welfare cuts would be necessary at all. And we allow religion into our schools and public services, even into taxpayer-funded roles in our hospitals and armed forces. It's disgusting and it needs to stop now, especially since the church persists in pushing it's homophonic agenda in all of these places.

"At Christmas, a tree, and a menorah for Hanukkah."

The tree is pagan by the way and has everything to do with culture and toss all to do with religion, as do the presents under it.

"Religious conviction, if it impinges on the public sphere, is viewed with a mixture of fear and derision."

Well it does impinge on the public sphere. Twenty-six unelected all-male Church of England bishops sit in the House of Lords and influence the laws that affect the rest of us. And yes of course it meets fear and derision because we want our laws to be based on fairness and human rights, not outdated bigoted supernatural nonsense.

"And so it is both true that modern Britain is a model of multiculturalism, and also that we drift around in a fog of mutual ignorance."

While cheese IS NOT chalk, we also note that cheese IS chalk.  We're not a model of multiculturalism, we get it right sometimes, and we're not drifting around in a fog of ignorance, we get it wrong sometimes.  Like for example right now some bigot is writing in The Guardian about how we shouldn't allow gay marriage. And as for "mutual ignorance", yes there are probably a small number of straight people in the UK who are to some extent ignorant about the gay community but I fail to see how there are gay people who are ignorant about straight people. That is the privilege of being the vast majority of the population.

"Cardinal Basil Hume taught that God is present in every love, including the mutual love of gay people."

Well I thought I might be drifting around in a fog of ignorance about the gay community I'd definitely ask Cardinal Basil Hume for his opinion.  That's definitely a better idea than asking someone who actually is gay. And thanks Basil, I'll bear that in mind while I fuck other atheists.

"This is to be respected and cherished and protected, as it is by civil unions."

Respected so much that gay people aren't allowed to use the same words or legal documentation as straight people, nor hold their ceremonies in the same buildings.  How is that "respect"? And why should anyone "cherish" having less rights?

"But to open up marriage to gay people, however admirable the intention, is ultimately to deny "the dignity of difference" in the phrase of the chief rabbi, Jonathan Sachs."

Eww, don't quote Jonathan Sachs at me. I met him once. Horrible bigoted man. (And I think I may have said that!) And "the dignity of difference", really?  The dignity of unequal rights?  The dignity of "not quite the same"? The dignity of "don't use our special word for it"? With all due dignity - fuck off.

"It is not discriminatory..."

Yes it is. Denying equal rights is discrimination.

"...merely a recognition that marriage is an institution that is founded on a union that embraces sexual difference."

Marriage is an institution founded on male control over women.  Historically men could marry several women and have concubines, etc too.  Women had little or no say in the matter. Love was not really a factor in a lot of historical cases, it was much closer to slavery.  The meaning of marriage has constantly evolved for the better. And anyway Christmas trees are FOUNDED on pagan worship, so why aren't you campaigning to bring that back?

"It is not a denial of the equality of the love between two gay people, for all love is of infinite value."

If love is of infinite value then it must be worth more than the church's petty outdated ideas, no?

"A society that fears difference and does not engage with it will ultimately fall into intolerance."

So if we allow gay marriage, this will lead to intolerance. So being tolerant will lead to intolerance. Have you read 1984 Tim?

"Real conversation with people who are different is frightening: it changes how you view your own identity."

Yeah the last time I spoke to a gay person I totally shit myself. Not.

"In his book on Dostoevsky, Rowan Williams quotes Mikhail Bakhtin: "Dialogue ... is not a means for revealing, for bringing to the surface the readymade character of a person; no, in dialogue a person not only shows himself outwardly, but he becomes for the first time that which he is – and we repeat, not only for others but for himself as well.""

Note how directly after he calls for conversation between people who are different he then quotes another straight white bloke's book about yet another straight white bloke. Not one woman, non-white person, gay or lesbian, transperson, etc has been quoted or even mentioned in this whole article.  And you think the rest of us are scared of difference?!!  I guess asking a gay person's opinion would be too frightening huh?  But hey, I'd be scared of gay people too if I was a bigot.

"An easygoing tolerance, rubbing along beside each other without much curiosity, is not enough."

Tolerance is a bloody good start. And equality in terms of marriage is a step on the road to equality. And if your level of curiosity about the gay community is so strong that you sought out the opinions of three straight white men: a Rabbi, a Cardinal and a former Archbishop? I'd hate to see how you do research on dogs, probably by asking cats, or newts. And again you seem to be implying that gay people for the most part just muddle along without interacting with straight people. But they don't, they can't, because straight people are bloody everywhere and run everything.

"We need to recover a confidence in intelligent engagement with those who are unlike us, a profound mutual attention..."

So go on. Ask a gay person if they want to be "equal but different", if they think marriage is "founded on sexual difference", if they want less rights than you.  Hint: they don't!

"...otherwise we shall crush a life-giving pluralism." 

Yes "pluralism", what a lovely word for "inequality". Remember the good old days when South Africa had "pluralism" for black people? No nor do I because apartheid was just discrimination!

"It will not only be gay people who will suffer."

But lets be honest, when gay people have less rights, it is MOSTLY gay people who suffer.

"We shall all be the poorer."

This whole article doesn't suggest one single way in which anyone shall be "the poorer" for living in a society that recognises gay marriage.  The point seems to be that we should reject gay marriage because it might discourage some people from engaging with those who are different to them? On the contrary it will highlight how similar we all are, in that we are all human beings.  Gay marriage will actually lead to more engagement, especially between gay people who love each other! Plus it will make it really obvious which churches (Unitarians, Quakers, etc) are open minded and enthusiastic about being a part of gay people's lives and which ones (CofE, Catholic) are going to continue to support bigotry.