It’s a Fake

They get the music right, and there is some big hair, cardies and drainpipe trousers—though none of the boys have Wham! style haircuts. Russel T. Davies continues with his self-hatred: the positive portrayal of older White men is limited to those who support the pharmaceutical narrative and whose sexual desire is (presumably) domesticated by having a partner. Older Black men lose points if religious, as that is shown as at least comic if not sinister.

Women gain points for being secular, metropolitan and preferably ethnic as well as for dedicating their lives to the service of (young) gay men. Mothers are mostly monsters but redeemed if fat, disabled or married to ethnic males. Davies gives himself the opportunity to address female self-sacrifice but basically gets a monster mother to blame a young woman for being a fag hag—without the show narrative taking responsibility for that accusation or showing the least interest in her personal life—and leaves it at that.

Brian Mullin, writing for the Los Angeles Times, finds that It’s a Sin doesn’t even advance the portrayal of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. I used to believe in that pharmaceutical narrative (I don’t now) but I take his point. Davies is very good at only one thing: the portrayal of young gay male jouissance. In this series he simply makes the equation that joy = death.

Davis also airbrushes drag queens, and their internecine war with m-f transsexuals, out of the 80s gay scene in which they literally played a starring role. Instead he’s opted for vaguely sketched cardboard cutouts of “trans” characters, dotted about the set, never centred and never defined. Lesbians are limited to sitting around tables agreeing with gay men and the main character (effeminate and never shown in the least attracted to women) is shown as ridiculous in pondering bisexuality—the only mention of that sexuality at the time of its major struggle for recognition in the lesbian & gay community.

The most grave sins of the series are those committed against Africans portrayed as backwards (with zero recognition of indigenous efforts to resist or even debate the social and biological harms done by corporate pharmaceutical interests from the global north) and, ironically, against young gay men.

This series continues the profitable trend of pushing drugs. Like all the other AIDS stories, It’s a Sin dismisses the proven connection of poppers (ubiquitous in gay discos then and widely used in gay sex) with Kaposi’s sarcoma and ignores the fact that 47 gay men didn’t just turn up coincidentally at a New York hospital all with the same cancer, Michael Gottlieb was studying low T-cell counts in two cities and actively recruited patients. All of whom were long term massive drug users.

The HIV/AIDS hypothesis (at least the Gallo version, there are others) has been the blueprint for all subsequent viral drug and test advertising campaigns—most successfully with “Covid”—and will be used again if the public are stupid and uninformed enough to swallow “Monkeypox”. Predictably, this latest series, like all the others, is being used to push for more public money for the pharmaceutical industry. So it can kill even more people. That’s not an act of charity. It’s a sin.

Cartoon graphic of two dark-haired men staring at an image of a pill bottle on a wall

Thanks to Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan for releasing his image Medical Insurance into the Public Domain.

Advertisement

Points of Light

The good news today that the unfounded charge against a brave Scotswoman (for the crime of defending female safe space and children’s bodily integrity) has been dropped, is very welcome. Tempered as it is with the bad news that another brave woman in England has experienced so much harassment (in the same struggle) that she has resigned her academic post.

In the past year, I’ve been successful in reminding an ancient Scottish institute of higher learning of 3 Acts of Parliament that together guarantee access—without let or hindrance—to staff, students and guests, masked or unmasked. Yes, I was victimised for it, but I stood my ground. Together with a brave young man, who suffered institutional pressure and a week’s ban from classes (even online!) I was successful in the same endeavour with an amalgamated college in the same city. Just recently I had to take a very strong line with an outdoor activities education centre and remind them that the Nuremberg Code opposes coercion of medical procedures, including testing.

Today I watched a musical YouTube video about the 1960’s US Civil Rights Sit Down Demand, a jarring juxtaposition of jaunty music, photos and video footage of brave young Black men and women being beaten up and arrested for the crime of trying to have a coffee at a racially-segregated lunch counter. It struck me that most of my fellow White people would imagine that we’d have been shoulder-to-shoulder with the Black protesters. I doubt that very much.

My doubt is based on present-day realities. Another brave woman, Whitney Webb, currently living under South American fascism, has been meticulously publicising the nefarious material and personal links of the pharmaceutical industry to Silicon Valley and the military industrial complex, since the first reports of that racist origin story (now officially discredited) about that wet market in Wuhan. Anyone who was paying attention at that time could smell the fraud.

My first blogpost on Covid-1984 (as Spiro Skouras names it) was in early March 2020 and publicised medical experts warning against Covid exceptionalism. Since then I’ve written 42 more on that topic. The latest on the crossover between the peaked (mostly still asleep) and the awoken (mostly already peaked). Spiro, like many independent journalists investigating the official, lucrative, narrative, has been banned from various platforms and suffered financial repercussions. Meanwhile establishment rags like the Guardian (well-named if you’re a reader of Plato) are funded to the hilt by the same “philanthropic” foundation that funds the BBC, Reuters, the WHO and all the “fact checkers”.

