Hags of Lag – Star Wars is about to get FABULOUS

You heard it here folks! The option for romances is being added to The Old Republic (which is now sadly free to play… I may actually get a copy if and when I get a new PC that can run it!) by Bioware and Thomas from God and the Machine is not happy.

Why you ask? Well it’s Bioware and when Bioware does romance it gives you the option to be… GAY.

Really? It lets you play as amoral bounty hunters and rage fuelled sith lords with a lust for casual genocide to achieve their goals and “Kisses Dudes” is your biggest problem?

Bioware has put romances into a variety of games, some of them are pretty naff and some of them are pretty solid. It hasn’t shied away from same sex relationships even though they have been mishandled. They are a step in the right direction.

The first time I played Mass Effect 3 it was stand alone and I ended up romancing Samantha Taylor with a female Shepard (I liked the idea of a female Shepard due to the better voice acting…) and you know what? I actually liked that choice I made. In my ME2 game it was Garrus and indeed during a second playthrough with an imported character in ME3 it was a romance with some sort of reptile/bird man from outer space and it was very sweet and very cute. Despite all the awkward computer modelled boinking and Garrus’s terribad dancing it was pretty romantic as romances go.

But here is the thing. It was a choice. All of these were choices you made. You didn’t have to woo these people. These were all choices. Choices you made to see what happened. You were in control and depending on what you wanted to do the little pixels responded.

Some will write this off as a desperation measure by BioWare and Lucas, eager to score some cheap free ink. I don’t see it that way. BioWare has been consistent in their efforts to put same-sex romance into their games whether it fits or not, in both the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series. We saw the same thing with Skyrim, with comical results like hulking brutes offering to court male heroes, marry them, and then sit around at home tending the hearth.

Real men don’t do the house work… Listen it’s a game where you can shout people to pieces and the biggest problem Thomas has is that you can gay marry some hulking brute then watch him clean your house because it’s unrealistic and comical. It’s also by a different company…

Whether it fits in or not? Mass Effect is in the future where people like Thomas are thankfully extinct because it’s a world where you can marry DIFFERENT SPECIES. You know what? My Shepard’s romance with Garrus is a bigger jump than any gay/lesbian romance! It’s a universe where inter-species romance is acceptable and somehow gay people are out of place? Like it or not Bioware games are actually a closed universe with the illusion of open ended play with a good emphasis on people and interactions. For every game produced there are massive amounts of script often happening in the background that shows people interacting which is essential for a good RPG. Betheseda’s games (Skyrim and Fallout) let you make your story. Bioware lets you play a story as a hero where you know your role but can go about doing it in different ways. In a Bioware RPG you are usually the leader of a group of like minded individuals and your interactions with them are what defines your growth and part of your growth is how you grow as a “team”. And one of the social interactions we as humans are capable of is “love” and “romance”, to ignore it would be to ignore a rich vein of interaction.

As games mature, we have to expect that more aspects of the human experience will be drawn into their narratives and design. There’s no reason to assume a fully fleshed-out Star Wars Universe might not include characters with same-sex attraction. The problem with current approaches is that–due to limitations of the medium–they tend to make everyone bisexual. The results are absurd, and role-playing games that include romantic subplots and quests can wind up populated with people who appear to be willing to hook up with anyone and anything. (Did I mention the alien-human romances of Mass Effect?)

What limitations? Oh dear no… It doesn’t make everyone bisexual. It gives everyone CHOICE. You see the character you play on the screen is compelled by you to act the way they do. If you play them as a bi-sexual then it’s your choices that make them that. Unlike us the characters in a computer game are blank slates mirroring our input. We however have prejudices that we bring to the game.

In Thomas’s case it’s xenophobia and homophobia. His actual complaint is that there were some missions whose endings altered due to the Romance options. To which I say “That’s Life”. Does Thomas go around thinking of every woman who refuses to date him because of “the lost possibilities”? No. Likewise when you pick a romance option you lock yourself to a story path and get to play that story. Thomas literally is bemoaning the idea of CHOICE in a video game. Of Free Will. Something we as gamers have long demanded. And none of the games on this list have ever hidden game content based on romance but the romances do effect the plot because that’s the point. You want a romance to mean something in game otherwise it’s just a pointless little fling that doesn’t mean anything to anyone.

Would you rather a romance be something akin to the romances of Fable where you have some faceless person live in your house or would you want something akin to reality? There is a reason why Garrus has a fucking fan base of women despite being a bird man from space. It’s because the things he wants are understandably “human”. Because he is a genuinely nice person.

If you cannot grasp the point of that sort of world and instead chose to play a game where you judge the characters in it based on human prejudices then you haven’t grasped the point of Mass Effect since the running theme throughout is PREJUDICE. Prejudice against artificial life forms. The Geth were introduced as a genocidal race of AI, then you realised the way an AI would think is different due to meeting Legion and finally you can do something no one has ever done and stand up for the Geth and prevent a genocide of two different species and end a centuries long war of bigotry. The entire point is that you have to give up some of your “human” notions of how things work and see things according to different cultures.

The best example is brainwashing is a monstrous crime to most sentient beings, but to an computer software based “life” form it’s how agreements and disagreements are solved. Reprogramming each other is the basis of a conversation. That any stance against that is based on our prejudices as human beings. It’s a lovely little part of the game that genuinely makes you think about what your stances are and what it means when put up against another culture’s way of looking at the world.

It actually makes me sad that there are so many people who didn’t see such a relatively interesting question just because it’s in a “game”.

