Thursday, July 28, 2005


Compare and Contrast: Smacking 'Youths' & Dismembering Wives

Who's the baddest bad guy?

Case number one:

"Jack Rylance, 59, lost his temper with the group congregating around the flats where he lived in King's Lynn, Norfolk. Rylance threw a firework, hit one with the flat part of the machete and then fired a shotgun from a balcony."

Jack Rylance was sentenced to six years in prison last Tuesday.

The previous day, Paul Dalton was sentenced..

Case Number Two:

"A teacher who killed his wife then cut up her body and hid it in a freezer..

"..Dalton was traced by police to Japan after his parents visited his home and found the body.
He was jailed for two years for the manslaughter and three years for preventing the burial."

For clarity: I'm not trying to hint that 'have-a-go hero' Jack Rylance should be knighted.

I'm not interested in him. Rather, that men who kill their wives in the UK do so in the fairly certain knowledge that they'll not be convicted of murder. The manslaughter law needs to be abolished or severely limited.

For a start, 'manslaughter' should be unavailable to anyone with a previous conviction for violence, or any history of serious violence against the victim whether convicted for it or not.

Any remaining element of a 'crime of passion' defence should be removed. 'Passion' (ie, anger) is properly regarded as evidence of guilt, not a partial defence as to intent.

Crimes like Dalton's pass us by in the news regularly without much comment. (Apologies for not digging up more links.) There have been some awful ones recently. I recall one in which a man beat his wife for years and then killed her when she said she was leaving. He got four years, and may be out in two. He was not fully in control when he attacked her, I suppose.

The part of the story that really disturbed me was when the police went to her son's house as next of kin. He opened the door, saw the police, and said "He's killed her, hasn't he?"

Meanwhile, we're all very concerned about the treatment of women in Muslim countries. How different is the Dalton judgement from the horrific concept of 'honour killing', which we rightly deplor?

(Here's a recent post + links on 'honour killing', from Sully's guest blogger. Jordanian blogger to UK.. 'we are very concerned about the human rights implications of your 'manslaughter' rule'.

Update: Here's a rather old list of killers-who-aren't-murderers from campaigning group Justice for Women. Shocking stuff.


New Radio 5 'Amnesty' for the Africans

To follow up their 'shirt amnesty'.

Radio 5 now have a 'radio amnesty': you give them your old radios, they flog you a new digital one, and the poor Africans get the old one. I suppose this time it's a little more nuanced than the unspeakably horrid 'shirt amnesty'.

But the truth remains that 'giving' our old crap to Africa damages African industry, and should not be promoted. It's particularly galling that we get to use their markets as a rubbish tip whilst not allowing them to sell us anything.

What if we, as a European consumers, actually wanted to buy cheap high quality chocolate products made by African producers? (for example).

Why naturally, we can go screw ourselves.

Monday, July 18, 2005


Britain's Most Righteous Man: Peter Tatchell

Tatchell tells it like it is on Islamist terrorism.

Peter Tatchell has a better claim to being right all the time, and, as often as not, being dramatically right, than anyone alive.

His attempted arrests of Mugabe in 1999 (England) and 2001 (Belgium) were both thwarted illegally. Those responsible for preventing Tatchell's lawful action should be found and arrested whoever they are. It is utterly tragic how firmly Mugabe's actions since have brought the truth to a less clear-sighted world.

Equally righteous, less celebrated, and much funnier, was his protest in favour of equal rights for gay people and women at a pro-Palestine demonstration in London. Read the comments of those who lambasted him.. totally fucking amazing. They called him a racist and a zionist.

Can anyone have ever condemned themselves more completely? It was Tatchell who turned the spotlight on.

Again we find the man just goddamn right, this time regarding Islamist terror attacks: Human rights are non-negotiable. (Interesting comments of eg Christopher Hitchens also available through that link).

Footnote No. 1: I have always been dubious about such concepts as 'moral relativism'; especially as they most commonly appear, as critiques of the imaginary 'liberal'. However, it is real, and not as rare as I thought. Tatchell once again exposes a drastic and dreadfully disappointing example - Ken Livingstone's support for Qaradawi.

