Saturday, January 24, 2004

Toynbee's Children #1

(An occasional series on people who do bad things because the State isn't spending enough money)

Need admission to mental hospital, but they keep throwing you out for dealing on the ward ? Why not push a stranger under a train ?

"Christophe Duclos was left slumped on the tracks with a severed left arm and broken bones after he was sent flying into the path of a fast-moving Underground train during rush hour. A Frenchman who had worked in Britain for six years, he died in hospital three days later. "

As Polly has pointed out, "Depression is largely curable with drugs and therapy, but only a quarter of people get treatment. Mental illness causes half of Britain's disability, but claims just 12% of resources."

And the Guardian shows where its priorities lie with the headline "Tube killer wanted to go into care ". The poor killer was just another victim of society.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Suicide Bombers - The Professionals Arrive

Those Iraqi suicide bombers had better watch out.

Some guys are arriving in Kuwait who are capable of showing them up for the pathetic amateurs they are.

Five people here, a couple of policemen there. Call those suicide attacks ?

The Japanese Air Force could take out aircraft carriers.

Dealing With Burglars - Guardian Style

Well, obviously you mustn't do anything to upset them, says expert Professor David Canter, but the Guardian's Prisons Correspondent has even more practical advice.

Just barricade yourself in the bedroom (shame about the kids down the hallway), and most important of all, always leave something valuable for them to steal.

"I would leave a relatively valuable, portable item near entry points. Addicts often look no further than the next fix, so there's a better than even chance they will gratefully accept this speedy answer to their problem".

It's at such times that I wonder if Tony Martin was sent by God to a nation unworthy of him. Listen again to the good professor.

"I run workshops with bank and building society employees and I ask them why they might feel the need to adopt a heroic role. Some people feel angry or insulted that they can't protect themselves, colleagues or family against a burglar. The question you really need to ask yourself is, do you want to be a dead hero for your loved ones?"

30's leftie pin-up La Pasionara addressed this question.

"It is better to be the widows of heroes than the wives of cowards!"

If only David Canter had been around in 1936 to put her right. And what a moral pygmy is today's Guardianista compared to his counterpart of 70 years ago.

She had a couple more relevant quotes :

"It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees".

"No Pasaran !"

Murdering Strangers - A Liberal View

Cheesed off about something ? Really cheesed off ? Short on options to do something about it ?

Have you considered deliberately killing people solely on the grounds of their race or religion ?

Jenny Tonge has.

Toynbee's Children

Remember Thatcher's Children ? Shorthand for anything you didn't like about Modern Youth, but wrapped up in caring rhetoric ? TCs came in two flavours - coke-snorting red-braced yuppie, with its downmarket variants Essex, White Van, and White-Sock Man (bad, greedy people) or thieves/crackheads/smackheads (Victims Of Society) as chronicled by Nick Danziger, Nik Cohn etc.

The persistence of the UK underclass despite years of relative economic prosperity implies that perhaps it wasn't just unemployment that was the problem. Maybe we need a new name for those who think that the state should provide for them, but that there is no reciprocal obligation. The kind of people described here by Charles Murray.

"Talking to the boys in their late teens and early twenties about jobs, I heard nothing about the importance of work as a source of self-respect and no talk of just wanting enough income to be free of the benefit system. To make a decent living, a youth of 21 explained to me, you need £200 a week after taxes. He would accept less if it was all he could get. But
he conveyed clearly that he would feel exploited. As for the Government's employment training scheme, YTS, that's 'slave labour'. Why, another young man asked me indignantly, should he and his friends be deprived of their right to a full unemployment benefit just because they haven't reached 18 yet? It sounded strange to my ears - a 'right' to unemployment benefit for a school-age minor who's never held a job. But there is no question in any of their minds that that's exactly what the unemployment benefit is: a right, in every sense of the word. The boys did not mention what they considered to be their part of the bargain.

'I was brought up thinking work is something you are morally obliged to do,' as one older man put it. With the younger generation, he said, 'that culture isn't going to be there at all.'"