If we’re looking (in the US) at a gay population in the neighborhood of 10 million out of a population of about 300 million, we’re looking at a very small population indeed. Let’s be optimistic and say that 500,000 people are still playing SWOR. If we assume that 3% of the population is gay or bisexual, that means BioWare is devoting money, time, and resources for a failing game to cater to about 15,000 gamers. By comparison, there are about 245 million Christians, roughly 78% of the population. If the percentages of the population mirror those of MMO gamers (and, by and large, they do), then that’s 375,000 gamers.

I am straight and male, yet I played a lesbian and a straight Shepard. Maybe I am secretly a woman.

Not every Christian is a homophobic bag of douche particular in a galaxy far far away where space Buddhists fight with laser swords and gain access to magical powers through vaguely eastern “religious themes”. The Jedi are not “Christian” they are heavily based in Buddhist/Hindu philosophy and are akin to Shaolin Monks and Sword Saints and Samurai rather than anything christian despite using the term Knight to describe their militant rank.

It’s an entire ethos dedicated to control of passions through meditation and self denial which are very Buddhist/Hindu concepts. Not Christian. If a Christian can play as a Jedi or a Sith (who are what happens when you cannot control your passions and let them turn into obsessions) then they can seduce people of the same gender without it meaning they are gay in real life. What? It’s okay to accept other philosophies and motifs but kiss a dude and your Christianity suddenly crumbles?

Not all christians are bigots.

And again I must say “It’s a choice, no one is forcing you to get into a gay hutt marriage”.

BioWare says this is “broadening” the audience to include gays. Fair enough. I’d argue, however, that it’s narrowing the experience for much-larger audience which has no reference point for, or interest in, same-sex romance. It really wouldn’t take much to implement a “sexual preference” switch to turn-off these same-sex advances for straight gamers, rather than having to field a same-sex proposition and decline it. I somehow managed to get through 3 years at an art school in Greenwich Village in the 1980s without getting propositioned by a single gay person (yeah, yeah: keep your comments about my appearance to yourself), so we’re not talking about a universal experience. Must we assume that no one in the Star Wars universe (full of characters with all sorts of extraordinary powers) posses gaydar, or even a long ago and far far away version of Grindr?

I have been hit on by gay men. To be fair it’s because I have a gay friend and for a long time he was the “only gay in the village”. So me and a few other friends would actually go to a gay bar with him to give him some company. A few gay people got angry but after a while they saw what we did for our friend. We were willing to go sit in a place which as youths made us deeply uncomfortable in order for him to be himself. He met his civil partner there… When the UK legalises gay marriage he will marry him and it was because we were willing to go sit and keep him company till he found some gay friends. Some days he wants to go there and so I still go along because it’s where he gets to be himself. It’s where he doesn’t have to fear some wanker picking a fight with him because he is gay. It’s where he and his partner can go sit and be human. And if it means getting hit on by a few gay men then I don’t really mind keeping my friend happy for all the times he has come and sat with the rest of us in a bar surrounded by men who would have beaten or even killed him for his sexuality. In comparison it’s not an annoyance and nearly every person I have met there has been nothing but supportive and friendly.

Did you ever consider that the Jesus flogging and unwillingness to treat homosexual romances as anything but super icky may have been the reason that gay people didn’t want to talk to you let alone ask you out? I don’t see many gay people asking out members of the Westboro Baptist Church just as I don’t really date members of the BNP. There is a great chance that Thomas has met gay men who fancied him but they didn’t act on that because he is a horrible homophobe.

And what? Are you so traumatised by a computerised homosexual asking you out that you request a sign that says “I AM NOT GAY” on your character? What next? A switch which stops aliens from talking to you or existing because you believe that all life in the universe was created by Jehovah and therefore no Aliens can exist and it is an affront to your world views to acknowledge their existence? A switch that eliminates all Jedi and Sith from the universe because they use “hindu chakra magic” and hinduism is a false religion?

The problem is that the scenarios are just absurd, as are most romantic subplots. Game romance–and game sex–has never risen above merely being awkward, and it’s usually just silly. BioWare has handled it better than most, but even they’ve created some truly eye-rolling moments of pure cheese. Most of the romance in Mass Effect (which included SSA) barely rose above the level of bad Mary Sue fanfic.

Then don’t involve yourself in one. It’s really as simple as that. And hey! I liked Garrus! I am actually surprised they didn’t mention Thane Krios whose romance and life are based on religion and his story is a religious one too, of a sinner making amends through a suicide mission and whose greatest wish is for his son to not follow in his footsteps. Faith is a small part of it but it’s integral to his life.

A bigger problem–and one not lost on BioWare and Lucas–is that we’re talking about Star Wars, a cultural touchstone. If Star Wars is perceived as “going gay,” that’s one more bastion that falls in the culture wars. In reality, romance in the Star Wars movies has always been either a minor feature (the old-fashioned Hepburn/Tracy romance of Han and Leia) or universally derided (the annoying Anakin and Padme courtship). This has very little to do with the dramatic integrity of the game or the Star Wars universe, or with catering to some kind of overwhelming consumer demand. It feels like yet another cultural “eat your spinach” moment in which we’re being schooled on tolerance for our own good. That’s certainly their right as creators, but could they give the rest of us the option to turn it off?

Actually this was an issue that in 2009 got Bioware slapped about by geekdom in general. There are a lot of Gay Star Wars fans. And they didn’t like the fact that they aren’t represented and were actually banned from asking about it. Since then Bioware actually apologised.

