05 November, 2013
Saying boo to a goose ... is a vile, life-threatening hate crime
I am always wary of drawing conclusions from the news reports of criminal prosecutions. Newspapers have agendas and journalists are often lazy or cowardly, but you can't always be present yourself in the court to hear the whole story, so in general you have to depend on the news media.
Taken at face value, then, this case merits attention.
and banned from football for 52 years
after 'Stephen Lawrence chants' on train
Ignoring the Mail's hyperbolic and numerically misleading headline, the meat of the case is that
Seven Charlton fans who chanted songs that 'glorify and idolise' the murderer of Stephen Lawrence have been jailed and banned from football for a total of 52 years.Such as?
The supporters, who had been at an FA Cup match against Fulham on January 7 last year were jailed for their abusive behaviour on a train from Putney to Waterloo.
The men, aged between 22 and 31, were convicted of causing racially aggravated fear of violence after witnesses complained of sexual and racially motivated abuse.
British Transport Police said the group chanted in support of Gary Dobson, three days after he was convicted of murdering Stephen LawrenceOh right then.
Speaking after the sentencing at Blackfriars Crown Court, Baljit Ubhey, CPS London Chief Crown Prosecutor, said: 'These men were singing and chanting racist abuse in praise of the convicted murderers of Stephen Lawrence. To glorify and idolise these men was disturbing and upsetting.
And what was this intimidatory racist abuse that put other passengers in fear of their lives? Was it perhaps,
"Stephen Lawrence was a dirty nigger and deserved to die. And we're going to kill any coon on this train who says different."followed up (crucially) by getting up and physically assaulting any Blacks who had the misfortune to be present, which behaviour might indeed justifiably have attracted custodial sanction.
Or did they, as local rumour suggests, simply sit there and chant,
"There's only one Gary Dobson."which is just rather uncouth and might reasonably attract an informal ticking off from the authorities, urging the fans to greater discretion and "sensitivity", or at most, absent the racial element, a section 5 public order offence and a small fine.
And "absent the racial element" is significant here. It is difficult to avoid the reading that these men were being made an example of. To put it brutally, "to teach Whitey to know his place". For much of the last 40 years, legislation and public policy have been directed towards suppressing a barely-contained White mob eternally on the point of rising up to exterminate the Black and Brown invader. Either that or to make jolly hurtful allusions to a fancied similarity of "yer Darkies" to monkeys and to exclude them from joining the local Working Men's Club.
OK, I'm being facetious and sarcastic. It would be ridiculous to suggest that White hostility to and violence against Black and Brown immigrants has not occurred in the 65 years since the symbolic docking of the Windrush at Tilbury, not that Browns and Blacks have not retaliated in kind. It would be equally foolish, however, to suggest that the levels of mutual intolerance are permanently at fever pitch, necessitating recourse to desperate measures to contain them. Such is, frankly, the thinking of ignorant blinkered Righteous White liberals and opportunist Black victimists. The ordinary geezer on the Woolwich omnibus has a more nuanced view. We remain perfectly civil to Nigerians, even after the provocation of the Lee Rigby atrocity, but we still think rather too many of them are crooked cunts you wouldn't trust any further than you could throw a full-grown African bull elephant. Crude as it sounds, that is pragmatic and realistic race relations, as practised by the plebs who actually have to deal with it in the real world.
I think if there is a serious point to be made about the reporting by the Mail, and indeed other media, of the trial of the Charlton Seven, it is this: I am willing to believe that there is more to this than meets the eye. If the behaviour of the Charlton fans did extend to more than a bit of unsavoury chanting, to an extent that actually does justify banging these lads up, then this needs to be made explicit. Otherwise the whole process looks like Whitey-bashing in the name of Saint Stephen, the eventual reaction to which will indeed be the unleashing of the White mob of your imagination. Have a care.
At the bottom of the Mail piece we find,
Sorry we are unable to accept comments for legal reasons.What legal reasons might those be? The usual, and perfectly sensible reason for closing down reader comments is the danger of comments slipping through that might breach the sub judice restrictions protecting a case being tried. The present case is done, sentenced and dusted. Shurely shome mishtake here. Answers on a postcard, please.
Declaration of personal racist eviltude
In the context of the above post, I feel morally obliged to add the following:
On the Saturdays when Charlton is playing at home, large groups of fans can be seen travelling on Greenwich line trains to and from the Valley. Addicks fans are, by and large, pussycats who wouldn't say "boo" to a cheezburger, never mind a goose, and these threatening crowds consist of grandads, mums and dads often with preteen sprogs in tow, quietly minding their own business in what must seem to the unfamiliar observer a thoroughly intimidatory manner.
Recently arrived Africans, of which there is a steady flow round here, who have not encountered this phenomenon before, can often be seen huddled in frightened groups on station platforms, looking jolly nervous.
I have to admit, to my shame, that I find all this quite amusing.
Alright, ossifer, no need for the cuffs; I'll come quietly.
04 November, 2013
Tongue? Yeuch! I'm not eating that - it's been in something's mouth!
The Telegraph reports
adding in the standfirst,
Nearly 200 Muslim prisoners are suing the Government after being served halal food contaminated with pork, claiming their human rights were breached."Contaminated?" Bit harsh I feel. Let's just say "inadvertently enhanced", shall we?
Nonetheless the Sons of Allah are not best pleased and want retribution or, failing that, compo. Don't worry lads, Allah is merciful. You were misled and ate the flesh of the pig unknowingly. Allah will not punish you. As an undevout kaffir I know this to be true because ... well because I looked it up on the Internet, innit?
Lighten up, bruvs. As an infidel, I am frequently offered halal food without its nature being identified to me. After all, infidels will eat any old shit, won't they?
