Archive for January, 2009

A Criminal is a Criminal

January 31, 2009

 cognition2

I often derive bitter amusement from what Erwin James of The Guardian calls the hypocrisy of prison barbarism. I am also perplexed when I hear people who profess to be ‘tough on crime’ defending the right of prisoners to mete out vengeance whenever they see fit.  The advocates of media fuelled prisoner-on-prisoner ‘justice’ seem to forget that prisoners declaring themselves judge, jury and executioner have committed crimes too.  Many of them have children. Where are their children now? And what are they doing? These people don’t know because they are in prison. They committed crimes in the full knowledge that there was a strong possibility that they might be convicted and incarcerated and that, as a result of this, their children would be deprived of a parent. They themselves brought children into the world and then abandoned them. Are such people really in a position to judge the parenting skills of others? 

We are told that convicted prisoners hate nothing more than ‘child killers’, implying that there are victims who have reached an age at which it becomes acceptable to harm them. The men responsible for the killing of Rhys Jones aren’t branded ‘child killers’ although that is exactly what they are. It is worth remembering that Rhys was only a couple of years older than Shannon Matthews and yet there is no indication that they are facing reprisals in jail. One of the accused commented, ‘All this fuss over a kid.’ No. Only some kids. It’s amazing what a difference a couple of years can make.

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Rope

January 25, 2009

Hard Edged

Variations on a Theme

January 24, 2009

variations-2o

Disparity

January 24, 2009

innocence defiled

And so the latter day Moll Flanders also known as Karen Matthews has been sentenced.  What she did was wrong.  I’ve never disputed that but is what she did really worse that this?

It gets worse: ‘He said: “Only four of these assailants would probably have been convicted – six had to be let go.’  And it wasn’t even headline news. It was tucked away on the inside pages of tabloids and broadsheets. It was an afterthought.  Will the perpetrators of this truly evil crime spend their time in gaol fearing for their lives as Karen Matthews is?  Have their fellow prisoners expressed animosity towards them?  Is there a price on their heads?  And, above all, where is the public outrage in this case?

Addendum: From The Guardian: ‘Rogel McMorris, 18, now living in Stockwell, south London, was jailed for nine years for rape and grievous bodily harm.  Jason Brew, 19, from Tottenham, was jailed for six years and Hector Muaimba, 20, from Walthamstow, was given eight years for rape and robbery. Stephen Bigby, who was charged with rape, was stabbed to death in a gang fight in Oxford Street before he could face trial.’  Pitiful.  Quite pitiful.  I wonder if Sun readers will protest on the streets for this young woman.  I wonder if Daily Mail readers will be writing indignant letters to their MPs on her behalf.  Probably not.  We inhabit a strange and seriously fucked-up world.  And no one will ask them why because no one ever does.

Anatomy of Hope

January 22, 2009

In Bloom

Vacuous Bimbo Extraordinaire

January 18, 2009

Cheap Hotel

I have just found out who Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s mate Liz Jones is. She is the fashion editor and columnist for The Daily Mail. She used to worship at the Altar of the Cult of Thinness and, if she is involved in the fashion industry, she still does. She is a former anorectic and used to be editor of Marie Claire, a magazine that also worships at the Altar of the Cult of Thinness. No doubt she passed on her ‘wisdom’ to any vulnerable young woman foolish enough to purchase that magazine. She doesn’t seem like the kind of person who spends a good deal of time in ‘Working Men’s Clubs’ watching ‘working men’ ‘swigging beer’: ‘Responding to beer-swilling blokes in Wibsey Working Men’s Club, in Bradford, who said on television that they had lost their place as the backbone of the nation because Asians were overtaking them, she wrote: “A snail with special needs would overtake this lot … It is patronising and not remotely useful to treat the white working class as though they are all helpless, giant toddlers in need of conservation.’

I cannot find any evidence that Ms. Jones is of ‘working class stock’. I’m willing to bet that the working men she expresses such contempt for have contributed more to society that she ever will. I wonder how many young women’s lives have been destroyed as a result of the tyranny of slenderness promoted by the magazines she has worked for. She clearly doesn’t believe young women are ‘in need of conservation’ either.

I once called Polly Hudson of The Daily Mirror ‘Vacuous Bimbo Extraordinaire‘. Well, sorry Polly love, you’ve just been usurped. Step up to the stage, Ms. Jones, to accept your new title.

Addendum: I’ve found out why Nobby is called ‘Nobby’!  Good old Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobby_Clark

Flawed Reasoning

January 17, 2009

 outsider

 

For me the most disturbing facet of the human experience is that suffering does not always engender a capacity for empathy.  Another thing that baffles me is the unwillingness of many to view their fellow human beings as individuals, precious within themselves, rather than as clones of other members of whatever group they belong to.  The articles I cited in this post contain examples of such flawed thinking.