And indeed there is a single GAY couple mentioned in Star Wars. The names elude me but they are Mandalorians. There are gay people in Star Wars (even if you exclude the horrific parody of Ziro the Hutt) but the thing is the mandalorians weren’t called gay. They were just treated as a normal couple. No one classified their relationship as anything different. It was another relationship.

As it should be. I know every single gay person lives for the day we don’t need to classify our relationships as gay or not and instead people treat such a relationship as normal.

Minor Feature? The romance between Leia and Han was one of the corner stones of the series and extended universe. The Anakin and Padme romance is mishandled because George Lucas is awesome at special effects but terrible at Script. We know that Anakin Skywalker became a Sith Lord due to some horrific event in his past, it’s just that Lucas told a shitty story despite being given some of the most visually stunning technology and villains to work with (the design of Dooku, Grievous and the Droid Armies was beautiful and droids form an excellent modern version of storm troopers because you can kill millions of them and not feel sad! Rather than utilise this to produce a grand story about the fall of the Republic to the Sith and a desperate struggle to fight a frankly unstoppable war machine that churns out faceless, soulless killing machines and the depths to which the Jedi have had to sink blinding themselves to their inevitable demise (oh yes, the books explore the morality of the Clone Army as being worse than the Droid army) at the hands of the Sith. Oh a lot of fans have beautiful ideas about the first three movies but to simply say the romance at the heart of it was unnecessary is foolish.

You can have the romance, you can have the fall to the dark side because of it but just not the way it was done. Because love is one of the themes explored in the original trilogy with the love of Anakin Skywalker for his son allowing him to fulfil his destiny and bring balance to the force. That in the end Anakin was a good father and saved his son and traded all the power in the universe for his son’s life. And indeed the series was retconned heavily to imply that the only way the Jedi would change to once again be the heroic jedi of Luke’s era is by destroying themselves and suffering the massive casualties that they had to realise that their ascetic lifestyle was more harmful than the immersive lifestyle of the old Jedi. That passions were good, obsessions were not and their ascetic lifestyle made them prone to being blind sided by reality and not understood by the people around them.

If you don’t want to have sex with gay wookies then don’t have sex with gay wookies. It’s as simple as that. Demanding that gay wookies be banned lest one ask you out on a ornithopter ride leaving you to clutch your homophobic space bounty hunter pearls is just stupid. If you don’t want to ride the ornithopter then don’t fucking say yes! The wookie isn’t holding a bowcaster to your head. Say no. Move along with the game and ignore the gay wookie.


Hags of Lag – Repost

(Felt this was appropriate after talking to a friend… It’s a repost and I couldn’t figure how to do reposts properly.)
Videogames tend to have fewer female participants in the competitive and indeed the online scene. There are a tonne of reasons which we can get into later but the primary reason is one that everyone can guess. Well if you are part of Men Going their Own Way it’s because men’s brains are superior [Read more…]

Dear Melanie Phillips

Ah Melanie Phillips! The United Kingdom’s answer to the question “How can we beat the american right wing pundits at right wing dickery, racism and general ignorance”. In her latest offering she tries to take on atheism and secularism with a series of tried and tested strawmen.

It’s a ludicrous post/speech. There is no british war on religion. It’s a goddamn motherfucking theocracy where we actually have enshrined in our constitution a bunch of nonsensical bullshit about the Church of England. We just choose to not follow that bullshit because it is bullshit. Melanie Phillips would be weeping her eyes out of it was enforced because one of the PRIME enemies of the goddamn church were Jews. Lest we forget the Passion and the Four Stations of the Cross are not religious practices so much as a method of whipping up christians into a jew killing pogromic frenzy. Modern society has no place in our world for the likes of such dickery. There is no war between atheism and Richard Dawkins is not our high priest. The Church can go fuck itself rather than our children, the Church has lost all rights to being a moral body when it was complicit in the defence of paedophilia by actively subverting the goddamn laws. If there is any justice in the world every single priest and nun and worker who was involved in subverting the law to enable priests to escape justice should be jailed as paedophiles and for abetting. I don’t care about any heaven, let the rule of whatever gods you may worship hold true there but on my planet you follow the rules of mankind and the rules of mankind say “Child Fucking Is Bad”. And Melanie simply does not understand why we think the separation of church (and indeed every bloody faith) and state is vital to the functioning of society.

She claims that Christians are being discriminated against because they are not allowed to wear a crucifix a right they claim is similar to the hijab or the sikh bracelet and turban. They are not being prevented from wearing the Crucifix at work but are being told to not explicitly demonstrate their faith. It’s the same as the Sikhs surreptitiously wearing the Kirpan. The crucifix is a choice. Not one part of the bible says “Thou Shalt Wear Tiny Versions of A Torture Device In Precious Metals in Memory of My Son’s Sacrifice And His Teachings of Humility”. The fashion of wearing crosses is a relatively recent one and is not a requirement. While the Hijab is (sadly) one. The Turban of Sikhs is not a religious requirement but is a fashion choice. Sikhs grow their hair out. The turban is merely a method by which they control their hair either wearing it in the well known idea of a turban which is the dastar or in the type generally used by younger children called a Patka. If they do not wear this their hair is unruly. The arguments being made to defend the wearing of the crucifix is ridiculous since it is a fashion statement rather than one of necessity by faith.

Let’s just say that it’s lucky he was crucified before the Inquisition got their hands on him .

