Torture is for the Sake of Torture

Torture exists solely for the sake of torture, it is indeed a sad world where we assume that torture is an acceptable way to obtain confessions and information. Sarah Palin’s attempt to portray torture as harmless and “a dunking” is the sort of revisionism you see when people just want to feel better about doing something bad. It’s just water after all. A lot of the torture that the CIA (and indeed the UK government by our involvement with the extraordinary renditions) was involved in was just that. Torture.

Sure you can call it a fancy name. Enhanced Interrogation makes it sound like a particularly difficult questionnaire. No. I am afraid water boarding is torture. And hiring someone else to do it for you makes you just as responsible for the blood their hands. The Republicans have long supported torture. A lot of Americans bought into the necessity of torture. I often joke that as long as Americans have the right to own guns they will accept any real loss of freedoms and abuses from the government because they still think that the gun will protect them.  [Read more…]

Gay Propaganda

There is a book ot called Gay Propaganda and it is a collection of original stories, interviews and testimonies in English and Russian. It is an anthology designed to capture the lives of the GLBT in Russia both at home and indeed in exile. It is a provacative look into the life and the love of of the GLBT and it is set to be released prior to the Sochi Olympics in 2014. 

All “good” people need a bogeyman to fight against. Someone who you can unite behind unquestionable hate. Sure you may disagree with your neighbour over taxation bands and how that money is spent on healthcare but both of you can agree that those homosexuals are evil and have it coming to them. 

This was the case for Indians, Blacks and Jews too at one point.  [Read more…]

In Defence of Jim Carrey

I know I give the rubbery faced anti-vax kook a lot of grief for his beliefs, but this that’s because he deserves it for that.

But Ted “Yosemite Sam” Nugent is an idiot.

Dear America. Before we start. The correct argument for using guns is “Guns are Cool”. Not that guns somehow reduce your murder rate or your suicide rate or magically overthrow governments… But they are COOL. You get to go somewhere and fire them off and feel a little bit neandrathal about yourself. Well done.

However the problem is when your spokesmen for guns shouldn’t be allowed ANYWHERE NEAR ONE. It’s a sad fucking day when Jim Carrey comes off as saner than you. The man thinks the human body functions by magic! You would have to set the limbo bar pretty fucking low to out crazy him.

But Nugent if nothing manages to limbo under the bar of all good taste. [Read more…]

Piano Black – Parents Don’t Understand

Being a teenager, I wonder about my parents a lot. I wonder why they just don’t understand the situation I am in. Sometimes I even wonder if my parents were even kids. I’m sure they were, they just don’t care to tell me their little stories. Often times, I think parents try to create this “ideal” child in their head, and when the child is not even close to the image they tried to project on what would be a blank canvas, they are disappointed. But why is it difficult to see their child as their own person? I think this is the trouble I face a lot with my own parents. [Read more…]

Bread and Circuses – Gay Marriage

Why do they fight against gay marriage?

Gay Marriage is the modern Bread and Circus. It’s used to distract from the real issues in the USA. In this case?The cynic in me says this… It was election year and Obama is rather competent. Republicans have nothing else (and to be fair, Obama is guilty of this to some extent himself but it seems reactionary rather than something he starts) to go on apart from attempting to play the “Won’t Someone Think of the Children” card. There are big issues in the world. We are running out of fuel. We are in the economic doldrums. AIDS… And yet we see pandering to people who think the BIGGEST problem being faced is two people of the same gender getting married. It’s bread and circuses. It distracts from these very real issues which is precisely why it’s being contested. Republicans don’t lose anything by gay people getting married. They do however gain a lot from opposing it. It gets them votes from the kind of people who don’t think beyond the hype from a few nutters. And nutters do scream the loudest (mainly because normal, sensible and logical people have better things to do than scream about how gay sex summons hurricanes).