Well, not really. Not as such, squire. Personally I prefer not to eat meat slaughtered according to halal practice. Not just because of the supposed cruelty of the method, which is indeed specious and unnecessary, but as much because it is culturally alien and untrustworthy.
I appreciate that I am just an English scumbag who doesn't really exist, but I do have my own culture and traditional standards too, tha knows.
Yes, I am aware that there is much to criticize in the actual implementation of our secular meat slaughtering industry; we are very far from routinely granting the sudden, unexpected death free of fear and stress which we owe to the animals we rear to kill and eat. But I'm sorry: some bearded wog mumbling a ritual prayer, nominally in the hearing of the still-conscious, terrified animal, and then slitting its throat. I wonder what that does to the adrenalin levels and the taste and quality of the meat, apart from any other consideration. And I wonder what other incidental devilry the bearded wog is capable of with his seventh-century worldview and his contemptuous disdain for Western food hygiene standards.
No thanks. I'd sooner have my meat slaughtered and cut by the unwilling and indifferent Wayne from Slatterthwaite who will at the very least follow the rules — our rules — even if only to avoid being given the push.
I wonder what dietary options imprisoned alien criminals in Muslim countries are offered.
03 November, 2013
London's iconic red buses rack up an incredible 6m passenger journeys every day, but with the population expected to hit 9.3 billion by 2022, overcrowding is becoming the norm for London's hard-pressed bus commuters.Does Val Shawcross know something the rest of us don't? I think we're going to need more than a few extra buses.
01 November, 2013
That's the way to do it
Rather like the trashy and juvenile TNT and the long-gone Australasian Express, which last I used to seek out in the late 1970s just for the Bruce the Wombat cartoon strip. Bruce was the bogan's bogan, timidly assisted by his mate, Kevin the Echidna in his tinnie-fuelled rampages through the underside of 1970s London.
I can offer no comment on the reliability of this Australian Times thingy, but this item is a lulu
The collapse in the trade, following the introduction of Australia’s policy of sending asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea and Nauru, has prompted some of those involved to consider abandoning the business altogether and seek resettlement.
So let's see if I've got this right Desperate asylum seekers from the Middle East and South Asia, fleeing dreadful mortal persecution in their homelands, are turning down the asylum that Australia graciously and humanely offers them, because what's now on offer is safe but economically unprofitable accommodation in conditions slightly better than those they have left behind — but safe conditions nonetheless — rather than the largely fictitious first-world Eldorado of imaginary wealth that they had hoped for.
Refugees genuinely seeking humanitarian assistance, eh? Fuck 'em.
The sooner Europe grows the cullions to follow the same policy, the better.
03 October, 2013
This post sort-of intentionally left almost blankish
is a placeholder for a post he had published, then had second thoughts about in the light of subsequent delevopments and discreetly withdrew.
The present post is a placeholder for a more mundane and unworthy reason. I was in the process of drafting my latest solution to the world's problems, or tedious delusional rant as you may prefer, when the Internet had a funny half hour. When sanity eventually resumed, the post remained in the drafts folder but notification of its publication had already, incorrectly, escaped onto the RSS feeds.
Apologies for the confusion. Never trust a technology you can't repair with a well-aimed kick.
Mind you, I remember once, in a sudden access of entirely uncharacteristic and unwonted frustration, I slammed my desk drawer shut with extreme prejudice. It was a well-engineered metal drawer which hit the limit of its travel with a very satisfying and very loud noise which made me feel much better. Simultaneously all the lights in the office went out and every computer in the large, open-plan office powered down. Colleagues insist the timing was coincidence. I know different.
Normal service will be resumed in due course.
08 September, 2013
The EDL in - or almost in - Tower Hamlets
Well worth a gander. It's also worth noting, as Esme mentions in another post, that reports that
in the ever-impartial Sindy is spin by omission. The 160 arrested were in fact from the hordes of the Self-Righteous and not from the EDL.
To explain this embarrassing anomaly by recourse to stereotype. The Righteous are pampered middle-class White mummy's boys who believe their political violence doesn't cause actual harm and is in any case justified by the Rightness of their Cause, so how dare the police arrest them; while the EDL are drunken lowlife chavscum who are familiar with the ways of the Old Bill and know how to behave in their presence.
Fact o' life, innit.
Give the buggers an inch...
Marriage is a core and a virtually universal human institution. It is a practical one the formalization of which probably developed as human social groups progressed from bands of 20 or 30 individuals concerned primarily with where their next woolly mammoth steak was coming from into settled societies of hundreds for whom the accumulation of stored agricultural surpluses, the capacity to allow social specialization and the bequeathing of valuable durable property had become a reality.
Marriage is essentially to do with the procreation and above all the rearing of children. It provides a framework to support the inheritance of property and of status, it reinforces and enforces the obligations of loyalty and mutual support within the family. It serves to protect the pair bond between the parental couple. It doesn't "celebrate" that pair bond for its own sake, but supports it in context.
I oppose the concept of "gay marriage" because it is wrong-headed. It is at best a romantic misunderstanding of the institution, and at worst a destructive, possibly malign, jealousy. Also, it is not, as its supporters indignantly insist, without consequence for the rest of us. As one below-the-line commenter in the Daily Mail article which I link to later puts it,
If two men are married to each other, it does not affect your life in any way what so ever. Whether they want to marry in a church or at city hall, how does this affect anyone else's life. Mind your own business and you will be better off. I would love to be adopted by Elton John and his husband, imagine how interesting their life is?
Well, Sunshine, it affects the lives of the rest of us by necessarily and fundamentally redefining marriage. It refocuses the institution on the public celebration of the sexual pair bond to the effective exclusion of the broader societal context.
When the iDave, in his futile project to detoxify the Tories, pushed through his gay-marriage legislation, he made great show of the famous "quadruple lock", which would protect the consciences of established religion like a moral forcefield surrounding the Holy Grail.