They aren’t being barred from adoption panels for their christianity, they are barred because they are homophobes. In the same way that the BNP aren’t barred from adoption panels because they shave their heads but because they are racists. The christianity of the individuals involved is only incidental. You cannot defend your right to be a bigot on a government service.

We aren’t but we do have a lot more scientists and people who believe in progress and freedom. There are “really stupid atheists too”. I can name medical luddite atheists from the Anti-Vaccine and Animal Liberation movements. I am sure there are plenty of atheists who do believe in bizzare conspiracy theories. However we do pack a rather larger number of skeptics and rationalists while by definition a person with a religion is making a completely irrational and non-skeptical decision to believe in magic. You probably won’t undo all the science we have achieved but you certainly will make it harder to do science because religious believers do not grasp what an unbiased look at the world is. Religious Scientists do Applied Theology, we do Science.

If you as an adult claimed to believe in the tooth fairy or that you still write letters to Santa Clause and sleep with a security blanket to keep away the Monster under your Bed then you aren’t cute you have serious psychiatric issues particularly in the fact that you believe in things like a child does. Why should we treat religion with reverence when we wouldn’t treat these beliefs with the sort of reverence that Melanie demands? At their core there is no difference between the ludicrous tale of Moroni or Xenu and the tales of Jesus or Shiva or Allah yet we are expected to respect them to varying amounts because of their age.

Melanie fails to understand what religion is defined as. We are not in a post biblical or post moral age. We are actually far far more moral than a 2000 year old religion written by a bunch of people who fuelled an empire through slavery and who maintained gladiators and animal bloodsports. Her assumption is that a lack of kowtowing to imaginary beings makes us immoral. It doesn’t. Crime has generally gone down year after year, people are generally more and more accepting year after year. No what she doesn’t like is the fact that Melanie’s beliefs are no longer moral. In particular is the fact that she supports a regime based on the mythical notion of prior ownership of a state based on religious/racial grounds which actively seeks to destroy another group of individuals who are kept without any irony in a fenced off area and discriminated against because of their faith and ethnicity. Oh and let’s just say that I don’t think Melanie Phillips will be releasing an “It Gets Better” video any time soon. Like every person who follows a rigidly proscribed set of rules that remain unchanged she has been met with a situation where her rules cannot cope and rather than declare the rules in need of change she has basically tried to call a Waaahmbulance in order for us to adhere to her rules in order make them more relevant.

Her understanding of secularism in this article is shocking. We don’t have any dogma in secularism or atheism. Atheism is based on a very very simple concept.

“I Do Not Know”. What we know is very very little. There is an entire universe of knowledge and we barely can understand our own planet! We have a long way to go as a species and there are far loftier heights that we can reach but as for now “I don’t know” is the most important phrase an atheist can know. We don’t know if there is or isn’t a god. No one does. There is no proof. As there is no proof we chose not to worship an entity that doesn’t have any proof of existence in the same way that Melanie doesn’t pray to Ganesh or Allah. Because they are things like the Santa and the Tooth Fairy to her.

There is faith in atheism. She is right on that. Atheism is based on the faith in humanity and social structure that isn’t based on collective faith in a myth. And there is an intense hypocrisy in utilising Hindu numerals and the decimal system while claiming that Judaism gave the world reason and science. It’s a shocking lie since I know for a fact that
Melanie Phillips was educated in the United Kingdom whose history classes specifically teach some Medieval and Roman History. It’s actually pretty safe to say that the rennaisance in Europe was driven by the plunder of the west and east and the intellectual knowledge gained from reading islamic literature. The rennaisance was a period where the boundaries of Judeo-Christian morality and control over the scientific intelligentsia was sorely tested and where the pragmatic creations of the scientific community over ruled church sensibilities and the reduction of faith encouraged growth.

And yes we proselytise. There is far more wonder in the universe than Melanie’s petty faith. Melanie’s idea of a god is so intensely childish that she cannot grasp how utterly small and insignificant we are. That same childish faith also makes her forget that despite our lack of significance in the grand scheme of things we are humans. We walked to the top of Everest to prove we could, we live on Antarctica to prove we can and we live in goddamn space to prove that we can. We touched the moon and we are even planning to touch Mars. In short? Our species is characterised by an insatiable appetite to do the seemingly impossible solely for the joy of education, experience and to say that we can. To borrow the idea from the Bard, There are more things in the heavens and on earth, Melanie than dreamt of in your tired faith. And all of these answers and wonders stems from someone out there saying the most important words in atheism and skepticism and indeed in human existence. I don’t know, but I am going to go find out. You can call that dogma if you wish but it’s not a bad thing to remember.

God has not been pronounced dead, god never existed. None of the gods we have created to explain the things that go bump in the night have ever existed. Religion is a man made ideology and the divine presence is only present to those who believe. The same religious euphoria that applies to the faithful applies to the faithful of a different kind. Ever sat in a stadium? With thousands of people around feeling the roar of the crowd vibrate through you in support of our modern gladiators of choice (Mine is football. I am a Manchester City fan). It doesn’t matter what the sport is as long as the crowd is present the spectacle will affect you by making you feel part of something bigger. And that is what religion is. It’s faith in something that makes you feel like you belong. And like in football, atheism is driven by dissent. We disagree on a lot of things. I think Penn Jillete’s Libertarian Atheism stance is terrible. It’s a horrid world driven by greed and monetary gain. There is no “Party Line” in atheism. And unlike the god of the hebrew bible, atheism hasn’t destroyed human civilisation for disobedience or encouraged you to rape people and own slaves. He doesn’t get bad press because he is “an authoritarian”, he gets it because he is a fantasy genocidal, slave owning rapist who you are encouraged to treat as a moral source.

