Friday, 28 December 2012

On the Westboro Baptist Church and Hate Group Designation

So, there’s a petition going around to try and getting Obama or various other powers that be to officially designate the Westboro Baptist church as a hate group.

Which I agree with. The Westboro hatefest are vile in their homophobia, they’re hateful and they exist entirely to spread and promote hate and, in turn, violence and degradation of GBLT people. I would love to see them designated as a hate group.

But, despite that, I have some nagging thoughts at the back of my head – namely “why them?”

We could say it’s because of the extremity of the rhetoric of Phelps and his ilk… but is it so extreme? Is it even extreme? The only thing that sets the rhetoric of the Phelps clan apart from the rhetoric of the mainstream Christian churches is that Phelps is willing to use the slur f*g.

In terms of message? The pope used World Peace Day to attack gay people. He has called us a threat to the future of humanity. The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales – Archbishop Nichols, decided to use his Christmas message to attack us as well. I thought Christmas was supposed to be something of a thing with Christians – but, apparently, hatred is more important. Luminaries from Anglican Archbishops to Catholic Cardinals have called our rights “Orwellian” “dictatorship” “fascist” and even “nazi.”

More, while Phelps and his crew mouth off, it’s these mainstream churches that are spending millions to fight hate crime laws, anti-bullying measures, non-discrimination laws, marriage equality, adoption, the recognition of our families, to allow and encourage “conversion” torture (including of children) and even laws that deny our existence or push for our murder. Phelps makes noise and lines his own pockets – but it’s the mainstream churches that have their boots on our necks.

When it comes to hatred against GBLT people, the Westboro Baptist church isn’t extremist – it’s a mainstream Christian church.

What isn’t mainstream is its antics and tactics. Picketing funerals, saying terrible things in the wake of tragedies, etc. The Westboro’s are foolish/clever*** enough to offend, insult and outrage straight, cis people with their targets. They don’t narrow their hateful rhetoric to just GBLT people, their actions wound straight, cis people as well (though, I have to say, not usually as much as the mainstream church’s power hurts GBLT people)

The Westboros are called a hate group because they’re offending straight, cis people. If their hatred of GBLT people didn’t splash on to straight, cis folks then there wouldn’t be this petition, they wouldn’t get this attention and, in general, no-one would give a damn – because there’d be little setting them apart from mainstream Christianity.

I am happy this petition exists because the Westboros are vile and their tactics beyond unacceptable – but let’s not pretend their rhetoric is ridiculously extreme or that the actual targets of their hatred – GBLT people – are more hurt by them than by the Catholic church, the Church of England, the Orthodox Church, the Mormon Church or the vast majority of other, mainstream churches.

***A matter of definition. The Westboro’s antics win them no supporters – but they do win them incredible national attention for such a small, minor church. It does nothing for their political agenda, but it’s grade A trolling on an international scale.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

My One and Only Comment about “Plebgate”

I don’t give a shit. No, I do give a shit – I give a shit that everyone else gives a shit.

"But Sparky," I hear people protest, "surely you don’t support police lying?"

No, I don’t. And, as a defence lawyer, I’ve had more opportunities than most to have to deal with police lies and see the damage it does.

And no-one cares. No-one ever cares. The police lie through their back teeth on a semi-routine basis and no-one cares.

In 2009 Ian Tomlinson was murdered during the G20 protests by the police. And they lied. They lied over and over again. The police who killed him lied. The police at the event lied. The police describing the event lied. And the report the PR monkeys presented was packed with lies. The pathologist originally described his death as natural because he just missed all the internal bleeding and cirrhosis of the liver. They then thanked Dr. Magoo and asked him to go on his way, I assume.

They lied and said the police were attacked trying to save his life (they did not, it was protestors who applied first aid and called for medical help). They lied and said they didn’t hit him. The police who were stood there watching their fellow thug hit Mr. Tomlinson lied about it.

And no-one cared, no-one was punished, no-one was convicted –not even the murderer, let alone the innumerable police who lied over the man’s corpse.

In 2005 Charles De Menzes was shot on a London Tube.

And the police lied. They said he was a terrorist and stuck to it long past the time it was clear they were wrong. They said he was carrying a large bag that could have been a bomb when CCTV showed they were lying. They changed that to say he was wearing an unusually heavy coat. Again, a lie.

Again, no consequences. Again, police murder was shielded by police lies. Again, the police were torturing the truth before their victim went cold.

So I do not give even the slightest shit about Andrew Mitchell’s “reputation” being hurt by the evil police lies. I have nothing but contempt for a system that will arrest police for lying about mean things a Tory did or did not say, but won’t even muster a slap on the wrist for thugs who cover up murders. They drama about “plebgate” only shows how well and truly screwed up the system is.

When we’re addressing police lying to cover up murders and seeing them slammed in prison for many years and never again allowed near the police force – then I’ll care about smearing a damn politician. Until then, get some priorities, because this is sickening.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Carbs anyone?

So, dinner yesterday was a great success or an attempt to kill everyone, depending on your point of view.

