Friday, April 30, 2010

Here Comes TescoLaw!

So they did it. Holyrood has enacted TescoLaw, in the name of choice, the muppets.
The public must receive choice in legal services, OK. The Yellow Pages are full of solicitors' practices, the Scottish Legal Aid motif can be seen on every high street, but there is apparently still not enough choice.
We have made a tin god of choice, and one of these days it will turn round and bite us on the backside. In a country full of solicitors, choice seems more important than the independence of the legal profession. Fine. I want my choices as well. The Tartanissimo wants to head an independent Scotland, so he just chose to declare his Mickey Mouse (or should that be Scrooge McDuck?) minority Scottish Executive to be 'The Scottish Government', to alternating bursts of mirth and outrage from the Scottish public. I want the choice to be able to head my own Parliament. And I want it now.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Pope-A-Dope Career Slope Of No Hope

When Peron seized power, he made Borges the inspector of poultry for Buenos Aires.
One wonders what similar fate might be in store for poor Anjoum Noorani, his glittering career now in tatters. Equality rights adviser on a South Georgia penguin reserve, perhaps? This might well be a suitably exotic posting for a man of his education, but at the same time one could not help but feel more than a little sorry for the penguins.
Ach well, never mind. The call-centres are always recruiting. I'm sure he'd look good in a headset. 'A month less a day on this ship, three years on other ships'.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Pope-A-Dope

Having been engaged in other, vastly more important business for the past week, of the type which is going to take up my time for the forseeable future, it has been dispiriting to see, on the one occasion I have been able to go on the Internet, that a scandal rooted in liberal bigotry, and liberal ignorance of and contempt for the Catholic Church, its teachings and the sensibilities of its followers, seems to have marred the preparations for Pope Benedict XVI's state visit to the UK.
The person responsible seems to have been the inevitable expensively educated twentysomething Oxford graduate, just another well-heeled but ultimately dull and cheaptack little emperor put in a position of unjustified authority over the British people on the basis of his ability to pass just what now be dumbed-down exams. He has been moved to other duties. It is not known whether he has been moved to Network Rail to provide holiday cover for the guy who cleans the gents' toilets at Waterloo Station, or to the Department of Work and Pensions in a frontline role at Castlemilk Job Centre. That would really teach him the meaning of public service. Whatever idea of a career he might have had as a diplomat is now over. That might not be a bad thing for the health of the British body politic. I look forward to him surfacing as a parliamentary candidate for either the Greens or the Liberal Democrats within the next 10 years. You can put the stopwatch on for that one.
It will almost certainly be true that he will design himself as being an atheist. The vacant, bovine stupidity of many highly credentialled young British people leads them to be certain that they don't believe in God, when their actual level of knowledge of Christ and Christianity is very highly questionable. Maybe they'll catch up when the Gospels become available on Blu-Ray. Maybe the best way of getting them to learn about it would be for some amenable rock stars to be paid enough money to set them to their 'music' and release them on the Internet, in the sure and certain knowledge that they will be illegally downloaded.
Liberal anti-Catholic bigots are strictly small-time. We're coming up to the start of that grotesque annual festa called 'The Marching Season', that 19th Century end-of-the-pier show which has persisted well past its sell-by date and which reminds every reasonable person of the wisdom of Johan Huizinga's comments on parades and the type of cultures where they're popular. Yes, folks, the sights and sounds of a Glasgow summer are coming back, and we're currently in warm-up mode. I have no interest in the heraldry of loyalist paramilitaries; however, on the evenings of Friday 23rd April and Saturday 24th April 2010, what I believe may be the ensign of the Ulster Volunteer Force, a Red Hand of Ulster with a Union Flag in the top left hand corner, could be seen hanging from a public lamp-post at the corner of Dalmarnock Road and Dunn Street. The person who hung that on public property is a real bigot, but an honest bigot. They've even got a flag to celebrate their bigotry.
What do the pope-a-dope deadheads of the FO, or even Tricky Dicky Dawky and The Empty Vessel That Makes Most Noise, have?
My family and I would be very grateful for readers' prayers.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Catholic Church, Opposing Totalitarianism Wherever It Appears

Although the commenters on this thread didn't really like the suggestion that the Catholic Church has been totalitarianism's most consistent opponent, to my mind a very straightforward statement of fact based on its record of standing against it wherever it's appeared, it's gratifying to see Cardinal Ortega of Cuba take his place among those of our noble prelates who have called for the release of political prisoners and demanded the reform of economic structures that keep the poor in poverty.
May The Lord bless him and keep him. Should he feel the ire of the authorities, it is to be hoped that Tricky Dicky Dawky, The Empty Vessel That Makes Most Noise and the Serious Men Of Law will all step up the plate to defend him.

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British Airways' Demand For Compensation

Should British Airways be paid compensation for being grounded - a payment which would to all intents and purposes be a subsidy, given that being unable to fly on account of ash in the atmosphere would usually be considered part of the risk involved in running an airline, but we'll let that one pass - it is to be hoped that all personnel who may have lost wages as a result of this unprecedented event, including those crew who took part in recent strike action, will be remunerated in full.
Just saying. And thanks to David Lindsay for the idea for the tag.

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The Tayside Branch Of The Police Federation Want To Detain Suspects Without Charge For Even Longer Than They Can Already

Even breathing at a policeman in a threatening manner seems to be capable of constituting a breach of the peace these days, so I had better be very capable of what I say here. If the rank-and-file of Tayside Police cannot use the powers they already have effectively, powers which have been greatly extended over the last 13 years, then this is either a sign of a serious failure of leadership at the top of that service which is duplicating downwards in a catastrophic manner, or else displays an unhealthy culture of authoritarianism. If they want to detain drunkards for longer than six hours, they can always accuse them of urinating in the street in a manner likely to cause a terrorist attack.

