Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Barbarisms

Today is the feast of St. John Ogilvie, Glasgow's martyr.
During the torture he endured, he taunted his captors by saying,
"I make no account of you and can willingly suffer more for this cause than you are able to inflict. Your threats cheer me; I mind them no more than the cackling of geese."
Last night, I endured BBC's 'Reporting Scotland' for all of what must have been 15 seconds. It was yet another day in which the lead story concerned knife crime. The moment I'd had enough was when an inarticulate young Glaswegian man inarticulately indicated how many times he'd been stabbed, and which portions of his anatomy had been perforated.
There are times when defending the right of Glaswegians to be Glaswegians feels like defending the right of barbarians to their barbarism. Absolutely nothing will alter the chaotic nihilism which is so many Glaswegians' modus vivendi, apart from the efforts of Glaswegians themselves. A saint died for us and among us - and the only thoughts that many of us seem capable of harbouring are those of homicide, the only hopes those of imminent stupefaction and violent profit. This is not a malaise of material poverty; this is the direct consequence of poverty of spirit.
All the while, Scotland's politicians cackle like geese, spewing out initiatives in the insane belief that increasingly punitive, anti-people laws will make the slightest dent upon a combined culture of drunkenness and violence which has now been entrenched for centuries. By adhering to this mad belief, they do nothing but highlight their own impotence. They might as well advertise it in neon.
Yet at the same time, Margo MacDonald is proceeding with her 'my right to die is your doctor's right to kill you' law in the Scottish Parliament. Quite the most interesting thing that could ever happen to the Scottish Parliament would be for St. John Ogilvie to rise from his grave and preach a 17th Century Jesuit hellfire sermon on its steps. Half of our parliamentarians would fall to their knees begging for forgiveness, while the other half would flee up Arthur's Seat for their lives.
Ms. MacDonald's faux-heroism must be contrasted with the genuine heroism of Mrs. Jade Tweed. Ms. MacDonald believes that her condition is going to kill her at some point in the future, while Mrs. Tweed is staring death in the face. Ms. MacDonald wishes to receive treatment until she feels she can't take any more, while there is apparently none that will do Mrs. Tweed any good. Ms. MacDonald wishes to live long enough to ensure that she can't put herself to death and doesn't want the people she wants to put her to death to suffer penalties, while Mrs. Tweed has avoided this philosophical minefield through the bad taste of dying naturally of an aggressive illness.
Yet while her terrors of dying a natural death are so intense, the thought of enduring the very natural feeling of pain so frightening, that they make Ms. MacDonald wish to be put down like a lame horse and have everyone applaud her for being civilised, Mrs. Tweed has been baptised; and so have her children, apparently at her insistence.
Her rationale was that she wants her children to 'know Jesus'. There are those who would no doubt consider this statement to be a foolish, childish sentiment; yet however much it might be lacking in linguistic finesse, it seems to express the spirit in which Our Lord commanded us to come to Him quite exactly. The double, and quite delicious, irony in all this is that the task of breaking the news of this development to the media was given to one of the country's most notoriously hardboiled PR agents. The Lord works in mysterious ways; and the PR agents and reality TV stars might yet be crowding into the Kingdom along with the prostitutes and the publicans, far ahead of the so-called 'great and good'. There has not been the same degree of comment on this aspect of Mrs. Tweed's last days as there has been about how her illness has raised awareness of the importance of cervical screening; from the secular point of view, for good reason.
It is a direct assault upon the values which have dominated British culture, such as it has become, since the end of the Second World War. One wonders what the foolish and fanatical Leila Deen thinks not of Mrs. Tweed's baptism, but of her having had children in the first place; that is, when she's not going mental in the environs of Peter Mandelson. The more one sees and reads of environmental protestors of Miss Deen's stripe, the more one recalls the exploits of The Army Of The Twelve Monkeys. The crusties are frightening. The more one hears of employers complaining about employing women of child-bearing age, the more one wonders how long it will be before an employer asserts a right to demand that such women undergo abortions if they wish to stay employed.