No Really. I am blue.

I actually think the debate argument made by Richard Dawkins is a poor one. The origin of matter created by the spontaneous event of the big bang is something I am not familiar with. Neither the theories nor the evidence for them. It’s safe to say that I am ignorant on the topic. And I am extremely sure Melanie Phillips and Richard Dawkins are both equally as ignorant. We don’t know. If I ask a physicist, their answer is also “I don’t know, but I am going to go find out”. It’s not an excuse to make shit up. And religion LOVES to make shit up.

They know even less than we do about the origins of our universe. Admitting you don’t know how the universe was created isn’t a crime. Claiming you know how it was created when you have no proof is. I am sure Dawkins made no comments with regards to Panspermia and is one of the people who explicitly states that Panspermia does not answer any questions and is a poor hypothesis. And most importantly? Panspermia is not a theory it is a hypothesis with little to no evidence for it. Yet again someone religious fails to understand the difference between a theory and a hypothesis. Irrespective of who makes the goddamn claim, it is still a hypothesis and is unproven.

Oh and Francis Crick’s directed panspermia hypothesis was shot down by the more sensible RNA world hypothesis which states that RNA based life forms may have existed prior to DNA life forms. However work is still taking place on it. Like the creation of the universe? We do not know, but there are people who are working to find out. What we do know is that there are viruses that are RNA based and that RNA based life is possible.

And Melanie fails to understand the difference between a hypothesis and a fantasy. See the issue with this hypothesis is that it is stupid, inelegant and clunky. There is no observable evidence for this in much the same way that there is no observable evidence for her god. However there is a greater probability that intelligent aliens exist than magical space daddies. It’s actually a more valid hypothesis than “God Created The Universe” and that’s utterly hilarious since the craziest of theories to come out of Francis Crick is still less stupid than the idea of a god.

She continues the stupidity by claiming judaism (A faith that believes that the world was created 6000 years ago through biblical levels of incest) is the source of rationality. And that you cannot be rational if you don’t believe in the bible or the torah. Because fuck all the Hindus and Sikhs right? I may be an intolerant atheist but I am intolerant against all bullshit, not just bullshit I don’t personally believe in.

Melanie is wrong in her claims about Reason and Science. Her grasp of technology is so tarnished by faith that she cannot understand the simple wonder of something like the wheel or fire. There are civilisations older than Greece and there was technological development prior to them. Infact human evolution is so intrinsically linked to our technology that the technology we possess is part of us as a species and taking us apart from technology actually changes the context of our capacity to survive. We are in effect cyborgs. To Melanie a pointed stick or a sharpened rock is not technology. Animals can do that right? All our technology began as a pointed stick or a sharpened rock. Not from the greeks. The manufacture of stone tools (we cannot confirm wooden tools as they tend to rot away and bone tools are harder to explicitly identify) dates back to roughly 2.6 million years ago as seen by pebble struck tools present in Ethiopia. Modern human behaviour and tools began to be seen roughly 50000 to 40000 years ago. Unconsciously, the people who produced these stone tools were doing science producing improvements to tools and indeed finding new ways to improve them from the humble sharpened pebbles we began with and this making of tools drove our evolution. By contrast? Ancient Greece began at around the 8th century BC. Now don’t get me wrong, they did some amazing things which influenced western society but they aren’t the masters of science, not when humans have been doing sciencey things for 2.5 million years.

Not Science! Just Random Whacking Of Rocks!

Science did not grow from the idea that the universe is rational but that it can be explained by rational thought, experimentation and understanding of natural processes. It’s not a belief born out of Genesis which states that the goddamn world was created by a magic sky wizard. And Genesis is not revolutionary in claiming that the universe has a rational creator. Brahma is the creator in Hinduism and he is the very epitome of rational thought and he predates the Bible and Judaism by a fairly hefty amount particularly in his pre-vedic format. It’s an empirically wrong stament. As is her frankly nonsensical argument of linear time. Time is a measuring system used to sequence events. It’s one of the earliest concepts of humanity because it’s vital for planning (Like “When the Moon is Full we Meet Here” or “In hundred grognaks we jump those buffalo”). Seriously? How the fuck did the Romans or the Egyptians build Empires with no concept of time since they predate the bible?  

She continues with the assumption that the universe’s values are set by a divine thermostat rather than these values being innate to nature anyways. Gravity may just be something that functions like that without the need of any god being there. The problem is she assumes that the Laws of Nature indicate that there must be a Lawmaker because she assumes Mathematical Law is similar to Social Law.

These arguments that she makes simply are not reasonable. Well par for the course really considering she thinks Atheists worship Man. We don’t. We really have better things to do with our time than worship. We do however recognise that every single fucking achievement we have done as a species is built on the achievements of men rather than some mythical entity. The maze puzzles on trays in fast food places and on the backs of cereal boxes are not due to Daedalus and the Minotaur. Even religion is an idea created by man. It’s why there are so many of them and why the followers of religions are constantly getting into slapfights over whose imaginary being is the most real.

We brook no dissent and no argument because we crush your arguments with evidence. The fact remains that Melanie Phillips argument has absolutely no evidence for her stances and will probably never will. I will believe in her genitally mutilating sky wizard if she can prove his empirical existence. Otherwise he goes on the giant pile of gods who probably don’t exist. It’s impossible to argue from a position of fantasy versus evidence. You wouldn’t accept a child’s imaginary friend as a witness in a murder trial right? Yet somehow we are supposed to accept yours?