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Why I Will Not Be Voting Liberal Democrat

MPs On Legal Aid

I had meant to post something last week about the outcry over MP's accused of assorted crimes claiming Legal Aid. What is truly scandalous is Gordon Brown appearing to prejudge matters currently before the court in reaction to an illiberal outburst from David Cameron.
Any attack on Legal Aid is an attack on access to justice. Part of these accuseds' arguments seems to be that the courts have no right to try them. That defence can only be established in front of a court, and they should have the same rights as all other accused persons to whatever assistance might be available to them in order to advance it. If Cameron and the Tories have a problem with the very existence of Legal Aid, and I suspect that many of them do, they should just come right out and say so.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

The Message That Tricky Dicky Dawky Might Not Like The Public To Hear

Maltese clerical abuse victim Lawrence Grech, after meeting Benedict XVI.
When you're out to arrest the Pope, the idea that you can be reconciled to a Church whose members have harmed you might not be in the script.

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'Embedded Water'

While one can certainly agree with the idea that the UK imports too much food, by the same token one does not have to buy into the 'embedded water' notion being touted by some scientists. Such ideas appeal only to the inner technocrat that seems to lurk within many of that breed. Many scientists seem to be the credentialled equivalents of self-made tiling millionaires; having achieved a great deal of success in a very narrow field, they seem to think that this qualifies them to discuss matters outside their own experience, with the same often quasi-comic results.
Yet it's hardly surprising that they should come up with such an idea, given the dogmatism of the economic theories that they have to work within. The idea that everything in life has a cost seems to have been invented in 1979 - quite what we did before that is anyone's guess - so it should not be surprising that scientists should apply the same stingy thinking that may apply to their grant applications to their research. It's academic neoliberalism.
My own view on such matters is quite straightforward, that with the assistance of God's providence our planet may be able to sustain 40 or even 50 billion people without missing a beat. That's a leap of faith, I know, but certainly not a greater one than living under the flight path of a Boeing 747 with Willie Walsh on it when he wants to make a point.

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If You Wish To Hear Birdsong...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Comments Are On Again...

and please use them, otherwise I'll switch them off.

The Author's Moronic Sayings - Shooting Myself In The Loot

Buried somewhere so deep on this blog is a post so obscure it can't even be searched for, but which finishes with the words, 'What has democracy done for me?'
Well, it enacted the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the law without which I would not be able to get a job. Truly moronic.

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The Public Statement That Archbishop Nichols Could Have Issued

Reports that Archbishop Nichols is taking legal advice over a report about him in The Slimes makes one wish to play fantasy PR. He could have issued a statement along these lines -
'While I am saddened to see that its desire to slur the Catholic Church and Catholic clergy has led The Times newspaper to plumb a new depth, in this instance I do not consider the enrichment of lawyers to be an appropriate use of diocesan funds. If The Times has evidence that I have ever failed to comply with any aspect of either English civil law or the canon law of the Church, it is their duty to report it to the relevant authorities. For them not to do so would be an act of hypocrisy of precisely the same character and type of which many of my brother bishops have been accused, and for which they are undergoing trial by media in direct contravention of their civil rights as citizens. My duties are many and onerous, and my time is better spent tending to the needs of those in my pastoral care rather than in indulging what used to be a serious newspaper's frivolous demands for my attention.That one elects not to pursue one's rights does not means that those rights do not exist. I pray for the journalists, editors and owners of The Times, that the light of truth is in their hearts.'
Just a thought.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Study Of Roman History

"The total of 233, 010 inhabitants (of ancient Rome) at which MM. Cuq and Lot arrived by their wrong conception of the insula is less even than the total of adult male citizens alone who enjoyed the generosity of Augustus. The discrepancy is so obviously ludicrous that it suffices to condemn their theory. Are we then, in natural reaction against this sort of calculation, to reckon about 25 cenacula to each insula, which would result in the Notitia from the ratio between the 1,797 domus defined as so many insulae, and the 46, 602 insulae defined as so many senecula? This would be to fall into an error of exaggeration as reprehensible as the opposite" -
Professor Jerome Carcopino, 'Daily Life in Ancient Rome', Page 31.
Professor Carcopino, God rest his soul, was a fine and worthy scholar, but this is the type of passage that gives the study of Roman history a bad name. We plough on.

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Kudos To Jack Valero...

The Author's Moronic Sayings

This is an occasional series in which I recount moronic things I have said in the past, squirming with embarrassment while doing so.

Yesterday's comment regarding the gas cloud is as good a place as any to start. The fact that the CAA knows how aeroplanes actually work really does give them an edge of knowledge when it comes to deciding whether or not they should be in that air.

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Downfall

All good things might yet come to an end.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Verdict On 'The Great Debate'