As Murray says "The key to an underclass is ... a situation in which a very large proportion of an entire community lacks fathers." So step forward 'Suzi' Leathers, chairman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, with her brilliant suggestion that the clause requiring doctors to take account of the need of a child for a father, when offering in vitro fertilisation to infertile women, should be removed from the law. After all, as the Guardian points out, 'All You Need Is Love'.

The great Dalrymple, chronicler of the British underclass, is not amused.

"If you care to look at the already extensive part of the country in which fatherhood scarcely exists, except in the merest biological sense, you will find not merely an alternative, but a very much worse kind of family life (the word family being used very loosely). It exists in a Hobbesian world of primitive brutality, where the man with the biggest fist or biggest machete or biggest gun rules, and where children are soon inducted into a wholly egotistical code of conduct in which what you do is determined only by what you can get away with.

It is a world from which increasingly there is no escape. It is a world in which women are subjected to far more domestic violence than ever before, and in which children experience a dialectic between gross over-indulgence on the one hand and savage repression on the other, according to the mood of the moment. Merely to call this way of life different is abject cowardice or dishonesty. Indeed, having lived and worked in several parts of the world, and having travelled very extensively, I should say that it is the worst way of life known to me anywhere. To say that we should merely accept it as inevitable, as part of the march of history, as an inescapable part of the zeitgeist, is to accept descent into degradation. It is complacently to accept disaster, both for the individuals caught up in it and for society as a whole. Ms Leather's proposals are one more sentence in our long national suicide note."

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Free The Wapping One

That would be rather a good moniker, wouldn't it ? Even John Leslie wouldn't mind that nickname.

The forces of darkness gather round the eternal flame of righteousness that is Richard Littlejohn ...

Good And Bad News ....

For Guardianistas and other liberal types.

The good news is that Harriet Harman's review of child murder convictions makes it likely that Home Office murder figures will have to be revised downwards. One in the eye for those moral panic merchants who think murder has been going up !

The bad news is that this may destroy the famous claim that 'most child murders are committed in the family'.

But don't worry. As far as academics are concerned, 'the family' means whoever's shacked up with mummy at the time. I quote "Focusing solely upon children killed by men in the family reveals that the greatest risk is from stepfathers who are cohabiting with the child’s mother (34%), followed by birth fathers who cohabit with the birth mother (29%)."

Norman Dennis puts it better then I can:

"Confusion between, on the one hand, ‘families’ as any sexual or childrearing arrangement and, on the other, the institutional married family, is nowadays so complete, and hostility to the institutional family so widespread in the political, academic, and media community, that—an intellectual disgrace—‘child abuse’, which proportionately predominates in the non-married ‘setting’, is one of the sticks with which the married family is then beaten.

Jasmine Beckford’s father was not married to her mother, and Jasmine was born when her mother was cohabiting with a man who was not her father. Jasmine’s setting at the time of her death was with her mother who was living with another man who was not Jasmine’s father. Tyra Henry’s father was not married to her mother. Her unmarried father and mother were ‘probably mainly cohabiting’ at the time of Tyra’s death. Kimberley Carlile’s parents were married when she was born. Her setting at the time of her death was with her mother who was cohabiting with a man who was not Kimberley’s father.

So Beatrix Campbell, the famed author and socialist, who is frequently called upon by television, the radio and the press to comment on family matters, writes of these three cases: ‘The ghosts of dead children—Jasmine Beckford, Tyra Henry and Kimberly Carlile, all destroyed by their fathers—smiled from the newspapers … these children died within the family, the institution sanctified by Thatcherism.’"

Monday, January 19, 2004

Another Islamophobic Rant

The Islamic movement "is renowned for intimidating, terrorising and violating women and girls and their rights". It obstructs "the access of women and girls in particular to the advances of civilised societies".

Outrageous. I shall write to Trevor Phillips at once. How dare they say such things. How dare they imply that so-called 'civilised societies' are preferable to Islamic ones. What about Arabic numerals/algebra/alcohol/Aldebaran/the library at Alexandria/Abu Hamza - sorry, I mean Ibn Battuta ? Who could propagate such hate speech ?