Jade Tweed's illness is a 'good thing' for cervical cancer screening because cervical cancer can be caused by early sexual promiscuity (I am not suggesting for a second that this has been the case with Mrs. Tweed), and maintaining the culture of sexual promiscuity among young women is so important to our barbaric culture that Scottish schoolgirls are either receiving, or soon will be receiving, an inoculation against cervical cancer. Cervical cancer kills. This means that early sexual promiscuity can kill. This is a truth which those in charge of the culture can never publicly acknowledge. As far as they are concerned, it is better for Jade Tweed to lose her life in the cause of raising awareness of cervical cancer rather than suggest that the young women who are having themselves screened for it avoid behaviours which can lead to its development.
Anything which detracts from that message, such as the idea that Mrs. Tweed might believe in an everlasting soul and is attempting to reach an everlasting life, is verboten. For all in charge of the culture, promoting the virtue of a one-night stand is, at all times and under all circumstances, vastly more important than promoting the virtue of baptism; and the idea that a 'Big Brother' star might have said an 'Our Father' has them screaming for mother.
And the more frequent and louder the calls for 'assisted suicide', the closer that the shadow of the needle comes to my doorstep.
None of the people who advocate such schemes seem aware of the idea that it is possible to kill yourself before you become incapacitated, and that if you wish to do so you can even do it discreetly. I am not suggesting for a moment that they do; I just don't see why a law should be passed which could be used to end my life in order to help them end theirs - or more properly, have someone else end it, as if they were lame horses.
Mrs. Tweed is often derided for her lack of education, her gaucheness and some of the unpleasant and socially unacceptable sentiments she has expressed; yet when faced with a straight choice between her and Ms. MacDonald, the choice between which of the two is civilised and which the barbarian seems quite clear.
Ms. MacDonald, the cackling goose, can't think of anything beyond this world, and its pain and sorrows; Mrs. Tweed has had the foresight to get herself ready for the next.
In the USA, President Obama has just proved himself to be possibly the greatest barbarian in American history by signing the law ending the prohibition on funding for stem cell research. Stem cell research means harvesting living things for your own consumption. There is absolutely no normative difference between that practice and cannibalism.
I have the greatest sympathy for the sufferers of spinal injuries; yet I abhor what they consider to be their right to be restored to health after parachuting, rock-climbing, motorcycling and riding accidents, injuries they have sustained in the pursuit of their own entertainment, by means which require the death and destruction of other living things. They themselves would not do this to the dogs to which many of them feel a greater attachment than to other members of the human race.
Stem cell research is just another outpouring of the fetish for 'technology' which blights us. This is President Obama's 'Six Million Dollar Man' moment - 'We have the technology. We can rebuild him'. Yet at no point in that show, so popular during the president's teenage years, did Oscar say to Steve, 'and we rebuilt you by killing babies'.
For there is no way of dressing up, dressing down or dressing around the fact that the initiative that President Obama signed into law yesterday will help produce a genocide on a scale similar to that which has been suffered by the American black man in his mother's womb since the passage of 'Roe -v - Wade'. It will be poorer women, amongst whom black women are disproportionately represented, who will sell their eggs so that some white-coated, pony-tailed conehead who's read way too much Neitzsche for his own good, robotically squirting samples into test-tubes and then watching them rotate all day long when he doesn't have his head buried in a Manga comic, might one day win a Nobel Prize at the age of 600.
At which age, of course, he'll be chronically senile and the size of a peanut - but hey, he'll be living forever. After a fashion. Could you imagine being senile for eternity? I can't, and it astonishes me that anyone would want to suffer it. But there are such people about.
Readers might recall a movie entitled 'Falling Down'. At one point, D-Fens (Michael Douglas) encounters a black man, of a similar age as himself and with identical spectacles and haircut, standing outside a bank, wearing a sandwich-board and asking passers-by 'Are you economically viable?' It is revealed that the black man had been an employee of the bank of many years' standing. He had sought to take out a loan, and had been refused on the basis that he was 'not economically viable'.
The movie was released 16 years ago. How times changed.
Yesterday, Barack Hussein Obama played the role of that man's superior. He told unknown thousands of black American men and women who will now never be born not that they were 'not economically viable' - but that they were not biologically viable. Those who should be marching up and down Pennsylvania Avenue heckling passers-by, the so-called seekers for truth and fighters for justice, were inside applauding him on. It will be America's poorest and weakest, its ethnic minorities and its unborn, who will bear the brunt of this genocide; for the funding will be released, and the genocide will come. As the black man said as he was hustled into a police car; don't forget them.