This week in The Independent  Yasmin Alibhai Brown deals with the allegations of racism that have been directed at HRH Prince Harry.  I discussed that in the post cited above.  It is the column that precedes it: ‘Spare Me No Tears for the White Working Classes’ that I intend to focus upon in this post.

From the outset the arguments in this column stand on shaky ground.  Ms. Alibhai-Brown is basing her views on a survey of forty three self-declared white working-class people.  She is incensed that ‘parliamentarians, the media, even people who claim to speak for immigrants – Baroness Warsi and Trevor Phillips – indulge the always wretched and complaining class’.  Baroness Warsi has, apparently, been appointed ‘Shadow Minister for Social Cohesion’ by the Tory Party.  ‘Social Cohesion’ and its absence affect every member of society.  There is no indication that Baroness Warsi’s only role is to ‘speak up for immigrants’.  The same assertion could be applied to Trevor Phillips who is the head of an organization known as the ‘Commission for Equality and Human Rights’.  This organization incorporates ‘The Commission for Racial Equality’, ‘The Equal Opportunities Commission’ and ‘The Disability Rights Commission’.  It also deals with gender equality and sexual orientation equality.  There is nothing in the Commissioner’s remit that obliges him to focus solely upon immigrants.  Phillips’s role is to promote equality in all areas of society.  If he feels that there is evidence to show that members of ‘the white working class’ are not being treated fairly in comparison to other groups then he not only has the right but he also has the duty to highlight this.  If he had failed to act then he would not have been doing his job.

In this piece Ms. Alibhai-Brown refers to the views of a writer called Liz Jones who describes ‘beer swigging blokes in working men’s clubs’ (which I imagine to be just like the Bullingdon Club without the champagne) who complain that immigrants are ‘overtaking them.’  She quotes the damning verdict of Liz Jones: ‘A snail with special needs could overtake this lot…it is patronizing and not remotely helpful to treat the white working class as they are all helpless toddlers in need of conservation.’  But surely if these people are as intellectually inept as Ms. Alibhai-Brown and Ms. Jones seem to believe then that is exactly how they should be treated.  Isn’t the strong helping the weak a mark of a civilized society?  And if they are innately inferior then they can’t really be expected to adhere to Ms. Alibhai-Brown’s elevated moral standards. Or maybe they are suggesting that we should wipe these people off the face of the planet. One thing is certain though: It is absurd in the extreme to assume that the views of the members of some obscure working mens’ club reflect those of an entire class.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown proceeds to both unimaginatively and predictably introduce the biggest red-herring I have ever seen: the case of Karen Matthews.  ‘And so it becomes a matter of honour for me to oppose them’. Yes, all forty three of them.  Ms. Alibhai-Brown we salute you for you are clearly the very epitome of courage.  You should really be The Patron Saint of Bravery. ‘A foolhardy step’.  You got one thing right Yasmin.  ‘You saw the rush to defend Karen Matthews when her daughter went missing’.  Now, she has really lost me.  Is she saying that kidnapping their own daughters is something members of the white working class do on a regular basis?  Is she saying that Karen Matthews epitomizes working-class womanhood?  One problem with this is that, by all accounts, Ms. Matthews has never actually worked.  The working class are called the working class for a reason.  And Karen Matthews may be many things but I don’t believe she has been accused of racism.

Ms. Alibhai-Brown goes on to allege that ‘the white working class’ supported Oswald Mosely and Enoch Powell.  Here she fails to acknowledge that the two men were products of very different ideologies.  I am more familiar with Mosley so I’d like to point out that he had supporters from all social classes, including some members of the aristocracy.  Indeed he was embraced by the upper echelons of British society.  In 1928 he married Lady Cynthia Curzan and when she died he married into that wretched, poverty stricken family – the Mitfords.

I would like to inform Ms. Alibhai-Brown that while there were most certainly white working class men who followed Mosley there were equal, if not greater, numbers from this group who opposed him.  Nobby recollects that he frequently marched against them.  Many young working class men fought in a war in which they had no personal stake – The Spanish Civil War.  They fought a war that was not their own because they opposed fascism.  They didn’t fight for any kind of material gain.  They died fighting an ideology they despised.

Ms. Alibhai-Brown, quite rightly, points out that ‘We ordinary immigrants did not cause the credit crunch’.  This is true but then neither did the ‘white working class’ she disparages.  She manages to slip in a dig at benefit claimants: ‘We didn’t make the British choose benefits over work’.  No, chronic disabilities and mental illnesses made many ‘choose benefits over work’.  Is she suggesting that only members of ‘the white working class’ claim benefits?  You really can’t let a bandwagon go by without jumping on it can you, Yasmin?