Given that the post-mortems on BBC1 and ITV1 were conducted by a pair of brothers, I don't think either Dimbleby came out on top.
I am, at heart, a 'Question Time' man. While it is gratifying to see that Shami Chakrabarti is still in the land of living, she really didn't have any business being there, indeed doesn't really have any business ever appearing on television, other than in her capacity as director of Liberty. While it was gratifying to see that she did mention civil liberties - I heard her do so right at the very end, although I was channel-hopping with a defective remote, so she might have alluded to their decline more than once - she doesn't really have any business discussing anything else. However, should she ever be thrust forward for ennoblement as Baroness Chakrabarti of Blowhard-on-the-Box, a possibility I'm not sure William Hill's would give you odds against given the almost centrifugal speed at which she seems to attract honours, the big round of applause she got for saying good things about immigration might not have done her chances any harm at all. Whenever I see her on televison I cannot help but recall Lytton Strachey's acid observation on Cardinal Manning, that he possessed 'a superior faculty for gliding adroitly to the front rank'.
Micheal Gove, whose public utterances never fail to dispel the impression that he was the type of wee boy who stayed in the classroom at playtime in order to read 'The Lord of The Rings' or play 'Dungeons and Dragons', came out against grammar schools. I don't know whether or not he's ever read either of Correlli Barnett's books 'The Lost Victory' and 'The Verdict of Peace', but if not I would recommend he do so, and have a good long lie down afterwards. I certainly had to. In one or other of those books, Barnett recorded that the real reason that secondary moderns were so bad was that that for every pound that was spent on them, three were spent on the grammar schools. If grammar schools and vocational schools received pound-for-pound spending, it might just all be hunky-dory.
David Laws cannot help the way he looks. However, to my eyes he looks like a cross between Val Kilmer and a particularly cruel member of the Waffen-SS. I really got nothing else of value from his contribution.
Bunched together at the other end of the table was a kind of postmodernist Mad Hatters Tea Party comprised of Ed Miliband, John Sergeant and Nigel Farage, with Sergeant as the Dormouse. Miliband Minor bore the perpetually puzzled look favoured by exotic ruminants, while on a couple of occasions I thought that Farage was going to spontaneously combust.
Not a great night at all.

The Tartanissimo Wades Into Snottergate

On the edition of 'Newsnight Scotland' broadcast on 2nd March 2010, The Tartanissimo acknowledged Steven Purcell's role, in his words, in securing the 2014 Commonwealth Games 'for Scotland'. Given that he clearly considers the hosting of these games to be a matter of national prestige, it is to be hoped that should his soi-disant, ersatz 'Scottish Government' still be in office at that time, it will be more than willing to underwrite their cost and not leave the financial burden solely on the shoulders of Glasgow City Council.
Although there may be absolutely no connection between the two events, it is as alarming as hell to see that the police have announced a criminal investigation 'following allegations of drug taking concerning former Glasgow City Council leader Steven Purcell' the very day after The Tartanissimo called for an enquiry. Allegations surrounding Steven, and his admission of certain behaviours, have now been in the public domain for weeks. One of these is that he was visited by police officers at his office in Glasgow City Chambers in May 2009 in order to warn him that they considered him to be at risk of blackmail. We are not dealing with some kind of coup de foudre here. If there were any urgency to these allegations, the cops have had plenty of time to act before now. If they're not urgent, then, good grief, there's an election on. To describe this as being a politically sensitive matter is to stretch euphemism to breaking point.
I really, really do hope that it is not the case that somebody, somewhere has thought they heard The Tartanissimo say 'Jump!' and felt the urge to answer 'How high?' If that is the case, then civil liberties in Scotland are in an even more perilously fragile condition than I imagined.
The whole business surrounding Glasgow City Council at the moment seems so desperately seedy and tawdry that it needs a suitably seedy and tawdry moniker. Given that Steven has admitted to having partaken of the odd strong decongestant from time to time, only Snottergate somehow seems appropriate.

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A Short Thought On Volcanic Ash Clouds

After Frodstir Bankarsson and his colleagues in Iceland's financial community melted down the country's economy, there is something almost metaphorical about a freak eruption seeming to melt down the country itself.
Yet was it really necessary for, say, Bristol or Bournemouth airports to be closed because of a cloud of volcanic ash which was very probably never going to pass anywhere near the flightpaths of some of the planes scheduled to depart from them? I am no pilot, but would imagine that flights from Heathrow to Sydney via Kuala Lumpur are unlikely to pass over Lerwick - so why was Heathrow locked down? Was this the Civil Aviation Authority acting like a bunch of Elmer Fudds and nervous nellies?

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Offences Aggravated By Prejudice (Scotland) Act

I would like to comment upon Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone's remarks concerning what he considers to be the relationship between homosexuality and paedophilia. However, the recent passage of Patrick Harvie's Offences Aggravated by Prejudice (Scotland) Act through the Scottish Parliament dictates that it is prudent for me to avoid the discussion of human sexuality altogether.
The impact that this law will have upon the ability of religions to promote their doctrines may be unfathomable. Freedom of conscience might still exist in Scotland. However, it could very well be the case that Catholic clergy might now be liable to arrest for doing nothing more than preaching Catholic doctrine for the first time in a long, long while. History shows that such laws are never likely to stand alone, but always form one thread of a carefully woven web of laws designed to chip away at liberty one stroke at a time. To go from dictating what can be preached one day to dictating what can be believed the next is a very short step. If his law were ever to be abused in the hands of an incompetent and malicious prosecutor like a stick of dynamite in a child's, I'm quite sure that Mr. Harvie might one day at last be able to indict a Catholic archbishop.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tricky Dicky Dawky Seems To Get A Little Wobbly In Atheism's Holy Of Holies

From proclaiming the excellence of his legal team to complaining about his treatment by the Murdoch press - nearly fell out of my chair laughing at that one, I can tell you - to restating what he, a biologist by training, considers to be the legal merits of his proposed attempt to pinochet the Pope, Tricky Dicky Dawky preaches to the choir on the comment pages of the 'Guardian'.
He does manage to slide one in about the Kiesle Memorandum, after Mark Shea has debunked it.
If I didn't know any better, I could almost think that this is a cry of desperation, an indication that he might not be absolutely confident of success. We shall wait and see. But just imagine what it must be like to be able to phone News International and ask them to change something that has already been written about you. That's access. That's power.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tricky Dicky Dawky And The Latest Addition To The Jacobin Club - It's 1793 All Over Again!