So how's that going then?
Millionaire gay fathers to sue the Church of England
for not allowing them to get married in the church
The first legal challenge to the Church of England's ban on same-sex marriage was launched today [2013-08-02 —EG] - months before the first gay wedding can take place.
Gay father Barrie Drewitt-Barlow declared: 'I want to go into my church and marry my husband.' He added: 'The only way forward for us now is to make a challenge in the courts against the Church.'
The legal move means an early test for David Cameron's promise to the CofE and Roman Catholic bishops that no church would be forced to conduct same-sex weddings against the will of its leaders and its faithful.
And what drives the ire of this — how can I express this within the constraints of polite discourse? — this brace of smug, smarmy, self-righteous shirtlifters? Well, they claim to be "practising Christians", alright, but I think the heart of the matter lies in this comment
I am a Christian - a practising Christian. My children have all been brought up as Christians and are part of the local parish church.' Mr Drewitt-Barlow, 42, who owns a surrogacy company based near the family home in Essex and is opening another in Los Angeles, added: 'If I was a Sikh I could get married at the Gurdwara. Liberal Jews can marry in the Synagogue - just not the Christians.(My emphasis.)
'It upsets me because I want it so much - a big lavish ceremony, the whole works.'
Ah, yes, Judy Garland syndrome. Barrie doesn't really want to marry in church to satisfy his deeply-held religious convictions. No, he longs to dress up in a posh frock and toss his bouquet into the waiting throng of bridesfairies. Much as I don't wish to descend into the mire of stereotyping, I suspect that this motivation, the desire for the big, glitzy, showbiz ceremony with the legitimacy provided by a "proper" church wedding, is a big unacknowledged driver behind the self-centred campaign for "marriage equality".
And while I'm being unpleasant to Mr Drewitt-Barlow, what to make of this,
Mr Drewitt-Barlow and his civil partner Tony have been a celebrated couple since 1999, when they became the first gay couple to be named on the birth certificate of a child. They now have five children through surrogate mothers.
I'm not entirely convinced that this serves the intended purpose of birth certification. Yes, they register inheritance and succession rights, inherited generally from the legal guardian who is not necessarily the biological parent. But should they not also, and primarily, register biological inheritance? I don't know the gory details in the case under discussion, but presumably Barrie wanked into a test tube to become the biological father, but Tony sure as fuck didn't provide the egg which was impregnated with Baz's jism and carried to term by some lucky female surrogate.
This is not a trivial matter. As it goes I was watching a doco on RT the other day, which described the life of a man who had, against the odds, become a moderately successful Russian academic. His parents had each been raised in (separate) Soviet orphanages following the liquidation of their own parents. As adults, they met as strangers, fell in love and married, leading to the birth of our hero. Eventually it turned out that they were in fact brother and sister and their son suffered both deafness and blindness as a genetic consequence of the unknowing incest.
Not directly related to Barrie boy's situation to be sure, but a clear indication of the dangers of subverting necessary social procedures for the purpose of political self-gratification.
A curiously more insidious case crops up in dear old CiF, where Peter Moskowitz whinges
I have read Peter's complaints, but to be honest I can't really get my head round their substance, if any.
I think this BTL commenter gets to the heart of it,
There's going to be quite a lot of this stuff about. And much of it will grope about, successively displacing its incoherent focus onto particular remaining or imagined grievances, demanding — to cruelly misparaphrase Moskovitz — an ever-more homonormative society. I doubt these people will be truly satisfied until homosexuality becomes effectively compulsory. "So you're a straight geezer, are you? Well, I'm sorry Duckie, we'd just like you to demonstrate your antihomophobia by sucking my friend off. Alright"
The initial error was in presenting civil partnerships as a form of marriage-lite for gays. Society has no legitimate interest in the formal celebration of a sexual pair bond between two adults per se. Society does have a legitimate interest in protecting the property and other rights which might flow from the sharing of goods, accommodations and facilities which are generally involved in such a relationship. The mistake was to present the legislative support in a marriage-like ceremony in a register office rather than as the signing of a contract in a solicitor's office.
And also to restrict the civil partnership to gay couples. After all, to offer a somewhat archaic example, there is a situation in which a person becomes the full-time carer and companion to an invalid elder in return largely for shelter and sustenance. A role traditionally exercised by an impoverished spinster from the elder person's extended family. If the elder eventually dies intestate, the position of the carer is precarious. Well, you know the sort of thing I'm getting at. If the civil partnership legislation had been extended in principle to encompass such broad situations of mutual financial and property dependency, the insidious civil partnership = marriage lite heffalump trap might have been avoided.
02 September, 2013
UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT
With English Owners
The previous owners of the shop are described as
It has been run by English people of East Asian descent and of Greek descent.
I'm not really sure what that actually means.
The usual suspects are up in arms, of course. The local MP, no less, the mayor and some local teacher all express their horror and disgust. The teacher fumes
In this day and age, it shouldn’t matter who you are being served by.
Well, up to a point, Gary. I would add the rider
... if they know what they are doing.
because I think Mr Bradbury has a valid point. When I lived oop north, admittedly 30 to 40 years ago now, you never gave much thought to the quality of fish and chip shops. Chippies were damned near universally run by British people who knew what was expected. They were pretty well all of a high and consistent standard. A noticeably duff chippy would quickly lose custom and go out of business.
Then I moved to London, where the chippies were generally run by non-European foreigners. They were run as an adjunct to whatever kind of "ethnic" nosh the shop in question was peddling, and understanding how to correctly cook and serve fried fish and chips was of low priority. I quickly learned that while the chips might (sometimes) be acceptable, the fish was almost always a no-no. Apart from anything else, the Chinese seem to have particular difficulty with the concept that filleting a fish involves removing the bones.
