Thursday, 28 February 2013

Farewell, Pope Benedict...

... and thank you for everything.

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us!

All angels and saints, pray for us!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Unfree to marry?

I thought it would be a good discipline to read a reasoned exposition of the case for same-sex marriage today. So I clicked on Norm's post. To be told that the time for reasoned exposition is past. Norm's patience is at an end, and it's time for the reductio ad Hitlerum (copyright Ed West). Being against same-sex marriage makes me like a slaveowner and a Nazi. Because the differnce between instrumentalising marriage laws for some vile economic or political purpose and insisting that marriage as a good in itself must have a non-arbitrary definition is way too subtle for a humble emeritus professor of politics. "Marriage" can mean whatever Norm wants it to mean and so can "Nazi". I am a Nazi because it is politically expedient that opponents of same-sex marriage be so stigmatised.

Well, you really know how to win friends and influence people, Norm. Next time you're looking for support from folk like me over, say, the demonisation of Israel, you just might find us a little less than enthusiastic. After all, what do you expect from a Nazi?

As an aside, it may be noted that historically the Jewish community itself has not been over-keen on those who "marry out", and not without reason. Jews who take for granted their entitlement to marry wherever lurve leads them are, one might think, responsible for diluting Jewish culture to a degree that would have dear Adolf grinning in his grave if he had one. It's maybe none of my business, but I think it will be a tragedy if Jewish culture ends up reduced to strident fundamentalism on the one hand and a handful of Unitarians with special dietary requirements on the other.

I digress. Let me close with a couple of pictures of people who, by Norm's lights, must be accounted no better than slaveowners. Here's slaveowner Lilian Ladele:

and here's slaveowner Gary McFarlane:

What do you mean, thy're not slaveowners? If Norm wants to call them slaveowners, he can. Because words can change their meaning, you know.

Gay marriage: a hopeless procrastinator writes to his MP

Dear MP,
I am writing as a constituent to voice my appreciation for your opposition to the ill-considered proposals on marriage which the Government is putting before Parliament without any mandate. I would also like to express the hope that you will be present to vote on the Second Reading tomorrow.
I am deeply concerned about the divisiveness of the proposals and the impact on those upholding the traditional understanding of marriage if the changes become law. Marriage will go from resting on a bedrock of social consensus to being an instrument of social engineering, putting powerful weapons in the hands of those who see it as their mission to forge a new consensus by means not excluding legalised intimidation and coercion. Whatever the Prime Minister claims it is a profoundly unconservative way to govern.
I am wholly unconvinced by the assurances of safeguards for religious groups, both because the Government is promising what, as it must know, it does not have the power to deliver and because they are in any case much too narrowly drawn. We have already seen a marriage registrar and a marriage counsellor hounded out of their jobs for their refusal in conscience to accept civil partnerships as equivalent to marriage, and the attempted demotion of a housing association manager who expressed his views in a context completely separate from his job. It must surely be inevitable that there will be many more such cases once the law has ceased to recognize that there is anything special whatsoever about the lifelong relationship between a man and a woman.
As I trust you will agree, the exclusion from marriage that the Government ought to be tackling as a matter of urgency is that suffered by the one in two teenagers who do not live with both of their parents. Turning couples who by the nature of their relationship cannot have children into stakeholders in marriage is simply a step in the wrong direction.
I am sure you have heard from many constituents expressing similar views. Thank you again for listening.
With my best wishes,
Yours sincerely,
Mr Grumpy

A wrong 'un

I'm actually not a bit surprised. James Delingpole on the right to break the law and get away with it by "technically" committing perjury.

Speeding is not a "victimless crime" It encourages others to believe that "everyone's doing it". Some of those others will be good drivers, some won't.

If the Daily Telegraph has not sacked Delingpole by this time tomorrow we will know that Britain does not have a serious conservative national newspaper.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Tomorrow's power elite?

Here's a piece which doesn't exactly fill me with confidence about the future of America. Especially in view of the subject being examined.

Moral agency

Buried somewhere in this Beeb story is an oblique hint to the effect that if gay men persist in playing Russian roulette with their health by having unprotected anal sex with numerous strangers, it may not entirely be the fault of an uncaring homophobic society. But you have to work at finding it - in fact, you have to work your way to the final sentence. In between there's a lot of stuff about how various fake charities need more of our money so they can hang up "Caution, stable door open, bolting danger" signs and count the horses periodically to establish how many have gone awol since the last time.

The case for gay marriage is made in a way that is curiously detached from the facts on the ground* as alluded to by Yusuf Azad. Is it intended as an alternative to the "gay scene" or as an add-on to it? Or is that just none of our business?

Meanwhile, Harry's Place, in stereotype-busting mode (ee, bah goom, lad, it's tough up North London, and no mistake), has no doubts whatsoever about moral agency. If a couple of civil partners can't get a joint appointment at a beauty salon, then the proprietor should be driven out of business. And preferably hung, drawn and quartered and his remains left for the vultures to dispose of.

When Mr G was a student Leftie, he and his comrades in arms aspired to nationalise the top 200 monopolies under workers' control and management. If he was a student Leftie today he'd be campaigning for a boycott of the homophobic beauty salons of Woodford Green, apparently. Somehow, a wider vision has gone missing.

*A little number-crunching: the number of gay men living with HIV is comparable to the number living in civil partnerships.

It's also interesting that the average age of new civil partners continues to be fortyish (bizarrely but perhaps revealingly, the average age of those dissolving a partnership is actually lower), which does rather suggest that it's what you do when promiscuity begins to seem a bit like hard work. Now I'm not saying there aren't plenty of straight men who would be very happy to build up their sexual CV along similar lines, given half a chance. But the whole point is that, unless they have the good fortune to play in the upper reaches of the Premiership, they aren't given the chance.