In the final paragraph Ms. Alibhai-Brown expresses hope that ‘perhaps there will be a respite when Britain will not blame outsiders for its woes’.  It will probably blame ‘benefit scrounging scum’ because they are the most despised outsiders of them all.

Addendum: Ms Alibhai-Brown’s contempt for those she regards as her social inferiors is clearly illustrated in this column.  In it she claims that  ‘Two fit white British men loiter outside my local bank. They beg. I asked if they wanted to clear out my back garden for a fair wage. They said I was one crazy lady. Polish Andrew* did the job cheerfully and efficiently. God bless bloody foreigners who do our dirty work and are then damned by an ungrateful, obtuse nation.’  (‘One crazy lady’?  Who talks like that?) I would have imagined that an intellectual ubermensch like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown would be sophisticated enough to realize that just because someone appears fit and healthy it doesn’t mean that they are. Is she unaware of the existence of mental illness or hidden physical disorders? I also wonder if she is aware that many male ‘beggars’ are ex-servicemen. Hypocritical, ignorant and shallow – what a pleasant combination. Now, bring on the Phenobarbital.

*I think she meant Andrzej

Prom Queen

January 16, 2009

stepping-out

Apparently…

January 14, 2009

one of HRH Prince Charles’s  (or Charles Windsor for Republicans) best friends is a sock puppet…

Sooty

Does he hang out with Sweep and Sue too? It’s good to see a member of the royal family reaching out to the puppet community.

And in other news, here’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown doing what she does best – responding to bigotry with bigotry.  This is what she has to say about the ‘white working class’.  Note the markedly more sympathetic tone with which she responds to Prince Harry’s latest faux pas.  In Ms. Alibhai-Brown’s world you are allowed to be  bigoted and prejudiced as long as it’s accompanied by power and prestige.   I guess she owes them one.  After all, they did give her an MBE and she probably doesn’t want to bite the hand that feeds her.

Why should Harry be judged more harshly than others, she asks.  Oh, Yasmin, if you had a brain cell we’d be able to hear it rattling. It’s because he is third in line to the throne and one day he may be head of state.  Ms. Alibhai-Brown is hypocrisy on legs. In her strange, screwed-up little world racism is verboten (and rightly so) and yet class-based prejudice is permissible if not laudable.  In my world they are equally reprehensible.

Addendum: The comments sections on both articles cited seem to have disappeared from the face of the web. ‘Curiouser and curiouser,’ said Alice.

Maybe even Yasmin herself knows that she crossed the line.  I won’t be holding my breath though.  And maybe those responsible for the vitriolic racism in the comments sections realize that they too crossed a line.  I won’t be holding my breath there either.  A pox on both their houses!

Addendum 2: I had intended to comment upon this ages ago. According to Ms. Alibhai-Brown: ‘It will be decades before Britain elevates a man of African ancestry to the position that Barack Obama has reached. On this, the US has shown us a face that is wholly to be admired, impossible to reproduce on these isles, as yet.’  That’s because we’d have to abolish the monarchy.  Barack Obama has been ‘elevated’ to ‘head of state’ who, in this country, happens to be a monarch.  Duh!  ‘On the other hand, we Britons would never cheer on, to teetering heights, a Sarah Palin’. Um, Yasmin, have you never heard of Margaret Thatcher?  Do keep up!

January 14, 2009

Gemma was at the centre of it all, more excited than she had ever been before.  She felt, for the first time in her life that the world was embracing her. She belonged.

This was her new personality.  She donned the disguise willingly.  She was carefree, unaware.  For the first time in her life she was oblivious to events beyond the realms of her everyday life.  Untouched by pain, by protest, by despair.  Just like everybody else.  But when reality finally cascaded into her life she found herself excluded once again.  She was under attack and she retreated into herself.  She was a city under siege, ceaselessly bombarded by what other called ;delusions’.

She wore skirts two sizes too big for her, cynched in with belts.  They still flapped around her waist and hung from her hips.  She pushed both hands between the belted fabric and her new concave stomach.  She felt powerful, so powerful and yet she felt cold, so cold.  Her fingers turned blue in the frigid air.  Her fellow pupils stared at her with a kind of morbid fascination.  They watched from the window when she went jogging every morning but not with pity or with sadness but with envy and admiration.  She was their living, breathing, walking, talking instruction manual.

She became increasingly misanthropic.  She felt ugly inside and she was brimming over with negativity.  Her friends faded away.  They stopped e-mailing her.  All she could talk and think about was food.  She alienated those around her. At the very worst she despised them.  At the very best she tolerated them.  The life was draining out of her.  She could feel it.



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