Still, otherwise intelligent and well-intentioned people, despite the obvious doublethink (vaccines that don’t immunise, failed pharma companies suddenly performing medical and financial miracles, deaths soaring after vaccination, the coffins following the needles as they steadily prick down the age groups) do not want to see the connections. Even mentioning “4th Industrial Revolution” last year was conspiracy theory; this year it’s supposedly our only salvation from ecocide.

White liberal people conveniently ignore the fact that it wasn’t just a few Redneck misfits who were racist; it was the vast majority of respectable White church-going pillars of the establishment. Secular racism had the backing of a racist reading of the Bible and a racist pseudoscience of phrenology. The Civil Rights movement was considered by these self-satisfied people to be against God and against Nature. The same people who tut at footage of Black people being kicked in the head in coffee shops would gladly lock up their friends and relatives who are unvaccinated and throw away the key.

But still there are points of light. Despite the ignorance, the daily cringing fear (of who or what, exactly?) that causes people to muzzle up with unhygienic cloth masks before going into shops, despite the inertia and lethargy in the face of 5G towers and cancer, jabs and strokes, DNRs and Midazolam, some people are making a difference.

There’s a scene at the end of HP and the Half-Blood Prince that, depending on your mood, you might find either mawkish or moving. In the face of tragedy and looming menace, one woman, and then another and then another, followed by the rest, including the men, hold up their faintly illuminated wands. Combined, the glow dispels the skull and serpent of the Dark Mark above.

Our elders are dead. Our youth are dying. The next generation, if it is ever born, is already cursed. This isn’t “like Thalidomide”. This is, already, the new Thalidomide. All the safeguards laid down to protect mothers, to protect the life in their womb, were skipped. For money. Money and power. And from this weekend in Glasgow, disaster will wear a new mask, a green one, and will hiss and whisper in the language of depopulation as the only hope…for the global elite who are already arranging our replacement.

Hold up your hand. Let your light, feeble as it may seem to you, shine. Let our points of light merge. That glow will defeat the darkness.

Starry storm clouds

Thanks to Andrea Stöckel for releasing her image Starry Storm Clouds into the Public Domain.

What’s Wrong with the Resistance?

I’ve just left a chat group on Telegram because I couldn’t stand it any longer. Like many, I don’t have much free time — and an unrelenting flood of repetitious, unevidenced, incoherent and hysterical posts about “the Cabal” does nothing to inform and persuade people to resist the developing technocracy and everything to reassure them that its resisters are all crazy.

Left-leaning friends (current and former) may be relieved to hear this. Typically unable to distinguish between pointing out the historical roots of Big Pharma in poison gas manufacturers, such as I.G. Farben, and denial of the Shoah, they’re unable to reason clearly because they confuse categories.

For example: if I say it’s a Tuesday and the calendar says it’s a Tuesday and Adolf Hilter says it’s Dienstag, does that make me (or the calendar) a Nazi?

A real example: Alison McDowell, excellent on the links and repercussions of the 4th Industrial Revolution, blocked me on Twitter when I pointed out her (obvious) ignorance of the Catholic Church. Among other instances was her oohing and ahhhing over a post about “Masonic crosses” which even the original poster eventually conceded were simply a variety of crosses illustrated in a Masonic book. (Still not got it? The category “Masonic” applied to the book, it could not be assumed to apply to every illustration of traditional Christianity referenced in those pages. Especially as Masonry isn’t Christian.)

In fairness, Alison is quite candid about the fact that she couldn’t tell a Maltese Cross from The Maltese Falcon. She just didn’t like me pointing it out. I point things out. It’s why I lose friends. And save lives. Also, her Da Vinci Code style amateur exploits in the wonderland of Roman Catholicism (as I say, she’s amazing on Geo-Political Economics) are small potatoes compared to the Frito-Lay-factory-short-of-a-fish-supper crazy going on online right now about “the Cabal”.

Let me try to summarise (no, I haven’t read it up in depth and I don’t intend to):

The Cabal is a sinister leftist right wing communist elitist Black Jewish Catholic Alien reptilian, em, cabal, of gay trans paedophile vampire vegans funded, em, by themselves, who came from Outer Space to this Flat Earth and tried to convince us it was spherical by founding The Catholic Church and Black Judaism to really worship Satan, who is, em, them, by means of The Pyramids, The Eiffel Tower and Big Ben. Oh, and, y’know, religion, Netflix, NASA, and stuff. Antarctica is a Circular Ice Wall beyond which (it is known because no-one can get there) there is All Sorts of Alien Tech. Like they can blow this shit right up! They govern us by means of Mind Control and drink kids’ blood. The Moon Landings were faked cos there’s no Outer Space. We’re not gonna believe what those Aliens say!