It’s a pointless piece of oppression done solely to distract people. It polarises the fears of people wh fear and hate the gays into a civil rights issue which forces anyone sensible to argue over this issue rather than say “Fiscal Policy”. The American Right benefit from this because if you are too busy fighting over this then you won’t pay attention to other things. How many people vote for Republicans as the “moral” choice based on things like this when in reality the other republican platforms are straight terrible for some people. The argument in the UK used for this is “Makes You Wan’t To Vote BNP, Don’t It?”. Where you indicate a willingness to vote for Neo-Nazis because they have a tough stance on whatever it is you hate today. I fear the sole reason the USA debates things like basic healthcare for women or the right of two people to sign a register that gives them some benefits is solely to create issues where there are none because honestly there is no choice between the two parties. You are basically torn between red or blue. Far Right and Centre-Right. It’s a lovely piece of legerdemaine where you can distract people from seriously major issues over what two people chose to do in the privacy of their own homes by portraying it as the downfall of society rather than say “Non-Ethical Banking” and “Unregulated Industrial Pollution”.

[Read more…]

If You Don’t Stand for Something, you will Fall for Anything.

I disagree with Hirsi Ali on this one.

Islam is so many different levels of screwed up at this point. It’s a religion where debate is not encouraged. It’s followers are exhorted to be as blinded and as fanatical as possible. It is anti intellectual and anti social.

The nice friendly muslims are now a cultural minority. Imams up and down the Muslim world encourage theology as an acceptable substitute for common sense and the finest minds of the 6th Century AD dictate how people should live their lives. It would be like living your life according to the teachings of Pliny the Elder. Silly but people take the opinions written in the Koran seriously with deadly effect.

It is racist, sexist and incredibly Luddite as a faith and any liberals from it’s ranks toe the line beyond which lies blasphemy and apostasy. It encourages a frankly tribal mentality and prevents a lot of muslims from living a normal happy life.

It isn’t great, but does Hirsi Ali honestly think substituting one faith with another is going to change the lot of women in Islamic society?

Blasphemy and Apostasy in islam are punishable by “death”. Same as the bible as both draw their information from the same source. Many laws in the Koran are actually biblical laws. Sharia law is in fact “bible compatible” and kosher. The ex-muslims who convert out are actually writing out their own death sentences. Encouraging these women to give up their faith to come to christianity is to exchange one patriarchal faith for another albeit less patriarchal one but it still doesn’t change the fundamental problem in that these converts are now regarded as “fair game”. Hirsi Ali fails to realise that the issue isn’t what faith these women convert to but that they convert in the first place.

The horns are to indicate
that he is a scape goat.

Islam isn’t going to change over night, no religion has and no religion will. It’s a kind of culture and breaking culture will not occur in one fell swoop but by the sweat tears and efforts of millions. The voices of the lunatics are too loud and every perceived assault on the religion forces more moderates into silence. When we strike against an imam preaching hate or a cell of muslim terrorists we aren’t striking against hate or terror, we are seen as striking against muslims first. That attitude is pervasive in islam particularly in the more conservative parts of it. Muslims get defensive over their own faith and prefer to believe in conspiracy theories rather than accepting the problem of fundamentalism that they have on their hands because it is easier to believe that the Great Satan is responsible for all your problems rather than taking responsibility for problems and solving them.

It’s horrible, but we are not going to achieve equality for women in Islam right now. It will take decades to force the change and the only way the change can be forced is by muslims themselves standing up, accepting that there is a problem with the jihadi mentality and sharia law and making the change themselves. We will forever be outsiders in this issue and we can only support and call for change, not affect it ourselves.

The issue is that women are treated as property in Islam, women are regarded as incapable of doing anything and that their role is that of the brood mare and housewife rather than as equals. The other issue is that Islam treats reality as if it were a war. All the muslims (of the right sort) are on one side and everyone else is on the other side of the argument. Anyone who leaves is a target and anyone who does anything to disrupt the rules of Islam are seen as fair game. Be it two people who fall in love over passed notes or if someone says something that you disagree with.