There were rare, honourable exceptions. The Fryer's Delight in Theobald's Road, WC1, run by an Italian family, was a place to which a fussy ex-pat northerner could return again and again with complete confidence. But generally if I want acceptable fish and chips in London, I journey out to the Edge, where the White tribes still live.
If Mr Bradbury is saying "Come to me; I'm English and understand the intricacies of English food", then is that really more shocking and less valid than Mr Wu saying "Come to me; I'm actually from Szechuan and I understand the intricacies of Szechuanese cuisine.?"
Or is Mr Curson just another glib xenomaniac Guardianista racist who believes that the English have no culture of their own?
01 September, 2013
Lee Rigby: a very belated RIP
Not that I don't have equally unpalatable opinions about other "serious" issues, I hasten to add. Some of which may well surprise you if you've simply been extrapolating your political profile of me purely from my determinedly uncompromising attitude to the consequences of the ongoing and uninvited demographic unpheaval in this country. I'm not quite the monomaniacal "little Englander" obsessive you might imagine, striding purposefully about the living room in my bowler and my union-jack weskit, menacing imaginary cringeing darkies with my perfectly-furled brolly.
Anyway, the purposeful striding's off the menu at the moment — my damned knees have "gone" again.
But yes I regard immigration and race and the helter-skelter demographic upheaval that is going on in this country, as well as in the rest of "the West", as keystone issues. You want me to spare time to fret about the future of British education and its impact on Britain's economic prognosis, do you? Well, if those processes are set to take place within a cultural and genetic heritage wtih which I share as little as I do with Jared Diamond's beloved Papuan headhunters, then I'm afraid that's not a race I have a dog running in.
There you go.
And Woolwich is my manor; I'm not a native but I've lived in the area for the last 34 years, so I do have at least a basic familiarity with the place.
And finally, for what it's worth, the late Mr Rigby was a fellow Manc, raised as I understand it on the Manchester Corporation overspill estate at Langley, about two miles from where I grew up some 40 years earlier in Moston. There are Rigbys in my extended family as it goes. Who knows, Lee and I may even be distantly related? Well, in principle, maybe. In practice, it's not particularly likely. The surname Rigby is a common one in South Lancashire, deriving ultimately from the speech of the Norwegian Viking settlement of the Wirral in the tenth century. It is a non-specific geographical surname meaning little more than, 'im as lives at t'top o' th'hill, a byname which will doubtless have been repeatedly and independently awarded numerous times as the descendants of the Viking settlers spread out into the uplands of Central and East Lancashire.
So why then have I remained silent on this and every other matter for the past five months?
Simple fact is, I've been unwell. In a damned sight better state of health than young Lee has been since May, it needs to be said, but initially confined to quarters, subsequently lethargic and easily tired, and even now suffering a lingering general feeling of what I will presumptuously refer to as chronic secondary aproctosis*, which has frankly become a comfortable mental habit which I need to shake off. In short, while much of my time over the last few months has been devoted to developing a deep and passive familiarity with the delights of daytime television, I have still kept up with the news media and the blogosphere, but have not felt sufficiently motivated to put finger to keyboard. Indeed, my touch-typing was effectively trashed by loss of muscular co-ordination for a while, so basically it's been a chronic case of "WTF, innit".
Anyway, enough of that. Time to get my arse into gear and say something.
Despite my proximity to the action, there is, to be honest, relatively little I can add to what is already widely known about the Lee Rigby atrocity. On the afternoon of Wednesday 22 May, as it turned out, I made my way into beautiful downtown Woolwich for a change of scenery; it was the the first time I'd ventured quite so far from base in weeks. Unknown to me, some 500 yards away two madmen, secure in their solipsistic victimism, were cheerfully hacking a random off-duty British soldier to death and then standing round waiting for a round of applause. Other than a police patrol car putting on its blue lights and turning sideways-on to block entry from Woolwich New Road into Thomas Street for no immediately visible reason — a road traffic incident somewhere, I vaguely conjectured — there were no immediate signs of anything untoward, certainly nothing impacting the General Gordon Square area where I was at the time. The vibrant diversity that is Woolwich continued to vibrate at its accustomed languid frequency.
It was not until I got home and turned on the rolling news on telly that I learned what was going on. So no eyewitness reports of blood and gore or ancedotes about chatting amiably with the murderers from me, I'm afraid.
Actually, watching the news reports and the relentless helicopter footage of the crime scene was a curiously semi-detached experience, partly a function of my general grogginess, to be sure, but also because we seem to be getting inured to atrocities and bizarre goings on in general. There was no sense of proximate threat. Just, "Oh, another murderous atrocity in London, well ain't that just so damn-all vibrant? Hey, don't I recognize that pedestrian crossing?"
But then I don't really do arm waving and sobbing histrionics, to be honest. I guess I'm your dour North European type. Push me too far and I might well draw my broadsword from its trusty sheath and chop your impertinent fucking head off, but I won't make a big production number out of it.
One more observation from the epicentre and that's my lot in my self-appointed role as your Woolwich correspondent. I next visited downtown Woolwich on Saturday 25th, mainly on a resupply run to the emporium of Mr Sainsbury, my grocer. As is my custom, I called in to The Great Harry for a bottle of three of finest Russian lager. The Woolwich Wetherspoon is a rough but well run sort of boozer, which attracts a substantial sprinkling (about 5% of the clientele) of Nigerians. Before the 2011 fire they tended to congregate in one corner but since the rebuilt pub reopened they seemed to have integrated better, condescending to socialize with the natives. On that Saturday following the atrocity they seemed to be totally absent.