Source? All over the Internet. Apparent source? Every Tom, Dick and Harriet with a 2-dimensional account with 15 identical followers that opened sometime in 2020/21. And all those influenced by them, including some vulnerable people with shaky mental health.

There are also celebrity influencers and though David Icke of course springs to mind, he appears to be speaking (of the struggle between the limbic and mammalian brains and the frontal cortex) metaphorically and may be simply a rather dramatic New Ager who believes in Universal Consciousness and Higher Things. He also, very clearly and very sanely, preaches specific resistance to the ongoing violations of human rights and civil liberties.

My concern is both with the ones who don’t (such as trust-the-plan Simon Parkes) and the ones who urge people to take part in illegal actions that are as unlikely to succeed as they are likely to alienate the general public.

Because it is no secret (they state it openly) that intelligence services are targeting resistance groups in person and online. What better way to derail the train bound for freedom than to send its drivers conflicting signals, place as many obstacles on the track as possible and, easiest of all, convince the passengers not to get onboard but to stay, patiently, listening for further announcements in the waiting room…in the deferential and ever-deferred hope of a celebrity saviour.

If religious education were actually taught in schools and church history in universities (based on historical fact rather than endless emoting and opining over present-day imaginary identities) then more people might know that the blood-drinking hypothesis was a 1st C. Roman imperial slur against the newly-formed Christian community and one that was diverted from their spiritual descendants to be used against Jews in most centuries since, including this one.

I do not deny the depravity of some human beings but the lesson of the Holocaust is not that Germans are especially sadistic but that good people can be gradually coerced into evil fairly easily, until it becomes banal.

That’s what we need to resist. Anti-Semitism, recklessness, agents provocateurs, clashes of celebrity egos, ignorance and stupidity will only get in the way of the diffusion of sane, sympathetic, balanced and well-researched investigations such as that of Cory Morningstar on The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg. (Cory doesn’t deny the ecological problems of the planet but simply shows how big businesses is exploiting them, and young activists, in order to open new markets.) Or basically anything written by the amazing, and always responsible independent journalist Whitney Webb. (Whitney is always careful to state exactly what she can evidence and her analysis of political blackmail and international information technology is based on painstaking research.)

For resistance to be effective, the messages broadcast need to be sane, focussed and supportive of human rights and civil liberties. That means the administrator “owners” of groups and channels need to reduce repetition, weed out the crazies and ban prejudice. Otherwise all they will do is encourage either inaction or unsympathetic and possibly life-threatening confrontation with the authorities and the general public. What we need to be doing is appealing to hearts and minds. Warmly and wisely.

Thanks to Circe Denyer for releasing her image Halloween Whispering Clowns into the Public Domain.

No Bonking Down Under? “XXXX that!”

Ozzies have never been known to be backward about coming forward and here in the UK we regard our antipodean friends (and relatives) with amused affection.

No more so now when, despite living under tyrannical government for 18 months, the Australian reaction to the Covid bonking ban is evidentially “XXXX that!”

Far from adhering to Government advice to couples sharing a household to stop having sex and instead masturbate, wearing masks, not just at 1.5m distance but online, seriously, Australia is apparently experiencing a baby boom.

Just goes to show that, Mel might not, but these Sheila’s know what they want — and they won’t be satisfied with just another shrimp in the barbie!

What the Australian Government will be satisfied with is anyone’s guess. Horrific scenes of their police violence against civilians for not wearing masks (Ozzie cops don’t have a great reputation for civility) have circulated all over the globe. However, like that of their Kiwi neighbours, led by someone not famous at the moment for her promised “economics of kindness”, the Ozzie Government seems to be just following the orders of representatives of unelected global governance whose goal of depopulation is on public record.

Lovers’ footprints on sand

Thanks to Shagan Garg for releasing the image Lovers Steps into the Public Domain.

Peau noire, masques blancs [Black skin, white masks]

The story of Black rioters burning down a historic church near the White House – like many stories – isn’t true. According to CBS News, citing The Washington Post:

A fire broke out late Sunday night in the basement of the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., the city’s fire department said.

The flames were quickly put out by firefighters who arrived with a police escort and apparently didn’t cause any significant damage, The Washington Post reports. It wasn’t clear how the fire started.

It did seem strange to me that a demographic of renowned churchgoers would torch a temple of the God whose prophetic word is on the lips of so many of their civil rights leaders. Then again, it isn’t clear how these protests turned into riots either. And who the instigators are. And why some of them are apparently wearing earpieces – as even rightwing jocks admit.