In a commentary that descends from what just might be grave defamation in its second sentence - an opinion I am qualifed to proffer - to what I consider to be blasphemy in its second paragraph, George Monbiot, he of the windmills and nutbars, greatly increases his CO2 emissions by climbing onto Tricky Dicky Dawky's bandwagon-cum-tumbril and mounting an assault on the rights of nations, on the very meaning of statehood, with Montagnard ferocity.
I'm sure that any culottes that Tricky Dicky Dawky, The Empty Vessel That Makes Most Noise and Montagnard Monbiot might ever be sans would be well-tailored and suitably expensive. However, their collective sense of their own importance, that unjustified pride which often hides its diabolical nature with euphemisms like 'passion' or 'commitment', knows no bounds. These boys are stuck back in 1793, and seem intent on staying there. Absolutely nothing is going to stand in their way. In order to get Ratzinger into Belmarsh or Barlinnie, Dawkins, Hitchens and Monbiot would send the Westphalian settlement that has endured since 1648 to the guillotine and end the nation-state as we know it. They will try do this on the basis of a legal argument of such gossamer fragility that it will be a miracle if they don't all get sent down to the cells for half an hour for being stupid, if not actually for wasting the court's time.
It's all such bloody stupid nonsense from start to finish that I'm begining to wonder whether it's an attempt at atheist eschatological performance art. They shouldn't be anywhere near the High Court - they should be performing a comedy trupe and heading fro the Edinburgh Fringe instead. These people claim to be reasonable, when they give every indication of being the worst bunch of bloody fanatics this country has ever produced. Cromwell couldn't hold a candle to these boys. The very least one can say in defence of Miles Coverdale was that he was religious, albeit in his own fashion. What's Tricky Dicky Dawky's excuse?

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A Short Thought On Being A Modern Reactionary

Re-reading the relevant bits of Adam Zamoyski's 'Rites of Peace' dealing with the reaction to the end of Napoleonic rule make one wonder just what a modern reactionary would look like.
Upon returning to Turin in 1814, Victor Emmanuel was so reactionary that he outlawed civil marriage retrospectively, throwing many children into bastardy. He wanted to tun the clock back to 1798 so badly that he reinstated the government man for man using a 1770 court almanac without checking to see whether the people he was reappointing to office were still alive. He declared all property transactions conducted in his territory since 1798 to be null and void.
However, he was a rank amateur compared to Pius VII. He turned off the streetlights.
Yesterday, a young friend told me that he'd received a speeding ticket generated by a CCTV camera. OK, he was probably speeding, so in all likelihood he's been caught bang to rights, the more than passing resemblance between the Cathkin Bypass and the Indianapolis 500 at the best of times notwithstanding.
In all likelihood, the camera that snapped him wasn't there on 1st May 1997. What would a modern reactionary actually do if they wanted to turn the clock back to that day? Instead of turning off the streetlights, they'd pull down the CCTV cameras, and declare speed guns illegal retrospectively.
We live in a very strange world when the reactionaries are the defenders of ancient liberty, the ones keen on keeping the lights on instead of turning them off. Or allowing them to go out.

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'It Only Harms Christians To Bleat About Persecution'

Ruth Gledhill, in The Slimes.
One could spend an eternity fisking such rubbish - example: 'I am now reluctant to wear a cross, not because I fear persecution but because I don’t want to be identified as a victim' - huh? - but time is short and there are more serious and demanding matters to attend to, like a coffee and a cigarette. The best I can do under these circumstances is to implore that -
St. Agnes, ora pro nobis!

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The State Of Free Speech In Scotland

Sheriff James Scott's acquittal of anti-Israel protestors charged with racially aggravated breach of the peace may have absolutely nothing to do with Israel. As he said himself, the evidence seemed flimsy, the Crown seeming to strain at a whale to swallow a gnat. It is to be hoped that the leave to appeal which he granted is not exercised.
In my opinion, what it may have something to do with is the Scottish political establishment's desire to quash any criticism of any future Scottish state by equating 'race' with 'nation', with Israel being a suitable and convenient patsy for the establishment of a precedent to that effect; but we always knew that there are some seriously illiberal people amongst the ranks of Scotland's civic nationalists, didn't we? I hope that this is merely idle conspiracy theory, the effusion of an overheated brain. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

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'An Invitation To Join The Government Of Britain'

How this title can be reconciled with the Tories' desire to reduce the number of MP's - the so called '585 Project' - is beyond me. We do not need fewer MP's but more, more of everything, more local councillors, more MSP's, more MP's, more elections, more democracy at every level. Any attempt to reduce the number of MP's should be called out for what it really is; an administrative attempt to disenfranchise the people by default.
It is a nakedly vicious, typically Tory attempt to stick the boot into the people, to really get stuck into them with fists, feet, head and any object that might be lying around, as a means of exercising its preferential option for the rich, forever doing everything in its power to keep the flame of plutocracy alive. More MP's = more democracy - fewer MP's = less democracy. The ill-behaviour of some MP's notwithstanding, the democratic calculus is ridiculously straightforward.

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A Lunatic Analogy

"For the bereaved, this is a time for hearts opened in sympathy, not minds hastening with historical reflections. For Poland, however, and for Europe, there is already a glimmer of hope discernible in the darkness. This hope lies in the contrast between the two Katyns: the original secret massacre of Polish officers by the Soviets in 1940, and last Saturday's plane crash that killed the Polish president and other leading figures on their way to mark the 70th anniversary of that crime." -
Timothy Garton Ash, as ever seeming incapable of knowing when not to talk. The New York Times has published speculations regarding what might have been the true cause of the crash. While one feels very sorry for the bereaved, this could be the first time that a head of state has been killed on account of them perpetrating the type of air rage attack which would have got them banned from flying for life if they were a civilian.