I mentioned this to one or two of the other regulars, who didn't seem to have noticed. There was no detectable animus against Nigerians as being responsible through some sort of collective guilt. In fact, despite the presence of the instashrine 400 yards up Wellington Street and the media circus, the matter was just not discussed. The Nigerians seem to have chosen to make themselves temporarily scarce, whether out of self-induced fear or out of respect I don't know. Other Black groups, like West Indians, milled about much as normal.
The single aspect of the Lee Rigby atrocity that sticks with me is the persistent attempts by the media and the establshment to spin it as our fault, by which I mean, of course, the fault of the native White population. The perps and their probable hangers-on having been speedily arrested, attention turned to the perceived danger of the aggrieved White population kicking off and carrying out a murderous pogrom on innocent Muslims at large. We sashayed seemlessly from condemnation and analysis of the two self-righteous murderous Black savages (you can't say that - Ed) to the need to protect innocent British Muslims from the inchoerent fury of White racists.
The useful idiot Fiyaz Mughal and his TellMAMA operation were recruited to support the assertion of a massive upswing in anti-Muslim sentiment. Unfortunately, as Gilligan made clear, most of the incidents were people mouthing off on Twitter and hijabi women imagining they were getting funny looks off people.
A series of "attacks" on mosques was breathlessly reported. Gone a bit quiet, that. Let's see, what do we know? there was some aggro from a Ukrainian nutter, some Danish chap waving his arms about, who turned out to be Somali "refugee" resident in Denmark, a couple of vaguely explosive doodahs discovered in alleys near mosques, and of course the unexplained burning down of a Somali club/mosque, which looks more and more like an opportunist insurance job. I may be wrong of course, I got bored with all this bollocks and gave up following it. But on the whole it looks less like a rampaging army of Angry White Fascists bearing flaming pitchforks and more like a lot of panicky wogs waving their arms about and applying their own dismally low standards of behviour and expectations of others to a culture they don't understand.
But anyway it's all over now. Lee Rigby has been buried. The perpetrators of this isolated and untypical "incident" await the formality of trial. And the Government has successfully protected innocent Muslims from the barely repressed rage of the British racists. Pity the racist wimps didn't actually kick off and kill people as we'd
* aproctosis. Not a word you'll find in the medical dictionary, but actually a suprisingly common affliction. The meaning is easily construed from its etymology
a- = lacking
proct(o)- = arse
-osis = disease
If I'd had the balls, I would quite like to have used it on the thankfully few self-certified sick notes I submitted during my working life.
24 March, 2013
The gleeful wrath of the Righteous
If I recall correctly, his/her death got a mention on the Radio 4 news bulletins last Thursday, but as usual I was only half-listening to the aural wallpaper that is Radio 4 in my house. I don't always pay attention and much of what I do pick up is absorbed through a process of mental osmosis. Someone of mildly notorious interest to the media had snuffed it, oop north, I learnt.
Later on Thursday, surfing my habitual pool of sites on the Interweb, I came across this angry little polemic by Tim Fenton, writing at Liberal Conspiracy.
Aha, thunk I. It took a bit of digging and sifting through raging storms of hysterical indignation across the web to get to a reasonably coherent understanding of the case, but what seems to have transpired is this.
Nathan Upton was a primary school teacher living and working in Accrington. Mr Upton was also a gender-dysphoric and had decided at last to take the plunge and "transtion" to living as a woman. It's not revealed precisely how far he had gone down this road but judging from what I have learnt over the past few days, he was probably just entering the preparatory "permadrag" stage of publicly living as and dressing as a woman. Full on "gender reassignment" (or whatever term you prefer — the whole area seems to be a lexicopolitical minefield) is not something to be undertaken in haste. Medics want to be fully convinced before they start lopping off dangly bits and pumping you full of interesting hormones.
Whatever his ultimate intentions, Nathan proposed to start dressing as and working as a woman when the school returned from its Christmas break. He had already tried going out "in drag" in his free time, but discreetly. His headmistress sent out a business-as-usual staff changes letter to parents, in which she mentioned more or less in passing that in the new term Mr Nathan Upton would be functioning as Miss Lucy Meadows.
This did not go down well with some parents and came to the attention of first the local and later the national press. It was also picked up by Richard Littlejohn in his Daily Mail column.
Last week Mr Upton was found dead at his home. It seems to be generally assumed that this was the result of suicide. It is also widely assumed that this "suicide" was a reaction to harassment from or fomented by the press, Richard Littlejohn in particular.
Well, as Roy Greenslade reminds us in his Guardian blog,
The Sky News report [like all the newspaper reports that I've seen so far -EG] quotes a Lancashire police spokeswoman as saying that there were no suspicious circumstances. This is usually taken to mean that it is a case of suicide, though it is possibly not the case.
But, sticking to the facts, it is important to note that there is no clear link – indeed any link – between what Littlejohn wrote and the death of Lucy Meadows.
The Mail has since deleted the relevant section of Mr Littlejohn's column, along with the reader comments, which were generally quite sympathetic to the late Mr Upton. Whether this action represents cowardice or merely a response to legal advice, I have no idea. You can't escape the Wayback Machine, though, and the original unredacted online version is available here. I reproduce the relevant section in full below.
He's not only in the wrong body... he's in the wrong job
By Richard Littlejohn
21 December 2012
Look, it can’t be much fun being a woman trapped in a man’s body. Believe me, ladies, there are times when it’s not exactly a bundle of laughs being a man trapped inside a man’s body.
So I have every sympathy for the 400 or so people a year who opt for ‘gender reassignment’ surgery to put themselves out of their misery.
I don’t even have any problem with sex-change operations being carried out on the NHS, provided it’s a genuine medical necessity and not a lifestyle choice. Transsexuals pay taxes, too.
Schoolteacher Nathan Upton, 32, says he always knew he was born into the wrong sex. Yet he married and fathered a child, now aged three. It was only fairly recently that he decided to go public with his inner turmoil.
