Archive for February, 2012

It couldn’t have happened to a bigger Tory moron. Of course now they’ve decided that one element of workfare will no longer be compulsory. It’s a start, but bravo to Channel 4 News for kicking these lying bastards where it hurts. If you’re still not convinced it really is workfare, check out the superb blog post on Latent Existence.

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Oh you theists crack me up. No sooner did I put up my last post when one of the usual suspects, under the cover of sounding ‘reasonable’ (sort of like Williams really) argued allowing same-sex marriage was a slippery slope – marrying dogs will come next! I’m sure the Danes, the Spanish, the Dutch, Canadians et all will laugh, curiously unable to point to a sharp rise in the incidence of bestiality, but I thought last night that Bill Maher puts it best:

Brian made this picture while Rowan Williams, ...

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Good old Rowan Williams. Whenever he has an opportunity to show his religion isn’t an antiquated force for oppression, hatred and discrimination he balks at it. He’s now spoken out in Geneva against marriage equality:

Dr Williams said human rights law “falls short of a legal charter to promote change in institutions”.

He argued that while laws should prevent certain actions, including discrimination against gays, positive “change” must come from cultures themselves.

He also spoke of communities concerns that an “alien cultural standard” was being “imposed” on them regarding, among other issues, equal marriage rights for gays.

In a lengthy speech, he talked of the “anxiety” among religious people that rights law was being “used proactively to change culture”.

Williams may be a nice guy, but this is the same arrogance displayed by his predecessor. This position is predicated on the presumption that a culture which has discrimination at its core has any validity whatsoever. Why should the law uphold the freedom of Christians to discriminate, when the minority in this country who want to (I don’t believe the majority do) justify it on Biblical literalism? We’re governed by civil law, people, not religious law; the Enlightenment happened for a reason. The minority who still want to have a privileged opt out need to accept this.

On whether the law needed to change culture in order to redress an imbalance for under-protected groups, he said: “Not exactly: when the law establishes protection or equality of access to public goods for a previously disadvantaged person or group, it declares that an agreed aspiration to a culture of dignity is damaged or frustrated by unequal protection and access.

“It secures what the very institution of a law-governed society is intended to embody […] Now laws change as societies become more conscious of what they are and claim to be; as I have said, it may take time for a society to realize that its practice is inconsistent – with respect to women and to ethnic, religious or sexual minorities.

“Law may indeed turn out to be ahead of majority opinion in recognizing this, but it has a clear argument to advance – that the failure to guarantee protection and access is simply incompatible with the very idea of a lawful society.

“But this falls short of a legal charter to promote change in institutions, even in language.”

I’m seeing pseudo-intellectual crap like this now on a daily basis, and I was prepared to argue it out with the usual zealous suspects on Twitter only, but no more. He’s dressing up capitulation to religious zealotry in comforting language, designed no doubt to appeal to the extreme and largely African members of his flock, but the argument doesn’t hold water. The people who want their ‘culture’ held static won’t tolerate any infringement of civil law into their privilege at all – it’s the function of human rights law to ensure that noone gets an opt out for any reason. I don’t think most Christians in the UK agree with him, polls show majority support for same-sex marriage, and he seems wilfully ignorant about historical change of the institution of marriage. He doesn’t after all advocate that women who have been raped should marry their attackers

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