What can we do? For starters, we need to enshrine secular rule in our laws. We need to stop pandering to all religion, Islam included. We shouldn’t treat the veil as a cultural choice and instead insist that it not be used. We should criticise all that is wrong with Islam and there is a lot of it. We should encourage moderates to criticise it as well. It’s not apostasy to state that “I think the Ayatollah’s crackdowns on democracy are inhumane and barbaric and we shouldn’t tolerate that” or that “Kashmiri militants aren’t fighting for freedom they are fighting for an Islamic state which would reduce the freedoms of non muslims, women and anyone not wanting to live in an islamic state” or “Hamaas are terrorists and not an appropriate solution to the Palestinian’s problem even if Israel are equally bad”. These are not dirty words, dissent is not dirty, its part of dealing with issues.

We need to create a voice for the moderate muslims to fight back against the crazies and we need to provide services to protect both men and women from the abuse. Simply encouraging these women to swap between gods will still place them in the firing line but with the added problem of creating hatred between christian and muslim faiths. Which is basically like arguing over whose invisible friend can win in the fight but people take both of their invisible friends seriously, serious enough to kill. It doesn’t improve the situation these women are in since they are still potential targets.

Yes, some people cannot live without their god, but a new one is not the answer. Christianity seems mild mannered because it’s been beaten into submission by feminism, science and humanists who realised how bad it was. Islam has not had that treatment, I am proposing we should start working on that by encouraging voices in Islam to speak for the moderates and to campaign for the liberalisation of Islam.

Atheists cannot make the change, we are universally unliked and often with good reason. We are ornery and don’t understand religion. We treat it like a joke and deride it at the drop of a hat. Other religions are seen as the enemy and so cannot effect change. Only muslims can through sweat, blood and through tears as I fear fundamentalist Islam and the tribal mentality of Islam has been given such a free reign that there will be a lot more blood and tears before this fight is done. As of now, the moderates are in the minority because they are quiet and not one will raise their voice because they don’t realise how many of them there are. No one is willing to lift their head and speak out lest it be struck off.

That is where blogs and the like can come in. The Greater Internet Theory may hold true in both ways. I wish to postulate the Lesser Internet The

Normal Person + Anonymity = Superhero
It’s so obvious!

A normal person with anonymity can affect change in a positive way as well. There are Muslim moderates, Muslim gays, lesbians and transgender and Ex-Muslim atheists all out there who don’t have voices so people assume they don’t exist. Their criticisms go unheard. All we hear is the same fundamentalists and luddite islamicists who are holding the moderates hostage and making them seem like the minority.

Anonymity will protect those moderates who have something to say. It will help protect ex-muslim atheists who wish to say something. Muslim GLBT can realise that there are others like them. It can make a movement out of nothing. And it can fight against all the the tragedy and fanaticism that pervade Islam ensuring the safety of it’s early campaigners and spreading the movement. Open bravery will get them killed, that much is known and asking good honest people to take that risk when I wouldn’t is foolishness. But they can be a little brave when no one knows who they are.

And do you think that unto such as you

A maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew

God gave the secret, and denied it me?

Well, well-what matters it? Believe that, too!

Any muslims who do read this would heed these words carefully. They aren’t written by a christian or atheist or hindu, they are from the Rubiyaat of Omar Khayam. Ultimately there are no secrets in the Koran hidden away by your Imams nor does any solution lie in the christian priests or hindu brahmins. All you have is yourself and the humans around you, and isn’t that enough to be happy.

And remember, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. 

Aminah Abdallah and Freedom

Aminah Abdallah is a lesbian syrian blogger who wrote an extremely brave account of her and her father standing up to people who threatened to rape her (to correct her behaviour of all things).

She has been kidnapped, possibly by supporters of the regime and is part of the violence that has become so endemic to Syria.

My hope is that she is released unharmed, and that I wish I could do something to genuinely help rather than raging ineffectively against her incarceration. 

Age of Kali: Fear of a Blogged Planet

Our plans are myriad and excessively complex!

The internet is a schizophrenic piece of technology. It is a true soapbox for any and all to air their ills, their dreams and their ideas. It is a world where one minute I can learn about how to make a motor out of a battery, a button magnet and copper wire and the next learn about how we live in a shadowy conspiracy world where Lizard Men rule us all and only keep us around so that their excessively complex Xanatos Gambit can pay off so they can capture the macguffin that they deeply desire(And no, I can tell the difference between a World Of Darkness scenario and a crazy man’s ranting).