The first indications came when he began growing his cropped hair and dyeing it purple. He started turning up for class wearing pink nail varnish and sparkly headbands.
His pupils at St Mary Magdalen’s Church of England Primary School in Accrington, Lancs, couldn’t help noticing. A crayon drawing of Mr Upton by a Year 6 pupil on the school’s website shows him with long hair swept back over his shoulders.
One parent said: ‘I saw what I thought was Mr Upton dressed as a woman in town one weekend, but I decided I had imagined it.’
Oh no, you hadn’t.
Confirmation came in the school’s Christmas newsletter. It started innocuously enough, with a series of routine staff announcements. Then in paragraph six, out of the blue, BOOM! Are you sitting comfortably, children?
‘Mr Upton has made a significant change in his life and will be transitioning to live as a woman after the Christmas break. She will return to work as Miss Meadows.’
Mr Nathan Upton has announced he will be returning to the school after Christmas as Miss Lucy Meadows
It went on to stress that the school is ‘proud of our commitment to equality and diversity’. Of course they are.
This week, the school’s 169 pupils, aged between seven and 11, were informed class-by-class that from now on, ‘Sir’ would be ‘Miss’.
Teachers told them that Mr Upton felt he had been ‘born with a girl’s brain in a boy’s body’ and would henceforth be living as a woman.
Nathan Upton is now in the early stages of gender reassignment treatment. He issued a statement which read: ‘This has been a long and difficult journey for me and it was certainly not an easy decision to make.’
So that’s all right, then. From now on, kiddies, Mr Upton will be known as Miss Lucy Meadows.
What are you staring at, Johnny? Move along, nothing to see here. Get on with your spelling test. Today’s word is ‘transitioning’.
Mr Upton/Miss Meadows may well be comfortable with his/her decision to seek a sex-change and return to work as if nothing has happened. The school might be extremely proud of its ‘commitment to equality and diversity’.
But has anyone stopped for a moment to think of the devastating effect all this is having on those who really matter? Children as young as seven aren’t equipped to compute this kind of information.
Pre-pubescent boys and girls haven’t even had the chance to come to terms with the changes in their own bodies.
Why should they be forced to deal with the news that a male teacher they have always known as Mr Upton will henceforth be a woman called Miss Meadows? Anyway, why not Miss Upton?
Parent Wayne Cowie said the news had left his ten-year-old son worried and confused.
For the past three years he has been taught by Mr Upton, but has now been told that he will be punished if he continues to call ‘Miss Meadows’ ‘Mr Upton’ after the Christmas holidays. ‘My middle boy thinks that he might wake up with a girl’s brain because he was told that Mr Upton, as he got older, got a girl’s brains.’
The school shouldn’t be allowed to elevate its ‘commitment to diversity and equality’ above its duty of care to its pupils and their parents.
It should be protecting pupils from some of the more, er, challenging realities of adult life, not forcing them down their throats.
These are primary school children, for heaven’s sake. Most them still believe in Father Christmas. Let them enjoy their childhood. They will lose their innocence soon enough.
The head teacher denies that pupils will be punished for referring to the teacher as Mr Upton but added ominously that they would be ‘expected to behave properly around her.’ Nathan Upton is entitled to his gender reassignment surgery, but he isn’t entitled to project his personal problems on to impressionable young children.
By insisting on returning to St Mary Magdalen’s, he is putting his own selfish needs ahead of the well-being of the children he has taught for the past few years.
It would have been easy for him to disappear quietly at Christmas, have the operation and then return to work as ‘Miss Meadows’ at another school on the other side of town in September. No-one would have been any the wiser.
But if he cares so little for the sensibilities of the children he is paid to teach, he’s not only trapped in the wrong body, he’s in the wrong job.
The lynch mobs are out, burning torches and pitchforks in hand, for both Littlejohn and the Mail. Not just Tim Fenton and the loyal BTLers at Liberal Conspiracy, but in the newspaper comments threads, on Faceache (Richard Littlejohn Must Go, Vigil for Lucy Meadows) and the right-on blogosphere.
Perhaps, from the perspective of an unreconstructed scumbag, I can offer a few observations.
I don't think the people who are shouting the loudest about the unpleasant end of the late Mr Upton actually give a twopenny fuck for him.
Fenton and the Facebook warriors are in this for the opportunity to stick one into Littlejohn and the Mail. Without the Littlejohn element, Fenton would have simply raised his eyebrows slightly and moved on to something more juicy. Littlejohn is a professional contrarian who purports to represent the views the man on the Clapham omnibus would express for himself if he could get away with it. Littlejohn's successful career hints that there might be some truth in this. The Righteous Left, however, hate and resent Littlejohn and the Mail with a seething vehemence that could, if connected to the national grid, power several small towns. And some of the violent language against Littlejohn that has come out below-the-line in BLT activiist blogs like Zinnia's, llinked above, and in newspaper comment threads is the sort of stuff which would get an EDLer banged up for years.
Yet if you wipe away the red mist for a few moments, what Littlejohn actually says is actually quite reasonable. He is not suggesting that Mr Upton is a vile pervert who should have a steel spike rammed up his jacksy and then be exhibited in the town square as a warning to nonces, kiddie fiddlers and pooves. Littlejohn is merely saying that Mr Upton's pupils, children in the age range 7 - 11, might have difficulty in understanding and successfully integrating Mr Upton's sudden transformation into Miss Meadows.
The orthodoxy presented in comment threads is that young children are blank slates as yet uncorrupted by adult prejudice, who accept difference without difficulty. Well, maybe in some cases. But have the indignant Righteous bothered to read the newspaper reports? One parent, interviewed by the press, reported that his little boy, having been told by the school that Mr Upton "had a girl's brain in a boy's body", became deeply anxious that such a fate might befall him. He was very frightened.