This particular barbarism is a consequence of modern so called 'civilisation's' fixation with stuff. Prosperity is determined either by how much stuff you own, or how much of the stuff that helps you accumulate stuff that you have. We are able to accumulate more stuff at some times, less during others - we label such periods 'booms' and 'recessions'. Stuff is good; we have even constructed a way of life around stuff. There is a particular category of stuff called 'domestic labour-saving devices'. This type of stuff became so popular that the housewives whose labour it was saving had to go out and get jobs in order to buy more of it. In time the cost of producing these devices came down, while the cost of the energy they consumed went up. This meant that the housewives of yesterday were no longer working outside the home in order to buy 'domestic labour-saving devices', but in order to operate them. Given that they are now working harder than they have ever done before, such stuff shouldn't really be called 'domestic labour-saving devices', but 'domestic wage-enslavement devices', or 'domestic productivity-transference devices' instead.
A branch of philosophy has grown up around this phenomenon. A woman working two jobs in order to run a washing machine is said to have reached a particular state of mind. It is called 'fulfillment'.
The highest category of stuff, the best type of stuff to have, is old stuff. This is stuff that might be worth stuff. In the UK, we worship non-stuff and stuff in conjunction - that 'Songs of Praise' and 'Antiques Roadshow' have appeared in close proximity on BBC1's Sunday evening schedule for many years might be no accident, God and Mammon joined at the hip. People don't watch 'Antiques Roadshow' in order to learn about the provenance of the beautiful objets featured on it, nor the quality of the craftsmanship required to produce it - they want to know how much stuff the stuff's worth. If the experts were to decline to provide valuations for the items presented to them and with which their owners say they'll never part, the show's ratings would collapse overnight. So much for the joys of popular antiquarianism. The bottom line is, it's all about the stuff.
Stem-cell research is just about as far as we can go on the road of treating people as stuff, short of throwing them in chains and making them work as slaves. In a sense, the human beings harvested so that some reckless fool can walk again are slaves. They only exist in order to serve others. Other people direct every aspect of their beings. Perhaps their status is worse than that of a slave; a slave can always try to escape. The harvested human is never given the chance to be able to do so. And all so that Dwight can ride a Harley again, and that someone, someday, might pop a ribbon into Professor Conehead's matchbox. It's barbarism. Utter barbarism.
In recent days, we have seen barbarism return to Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is perhaps the only society in the world ever to have developed Newtonian demographics - for every Catholic sectarian there seems to be an equal and opposite Protestant sectarian, and for every Protestant paramilitary barbarian there seems to be an equal and opposite Catholic paramilitary barbarian.
There is much talk in Ulster history of 'internment'. To my knowledge, the theory that the end of internment in Ulster resulted in the rest of the British people being interned along with Ulster has never been properly developed. Its day might yet come. Far too many people have died to ensure the success of civil society and democracy in Ulster, when Ulsterman has often been unwilling to share those two great gifts with Ulsterman. Mussolini once said that 'fascism was not for export'; one can only wish that the same could be said of Ulster's midsummer madness.
It is interesting to note that there has been much talk of how the Real IRA's assassin/barbarians must not damage or derail 'the peace process'. One had thought that the election of a devolved Assembly meant that the peace process had been concluded; if that's not what it meant, and it's not concluded, then the chances of it ever being concluded must be rated somewhere between nil and low. Perhaps it's a 'living peace process', in the same way that the authorities in Connecticut consider that the First Amendment forms part of a 'living constitution'.
Whenever Northern Ireland's concerned, history is not on the side of peace. There are elements in Northern Ireland which will still be wanting to have a go at their equal and opposite elements in the year 3000, and on into infinity. These elements are all barbarians together. This is the nature of Ulster history. The time for excommunications is long past, and there never was a time for executions. So let Ulster's politicians prove their determination for peace. Give them no money to spend, and see how they get on. Our troubles might just be over; and with a budget of nil, Ulster's politicians will have enough of their own to be getting on with.