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The Views Of The Police

I am not interested in hearing the views of any policeman on anything other than what they are doing to detect and prevent crime.
Comments such as those of Norman Bettinson on his pay are, in my opinion, unconstitutional. The modern Conservative Party, who, only a very small way below the surface, are the spiritual heirs of the Thatcherite law and order bootboys who pandered to that uniquely British strain of populism that demanded that its neighbour's children be whipped, flogged and punished for so much as daring to look them in the eye, loves this sort of stuff. Then again, the whole business with Richard Dannatt shows the naked contempt that the modern Conservative Party has for the constitution. I cannot recall any party going into an election with such contempt. At least New Labour's drones had the good grace to hide theirs before they achieved office.
Whoever Bettinson is, he should be hauled before his police board and disciplined for bringing the service into disrepute. If self-discipline cannot be learned, then it must be imposed; something of a basic rule of policing.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tricky Dicky Dawky's Little Helpers At The Slimes

There seems to be a certain conceit among some journalists that they comprise an intellectual elite, a conceit often unwittingly busted by every word they publish. One could ask them how they can reconcile presenting a BBC radio show while also writing for News International, an entity whose management seem to consider the BBC's continued existence to be a personal affront. Does not compute.
I have often found Libby Purves to be a sober and reasonable commentator. However, she has published a commentary in 'The Times' that must be music to the ears of the Committee for Public Safety which Tricky Dicky Dawky is trying to set up just in time for the arrival of the Holy Father on his state visit. The only item of merit it possesses is that although she's lapsed, she doesn't do the full India Knight.
She writes of the Catholic Church's reaction to allegations of clerical abuse that '(i)t is now beyond reasonable doubt that for many years — some of them horribly recent — in cases involving the abuse and rape of children the institution valued its own reputation above justice and kindness.' Her loaded use of the loaded phrase 'beyond reasonable doubt' reads, to my eyes, as a a proclamation of guilt by newspaper. Not being in possession of all admissible facts, she is in no position to form a decision as to what those facts might be.
My own suspicion regarding these horrible abuse cases is that they were enabled by the adoption by some clergy of the unholy mindset of psychological therapy, and their wholesale collapse into the traps laid at their feet by Frigmund Pseud, a distant connection of Keith's through marriage. But Purves goes one better than this. Not only must the clergy be therapeutic, they must also have therapeutic foresight.
She writes,
"From Ireland, America, Australia, Austria, the story is always the same: a brave complaint, an admission of guilt including other crimes, followed only by weak supervision and an exaggerated concern for the perpetrator. The wolf retains his clerical dress and status, making other children and their parents feel safe when they are not. Higher authority deplores the sin, takes the confession but won’t risk corporate reputation by handling it properly. As the Murphy Commission scathingly put it, the priority was always “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the Church and the preservation of its assets”.
The concept of 'child abuse' burst onto my consciousness as a teenager at the time of the Cleveland abuse scandal. There is a perfect parallel between the hysterical desire of Marietta Higgs and Geoffrey Wyatt to find evidence of child abuse, and the hysterical desire of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens to imprison the Pope. Higgs's and Wyatt's zealotry resulted in dozens of innocent parents being labelled as child abusers, an injustice for which neither has ever been called to account. Up to that time, I can't recall hearing the expression. Maybe I was lucky, very lucky. However, can anyone please tell me how a Church whose leaders are in thrall to therapy in 1970's Ireland can be expected to be alive to fashions in therapy that won't appear until the 1980's? How is this possible? One of the tragedies of all this, albeit a minor one when compared to the infliction of harm upon the vulnerable and the grotesque breaches of trust that were carried out, is that it was all utterly avoidable. If some those in the Church responsible for directing policy for such matters had, you know, read a little bit of Scripture, or, you know, perhaps even prayed for guidance instead of reading 'The Divided Self', perhaps some of these guys wouldn't have got across the door of a seminary.
I don't know if this is a call for women priests -
"Forget the lordly authoritarianism which speaks of the “good of the Universal Church”: that Church itself plainly states that concealing crime by silence is wrong, and that it is worse still to counsel and command others to commit the same sin of silence and concealment. Yet this crime, this sin, was being regularly urged on children, parents and parishioners by men in authority: the solemn clerical authority which purports to draw its privilege direct from the eternal Truth and to see into the depths of the heart. It is an all-male authority, too, in which the greenest young priest outranks an experienced nun or devout mother. It has been the perfect screen for wickedness."
It looks like it to me, if only because it seems as foggy and ill thought-out as most others.
But Purves is feeling generous -
"Most priests are not wicked. Catholics, in my experience, whether lay or clerical tend to be rather good people: gentle, spiritually aware, concerned for others, kept decently humble by the explicitness of Confession. But their Church has betrayed them, because it fossilised into a culture of hierarchy and unquestioning obedience, at the expense of individual conscience and intelligence. This is the fault line that may bring it down."
No, no, NO! Some people in the Church have been treacherous and unworthy servants of God. 'The Church' has not betrayed anyone. If Purves does not understand this, then she has no business commenting on Catholic affairs, no matter how well she learned her Penny Catechism.
I would suggest she read Andrew Brown's latest commentary in 'The Guardian'. The CDF has 45 people supervising the doctrinal and disciplinary affairs of 1.3 billion people. If this were a malfunctioning local authority social work department in England, the BBC would be reporting its pleas for more resources.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tricky Dicky Dawky And A Variation On A Meme By Hitchens And Robertson