Small children are not blank slates upon whom the artificial social construct of gender is imprinted by a fascist patriarchal adult conspiracy. Gender and gender roles are important to children from well before puberty itself kicks in. It is a core part of their emerging identity and to be presented suddenly with the idea that this stable social rock might be subject to incomprehensible and unpredictable change might be disastrously destabilizing.
Which is what, I am inclined to believe, Littlejohn was getting at. Would it have been better for the children, when Nathan Upton began his transitiion and began to live publicly as Lucy Meadows, for him to start work in another school as a perhaps curiously "manly" woman — a bit like Golda Meir or that Ruth Kelly geezer wot was in the last Labour government — whose transitional status was known only to the teaching staff?
Although it has not yet been officially confirmed, it is a reasonable assumption that Nathan Upton topped himself. What is not a foregone conclusion is that the press in general and Littlejohn in particular are responsible for his death. Jane Fae, writing in the New Statesman, tells us that Mr Upton had complained about being doorstepped and stalked by journalists in December when interest in the story was at its peak, but it's not clear that this extended much into the new year. If he took his own life, we do not at this stage know why. Perhaps the inquest will tell us, perhaps it won't. In the meantime the smug assumptions which are in circulation are driven by political opportunism and political hatred, which is despicable.
A note on the language. Apart from the first few paragraphs, I have consistently referred to the person at the centre of this unfortunate business as 'Nathan Upton' or as 'he'. To be honest, I'm not that bothered. If I were communicating directly with the chap or with those around him, once he had openly begun his transition, then it would have been churlish not to refer to 'Lucy Meadows' and 'she'. But commenters on the web, both LGBT activists and the righteous left, have been unreasonably aggressive in slapping down those who failed to accept the gender change as a done deal. In the context of debate, the choice of language carries considerable political charge and is more than a matter of simple courtesy. Well, I'm sorry, I'm not willing to be bullied by linguistic fascists. I can play hardball too. As I understand it, the late Mr Upton was just about to embark on the probationary two-year "real life test" of living full time in his proposed gender role. At the time of his death, he was objectively a bloke in a frock playing at being a woman. You can stuff your political shibboleths and sneering liberal supercilious arrogance into the orifice of choice.
Right. Rant over. Sorry it's been such a long one.
Everybody back to their own beds.
05 March, 2013
The creepiness of Wikipedia
In the last few minutes the death has been announced of Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela.or words to that effect. So I turn immediately to Wikipedia, where I find that Mr Chávez' entry has already been updated to record his death.
Damned impressive no doubt, but curiously creepy at the same time.
26 February, 2013
It's only words
Forty years ago, when it had gentle personality-based plotlines that developed almost in real time, I could cheerfully lend half an ear to the omnibus edition of The Archers of a Sunday; the aggressive whiny vulnerability of Walter Gabriel, the surprising underlying decency of his snobbish and permanently exasperated son Nelson, a sort of bucolic Brian Sewell lite, the bumbling if ultimately well-meaning chavvy stupity of Eddie Grundy contrasting with the conniving entitlement-mentality selfishness and greed of his father Joe — a man like a mangy ferret trying unsuccessfully to present a conciliatory smile but achieving only a menacingly toothy rictus. All good stuff and actually quite enjoyable. These days if a passing Catholic priest hasn't infected all the choir boys with HIV and Usha hasn't been racially abused by one of Tom Archer's genetically modified pigs within the first ten minutes the show is reckoned to be a failure. So it goes. That's progress I guess.
As to Wimmin's Hour, I have always found its patronizing, self-righteous and curiously self-confident casual misandry masquerading as feminism irritating beyond words. Jenni Murray, when speaking ex cathedra, is spectacularly annoying, though I do suspect that she can be a nicer, more rounded person when she's off duty.
But it came to pass that, this morning I found myself actually listening to Woman's Hour. I've had a heavy cold these past few days — not so much a "common cold" as downright vulgar. All that sneezing and snivelling takes it out of you, tha knows, and when I finally surfaced at around 10:00 this morning I turned on the bedside radio to facilitate my slow readaptation to the waking state. The more reasonable and relaxed Jane Garvey was at the helm, so I listened on.
But why did she let herself down in an item about the care of elderly relatives suffering from senile dementia? It was mentioned in passing that two of the standard test questions asked of possible dementia sufferers, when being diagnosed, were
— How many camels are there in Holland?To which la Garvey commented, gratuitously, that these seemed to be "very male" questions.
— What is the weight of a standard hammer?
Why, Jane? Why?
22 February, 2013
I is a little confused
A bit harsh, I felt, given that
The member of staff has been dismissed after the 'unintentional error' on December 12 last year recently came to light.
I suppose she ought to count herself lucky that her hand wasn't chopped off or that she wasn't stoned to death for poisoning the children of the prophet with haram nosh.
But what actually puzzles me is, given that
All 1,400 students at Moseley school are served halal meat, regardless of their religion.
how it came to pass that the naughty non-halal meat got into the school canteen in the first place. The "dinner lady", one presumes, was involved in preparing and/or serving meals delivered by a supplier or from a central kitchen contracted by the council. Unless the dinner lady was sneaking in pork sausages as an act of infidel defiance, the introduction of haram meat into the supply chain was the fault of someone outside the school.
Something funny about this, methinks.
20 February, 2013
You live and learn, innit?
An hour later we were treated to a nicely balanced talking-head session on the subject of the package, featuring Oona King, a decent Black Jewess who was found unacceptably diverse as an MP by the curiously monocultural residents of Bethnal Green and Bow, and Danny Dorling, a "professor of human geography". Professor Dorling wondered aloud why the White middle-class were so keen to leave the capital as soon as they started to have kids when London's schools were so much better than those in the rest of the country because of the greater drive and ambition of immigrant parents.