Chicken and ricotta ravioli (yes, chicken. Yes still.)

Chicken and pancetta risotto

Home made ciabatta

Served in a white wine, cream and wild mushroom sauce

Which was yummy, however there was one teeny, tiny, miscalculation

*zombie groans all round*

“Atkin’s diet! Atkin’s diet!” *groooan*

“And this is why our ancestors filled up on carbs” *groooooan*

“Bread, pasta and rice? What were you thinking?! Where you trying to stuff us to death?”

“You didn’t have to eat it all. Did I force you to eat it? Did I? No.”

“Soooo goooooood” *groan*

It was an hour before anyone could move. My grandmother would have approved – it’s not a proper dinner if your dinner guests can move around afterwards

Monday, 17 December 2012

More Marriage Grey Hairs

I suspect our ongoing battle of marriage equality is going to cause more headaches so I suspect this may be the first of many posts until it’s a done deal – and then some. So let’s hit some more tomfoolery

First of all, homophobes, pointing out the ridiculous, archaic elements of our marriage law does not make for a good argument against changing them. I’m bewildered as to why you’d think this was so. Specifically the laws on consummation and adultery.

On consummation – yes, if you do not have the penis in the vagina sex after you are married it is not consummated and can be annulled. Yes, consummation becomes difficult to impossible for most gay couples.

And this is ridiculous. Because the whole concept of consummation, what counts as consummation and what counts as sex is ridiculous, heterosexist and archaic. Defining consummation this way is akin to those purity ringed fools over in the US having anal sex and calling themselves virgins.

Additionally – do we really want to go there? Do you really really link marriage with a single sex act? Do you really want to invalidate or devalue the marriages of those who don’t engage in this sex act? Who don’t want to? Who can’t? Because I’m pretty sure you don’t want to go there and you’re throwing a whole lot of people under the bus in an attempt to attack us.

On adultery – which is defined as, SURPRISE, penis in the vagina sex! If your spouse engages in any other kind of sex act with someone else, it’s not adultery (you can still get a divorce under the rather nebulous category of “unreasonable behaviour” however – so why adultery needs to be singled out as a separate unreasonable behaviour is beyond me except for archaic law).

Yeah, I call bullshit archaic law which needs changing or scrapping AND I think that the people using this argument agree with me. No, really. Why do I think this? Ok, say you are married, it’s not an open marriage, you’re monogamous and you expect your spouse to be faithful and have no nookie except with you.

Friday, 14 December 2012

On "Liberal" Church of England whining

Now, I’m more than happy to criticise the Tories when warranted – and it is usually so very warranted. And I think the whole idea religious exemptions to equality laws is bigoted and deeply wrong – especially for the CoE that receives so many privileges as the established church.

But for not consulting? Sorry, I can’t criticise even May and Miller for this – and I can’t stand either of them

Why did you think you should be consulted, CoE? It’s not like you hadn’t made your opinions ABUNDANTLY clear both in the past and in the run up to this law.

You have opposed every single attempt to achieve justice for GBLT people. No matter how basic, no matter how necessary, the CoE has been a united bastion of homophobia and bigotry – this is, after all, an institution that could barely bring itself to express mild concern about Uganda’s gay genocide bill (supported and pushed by the Anglican church there) while cracking down on the Episcopalians in the US (shows your priorities, CoE).

For the full duration of this consultation we’ve had nothing but the most disgusting hatred from the CoE – Lord Carey and Archbishop Sentamu have spewed the most virulent hatred and not once has Archbigot  Rowan Williams or his upcoming replacement tried to counter or stem this hatred.

Why would we need to ask what your opinion is? Your opinion has already been made abundantly clear on repeated occasions! You can’t scream and roar and whine and then complain when you finally get what you want.

You wanted the option to marry GBLT people in the future maybe? I have to say, I’m resisting the strong urge to slap any CoE member who even dares to try this. You screamed blue murder at the possibility! You whined about slippery slopes, you moaned about court cases forcing you to accept gay people as actual people! You howled at the very idea of the evil gays defiling your precious institution! You tried to get a blanket ban on ALL religions being able to bless same-sex marriages, no matter what their faith said! Your constant refrain – through lies, scaremongering and more lies – was that churches would be forced to marry gay people! That the evil evil gays would defile your precious churches! Well done, your whining was heard and you got what you wanted.

How dare you even think of whining about your religious freedom being curtailed! It has been curtailed by YOUR OWN BIGOTRY!

And all you so-called liberal CoE? Where were the demonstrations? Where was the outrage? Where was the fury you were supposed to feel at these church luminaries spreading bigotry in your name? Were you wringing your hands while you sat in the pews? Were you tutting under your breath while you marked “Anglican” on the census? Did you proudly chant “not me! Oh no, I’m not a bigot!” while continuing to lend your support and power to a bigoted organisation? Did you play the “oh, we’re not like the Catholics!” game while continuing to be as homophobic and vehement in opposing our rights? Why weren’t the supposed liberal bishops and archbishops going to the papers demanding your chance to marry gay people? Why weren’t they out there saying that Carey and Sentamu and Williams are wrong?