Since Jean Baudrillard’s 1991 deconstruction of the Gulf War, it has been clear to critical thinkers that we are living in what the murdered dissident Rumanian professor Ioan Culianu called “the Magician State”. Culiano contrasts this with “the Police State”, where might is right and everyone is in lockdown (I’m paraphrasing).

The lynching (let’s call it what it was) of George Floyd and of so many young Black men by White men in America is as much a physical reality as the killing of countless Arab civilians in the Middle East Oil Wars – which Baudrillard never denied but Big Oil does at least in terms of motivation (isn’t it interesting that there’s a mention of Venezuela?) – and that lynching was clearly was carried out by US police.

However the key difference between the Police State and the Magician State is that the former runs on physical power and the latter on symbolic power. The instruments of lethal power utilised by the former State are the bodies of its agents (badged or not) and their ropes, knives, injections, gas and guns. The latter State uses the microphone and the camera. That’s the State we’re in.

Because the Magician State absorbs the events of the Police State the way a spider sooks up (good Scots phrase) a fly. The meaning, the value of an event gets distorted. Spiders spin. Police police. Magicians? They manipulate all the media at their disposal – and when they have a lot of disposable income, that’s a lot of media power!

When Dr Frantz Fanon wrote Peau noire, masques blancs [Black skin, white masks] in 1952 he used his professional psychiatric experience of treating both the African colonised and the European coloniser in French Algeria, as well as his personal experience of growing up Black in French Martinique. He describes treating the tortured and the torturers – and his insights into the psychopathology of racism are still valuable today.

Part of this pathology is the deep-seated fear that many White men have for Black men, a fear fed by ignorance, suspicion, envy and desire. The Black response is similar as both relate not to each other’s reality but to the mental projections of the other constantly reinforced by the racist culture. Each wishes to appropriate the power of the other but whereas such Black men want White men to accept them, such White men want to overpower them – or to be overpowered. This is a part of Fanon’s critique that is heavily censored today – as are his remarks about Black women “raising the colour” (anyone who doesn’t know about that doesn’t know much about the Black Americas). It’s not cool to say that anyone desires either (as comments from White people, of both sexes, make clear).

Developed during modern European colonialism, and instrumental in projecting images to cast the colonisation of Africa, Asia and the Americas in a good light, the proliferation of the magic lantern show was a significant step in the installation of the Magician State. Not only could the envious White public eagerly read of the exploits of daring White “explorers” (trespassers) of “undiscovered” lands – now they could assuage their desire to see it all for themselves! It was also useful in mesmerising Black people about the merits of their great White “saviours” – and the deference they were due.

Fanon’s controversial genius was to diagnose that, whereas the Black men he describes were driven by their colonised super-ego, the pathologically racist White men he treated were driven by their colonising id. It’s not enough to simply dismiss this insight as outdated or patronising or homophobic. Early psychoanalysis in general and Freud in particular are certainly problematic in terms of their many heterosexist assumptions but, even as imagery, the controlling voice of ambition and the compelling voice of forbidden desire may be at work in the psyche.

And who knows if the defining quality of the Magician State is not to make visible the unseen. Perhaps White men lynch Black men not only in the vain attempt to extinguish their own psychic shadow but also because, letting hate into their hearts through the door of fear, they have opened themselves to the ancient and baleful influence about which all true good prophets have warned.

The desire of Black men to be accepted by White men, and the desire of White men to overpower them, are not equivalent. The former may have facilitated the rise to highest office of the first Black president; the latter, clearly, compelled a sworn guardian of the law to stoop to publicly lynching a Black citizen.

Black people don’t burn down churches. Not when they have sat in them, Sunday after Sunday, listening to these words:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

May George Floyd, and all other Black men lynched by White men, rest in peace and rise in glory. May their names be remembered and the names of their killers blotted out. May we White men attempt the hard emotional labour of knowing ourselves so that we STOP allowing our basest instincts to control our actions, with lethal effect.

Amen

face-of-a-man

Thanks to Piotr Siedlecki for releasing his image Face of a Man into the Public Domain.

 

Woke

I first encountered the activist sense of the word woke on Twitter – used by a young gay man whose partnership with an ally has quite simply revolutionised LGBT-inclusive education in Scotland (and provided the followers of the campaign with a rather touching bromance). I don’t feel qualified to judge whether he’s woke or not, but he’s certainly not asleep! My next encounter with this usage was on watching the Netflix series Dear White People – which if not its origin has certainly popularised the usage. The series follows on from the 2014 film of the same name and it was, I must admit, at first a disappointment. The film was so punchy and I didn’t mind the very obvious lectures in Black American history scripted as conversation because I was learning things I didn’t know in an enjoyable way – and that’s good education in my book. The series continued with this style but it seemed at first to rather run out of steam plotwise and instead to spend a lot of screentime on the beautiful body of the patrician Black character Troy – with accompanying gasps of pleasure from his female entourage.