And to wail on environmentalism? The idea that resources are finite and demonstrably finite and that human activity affects the environment in a demonstrable fashion and that we should kind of take care of what we do to it so that it doesn’t ruin the environment? Yeah that’s not based on the fact that there is no God that’s based on the fact that if you don’t take care of the environment it will screw you over. I mean do we really need to show Melanie statistics about not dumping waste into our water systems, treating sewage and using cleaner and more sustainable sources of energy? How are these bad things? Scientism? Again? Oh I know why she doesn’t like that. We keep stomping heavily down on human ignorance and it’s really hard to believe in her god when she cannot claim that he will strike us all down with lightning and leprosy. Moral relativism? Well? Different people have different beliefs in what moral is. It’s how Melanie Phillips believes in a book where she can own slaves. She may be uncomfortable with it now and will possibly jump through a series of hoops to philosophically argue away the whole “slavery” bits in the Torah but frankly it’s moral relativism at it’s finest. Early jews lived in a society where slavery was acceptable for various social and economic reasons. Modern society acknowledges the universality of mankind and equality and therefore no human can be a slave to another. Moral Relativism between modern and ancient jews despite belonging to the same (Alleged) group of people. Multiculturalism is a political ideology where people are allowed to maintain their own cultures rather than forcing a single culture on all people. This results in the interaction of cultures often creating new ideas about old things. For examples? The Beatles later works are due to the interaction of western musical culture with eastern musical culture which created a unique sound. Neither of the two parent cultures were destroyed to create it but what happened was the culture of music changed. It’s a response to the idea that Melanie Phillips thinks I should trade in my culture for hers. Nearly every single argument against multiculturalism boils down to “I don’t like those darkies” and “Why won’t you tolerate my dickery”. The core of her argument against multiculturalism is heavily entrenched in racism. Egalitarianism? It’s the idea that every single person is fundementally equal. If atheism has indeed given us these lofty ideals and goals to achieve  then Melanie Phillips is arguing for a society that fucking sucks. It’s simple, Melanie argues against a cleaner environment, technology, a society made up of different people, a society where we understand different attitudes and one where we are fundementally equal in the eyes of the law. If these ideas undermind her belief or ethics then those beliefs aren’t very ethical to begin with.

Melanie Phillips then proceeds to unleash a smokescreen of bullshit in her use of Millernarianism. Her usage is incorrect. It’s a primarily judeo-christian belief that massive changes happens every 1000 years. Think the big fuss over the 2000 Millenium Bug. It is not the belief in the perfection of mankind and of life on earth. It’s absolutely shocking that Oxford doesn’t teach the correct usage of a dictionary or more likely that Phillips probably just thought it meant this and it was too difficult to fire up Google. And yes. What the fuck is wrong with improving the world? Melanie has the benefit of being born to a bunch of rich brits who could afford to send her to university. Why the fuck should she have that opportunity while Naresh, my eleven year old patient has an abscess on his foot the size of a tennis ball because he didn’t have shoes to wear. This stance of hers irritates me the most because I do think we can make the world a better place by our actions mainly because I do make the world a better place in a small way by my actions.

I seriously do not understand what her gripe with progress is? She sits in one of the most advanced and comfortable societies on earth whinging about progress while we still live in a world where people don’t have shoes and then claims that progress is bad? She is like a Disney Villain.

We don’t offer redemption, we offer a chance. We aren’t that many despite what Melanie thinks. we can differentiate between the different people responsible for different bullshit. Opression of Third World Nations occurs usually due to the nature of the free market and due to tribalism and faith. Despoilation of the Natural World? Usually Imperialism, Neocons and “Big Oil” (A term I don’t like. Oil is just a resource that we need. It’s pretty nasty stuff and it would be better if we had alternatives). Bigotry? (Well the Neocons are pretty good at that, religious right wingers and racists and misogynists also come to mind) war? (Neocons are again at the fore as are the Imperialists). We don’t blame Jews so much as blame Zionists who think Israel can do no wrong and that building
walls around groups of people based on their ethnicity and faith without any irony is rather bullshit. Yes, palestinians support terror groups but guess what? No one else is willing to step up to bat for them. Of course they are going to take their help.

Yes, you may have noticed I have pseudo-Godwinned the argument but I see this as no different from her ridiculous usage of Stalin and Mao. Stalin’s casualties were not caused by his atheism. There is no rule in atheism or humanism that states you should kill any dissenters. Infact we rather look down upon people who do that. Stalin was a totalitarian dictator whose paranoia meant he killed off any dissenters real or otherwise. Mao’s deaths were due to fighting a near bamboo spear guerilla war in a country ravaged by imperialism, WW2 against a Christian opponent whose casualties were merely added to Mao’s. Again Mao was driven by his ideology rather than his lack of faith in anything in particular. And if anything? Stalin and Mao were not environmentalists or “Darwinists”. Stalin was infact a Lysenkoist and considered “Darwinism” bourgiouse. Darwinism is merely the idea that humans have evolved from apes and I fail to see the connection with a superior plane of humanity. It merely means that I believe in biology. I think the problem Melanie has with evolution is that she thinks it will stop if she doesn’t believe in it like Fairies or Religion. She also doesn’t really know what a Gnostic is. Or what environmentalism entails.