So Richard 'Tricky Dicky Dawky' Dawkins, atheism's perpetual mongoose and looking more and more like a Dick Tracy villain with the passage of time, has joined forces with the driveller of foetid drivel Christopher Hitchens, the empty vessel that makes most noise, in an attempt to pinochet the Pope when he arrives in the UK for a state visit, not a pastoral or private one, assisted by a couple of 'serious men of law'. One of these is Geoffrey Robertson, the other might be that bloke with big hair who's never off Sky News.
The late Charlie Williams, God rest his soul, couldn't tell a better one than that.
According to Wikipedia,
"The British scientist Richard Dawkins coined (or adapted) the word "meme" in The Selfish Gene (1976) as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catch-phrases, beliefs (notably religious beliefs), clothing fashion, and the technology of building arches."
We see such a 'meme' being developed here, that the Pope is not entitled to diplomatic immunity because the Vatican is not a full member of the UN. We shall see it being repeated more and more frequently as the visit draws nearer, perhaps in an attempt to give it even only viral credibility. The idea that only membership of the UN confers sovereign legitimacy is liberal internationalist totalitarianism red in tooth and claw. It is rubbish, daft, a nonsense of nonsenses. If it were the case, then Red China would have been unable to legitimately exchange ambassadors with any other country until it became a member of the UN. See what I mean?
The fact that the UK recognises the Vatican, and exchanges ambassadors with it - not honorary consuls, not charges d' affaires, but ambassadors - doesn't seem to cross the Hitchdawk Gang's sightlines at all. We are not at war with the Vatican - officially, anyway, although I'm quite sure there are elements within the British Establishment who would love to see it bombed back to Diocletian, and who would push the button if they could. Hitchens and Dawkins give one the impression of being a fair of hate-filled old balloons, but the lawyers have no excuse.
If the 'serious men of law' are having lawporn fantasies about playing Robert Jackson or David Maxwell Fyfe to the Holy Father's elderly German criminal against humanity, someone should really tell them that the only prosecutor they actually do resemble to some of us is Fouquier-Tinville, and that their understanding of the elasticity of the law and of the rule of law, and their appreciation of the need to give a veneer of legality to misdeeds, seems to our eyes as catholic as his was - not a favourable comparison.
Top lawyers may be like top professional footballers in some respects, with some even marrying famous and glamorous wives; but while they may enjoy longer careers, perhaps some forget the same iron, immutable law that applies to them just as surely as to the most mediocre, broken down old centre-half reduced to turning out for some Mickey Mouse non-league outfit. Just as the centre-half is only ever as good as his last game, they are only ever as good as their last case. There are some lawyers out there who really are as good as they think they are. However, quite extensive professional experience has led one to believe that there are very many fewer in this category than those who think this of themselves.
It is, however, gratifying to see Geoffrey Robertson exercising his muscles in the cause of human rights. My own often stated prejudice regarding professional civil libertarians is that they are unwilling to defend all those rights you actually have, preferring instead to focus on those they think you should have; what one might call Chakrabarti's Law of Civil Liberties. I googled 'Geoffrey Robertson' 'Jon Venables' to see whether the eminent QC had opened his mouth to speak out in favour of a convict whose rights were recently trashed by the trashier elements of the British press. I might be mistaken,in which case I apologise in advance, but I could not find any instance of him having spoken out to defend Jon Venables's civil liberties. Or his human rights.
Who knows, maybe he was looking at the bigger picture.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Wisest Words Of The Day

"The bailed out City is now part of the public sector. How about cutting that? " -

David Lindsay. Why not?

UKulturkampf - The Slimes Of London

Having failed to pressure the Pope into resigning, The Dunked Doughnut's flying monkeys have acquired their secondary target.

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UKulturkampf - Finishing What Malthus Started

Having sometimes been part of his surplus population myself, one can only not that paying the vulnerable not to have children is straight out of Malthus.
It's less hassle than gassing them, and saves on the cost of bullets; the extreme remedies that all haters of the vulnerable, a breed with which the United Kingdom is bursting at the seams, would secretly prefer.

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A Church In Crisis

As far as clerical abuse goes, trying to brainwash novitiates into thinking they can make ashtrays levitate is at least novel.
The difference between the Catholic Church and the Church of Scientology is that the Catholic Church is a large and prominent church with a large number of little people in it, while the Church of Scientology is an insignificant little church with a small number of prominent people in it. I await Christopher Hitchens's and Richard Dawkins's calls for Tom Cruise's immediate laicisation with great interest.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Parallels

At first I thought that Keith Rupert Murdoch's action in having his two youngest daughters baptised in the River Jordan was hubristic folie de grandeur. Then I thought that he might perhaps have completely lost the plot, and has started to think that he's the Son of God.
However, a moment's reflection might lead one to conclude that there could be a certain, well, how can one put this, danger attaching to those who decide to conduct their lives against the backdrop provided by Biblical locations. Remember the fate of Herod Agrippa, who made the mistake of coming to believe that he was the Messiah. Remember Robert Maxwell, buried as he is on the Mount of Olives. The fact that his trip to the Middle East seems to be slapped across the cover of 'Hello!' magazine notwithstanding, it is to be hoped that Mr. Murdoch conducted his business there with an appropriate measure of piety and humility; for God will not be mocked.

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Turkeys Vote For Christmas

Within 24 hours, those who might believe that they might gain from the mangling of the Scottish solicitors' profession may already have set out their stall.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Melanie Reid

Yesterday's 'Scottish Sun' reported that the journalist Melanie Reid has been seriously injured in a horse-riding accident.
I don't always agree with her, but she has my best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

General Election

Wake me when it's over.