Not only did he welcome this vile* man but he also instinctively resorted to the same pathetic name-calling slander of 'Islamophobia' when his actions were criticized: Read the criticism and judge for yourself.

*see here Qaradawi's support for female genital mutilation (the cruellest thing imaginable, when a little girl's mother and family - those she relies on and trusts - suddenly turn on her, hold her down, and inflict terrible pain for the purpose of permanent mutilation designed to emphasize her enduring inferiority and society's disregard for her experiences and self-determination: "whoever finds it serving the interest of his daughters should do it, and I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world" says Mr. Q.

see here Qaradawi's absolutely crazy anti-gay manifesto of murder, which is no less reprehensible for being typical.

Footnote No. 2: I don't agree with everything Tatchell says: He once said that 'Islamophobia' is as bad as homophobia. That's just too ridiculous to comment on. He also has made rather too sweeping defences of pornography: people get hurt and it has to be regulated; fair enough that the laws shouldn't discriminate against gays. His comedic but well-intentioned concern about 'heterophobia' in relation to the recent law on gay partnerships was a harmless error in legal analysis.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Salman Rushdie Murder: A Tragic Anniversary Passes Without Justice..

The Government's New Racial & Religious Hatred Bill Gives Encouragement to the Perpetrators

Professor Hitoshi Igarashi was murdered by an Islamist on his campus in Japan 14 years ago today. He translated Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses, into Japanese.

(I wonder, as an aside, whether that language could possibly have borne the beauty that Rushdie achieved in English.. "and that the silvery land of the past was her preferred abode.. the way she looked in the mirror when noone else was in the room". From memory.. something like that. Igarashi is a hero for even attempting it, requiring no martyrdom.)

The crime was part of an ongoing international criminal conspiracy to incite and commit murder, which has claimed many other victims. The people who are carrying out these acts do so because they have a subjective perception that the novel is offensive to a 'prophet', that is to say, one of very many individuals who have claimed that they received communications from a supernatural being. The murderer has still not been apprehended. The Japanese statute of limitations runs for 15 years.

Today's anniversary comes at an extraordinarily poignant time. In the Netherlands, another Islamist murderer has today confessed in court to his crime. Mohammed Bouyeri murdered the film director Theo van Gogh because he thought that Van Gogh's film 'Submission', which criticised the attitude of the Islamic religion to women, merited this action. He explained this to the victim's mother:

"I have chopped off his head according to the law that orders me to do so to
everyone who offends Allah. I do not not feel your pain..”

The killer pinned a note to Van Gogh's corpse which threatened a Dutch MP, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She has subsequently spent every day in hiding, in fear of her life for good reason, as gangster law rules her state.

Freedom to criticise religion and the religious has undeniably been severely curtailed throughout the world. In the UK, these events have inspired other religious groups to act against those they perceive to have been offensive either to them or the disposition of the supernatural.

In Birmingham last year, Sikhs caused criminal damage and issued plausible death threats to prevent the performance of a play, 'Bezhti', which depicted the abuse of young people by religious elders. Their terrorist tactics have successfully resulted in the enactment of a form of gangster law: The play has still not been performed. You still cannot see it. Innocent people have been prevented by violence from going about their lawful business.

Christianists then jumped on the bandwagon, and issued threats against the BBC staff responsible for a programme called 'Jerry Springer - the Opera', a weak musical satire of the media which they perceived to be offensive to another deity.

Given these facts, the only valid inference is that the criticism of religion needs active protection in all countries, whether this requires new legislation or the more forceful prosecution of existing laws (in the UK, by the offence of incitement to murder, perhaps).

How sickening it is, as Igarashi's grim anniversary causes us to reconsider the horror of 'the Rushdie Affair', that the UK Government has instead bizarrely concluded that it is religions that need to be protected from criticism, rather than the other way round. The Racial and Religious Hatred Bill passed the Commons yesterday. For the third time, this special protection for religion will be demolished by the Lords & returned to the Commons.