The Organisation of Women’s Liberation-Iran and Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, in this week's Weekly Worker, that's who.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Fair Play To Them ...

I noted last week how the "right to die" seemed to apply to everyone except prisoners. I spoke too soon. Here's John Humphrys, whose fathers sad death seems to have planted a whole hive of euthanasia bees in his bonnet, saying 'Give killers the choice - life in jail or assisted suicide.'. Humphrys must be under the impression that people serve life for murder, when in reality 10 or eleven years is average.

The Indie offers Mark Leech's 'lifers should be offered a dignified exit'.

‘Tis Pity She’s A Guardianista

How strange. I find myself agreeing with Madeleine Bunting about the Sun’s rather pathetic anti-Clare Short campaign. Ms Short has no intention of reviving her legislative campaign against the Sun’s Page Three (twice her private member’s bills have failed) – she simply said she believed it should be banned.

The Sun’s campaign – featuring a bus parked outside Short’s home and unflattering fake photomontages of her topless, isn’t even, as Ms Bunting points out, remotely funny. And I’m no fan of the MP for Ladywood – though for years I considered her a kind of antiparticle Ann Widdicombe, whose honesty you can applaud even while disagreeing with her. Clare’s antics over Iraq – staying in the Cabinet and then resigning after the war, along with her ambivalent views on murderous Irish republicanism have caused me to change my mind.

I wish these Guardianistas would make their minds up, though.

Is selling sex in all its forms, from car adverts through Page Three and ladmag shoots to Amy and Lara, a major cause of gang rape, frustration and impotence, and eating disorders (Ms Bunting), ‘violence against women’ (femiluni Julie Bindel), is it just another job - sex work, or is it ‘a girl power thing’ where the exploited are the poor sad male punters (A Good Thing) rather than the girls (A Bad Thing)?

After all, if sex is just another recreational activity, like a rubber of bridge or a game of tennis, then why shouldn’t some individuals sell their God-given talents and abilities ? And in a free market, you sell your assets or services at the market rate.

For the TUC and their Women’s Equality Officer Rebecca Gill, ‘sex workers’ are ‘legitimate workers in need of protection’. Even the great Aaronovitch seems chilled about it. Madeleine talks of women who claim ‘to be "empowered" by sticking her breasts at a camera’. Yet surely it’s the cheque that’s empowering, not the act. Or as one escort said ‘my self-esteem went through the roof. It made me feel like the next best thing to Claudia Schiffer, to be paid all this money by men who wanted to spend time with me.’ I get a distinct impression that the money is important here. So what’s the problem ?

For the Bindels, Dworkins or Catharine MacKinnons of this world the objection seems to be that men are involved, with all the violence and misogyny inevitably associated with the extra Y chromosome. Worse, they actually get something out of it. But the high tide of gender feminism has long passed and such voices have little influence - besides, as the Spectator reports, we sent most of them to Iraq - a far better use of taxpayers money than 'toys for the boys' like flak jackets.

Surely only the prudish, moralistic or (heaven help us) religious would argue that sex is in any sense sacred, private, or related to the conception and rearing of children ? Yet Madeleine and her pals remain uneasy. Something, somewhere seems wrong.

She’s right of course. But until she becomes prudish, or moralistic, or (heaven help us) religious she’ll never quite know what it is, and she’ll continue to rail at what she calls ‘fascistic norms’ and what I call secular post-Christian culture.

PS - Lordy, her sense of history ! I’ve noted her inability to comprehend the Victorians. She writes "In peasant cultures of the past, it was the reproductive powers of the female body which dominated representations of women. Now it is their power to provide male sexual pleasure. It doesn't seem much like progress".

Hang on – I thought the change from breeding machine to autonomous sexual being was progressive. And I presume when she says ‘now’ she’s no longer talking about peasant cultures. But when she writes about the representations I don’t think she means the Sheela–Na-Gig or the Venus of Willendorf (who incidentally bears a remarkable resemblance to the Sun’s idea of a naked Clare Short). I think she’s got in mind one particular woman with one particular child, which dominated all representations of women from Russia to Ireland for a thousand years.