7 Comments:

Blogger Shlomo said...

A tour de force Martin. Excellent article.

10 March, 2009 21:48  
Blogger Martin said...

Thanks, Shlomo.

11 March, 2009 05:35  
Blogger Martin Meenagh said...

I agree. Magnficent!

11 March, 2009 09:25  
Blogger JohnM said...

You might find this of interest.

It always struck me that the debate about stem cells was more to do with "we hate Bush/Republicans" than reality.

Whenever it was discussed on the pro side there was never any distinction made between
a. Private funding vs Government funding. So British audiences were left with the impression that Bush was denying all research rather than government funded research. Even when cited, the ratio of government funding to private was always kept hidden.
b. Stem cell source - embryos or adults. There was no restriction on funding for adult stem cells. Moreover the advances that I am aware of all used adult stem cells. Embryo stem cells seem to have promised a lot but delivered little. Perhaps that's a misreading but the pros hurt themselves by forever failing to tackle that argument.

11 March, 2009 10:07  
Blogger Thud said...

A fine post,quite inspiring. I know little of Jade Tweed but whatever people think of her she is paying a price now...God bless her.

12 March, 2009 04:23  
Blogger The Elephant said...

You're way, way off on the stem cell thing.

For starters, you say, "I have the greatest sympathy for the sufferers of spinal injuries; yet I abhor what they consider to be their right to be restored to health after parachuting, rock-climbing, motorcycling and riding accidents, injuries they have sustained in the pursuit of their own entertainment, by means which require the death and destruction of other living things."

You're trying to imply that stem cells research would primarily benefit those who incurred injuries due to recreational activities. That is simply incorrect.

For starters, most (at least here in the US, I am a "septic", by the way) are caused by motor vehicle accidents, violence, and falls, with motor vehicles causing 50%, violence such as gunshot and stab wounds causing 15%, and falls, mostly by those over 65, causing 22%. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/spinal-cord-injury/DS00460/DSECTION=causes

So this idea that all spinal cord injury sufferers are victims of their own enthusiasms for "extreme sports", as your words imply, is quite simply false. Injuries that you cite, impact sports and diving, cause only about 8% of new injuries. Furthermore, 5% of spinal cord injuries are caused by disease, such as multiple sclerosis and metastasizing cancers.

Furthermore, you ignore the fact that stem cell research has benefits far beyond spinal cord injuries alone. Remember, stem cells enable you to be able to regenerate nervous tissue. This means stem cells can help treat brain damage from strokes and traumatic brain injury by spurring brain cell growth. They can also help treat brain cancer, which is currently a death sentence. They can also help treat blindness by helping generate corneal cells. Research that was done, I might add, in the UK.

So don't try and construe this as some case of "people who reckless endangered their own lives try to destroy embryos to fix the messes they've made of their own bodies", because it's not.

Furthermore, you attempt to equate "babies" with "embryos". That is quite simply not true. "Babies" are at least six months from conception and can survive outside the mother's womb. These "embryos" are about 5 days from conception. As a matter of fact, they are mostly derived from embryos frozen for in-vitro fertilization which were never implanted, and thus would have been destroyed anyway: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/tech/stemcells/sccreate/ If destroying embryos makes you upset, embryos destroyed for stem cell research should be the least of your concerns.
At this stage of development, the embryo is simply a blastocyst, at a stage prior to implantation in the uterus. At this point, the embryo is a simply a mass of cells.

Calling a pre-implantation embryo a "baby" might work well to heat the blood of those not familiar with the cycle of development of the fetus, but it is grossly disingenuous.

10 April, 2009 03:14  
Blogger Martin said...

Ah, a technician who's had 43 page views since January 2007.

Just what we all need on Good Friday.

10 April, 2009 06:10  

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