I solve arguments with the lightsaber of skepticism!
For every P. Z. Myers there is a Ken Ham, for every Paul Krugman there is a Ron Paul supporter, for every den of atheist inequity and vice there exists an equally wretched hive of religious scum and villiany. But that is the thing. The internet is a true soap box. A true bastion of free speech, granted there are local rules mostly imposed by individual websites and bar copyright law and illegal pornography pretty much anything and everything goes, but so does the criticism of anything and everything. 
Even the cutting edge of taste (the very razor’s edge between tasteful and tasteless) that is 4Chan is at it’s corroded cynical blackened heart a bastion of free speech. Even 4Chan, a mostly lawless space still does adhere to rules as seen by it’s denizens championing such causes such as anti-scientology protests, their known meme of “summoning the party bus” (Tracking a paedophile who was soliciting for images down and having his details sent to the FBI) and even speaking out against animal abuse by a woman who threw a cat into a bin. 

But that’s the thing, we are free to speak. Any controls on what we “say” (not what we do) is a restriction on freedom of speech. And my freedom of speech can be impinged.
India has passed the IT act of 2000, and this act enshrines a rule stating that any comment that is regarded as objectionable must be removed within 36 hours. Material defeined as “grossly harmful, harassing, blasphemous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, libellous, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful, racially/ethnically objectionable, disparaging, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling or otherwise unlawful in any matter what so ever. Anything which threatens “the unity, integrity, defence, security, sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, or causes incitement of cognisable offence or prevents investigation of an offence or is insulting to another nation”.
Well that is the whole law. But of particular note is the laws that are considered “grossly harmful, harassing, blasphemous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, hateful, ethnically objectionable, disparaging and things which affect relationships with foreign states and things that are insulting to another nation”.
These things are easily open to interpretation. Honest criticism can be slotted into this by simple subjectivity. While grossly harmful can be applied to such practices as homeopathy, it can also be applied by homeopaths to us in medicine. Harassment, Defamatory, Hateful are subjective qualifiers in themselves. Blasphemy is something simply biased against atheists since our entire world view is blasphemous in almost every religion’s eyes. Obscenity is again something subjective, pornography is not really bad when taken in a western context. There are genuine criticisms that you make on ethnic situations. Complaints against child marriage, circumcision, caste system, gender selection and arranged marriages are all entrenched in various cultures. The caste system is an Indian cultural phenomenon and complaints about it are ethnic in nature. And there are many things that are insulting to various nations.  
Criticism is by nature disparaging, defamatory and can be considered as harassment. Banning criticism is banning free speech. And yes, I know it’s suspiciously precise in stopping things like Wikileaks. Infact I am pretty sure what this legislature is aimed at is a combination of knee jerk reaction against criticism of political parties by Indian bloggers (Who are mainly middle class and see this as a forum to unleash their pent up frustration at a universally corrupt government system and inept local leadership.), an attempt to somehow secure India from terror threats by making it difficult to use internet cafes and finally a simple fist shaking gesture at individuals such as Assange whose Wikileaks reports haven’t been kind to India.
This is a blow against all freedom. The internet should and must be a free forum where ideas can be discussed. It is a bastion of global discourse and exchange of opinions. Banning the flow of information and criticism is to blind yourself to a truly powerful tool. The globalisation of thought, means that the ideas a person has anywhere across the world are pertinent to people in other parts of the world. That our combined knowledge and opinions can be improved by the opinions of others and thus produce real change in society.
Like it or not, India is changing. My parents keep telling me so, but it still has a long way to go. You cannot have the development of the west with the villager and tribal mindset that pervades a lot of people. You cannot have the economy of the west when you regard women as uppity chattel. Criticism is to be taken, to be analysed and to be corrected by changes and improvements.
I myself would be guilty of cultural criticism, blasphemy and obscene material simply because I am critical of stupid aspects of culture, don’t believe in respecting mythical creatures and believe in sexual education and the sexual revolution as a key part of the improvement of women’s rights and thinking in the UK and indeed the rest of the world.
This is a step backwards for freedom and for India as a whole.