Because maybe if you supposed mass of non-homophobic CoE didn’t add your name and support to this bigoted institution, we wouldn’t have to fight tooth and nail against such a power every time we try to achieve justice. Maybe we wouldn’t have to listen to them squealing on the news and in the papers, spreading their hatred and dehumanising attacks. Maybe this bastion of homophobic hatred wouldn’t have the power it has.

I am beyond sick of the CoE – it’s endless bigotry and it’s ridiculous “liberal” hand wringers who constantly try to play the “but not us! Not me! We’re the good ones!” game while supporting such an unrelenting force of hatred. You aren’t the good ones, you aren’t the nice ones. You’re just as guilty, you’re just as much to blame, you have caused just as much pain and you support just as much hate.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Marriage Equality

So the first steps in marriage equality are finally being taken and it’s looking like we may get some action next year, here’s hoping. The Official response to the consultation is in and they’re currently batting it around Parliament. We do have a provision to allow religions to marry people if they so choose so finally actual religious freedom is guaranteed.

Reports point to 100-130 Tory MPs opposing. Labour, for some bemusing reason, has U-Turned and is now holding a free vote along with the Tories rather than a whipped vote they previously promised. Gods forbid our rights be taken as the severe issues they are (and can we stop with this talk of “morality” and “conscience” being a bigot is neither moral nor conscionable). Still, there is likely to be considerably less no votes among Labour than the Tories so, along with the Lib Dems, we have a good chance of seeing this pass through the commons. ETA The Lib Dems have also u-turned and decided not to whip this vote. Fuck the lot of them. No party will be whipping this vote, our human rights aren't important enough.

The Lords is going to be more tricky, I feel. Both because of the Lords Spiritual and the Lords, in general, just being less progressive than the Commons. But in theory there should be enough Labour and Lib Dem lords along with what Tory supporters there are among the Lords to pill it through.

There’s a liveblog on the whole issue here: Be warned: there are a large number of Tories saying some rather vile things as can be expected.

I’m getting really irritated at all the prating of religious freedom for the precious bigoted church – especially considering there was so much condemnation of their bigotry not that long ago.

I am bemused why, with the guarantee that bigoted churches can still be bigoted, there is any need to BAN the Church of England from performing same-sex marriages. They don't want to, they don't intend to - so why ban them? Why not leave them with the same opt-out as every other church? All this does is mean that, should at some point ion the future the Anglican church and its supporters decide that GBLTQ people are actually people worthy of respect, there'll be an extra barrier towards changing their bigotry.

Needless to say, I remain angry that we have an established church with all its privileges that continues to deny my humanity. Disestablish the bigots.

The government’s official response to the consultation can be found here. It’s clear that the vast majority of the opposition was religious in nature, confirming again that the majority organised churches of Great Britain are grossly homophobic and we need to continue to view them as enemies of our humanity, our rights and of justice for the foreseeable future.

On annulment – we will not be able to “annul” our marriages due to non-consummation simply because the whole concept of consummation is ridiculously heterosexist and revolves around a very limited definition of sex. Faced with this, the government has just ticked a big “not applicable” box and, to be honest, I don’t blame them – though I would have preferred it if “non-consumation” were just struck from the law entirely as the archaic relic it is.

I do NOT approve of leaving the adultery law where it is. Adultery only counts, again, when penis-in-vagina-sex occurs. Sure you can still get a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, but deciding only het-sex counts for adultery is insulting and insufficient. To be honest, just scrapping adultery entirely and going with “unreasonable behaviour” for all would suit me better

The inequality of pensions is also not something I approve of – wives and widows will still have greater access to their partner’s pension benefits than husbands and widowers. We have some nebulous assurance of that changing – but it is still nebulous. Similarly, homophobic discrimination in occupational pensions is not being retroactively corrected so will continue as it is. The idea that this would create “retroactive costs” is failing to acknowledge that it would correct old injustice

Similarly, I am irritated by the protection for teacher’s “beliefs”. It is not a teacher’s place to teach their beliefs to children, their job is to teach how things are. And how things will be is marriage will be legal – we don’t need to protect a teacher’s editorialising by adding “of course this is wrong and sinful.” Or at least, not if the same teachers aren’t also protected from saying “but it may not be recognised by archaic, bigoted and immoral institutions that insist on dehumanising humanity that continues to cause so much pain and suffering”

Yes, I am beyond irritated that 52% of the respondents to the consultation were straight. I feel, again, that my rights and humanity has been put into straight people’s hands and had to be validated by straight folks before they could be acknowledged.

At this stage I almost don’t dare to hope. There’s still so much that could derail the process and the opposition is very fierce, very unreasonable and stunning in how hateful it is. But there’s a path now – it’s not going to be pleasant to walk, the religious groups and Tory homophobes are screaming utter venom, but they have been for a months If not years. Still we’re on the path and maybe, just maybe the end is in sight.