UKulturkampf - Christianity Is Bad For Your Safety, If Not Your Health

In the book 'The Persecution of The Catholic Church in The Third Reich', that grimly appropriate piece of Lenten reading that the Catholic Book Club published in translation from German in 1942, the authors record how Church processions which had been held for centuries were actively discouraged. The participants in one procession were in the habit of throwing flowers in front of it. The totalitarian apparatus banned this practice on the grounds of health and safety.
Shirley Chaplin has lost the employment tribunal proceedings she had brought against the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust, on the basis of its alleged discrimination against her on the grounds of her religion. She had worn a crucifix with her nursing uniform for 30 years, 20 of which had been spent with that trust. There is no report of it ever having been grabbed by any patient during that time. It would never appear to have been considered a potential hazard threatening Mrs. Chaplin's health and safety at work in respect of which her employers had required to exercise their duties of care both to her and to her patients. A new uniform was introduced. She was told that she must wear the crucifix inside the uniform, on the basis of health and safety fears concerning patients grabbing necklaces. She refused to comply. She indicated that she was prepared to use a magnetic clasp on the crucifix, meaning that it would separate from her person more easily if pulled. This was unsatisfactory. She sued, and has lost.
There are interesting comparisons to be made here. The one with the Third Reich is so obvious that it does not need to be made. However, in a world where footballers turn rosary beads into fashion accessories - indeed, unless I'm greatly mistaken, even seem to endorse those produced by fashion houses - it seems odd that a nurse who is a practicing Christian who has worn a crucifix with her uniform for decades should not now be permitted to do so because it is considered a necklace. The law of the land now appears to be that the wearing of Christian symbols in public is not a matter of conscience protected by law, but of taste in accessories.
Mrs. Chaplin is quite right to be bent out of shape about this. The biggest strike against her is not her beliefs; it's that she can't bend it like Beckham. After all, what can a nurse with 30 years' experience be expected to know about preserving her own safety when dealing with patients?

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Serious Men Of Law - Giving Lawyering A Bad Name

SWAPO (Suburbanite Washington Post Organisation) gives its opinion on The Serious (sic) Men Of Law's attempt to have Benedict XVI indicted for crimes against humanity. It seems like a good precis from which one can draw several conclusions.
Firstly, it reminds one how deeply academics, lawyers and journalists have been involved in the organisation and execution of all revolutions. If one wishes a quiet life, academics, lawyers and journalists should be kept as far away from the levers of power as is humanly possible. One of the great dangers of being a policeman is developing the belief that you are the law and not its officer. It would appear that our liberal lawyers might possess the same conceit, thinking themselves to be the law in the same way as a knucklehead cop coming on like Judge Dredd to a 16 year old hanging round a street corner. They would no doubt abhor the comparison. One can only suggest that they shouldn't invite it. The suggestion that Benedict be indicted is not merely revolutionary; it is the mentality of the purge.
Secondly, a minor correction is required. Geoffrey Robertson did not deliver an 'opinion' in favour of Benedict's prosecution in Saturday's 'Guardian'; in my opinion, he wrote an ill considered and perhaps inaccurate rant in a private capacity.
Thirdly, and this is a matter of great regret, one should have paid more attention to the whole International Criminal Court thing. This body seems to have the power to claim jurisdiction over every person with any connection to a state to which it is a signatory. The Americans were right. We should have had nothing to do with it, and I will vote for any party that proclaims they will withdraw from it. I would welcome clarification and correction upon its jurisprudence, but it seems to be the case that if you say or write something that someone thinks could constitute a crime in respect of which the ICC could have jurisdiction, you could be taken from your home and flown to another country to stand trial and answer for behaviours which would have been perfectly within the scope of your domestic civil liberties within very recent memory. In other words, your rights don't exist anymore. What you have are new rights, the scope and nature of which you don't and can't possibly know and which you can't uphold in your own courts. The citizen has lost the right to participate in the making of the laws by which they are governed, a new and opaque code imposed upon them by blue-sky thinkers with their heads in the clouds.
This is not liberalism. This is totalitarianism, the totalitarianism of a self-selected and thoroughly self-important and self-regarding liberal internationalist 'elite'. As poor, doddery old Private Jones used to say on 'Dad's Army', 'They don't like it up 'em!' Pointing out that Catholicism has been the greatest and most consistent opponent of totalitarianism that the world has ever seen, if only because it has been its most consistent and enduring victim, is a point that the liberal internationalist totalitarians really don't like up 'em; no, sirree.
Let's suppose for a moment that the ICC has no jurisdiction over B16, but that a plea to 'universal jurisdiction' could be capable of being sustained in a British court. It would be an incredible irony that B16 could have a defence under the Human Rights Acts. Huh? Stay with me.
The Holy Father is the spiritual leader of the world's Catholics. Through the Act of Settlement, Roman Catholicism remains a religious belief whose adherents are the subject of institutional discrimination. Benedict's Catholicism would be central to the making of any case against him. He would, in short, be tried for alleged 'crimes' that he would be incapable of committing had he not been a Catholic, part of a legally disadvantaged minority. I sniff the makings of an HRA defence in there somewhere.
When the mediocre legal thinkers start huffing and puffing, the creative legal thinkers get creative.
Hat tip Mark Shea, with many quotes from John Zuhlsdorf.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

The Disgraceful Nonsense Of Andrew Sullivan

"Our moral struggle never ends — until we find salvation in the God who loves children and doesn’t rape them. " -
Andrew Sullivan, at last scraping what must surely be the bottom of his own very deep barrel, in the 'Sunday Times'.
I would like to think that these words were insincere, and only produced for the purpose of earning a living and/or keeping up his public profile. I would sincerely hope so. I can't bring myself to believe that that's what he really thinks.

