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Category Archive: Politics

Apr 14 2014

A media that paints puritans and fanatics as mainstream forfeits its right to condemn them

Asif Quraishi, better known as drag queen Asifa Lahore, sits unassumingly in a TV studio. ‘One question I’d like to ask’, he says, ‘is when will it be all right to be Muslim and gay?’ The programme is Twitter-powered BBC Three debate series Free Speech, whose host Rick Edwards (of Tool Academy and, unexpectedly, Cambridge) …

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Mar 06 2014

How filesharing in Germany cost me $3000

At my new address, the scientist – passive-aggressively polite – told me I had to sign a retroactive rental contract. This could easily have been done by email — when he asked to meet, I should have smelled a rat, but obliged outside a supermarket in November, not stopping to wonder why both ex-flatmates turned …

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Mar 02 2014

Dawkins, Grayling and the New College of the Humanities: secularists should know the dangers of private education

‘It’s high time that the atheist left asserted itself against the atheist right – an Occupy Skepticism, if you will.’ (Jeff Sparrow) Three years ago, A.C. Grayling – till shortly thereafter, the British Humanist Association’s president elect – announced plans for a private university. New College of the Humanities, whose doors have opened since, was thought …

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Feb 23 2014

Making atheism less middle class: Alex Gabriel speaking in London, March 23

Doubts costs nothing; voicing them can cost a lot. A piece I wrote for AlterNet last month, on the need for an economically inclusive secular scene, was well received. Readers from half a dozen groups said they’d implement ideas there, the Sunday Assembly asked my advice on reaching poorer congregants, and Conway Hall Ethical Society asked …

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Feb 10 2014

Putting a rainbow on Sochi’s games changes nothing

Some years ago, the Asian Women’s Advisory Service on Mare Street, Hackney had to close. In 2009, the rebuilding was bought up, transformed into an upmarket café (£6 per halloumi-and-avocado burger). Joking ostensibly at their own expense, the management named it the Advisory, retaining the old sign and furnishing walls with ironic citizens’ advice slogans. …

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Jan 02 2014

The right propelled last year’s ‘segregated seats’ debate – and yes, it matters

‘I am very well aware that journalists, politicians and policymakers alike may have great interest in stories like mine, and may even attempt to use them solely to progress their own agendas, some of which have a distinctly Islamophobic taint to them. That does not mean those stories are not important.’ So writes Shaheen Hashmat (alias @TartanTantrum), one …

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Dec 28 2013

Gender segregation on campus: a timeline of opposition in UK media

There’s been a lot of friction lately over who the main opponents were of segregated seats for men and women at Islamic campus talks, endorsed till recently by higher education group Universities UK. Priyamvada Gopal, in a December 16 post at the Rationalist Association originally entitled ‘The Right may have hijacked the issue of gender …

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Dec 24 2013

Class dismissed: how I went from homelessness to Oxford, and what Richard Dawkins has nightmares about

Say this city has ten million souls Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes * * * A letter in a too-large envelope came five years ago this week. The paper had shifted in the excess space so the plastic window meant for the address showed its initial lines of text instead. …

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Dec 19 2013

No, gay marriage won’t fucking well stop HIV

Not many know gay marriage is a legacy of AIDS. Attempts by same-sex couples at the turn of the nineties to have partnerships legally recognised – in Denmark, New York, Hawaii – were prompted, in the words of the New York Times, by an epidemic that ‘brought questions of inheritance and death benefits to many …

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Dec 17 2013

In support of Priyamvada Gopal

A new coinage of mine is ‘Rorschach text’ – a body of writing read necessarily according to prior sympathies. Scripture is, of course, the best example, but secular texts are just as liable to work this way, and we’re all as guilty of partial interpretation as each other. Yesterday, the Rationalist Association published a piece …

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