Burning books

I find it highly amusing (in a bitter and dark way) that the same Muslim countries making vociferous complaints against the shagwit bigot preacher Terry Jones and his frankly stupid idea of burning a Qur’an are exclaiming loudly how it is insulting, provocative, derogatory and disrespectful of their culture (which it is) while showing their displeasure by doing what they usually do and burning flags and effigies. Do they see the irony in this? Does it percolate into their equally bigoted minds that perhaps they infuriate other cultures by mass burnings of national flags and effigies of people they’ve been told to hate? Nope, they don’t because like most such idiots (of any type, creed or any other affiliation) they only ever see the other people doing bad things, not them, oh no.

Meanwhile I read that in Edinburgh a group demonstrated outside the US consulate. Now I can understand they are not happy, but I wondered what they thought would be achieved by demonstrating outside the US building? I mean this isn’t an action taken by the US government; in fact government officials have gone out of their way to condemn the 9-11 anniversary book burning as a stupid and disgraceful act and also tried to appeal to the reverend on patriotic grounds, pointing out that his ill advised actions could lead to a groundswell in attacks against US forces overseas. To no avail. So what did the group protesting outside the consulate here expect? “We have asked the American government to arrest this man, he is causing anti-Muslim hatred and I cannot believe nothing has been done,” commented one of the organisers, Mohammed Asif.

Er, what? Rev Jones is clearly a bigot and intent on provoking more relgious hatred and, let’s be honest, anyone who burns books (religious or any other kind) is a barbarian of the first order in my opinion, but while what he’s planning may make him an uncivilised hate-monger he’s not doing anything illegal and he is free to express himself, even if he expresses himself as a totally bigoted arsebag. Guess what, that means you can’t gag him by arresting him. I despise what he is doing but calling for him to be arrested because you dislike his (legal if distasteful) actions is ridiculous – especially coming from a group who have just enjoyed using the freedom of speech of a Western country to stage a peaceful demonstration but seem to think it is okay to ignore someone they disagree with’s rights to freedom of speech and demand their arrest to shut them up. Not an unusual state of affairs when it comes to religious protestors of any type – witness the Christian ones here over the years who demand stage shows or films they dislike are banned or performers or writers arrested, happily invoking the rights to freedom of thought and belief for themselves while finding it so easy to demand its removal from others. Religion. Should be a law against it.

Meanwhile I can’t help but notice that no-one, be it on this militant fuckwit American church side or the usual flag burning Muslim countries side,  has commented on the worst aspect of this whole proposed book burning – I mean, just what is that going to do for their carbon footprint, eh?

I’m thinking the few remaining, book reading, civilised people should have a counter demonstration against both side and wave some oversized copies of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 at these numpties.

Update: as I was posting this news appeared on the BBC that Jones may be calling off his barbaric book burning, although even if he has he’s managed to stir up even more anger and hatred just with the plan of it, not that it takes much to stir up some groups…

Queen entertains the UN

Her Majesty the Queen paid her first visit to the UN Assembly in New York for half a century today, where she entertained the assembled diplomats and world leaders by singing a cover version of Kim Wilde’s greatest hit: “One is the Queen in America, wuh-oh…” She’s such a trouper. Prince Phillip followed by giving  the UN crowd his world famous Zorba the Greek dance to make up for insulting almost every foreign person present.

Sinning

According to Vatican research men and women sin in different ways – for men Lust is the biggest temptation of the Seven Deadly Sins. Well, wow, imagine that – men are obsessed with shagging! Hold the front pages for that shocker. Said findings come based on research on confessions by a 85 year old Jesuit – I’m sure an ancient celibate can tell us all about sexual matters, which is why we should all take advice on sex and related manners such as family planning from the Catholic Church. Oh, hold on, I meant to say, cobblers to all of that. Fortunately I do not commit any sins whatsoever. Not, I hasten to add, because I am a paragon of virtue but because, thankfully, I am free of the superstitious shackles of fairy tale religions and so the concept doesn’t apply to me. Ladies, apparently, are more likely to give in to the sin of Pride than lust, which, like the nonsense statistics which say men commit more adultery than women, begs the question if this is accurate then who are the men committing lustful affairs with? Or is it more likely that the women simply don’t want to admit to being a bit naughty?

Palin’s great grasp of geopolitics

When first announced as the Reptile Party’s Vice Presidential candidate one of the first criticisms about Palin – apart from most everyone outside Alaska (which is most everyone, not the most populous state) – was who the hell is she? The second was that she had bugger all foreign policy experience and has only been out of the country once and that was to a meet-the-troops special. Her spin doctors replied, unbelievably, by saying she was governor of Alaska, with Canada on one side and Russia across the sea on the other, so obviously she did know a lot about foreign relations. Understandably anyone with a brain found this hilarious and it did no end of harm to the perception of Americans abroad where most of the rest of the world assumes most Yanks no nothing about anything outside their own borders and are culturally ignorant. Which I know from personal experience isn’t the case, but it is a general stereotype which she just confirmed to many.