Then everything changed. In a horrible scene, when all the previous action (two men pushing each other around, in the middle of a lively mixed-race party, in an argument over who can use ‘the N-word’) stops; all that can be heard is the terrified breath of a Black man as he slowly reaches for his student ID, pleading with the two White Campus Police to keep their fingers off the trigger of their guns pointed at him. I’ve described this character simply as ‘a Black man’ because that is all that these trigger-happy cops see. In a push-about between US and THEM, the White cops totally ignore the combatant whose skin colour they share, other and ostracise and are prepared to execute this beautiful young man whose intelligence is already established on campus, whose activism is unselfishly motivated by knightly service to his lady love (currently attached to a White guy) and whose only crime was to insist that an insult re-appropriated by his community should not be repeated by those outside it.

This series, this film, and these kinds of killings only happen in the US of course. And everyone knows that Americans are crazy. So here in Britain, and especially in Scotland, we don’t need to think about it. Because it doesn’t happen here.

I wish that were true, rather than being something that I tell myself because the truth is so inconvenient. As inconvenient as the thought that Cressida Dick was promoted to head the Metropolitan Police after (denying) ordering the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, and that the unnamed officer who shot this unarmed man five times in the head (only following orders) in a tube train in front of terrified passengers – did so not because he had run in terror, nor because he was wearing a bulky jacket, or texting, or changing buses in a rush to get to work, or even because he was a person of colour but because the head of the Metropolitan Police and the unnamed officer and many of the White cops in the UK and UK Borders officers are violently, murderously, racist.

But in Scotland we know that these kinds of killings only happen in London where everyone is crazy. Or Birmingham perhaps. Or Leeds. Not in Glasgow. I know that we’re not racist in Glasgow. Especially not in Glasgow’s West End where I work with international students and used to live. And not even in Royston, East End, fondly known by my father’s generation (growing up there) as ‘the Garngad’. Home of the displaced Irish, they famously raided the local dump and rained down blocks and bedsteads on the Orange Walk when they dared to change their route – and didn’t do again. I laughed at that story. I didn’t think what it would be like to be at the receiving end.

I didn’t think because it’s inconvenient. Scotland needs self-confidence, self-determination. We don’t need contrary voices. Like that of my Iranian friend who lives in Royston and tells me that it’s ‘the Irish’ who are the worst racists. Because I can hide my ethnicity in several envelopes. When it suits me, I’m European, then British (rarely does that suit me!) then Scottish, then Irish. My surname isn’t Scots and neither is most of my ancestry a generation or so back. Scots Catholics feel about Ireland the way Tolkien’s elves feel about the lands beyond the Sundering Seas. We treasure the Emerald Isle. Just don’t ask us to live there.

So when my Nigerian boyfriend told me he’d narrowly escaped being beaten up by 15 White youths, in Royston, I was annoyed. He’s 6 foot 1, plays mid-field defence in football (soccer), as well as being an intelligent College student devoted to helping asylum-seekers, he’s currently the most handsome and the fittest man on the face of the Earth (I’ve checked). What business has he to go around Glasgow almost getting himself beaten up?

And when he told me that his friend, on another occasion, had not escaped. That he’d dragged himself, bleeding, into his highrise flat. And lain there for three days. Because he was an asylum-seeker. And didn’t have free access to medical care. In the UK. Where everyone, supposedly, has free access to medical care. I started arguing.

And then I looked it up. It’s true. People seeking asylum in the UK are being refused free access to medical care. Even though this is illegal.

He died.

Somehow his friends got to him and somehow got him into A & E.

Where he died.

Racist people who look like me and my racist country governed by people who look like me contrived to kill a man who looked like my boyfriend.

He died.

People die. Black people die. All the time. We, dear White people, are killing them.

My friend Kelvin, who runs a church where everyone is welcome, preached a sermon on Sunday (6th August 2017) about the Transfiguration. You can watch the video clip under Latest Sermons. Kelvin mentioned many things: Moses as liberator of slaves; Elijah as prophet of the oppressed; anti-Semitism in the Labour Party; our image of God; Jesus not as enthroned King but revealed in love. And I recalled the reading, from Matthew 17: 1-9. The disciples are afraid at what they see…“but Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise and do not be afraid.’ And when they opened their eyes, they saw no-one but Jesus.”

I once asked a Black Caribbean friend what White people could do to help Black people best. Her answer was simple: “Love us”. At the time, I thought it a rather impractical answer. I don’t now.

When we are touched by love, when we are woke from our fear and open our eyes to behold our fellow human beings in truth. What shining glory is before us, transfigured?

