Why Freethought Blogs matters

I guess I’ve had a pretty combative and stressful couple of weeks on the ol’ blogosphere, with one thing and another.

But a humbling truth about this network is that whatever microdramas may be absorbing me from one day to the next, I’m never far away from writers and activists whose personal efforts for social justice and freethought put any activism and travails of my own  in profound perspective.

Kaveh has a new blog up that reminds me of why I am so proud to be on this network, and why this place is necessary. It is short, sad and sobering, please go read it.

My deepest sympathies go to family and friends of the victim of the latest theocratic atrocity in Iran, Mohsen Amir Aslani. My utmost admiration, as ever, goes to Kaveh Mousavi and all bloggers, journalists and writers who brave the risks of oppression, persecution or worse to bring us their news and views.

British values for toddlers? The fine line between stupid and, uh, clever

After approximately five minute in her new job, Nicky Morgan has managed to float an idea so resoundingly idiotic that it almost deserves applause for effort.

In a consultation document published today, the Minister for Education suggests that local authorities should strip funding for early years childcare provision if the provider does not adequately teach ‘British values.’

This, of course, demands to be mocked and parodied. My instantaneous reaction on Twitter was to say “My 6 year old is at playscheme today. If he doesn’t come home wanting to conquer Ireland and shout at foreigners I’m reporting them to Nicky Morgan.”

Even the Guardian’s explanatory note that this would include such topics as ‘liberty and democracy’ doesn’t help. Believe me, as someone who has helped a couple of kids traverse a route out of babyhood and toddlerdom, the last thing you want to teach them about is liberty. The world is a benign dictatorship until your kids are at least five (but ideally about 27.)

Once I’d stopped swinging wildly between hilarity and despair, I popped over to the consultation document to have a look for myself. And you know what? Brace yourself, but there’s a germ of something not too silly in there. As the great philosophers once said, it’s a fine line between stupid and, uh, clever. [Read more...]