Even more unbelievably she is still spouting this crap line (and bear in mind the Reptiles have been sniping at Obama for his supposed lack of foreign policy experience, compared to McCain, who has experience dating back to a diplomatic mission during the Boer War). This was her on US TV last night – nice to see the Reptiles following up the Chimp’s presidency by continuing to draw on candidates who are sharp, intelligent, well informed and erudite…


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Anniversary

Not being overly taken with monarchy I wasn’t paying much attention to the coverage of the Queen and Prince Philip’s diamond wedding anniversary this week, until this evening when I saw a segment of a report from Malta where the pair have gone (as they did after their wedding in 1947) on ITN this evening. There’s Romilly Weeks and her amazing cheekbones reporting from Malta; she says something I’m not really listening to as I’m deciding what to make for dinner, something like how this is an unusually public display for a normally private couple and how romantic it was. Unaware that behind her Prince Philip has walked past, stopped right behind her listening, big grin on his face, she finishes, turns and sees him laughing and he says “is it really?”, laughs and walks off. I’m not normally a fan of Phil the Greek but that was funny.

The man doth protest too much

No, really, he has an official Guinness Book of World Records entry for most political protests in one day! Who am I talking about? One of my comedy heroes, Mark Thomas; Radio 4 has his show available to listen to on the BBC site detailing how he decided to play with the dreadful law that freedom-curbing git Blair passed to try and make it harder for citizens to stage lawful protests in and around Parliament and Whitehall. As Mark points out a friend of his was arrested while enjoying a picnic because some heavy handed plod decided she was making a protest and hadn’t gotten police approval beforehand. No, I am having a picnic, she replies, pointing to the food, blanket on the grass etc. Ah yes, but your cake has ‘peace’ written on icing on it, that makes it a form of protest. Yes, in the French revolution Marie Antoinette was famously (if mistakenly) said to ‘let them eat cake’, while in Blair’s police state you can get nicked for eating cake near the House of Shame.

That said some of the coppers in this come across as equally pissed off at having to enforce a clearly bonkers law as Mark increasingly makes a fool of it – one senior officer who has to pass the requests for demos in the area comes in to see him when his constable passes to him Mark’s latest demo – calling for said senior officer to be sacked because of his role in enforcing this law. In he comes, looks at Mark, laughs and says “that’s bloody brilliant.” I do like Mark Thomas, he does that great thing of mixing comedy and politics effectively, exposing ludicrous laws and corrupt politicians and dodgy dealings with humour. Caught him at the Edinburgh Festival before and he is even better live. One of the few things better than seeing someone ‘sticking it to the man’ is someone using humour to humiliate the man while he does it. God bless satire, our last and best hope for freedom and a good, sharp pole for sticking it to the man.

Npower and the freedom of the press

Following up from me on my high horse blogging last week about energy company Npower bulldozing its way through both the environment, local opinion and the freedoms of speech and the press, here’s a proper link to the Channel 4 item I mentioned, with a link to the report and a blog entry by Alex Thomson on Npower’s (ab)use of the law and their sinister, masked security goons to overturn basic democratic freedoms at Radley Lakes.

Who was that masked man?

Channel 4 News tonight carried the frankly scary story of masked private security guards garbed in black, black masks raised over their faces to create an anonymous and threatening-looking appearance, going up to British citizens on a public road in a public space along with a pinstripe suited lawyer and violating their freedom of speech, freedom of expression and clearly, to my mind, violating the freedom of the press. Locals in the area of Radley Lakes have objected to shameless energy company Npower chopping down trees and planning to use the nearby lake for a spot to dump waste ash from their power station in. Many locals have objected and been ignored, a study into the impact is under way but Npower are just carrying right on with their task while it goes on so the study will be academic. Worst of all these creep security guards who look like a cross between something from a totalitarian regime and a masked Old West bandits and the corporate lawyer have persuaded a judge to grant an injunction, based largely on some anonymous witness statements with no actual cross examination which has banned even accredited journalists from taking photographs in public spaces to cover issues which are clearly in the public interest based on little to no proper evidence.

Masked, black suited, menacing looking guards who spent most of the C4 report denying citizens and reporters their basic rights while happily filming everyone present themselves; the injunction the foolish judge gave the company on their flimsy ‘evidence’ (supposedly to protect staff, although so far no-one has proved there was any real threat) is so vague that apparently just watching the report means the viewer is also injuncted! How ridiculous is that? I’m glad C4 News reported on this because I hadn’t heard of this until tonight and from what the usually highly dependable C4 team said other large corporations are using similar dirty tricks with corporate lawyers who would be at home working for Monty Burns and their own private rent-a-cops around the UK. I find myself getting irate quite often at some reports on the news, but this made me bloody furious, that some large company would not only ignore their local residents but then use a mixture of lawyer’s tricks and sinister, masked security to violate one of our most precious freedoms. Npower, you are utterly despicable and shameless. Editorial Photographers UK has some more on this story.

CNN

You may recall that a few weeks ago I recorded an interview for CNN for a programme on the freedom of expression online. I haven’t actually heard from them since then as to when the programme was going out, but this morning my chum George got in touch to send me this link to CNN’s page, where, lo and behold, there is an article based on some of the interviews in the programme, including myself. I do hope this doesn’t mean I’ve missed the programme!

My friend Cheryl, on reading this, sent me a link to an interesting related item where Brian Turner is facing a possible court case by a nasty company who want to sue his company and him personally over comments by disappointed customers of that company on his discussion forum. Nothing derogatory, just complaints from unsatisfied customers – however this company seems to think that customers are not  allowed to make comments and anyone who allows them should be bullied (and let’s face it, that’s what this is – bullying people and abusing their freedom of expression). Good luck to you, Brian, but a shame you need to go through this. As I said on the CNN interview, one of the biggest threats to our freedom of expression online today isn’t from governmental interference but from corporations. Corporations that haven’t realised that this kind of action backfires on them because it will line them up for ridicule and criticism online and that isn’t going to help you get new customers.