Reggie DWP
‘Reggie’, Dear White People

Universal Suffrage

During my time at the Institute of Culture & Creation Spirituality, CA, we did an exercise in liberation: from a mixed group the teacher invited those in a certain category to walk forward and then gave the instruction, “look who’s with you; look who’s not with you”. All the colours of the gender and sexuality rainbow, all the shades of skin colour, the abled and disabled, the haves and the have nots…and those who had been incarcerated and those who had never known that restriction on freedom. The point of the exercise was to show that oppression takes many forms and some suffer multiple burdens (there were some in the class that got a lot of exercise that afternoon) while others are comparatively privileged (many barely moved).

The point about prison is that, in theory, convicts bring it upon themselves. We all know that, in practice, that ain’t necessarily so. However, even if we ignore all prisoners of conscience, all prisoners of war, all hostages, all the disappeared, all the innocent locked up for the crimes of others, taking the rap willingly or not, we still have the question of the limitation of universal suffrage. What are the criteria by which we as a society judge that someone is eligible to vote in a local or general election or referendum? And how are those criteria defensible?

An online timeline states, for 1928, “Effectively all women and men over 21 now have the vote” and the next page enthusiastically charts the struggles over class and gender eligibility and triumphantly states: “eventually all women and men gained the vote, but it took over a century of energetic campaigning.”

In fact there are several restricted categories, for a general election (I paraphrase):

  • Members of the House of Lords;
  • Citizens of the EU (excluding Ireland, Cyprus & Malta) resident in the UK;
  • Non-British and non-qualifying Commonwealth citizens;
  • Persons convicted of criminal offenses (not civil offenses and not on remand);
  • Those guilty in the last 5 years of corrupt/ illegal practices in connection with an election.
  • Those under 18 years of age.

The common law restriction on grounds of mental incapacity has been abolished (although the bar to anyone acting as proxy to someone incapable of electing a proxy stands).

There is an ancient example of an attempt at restriction from Greek myth.

There is Olympian concern for humankind who now have fire (from Prometheus) but lack the art of war (to defend themselves from wild beasts) which is a part of the science of politics  – comprised of the virtues of justice and respect – which has not been given them. Zeus dispatches Hermes, who asks:

“Shall I distribute them as the arts were distributed – that is, on the principle that one trained doctor suffices for many laymen, and so with the other experts? Shall I distribute justice and respect for their fellows in this way, or to all alike?” “To all” said Zeus. “Let all have their share. There could never be cities if only a few shared in these virtues, as in the arts.”

(Protagoras 322c-d, in Guthrie/1982/54)[1]

So even though the Classical Greeks some centuries after Homer did not practice universal suffrage, they respected the value of this foundational cultural myth in recognising the sense of citizenship as universal and as a divine gift – at least enough to quote it.

Nowadays we appear to feel ourselves wiser than our philosophical ancestors. We judge that someone who has broken the law is not eligible to decide who should make the law. This concept of eligibility is confused. A person who lacks the capacity to understand the law is not a criminal. A criminal (being of sound mind and understanding the difference between what is legal and illegal – a difference not the same as that between right and wrong) chooses to break the law. That is a choice, the older word for choice being ‘election’.

In another cultural foundation story, that of the Garden of Eden, choice is the first gift given after life itself. The story tells of our ancestors making the wrong choice but it does not go on to say that the gift of choice (between right and wrong – and later between obeying and breaking the law) was revoked.

Greek and Hebrew cultural wisdom concurs in valuing the exercise of human choice, whatever that choice may be.

Why do we consider ourselves wiser than our cultural ancestors? Is this not the great sin of hubris to refuse their inspiration? Is it not our duty to rail against our unjust penitentiary system which appears to disproportionally convict and reconvict people on the basis of their race and class and literacy and convenience to big business rather than on right and wrong? Are we right to continue, (all of us citizen voters and all the Lords too, by commission or omission) to disenfranchise the very demographic that might have the most poignant plea for more humanity in our uncaring society? Are even the most hardened of convicts not capable of canny choice of the next government who will make and unmake laws to rule those they love? Hellenophiles may consider that Socrates himself was once a prisoner, considered criminal. Jews have so many kin to commemorate that were not considered POWs but criminals . Even hardened Tory Christians may recall that Christ himself was a convict.

I have been in a cell in what archaeologists are almost certain are the ruins of the Praetorium of Pontius Pilate. It’s impossible to stand upright inside. I have visited convicts in modern prisons. How do we enable them to be upright citizens if we continue to refuse them this dignity divinely given and one which they may use with devastating effect to right the wrongs of the sick society that put them away? Or is for reason of that fear that we continue to keep them in their restricted position?

When you next walk into a polling station, ask yourself these questions:

Who’s with you?

Who’s not with you?

Why?

rusty-padlock-and-chainRusty Padlock and Chain photo by Alex Borland in Public Domain

[1] Protagoras and Meno (trans. W.K.C.Guthrie) Penguin, Middlesex, UK. The original Greek is non-gender specific and refers to ‘all’ and to ‘people’ not just to ‘men’.