The enactment remains as it has always been: so vapid, so willfully vague* that no attempt has been made by the Government to defend it by explaining what harm it would allay. Instead, all criticism of its potential breadth is deferred to the excruciating wisdom of posterity's Attorney General, in whom the discretion to prosecute will lie. The notion that British subjects might want to know how they stand in relation to the law is cast aside in favour of considerations as mysterious as they are decisive. We will have to self-censor.

All of those responsible for the criminal actions described above believed they were in the right, that those who stirred up contempt for their deities deserved punishment ordained by celestial law. The Government's new Bill can only convince them that British law concurs. They were right, they knew it, Igarashi's widow mourns, and Ali hides. The Government has decided that it is the religious who need protection.

*What is 'religious belief'? The Commons has concluded that, because it cannot possibly attempt to define it, the courts will do so. Likewise, the notion exists within the Bill that it will be persons, not religions, that are protected. But 'groups of persons' are defined only by their religion. So it is the religion that will be protected. Example of the absurdities which might result are treated as a matter for the discretion of prosecuters.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Make Poverty History: End African Aid NOW!

It is morally unnaceptable and we must immediately put a stop to it.

African people and businesses have been supporting wealthy developed countries for far too long: Aid encourages the recipient countries to be unproductive and dependent. Additionally, it could be argued that African countries have urgent requirements themselves (in terms of healthcare, education, policing and virtually every other aspect of bureaucracy to enable the development of civil society) and therefore shouldn't be giving aid to wealthier countries.

I have received a leaflet through my door 3 times this week:

"Dear Householder: CLOTHING COLLECTION. We urgently need clothing that you and your family may never wear again.. (snip) Also of great help.. (extensive list of stuff they expect to be given for free)"

The organisation responsible describes itself as "..a collection company who provide people in the third world with clothes for their families they can afford.."

Presumably, this means they take the junk to Africa and sell it there. People who give to them are likely to assume that they are doing their bit to help poor Africans. However, this is not 'aid to Africa'. On the contrary, it is aid to people over here who make money out of it. And this aid is at the expense of African people, African businesses and African tax revenues.

Why on earth should we be exporting textiles to Africa at all, rather than the other way round? Many of them, unlike us, can grow cotton at viable prices. 'Gifts' like these have destroyed indigenous African textile industries.

This is an extreme example of the profound malaise that developed countries have in their attitude to Africa: "They can't even dress themselves, poor things". How embarassing and shameful it was last year when BBC Radio 5 led a long 'shirt amnesty' campaign for listeners to send in last year's football shirts for the poor Africans, weeping because they couldn't even afford Umbro, much less Nike.

The Ape is not an expert in economics*, and is maybe speaking out of turn. But the long term solution is neither aid nor trade, but Governments strong enough to act in the interests of their own people, for example, able to put prohibitive import tariffs on dumped goods. The Ape should be wearing African clothes with African cotton & African brands, and if the false-beggars come asking again for my cast-offs they can look for them in the recycle bin, head first.


*Or anything else. On the other hand, maybe Garth Fraser of the University of Toronto is. (Thanks Google!). He certainly used a lot of equations in his recent essay on the topic ("Used Clothing Donations..". He concludes:

"Initially, the collective wisdom held that sending free food to developing countries could do nothing but help these countries, by increasing their incomes. The discovery that food aid could harm food producers in poor countries was as much a discovery as it was important.

Furthermore, just as food aid clearly benefits the consumers of food, used-clothing imports clearly benefit the consumers of used clothing, by making available lower cost apparel. Examining the impact of used-clothing imports on textile and apparel production has been the purpose of this paper. This paper has established, through an instrumental variables approach, that used-clothing imports had a significant negative impact on the textile and apparel production sectors in sub-Saharan African countries."

"Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, riding through the glen,.. Robs from the poor,
gives to the rich, Dennis Moore."

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