Clearly I've got it all wrong. I recant my former ignorance and prejudice.
I for one now welcome our new Black overlords and saviours!
04 February, 2013
I now pronounce you man and husband
What puzzles me is that the settled opinion among the Righteous is that all remaining opposition to the proposal — proposal? Binky, dahling, marry me! Sod off, Charles, what do you think I am, some sort of wooftah? — that the irreducible minimum of opposition comes only from religious nutters and from homophobic Tory backwoodsmen who'd sooner have legislation to have suspected members of the ferrous community publicly horsewhipped in the market square until they recant their vile perversion.
Hmm. Well, I'm an atheist, as it goes. Indeed I clearly remember the morning in Sunday School when I concluded that the stuff I was being taught was a bit thin in the Occam's razor department. Obviously I didn't have the language to express it in quite those terms at the age of ten, but I was a precocious little smartarse and that is essentially what it came down to. And much as I appreciate the contribution of some organized religion as a cohesive social and moral force, I've seen nothing to overturn my position in the intervening 54 years.
As far as homophobia goes, well that's for others to judge, but as I have made clear before, I'm very much with Mrs Patrick Campbell on the matter: if they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses, then I'm not really interested in the activities of the local amateur brownhatting society. Provided they wipe up after themselves and don't expect me to watch and applaud the more athletic sequences, that is.
But what has any of this to do with marriage? In the argument over "same-sex marriage", marriage is presented, shall we say, as the public celebration and acknowledgement of a committed long-term loving relationship, sexually expressed or reinforced, between two people. You can faff around with the precise formulation but that's the essence of it, the formal recognition of a hopefully permanent loving relationship. And only historic and outdated prejudice limits the recognition of such a relationship to mixed-gender partnerships.
Well, that's all very nice, but why would society evolve such a thing? Marriage is not this season's passing fad or even the reflection of some relevant but ultimately temporally or spatially localized social arrangement like, say, sumptuary dress codes. Marriage is a damned-near universal human institution, uniting a man and a woman for the procreation of children. Whatever the minor variations, and whether regulated by state, church or purely by strong socal custom enforced by the threat of communal opprobrium, that is what it always comes back to. It reenforces the man's ongoing responsibility to support his wife and children, it encodes the clan relationships and responsibilities of the extended family, it defines the processes of inheritance of property and of status. It is, in short, about the maintenance of social structure and continuity. The pair-bond between the man and wife may be at the centre of the institution, but they are not the whole of it.
But what of childless marriages, ask the proponents of same-sex marriage? An interesting point but I don't think it invalidates the paradigm. Whether barren by intent or by unfortunate outcome, a childless marriage might arguably be seen as nugatory and indeed it is often regarded with disapproval or pity. But it is accepted.
A gay "marriage" is not generally perceived as conforming or being able to conform, even in principle, to the core paradigm. Even if the couple choose to raise children, there is artifice involved, such as adoption or the artificial insemination of one partner of a lesbian couple.
The point is that "normal" marriage is overwhelmingly targeted at the procreation and rearing of children into established and sustainable social structures, whereas gay "marriage" is, in the great majority of cases, little more than a public celebration of a long-term relationship.
Society is, on the whole, unsentimental. It is about survival and about power relationships and projecting your genes into a successful future. That society should evolve persistent structures to adapt the child rearing pair bonds of our hunter-gatherer ancestors to the more complex needs of settled societies with heritable property, this makes sense. That society should evolve persistent structures simply to celebrate the pair bond itself, this makes no sense.
So there you have it, gay folks. I think you're barking up the wrong tree. What is your driver here? Jealousy? Malice? Faux outrage at the denial of perceived "rights" and spurious equality? The pizazz of the big "wedding"? A need to pretend to be "normal" by playing mummies and daddies?
Civil partnerships adequately meet your acknowledged needs for a legal structure to cover the complications arising from intimately shared life and property. That should suffice. The only problem with civil partnerships is that government chose to ceremonialize them into "marriage lite" instead of implementing them as simple legal contracts prepared by a solicitor, thus creating undue expectations.
Right, enough of this waffle. Me and a couple of my oppos are off down the woods with our twelve-bores to see if we can flush some nancy boys out of the undergrowth and teach 'em the error of their ways.
31 January, 2013
Niestety, nie mówię po polsku
It's not as easy at it sounds, you know. It takes it out of you, and the reinvigorating powers of Russian lager served by Lithuanian bar "associates" can only do so much.
The other reason I've been quiet is general gobsmackitude. I really must stop reading CiF. It's like those naughty psychotropic chemicals: you know you shouldn't but, well, just once more, eh?
Yesterday was a lulu.
we were told. I have to admit I didn't read the article; just skimmed the title and the standfirst
labour restrictions is unlikely to lead to mass immigration
and then plunged straight into the bear pit below the line. I gather that we shouldn't worry about a massive influx of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants after the rules change at the end of the year. Only ten will come in total: a brain surgeon, three ATM-skimmers and six self-employed Big Issue vendors.
Not only that, we really should stop whingeing about the Poles. Did you not know that Polish airmen won the second war on our behalf while the English sat around drinking tea? (Funny, I thought it was the Indian infantry that won it for us, but there you go.) And how did we repay the Poles for their selfless sacrifice? By failing to prevent the postwar Soviet invasion of Eastern Europe, that's what. So we owe the Poles bigtime. Anything they want, really.
Makes you proud, innit. A small island nation that, so we are repeatedly told, doesn't really exist, is responsible for all of the world's evil. Such dogged, determined nastiness, the willingness to go out there, to overcome all adversity in order to ruthlessly fuck the entire world. Now that, my friends, is an achievement to make a man puff out his chest in thoroughly deserved pride.
But it don't half leave yer gob feeling well and truly smacked. I mean, Richard Rodney Bennett, innit?