Am I my brother’s keeper?

The case of the Swedish Foreign Minister, her critique of the situation of Saudi Arabian women and the subsequent, inevitable, backlash, strikes me as worthy of deeper reflection than that involved in a choice of placard with which to take to the streets. ‘Down with Islam!’, ‘Up with Women!’, ‘I am [add name]!’, ‘Death to Infidels!’ lack nuance, and omit the historical context of the overlapping and competing discourses which they summarise.

Margot Wallström may indeed be seen as Woman, a being either in compliment or opposition to another known as Man; as White, a quality of a minority of beings in some kind of relationship to the majority known as Black; as Christian (by virtue of her nationality and saintly first name – whatever her personal beliefs happen to be) as distinct from Muslim. You can see where I’m going with this. She is also the Foreign Minister of a small but powerful country, with a reputation for academic excellence (Nobel Committee etc.) high suicide rates, bureaucracy (admittedly it’s only the Norwegians that call Sweden ‘the land of rules’) and a historical legacy of very lively ambassadors arriving on longboats. As you can immediately tell, I know almost nothing about Sweden and during my short time there as an interpreter for the European Social Forum held in Malmö I was struck by two things: one was ‘the ghetto’, as our guides called it, which made me laugh as it was so peaceful and pristine. I live in Glasgow which is often neither; the other was the sudden appearance of an entire blond family cycling through the city about 11pm! This last was quite normal behaviour apparently.

So when I say that I think that the ‘feminist foreign minister’ as she’s been billed, seems to have got it wrong, it’s in context of my firm (though rather uninformed) belief that Sweden, indeed Scandinavia as a whole, often seems to get it right. I think that context matters. Margot Wallström may have previously established her awareness of the agency of Saudi Muslim women, that they are not just victims. Which I believe was the essence of Audre Lorde’s critique of Mary Daly’s treatment of women in two thirds of the world in her searing exposé of global misogyny, Gyn/Ecology. In fairness to Daly, she did quite a lot of exposing of US and European misogyny too. I don’t know if Margot Wallström has campaigned against Swedish girls being put under social pressure to have breast enlargements, to have sex when they want affection, to have sex for money to get through university (or is the sugarbabe phenomenon only happening in the UK?), to have an abortion as their mum doesn’t like the colour of the father’s skin (I know the latter happens in the UK, I don’t know about Sweden). I don’t know if she has spoken out against the hidden genocide of poor African American men, in overwhelming disproportion on Death Row, or the economic pressure on African American women to be sterilised.

Note that I’m aware of what I don’t know. Note that when I talk about this minister and about her country, I say ‘seems’. I don’t believe Bishop Berkeley’s famous ontological maxim: esse est percipi (‘what you see is what you get’, as I’ve freely translated it in my latest novel) but in terms of media presentation, what is apparent is taken to be real. I have no evidence for this other that a hunch but I bet Margot Wallström doesn’t see herself, or Sweden, as a policewoman. I think that’s a political delusion of grandeur peculiar to the USA. I bet she sees herself as a sister. A sister to the oppressed. To the women of Saudi Arabia and to at least one man. If I’m right, and I could be wrong, then her motivation seems laudable. So why am I questioning it?

Cain, after killing Abel, is famously asked (by the Omniscient, so it’s a bit of a set-up) where his brother is and responds with ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ meaning that he obviously thinks ‘no, I’m not!’ – whereas the audience to this pantomime is obviously supposed to shout out ‘OH YES YOU ARE!’ My point is that if one is to indulge in fraternal or sororal correction, especially if one happens to represent a country that’s the 12th biggest global arms dealer (it seems) and as head diplomat one is inevitably put into the position of broker to such deals, then one must first establish kinship. And be seen to have established kinship.

People who seem to be White Christians bearing arms, with reason and God on their side, and lotsa money (mostly from persecuted European Jews but let’s not get sidetracked) have historically had a tendency to descend upon Araby with fire and sword. The recent, and they are comparatively recent, militant doctrinal and political tendencies of the wahabi, salafi and now IS (can we please stop calling it that other very pretty name?) seem to have caused a collective amnesia, in at least one third of the world, about the history of Islam. The European (this includes Russia, remember) monarchs of Christendom were by and large tyrannical to Jews and Muslims; the Moorish monarchs, by and large, were not. In 1492 the countries which welcomed the majority of expelled Spanish Jews were Morocco and Turkey. The Ladinos are in the latter to this day (I know cos I met one on a bus in Istanbul, who answered politely when I abruptly asked her about what seemed to be her mediaeval Spanish). During the Third Reich it was the same story, while Christendom shut its borders. This Jewish-Muslim thing is a set-up. It’s divide and conquer. All those Christian European politicians who read Caesar’s Gallic Wars in their private schools and decided to play at that game when they grew up.