There will always be ills in the world. Even in the safest of societies there are still murders. It won’t be a paradise but it will be damn close. It’s just that we are trying to make the world have a lot fewer of those ills. In the UK only 4 children die out of a thousand in the first year of life. It would be nice if fewer died… In India 70 die per 1000. It would be nice if only 4 died. Fewer ills is something the could all do with. And yes it’s great to live in a world without persecution, tyranny, violence and bigotry. We can never achieve a world free from all this because people like Melanie will always exist. There will always be bastards.

When anyone puts up a theory that religious people do not like, they attempt to dismiss it using the word “Scientism”. Scientism caricatures actual scientific development. To use it in this context is to demonstrate a fundemental inability to understand how the world functions. There are serious empirical methods to generate inferences and the procedures involved are aided by a vast array of tools that is ever improving. Science is the most authoritative method of explaining the function of the universe. Just because something is inexplicable today does not make in inexplicable in the future. Scientism doesn’t say that there is no place for religious belief, it is merely the universal application of scientific method and approach. Aesthetics do follow scientific principles, it’s madness to assume that they are random. It’s why we dress according to fashion, why we like colours to match or contrast. Love? Love is driven by three different neurological circuits which control Lust, Attraction and Attachment. They use specific neurotransmitters and are each vital in mate selection ranging from physical attraction, commitment to a mate and attachment to a mate over time. The evolutionary function is to provide a stable family group for our children who require a long period of care before they are capable of independance. An appreciation of beauty and aesthetics changes with culture, there is no single right way to appreciate beauty. A belief in right and wrong can be answered by science. We can empircally see the effects of the decisions made and use those effects to come to a conclusion about a course of action. It greatly amuses me that Melanie lives under the assumption that one cannot understand aesthetics and beauty or love because one is a scientist. That’s like saying that one cannot appreciate music if one is a musician.

And Melanie fails to understand how science works. Just because something cannot be answered right now by science doesn’t mean it works through magic. We don’t know how Quinine fights malaria. We think it’s by increasing fragility of RBCs causing lysis of sporozite infected RBC but we honestly don’t know. It doesn’t mean that Quinine is magic. Science can answer the question of ultimate purpose. You exist solely to pass on your DNA to the future generation. To ensure survival of the species. That’s our “Ultimate Grand Purpose”. However we as humans find that we can do other things along the way to add meaning to our lives. What meaning we add is entirely upto us for some it’s merely survival. For others it’s a lot more. But that’s the thing, no one can prove the existence of a god let alone Melanie’s. The argument she uses means she has to accept that Tlaloc (Aztec God of Rain and baby eating) and Shiva also exist since whatever argument she uses (Nope! She is not allowed to quote from the Torah otherwise I declare myself as the emperor of the universe based on a tablet of space platinum given to me by the Astral Lord Gullibilo. Send tribute)

The true aim of science has always been to change the world. Melanie has lived through the formation of the Internet. She has a website and she uses Twitter and thinks that science doesn’t change the world? The invention of the airplane changed the world as did nearly every invention before it. Some changed the world in bigger ways (Penicillin, Vaccines, Planes, Cars, The Nuke, Internet, Wheel, Fire) than others (Left Handed Can Openers). In Melanie’s ludicrous world we would be able to explain how the world worked without the technological benefits that come from the explanation. I have no idea how she expects scientific progress to occur without us utilising the benefits. I seriously don’t think she has any fucking clue that as we reveal more about how the world works we gain more things out of it. If her greatest fear is that science changes the world then she should just go live in a cave rather than post her ludicrous anti-science bullshit on the greatest human achievement that has occured (so far) in my life (The Internet).

Cultural Totalitarianism cannot be the rule by the subjective individual and the privatisation of morality. The very definition of it an oxymoron. Morality has not become privatised, it’s just that we don’t follow her bronze age morality anymore and she just wants to have a hissy fit about it. The laws and traditions rooted in Christianity in europe were for centuries used to hunt down Jews. Do we really want to allow christianity that right again? Instead we created a society so free of racism that idiots like Melanie Phillips can hanker for the good old days of pogroms. Oh well, I suppose she assumes that the first on the list would be those uppity muslims. And yes, any attempt to prioritise any culture or lifestyle over others is illegitimate IF there is no issue with those cultures and  the lifestyle is one of choice. Yes, I know Melanie is making quasi vague rumblings at Muslims and Homosexuals but frankly she doesn’t understand what a multicultural society is particular since she (as a Jew) assumes she would be at the top of the Old Order of Western Civilisation. Bear in mind that the USA during WW2, for all it’s flag waving about freedom still had places where Jews and Irish people couldn’t go (Oh yeah! And treated black people as less than human). Bear in mind that the UK treated my ancestors as slaves. The old order of western civilisation deserves to be dead and buried. The new order is way nicer. For starters it doesn’t hunt down Jews and I won’t get thrown off a train.

As for Lying for Jesus? Well let’s just say that she is Lying for Moses then. I clearly pointed out bits where she lied or misrepresented information here. So what does that make her? I must remind her of her commandments, it’s shocking how many of the children of
Abraham (Jews, Christians and Muslims) forget their commandments.

Oh Melanie! The only way you would be more of a martyr than this is if you were the second coming of Christ. The greatest injustice you probably feel in British Culture is the fact that we aren’t rounding up all the darkies and shipping them back to where they came from right? Or that you cannot hate on gays without suffering the consequences for your statements. And does she even understand the problem of saying that the eradication of Prejudice will cause more Injustice? I am well aware of what jews believe in on the basis of I was in love with one for a long time and my flat mate was jewish, but maybe Melanie is one of those Opposite Jews (OJs… not to be confused with Orange Jews which is a horrible beverage based pun).