I don’t believe that Margot Wallström is playing games. I don’t believe that the UK should be selling arms (do use your upcoming vote wisely UK voters!) and I don’t believe any other country, including Sweden, should be doing that either. I highly recommend Mary Daly’s Gyn/Ecology (read together with Audre Lorde’s critique in Sister Outsider) which, disgracefully, is not outdated. It seems to me that the treatment of women in three thirds of the world may still be categorised as global misogyny. Of that I, unfortunately, have compelling evidence. As, I’m sure, have you.

I believe that in Margot Wallström’s spirited defence of Raif Badawi there lies the conviction, the moral claims, of sisterhood. But if Margot is Raif’s keeper, then does she really know where he’s at? And would this foreign minister admit that the imprisoned campaigner may have something to say about Sweden, about Europe? Could it be that we haven’t actually got it all right and that, amazingly, we (post)Christian secular enlightened White people might have something to learn from a Saudi Arabian man? Who is not just a victim. Living in Saudi, he would know the trouble he’d be getting himself into. Did she?

We are right to condemn injustice. We are wrong to perpetrate it. Prisons and corporal punishments oppress and may kill; but perceptions may also harm. It’s not the outcry about foreign injustice which is wrong but the silence about domestic oppression, and the fuelling of foreign conflict, which accompanies it. Margot Wallström may be quite aware of this and may speak out in this way but, crucially, that is not what has been reported. Could a culturally aware diplomat not have been more diplomatic? In attempting to shame the Saudi authorities, whose reaction to criticism of their values is already violent, has this foreign intervention of critique without kinship helped – or has it made the situation of the campaigner worse?

red-no-signal

‘Red No Signal’ in Public Domain by Piotr Siedlecki

Cross Words and the (Roman) Catholic Press

I’ve won the crossword competition of a certain Scottish Catholic newspaper twice. I started doing crosswords when I returned from years teaching around the Northern Mediterranean and in Latin America, observing that my English spelling and grammar were getting distinctly dodgy. In the Ratzinger years (I never experienced him as the blessing his papal name pretended to be) the crossword was the only thing I liked about that publication. I dislike personality cults and their ubiquity amongst the Scottish RC clergy is not lessened by the constant reference to ‘how much the laity love their priests’ by the staff writers who appear to update their photographs only as frequently as their ecclesiology. My favourite of the bylines is: ‘Celtic supporter and married father of two’. Answers on a postcard.

Perhaps it’s unfair of me to pick faults with a periodical cherished by people of the third age who lived through times when sectarianism, i.e. anti-Irish racism and anti-(Roman) Catholicism, was indeed Scotland’s shame. It’s not now. Yes we still have The Walk which reformed Christians fail year after year to denounce but the boot’s on the other foot in terms of shame now. New Ways Ministry report that RC is synonymous with prejudice in the USA amongst the majority of young people and even the RC press in Scotland notes that out of 113 RC parishes around Edinburgh only 30 are not threatened with closure for want of attendance.

The Revd Jim Wallis wrote a book in 2005 subtitled, “Why the American Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It”. I don’t agree with all of his conclusions but it reveals the roots of the secular struggle for liberation in the Biblical prophetic tradition – a tradition that the Church is using all its might to quash. So the RC press sees no irony in calling for African clergy to ‘re-evangelise Europe’. Slavery was definitively opposed by the RC Magisterium only in 1965 (so those expecting a change on women/married priests or equal/second marriage can expect to wait a bit longer) and even now the idea that enforcing European culture globally is wrong is only voiced in the RC press by colonised clergy and bishops – and only in reference to ‘militant secularism’. Scan any example of the RC press and the majority of images of Jesus are White, blond-haired and blue-eyed. Scan again for instances of inclusive (non-sexist) language. It’s not just that they get it wrong, they just don’t get it.

When the Revd Dr Martin Luther King opposed racism he was opposing the ‘moral majority’ of his day. It’s all there in chapter 9 of Genesis. The Church, the State, Tradition, the Bible. All agreed. All but a small still voice that became a hurricane. The frustration, the hurt, the passivity I observe amongst my lay co-religionists is rooted in a co-dependent mentality that has rendered us as yet unable to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery. We are house dogs rejoicing that a crumb of comfort has dropped from the table – from which many of us are officially banned.

Turn to the promise in Isaiah 51:12 “I am the one who comforts you. How can you be afraid?” Turn to the Beatitudes (Matt 5:3-12) and read those assurances to you. The Church is ein fest Burg that can withstand militant secularism but the people of God are pilgrims and, often, only in desert places can we hear the call, the Spirit of the ekklesia.

Cross and Altar   ( Small Cross and Altar by Petr Kratochvil: Public Domain )