Basically Melanie really wants to go back to the good old days where we follow the ethical code of the bible and therefore can torment gays till they die and forcibly convert people to christianity. Oh and where we don’t let women talk and hold manly jobs. Like writing for a newspaper…

Melanie Phillips shows and incredible shortsightedness and a complete lack of any education on world affairs. Yes of course the USA is responsible for Islamic Terrorism that lead to the events of the 11th of September. It is the CREATOR of Osama Bin Laden who lead Al-Qaeda. It created a heavily islamic Jihadi institution to fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and then upped sticks and left when the fighting was done. In a complete act of belligerence it angered  these individuals through continued support of Israel and the percieved trespass of the USA on Saudi soil which is considered Holy. So here is the thing… Do you think Al-Qaeda would exist if not for the fact the USA helped create it? The entire region is destabilised by this action. Many thousands of people have lost their lives due to this and all because the USA wanted to fight a proxy war against the Soviets. And my memory is awfully hazy but a lot more Iraqis and Afghans died than our boys. And Israel is responsible for it’s indiscriminate killing (Including the use of carpet munitions with time delay fuses and mines in fields and in urban areas) such as Cast Lead where in exchange for 13 casualties (4 of which were friendly fire) they butchered 1400 Palestinians and wounded 5000. Does that seem fair? For what? Rocket Attacks that killed less than 30 people over a whole 10 years? Why do you think Palestinians are fucking pissed off? Ask any american what they would do if you took their land? How many people in the NRA sprout the same words as the Palestinians. What anger you witness from Palestine is the impotent rage of a people who were betrayed by every fucking person in the world. The fault of the Israel Palestine conflict lies in so many Hands. It’s the UK’s fault for setting it up in the first place. It’s Nazi Germany’s fault for creating the Holocaust which made sure Jews felt that there was no place to return to in Europe. It’s the USA’s fault for blind faith in Israel. It’s The arab league’s fault for using Palestinians as political pawns. It’s Israel’s fault for learning everything and nothing from the Holocaust. It’s Palestine’s fault for falling to the lure of the only people to respond in their time of need and It’s the Islamic Militant’s fault for damaging the peace process just as much as it is the zionists like Melanie Phillips fault for encouraging Israel’s hawkish behaviour. The only actual solution we have really is that Israel recognises the borders of Palestine and dismantles it’s fences and begins to treat Palestine like a country rather than a ghetto.

It shows that I have a greater understanding of the issue in the formation of Israel than Melanie has and she is a goddamn zionist. Oh right! I forgot… Blind Faith = No grasp of reality. It certainly explains why she thinks Barack Obama won because America wanted to redeem itself of the original sins of slavery and racism rather than because he was far more competent than his opponents whose political party are a series of strawmen arguments, jesus freaks, homophobes and misogynists. Or why she thinks environmentalists want to redeem human existence, because last I heard they just want us to stop being so wasteful and polluting so much.

I feel Melanie hates the idea of a human utopia, mainly because it will make heaven pointless. She produces a barrage of strawmen using fancy words which don’t mean what she thinks they mean (or more likely considering she went to Oxford… she knows what they mean but hopes we don’t google it).

Melanie Phillips wouldn’t know religious extremism if I held a mirror in front of her and danced around saying “DO YOU GET THE HINT”. She even takes the time to take a kick at paganism (A hilariously tame attempt to recreate pre-biblical faith minus all the bad bits) which I assume she has learnt about from watching the Wicker Man. And she also lives under the assumption that skeptics and atheists do not combat the occult and parapsychology.

So to answer her final question? Why do I despise religion? Because when you fail to think rationally you end up accepting any garbage put in front of you. And I am sure Melanie would not appreciate me turning up to her Synagogue and demolishing the Torah’s veracity using my science. Why should I tolerate her trying to fuck with my biology? If she wants a stand up fight between her faith and my science I would be happy to give it to her, but I must point out that it tends to end poorly for the organisation that thinks a 2000 year old book is sufficient proof to play science with. And yes, religion puts nasty constraints on you. It makes you hate and treat women as second class citizens who are beholding to men. It makes women slaves in their own minds. It makes you hate gays. In Melanie’s case it makes her hate Muslims. It makes Muslims hate others. It makes Hindus hate muslims and it makes everyone forget the most important thing. That we are human beings. If you cut us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh?

People do really believe in all sorts of rubbish. The difference between me and Phillips? I am prepared to believe in a dozen impossible things before breakfast but I am willing to go try to make the impossible happen. It’s impossible to see a 150 patients by yourself. I atleast saw 52… In Melanie’s world I failed. In my world? I saw 52 patients who don’t think I failed. Melanie claims to have evidence? I wish to see it. Because so far it’s just strawman after strawman.

That’s right Melanie, I am calling you out. You claimed to have evidence for the existence of the penis mutilating god of Judaism and I would very much like to see it.



I for one am ambivalent. The foster homes are often filled with children who are not given sufficient care. I don’t think we should hold their belief that homosexuals are sinners against them as much as find out what they really think about gay people. A lot of people don’t like gay people but are capable of showing affection to them. They may turn out to be really really good at it.

There are shades of homophobia which range from burn in hell to mere distaste. People can change, much as I despise their viewpoint they deserve the chance to change and they have proven to genuinely care for children.