Bapto-Lite

In a commentary in the 'Guardian' (where else?), an Alistair McGowan lookalike named Ben Rogers lays out 'a political case for baby-namings'.
When discussing the financial aspects of marriage it seems to confuse marriage with weddings, and takes the view that the durability of marriage is dependent upon the public nature of the vow. In other words, you don't want to split up because you don't want to be seen breaking your public promise. I do not know whether Mr. Rogers has ever been divorced. I haven't, but I have met many, many divorcing and divorced people, and I very much doubt whether the fact of being seen to break their promise would have deterred the vast majority of them from the course of action they had committed themselves to. What our divorce laws do not allow for is reconciliation. When I was acting for divorcands, the law encouraged divorce by allowing for no legal alternative. The rather foggy concepts of counselling and mediation now seem to be preferred, in my view principally by judges unwilling to perform the functions they are well paid to execute, the principal one of which is to declare the law of the land regarding the marital status of two squabbling people determined to wash their dirty laundry in public. One has to wonder whether the reluctance of some judges to hear divorce evidence leads to more divorces actually happening than any desire on the part of litigants to have their day in court.
Love can take a long time to die. I can recall at least two instances where I am sure a repair to the marriage could have been effected if the option of being able to postpone proceedings for the purpose of attempting a reconciliation had been available to the judiciary. I have come across only one occasion upon which a judge indicated that he was not satisfied that a divorce should be granted. That judge was possibly the sharpest one I ever appeared in front of.
Since the passage of the Divorce (Scotland) Act 1977, the rendering of the marriage bond into something fungible, even disposable, has been part of official mono-ideology. If you don't think people getting divorced is a good idea, don't liberalise the divorce laws. Simple, really.
Mr. Rogers's observation that '(t)he poorer a child is, the less likely his or her parents are to be married' is not a reflection upon marriage, but is perhaps one upon the benefit system, and how it is open to abuse.
The answer to all the 'problems' that the author enunciates is what he describes as 'a ceremony committing them and their friends to do their best by their newborn child'. This is an idea that has been floated once already by Lord Layard, now perhaps on his way to establishing his own religion. It is a concept best described as 'Bapto-Lite'.
If Bapto-Lite ever came into being, it would be very interesting to see whether the use of Christian names would be discouraged. That's what the Nazis did with their own civil bapto-lite ceremonies - there must still be quite a few old men walking round Germany whose parents named them 'Wolf' at a bapto-lite ceremony instead of 'Johan' or 'Joseph' at a baptism. And if any 'Movement for Happiness' requires a deity, a Supreme Being to be happy to for thinking it makes you happy, I would suggest it be named Senokot. Or Exlax.

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter

The world is saved. Alleluia.

David Quinn Calls It Right

Glad to see a measure of balanced comment on clerical abuse coming from David Quinn of the 'Irish Independent' in today's 'Sunday Times'. Mr. Quinn takes a hurley to all manner of shibboleths. Money quote -
"The Catholic Church in Ireland now operates arguably the most robust child protection system in the country, something that is rarely acknowledged. The public still appears to believe that the Church has learned nothing, and done nothing. This is simply not true. "
Mr. Quinn's thesis is that abuse reached its peak in the '70's and '80's, when the rigour of canonical sanctions was relaxed in favour of a liberal, more therapeutic approach to sexual misconduct by the clergy. To use a phrase rarely mentioned on this blog, Vatican II, one can only note the timing of this peak in relation to the greatest liberalisation in the history of Our Faith and Our Church. Maybe this liberalisation was the 'Reformation' that some of Our Church's less lucid critics seem to think it should now undergo. Maybe that council's reforming spirit extended far beyond those areas it was intended to reform, regard for canon law and the rule of canon law becoming obscured in favour of the treatment and absolution of misconduct, no matter how sinful, scandalous and unbecoming, the concept of punishment being sidelined on the way to being forgotten; the God of Justice being diminished in favour the God of Mercy. If this is the case, it's not and has never been a crisis of doctrine, or of faith, or morals. It's been a crisis of liberal legalism instead, the liberals gaining the whip hand over the conservatives and using every means at their disposal to keep them from influence. This is not surprising. It's what liberalism does and what liberals do wherever and whenever they come into ascendancy. One can see a direct analog in such behaviour with the extreme liberalisation of British civil society which occurred at the same time as Vatican II. One could note the appalling levels of moral and spiritual degredation in which many thousands of poorly-led, poorly-instructed British people live and say without a word of a lie that Roy Jenkins did more harm to Britain and the British than the Catholic Church ever could. Bigotry is not introspective, and it's always funny to hear extreme civic liberal bigots scream and demand that the whole Church be held to account for some of its members' crimes, when in reality it is perfectly possible that those who bear responsibility for failing to confront and punish these crimes, those who spurned the power that was at their fingertips, in those dusty books on their shelves, were cut from the same ideological cloth as those critics who would now have them torn to pieces. To describe unchecked liberalism as cannibalistic is to do a dis-service to cannibalism, for few cannibals make the act of eating their own children as liberalism causing liberal to chew up and spit out liberal as mundane as it seems to be. It should never be forgotten just how closely Humanae Vitae followed on the heels of Vatican II's closure. Maybe it was recognised that the door had been opened too far, and needed a shove back in the right direction. Maybe the anti-religious forces of the world, those beliefs and practices which some still dare call 'civilised', were coiled up just waiting for the closure of Vatican II to unleash themselves in a burst of pent-up energy. Maybe it's not Reformation that Our Church needs. Maybe it's Counter-Reformation.
Perhaps that's why there is such hatred of the person of Ratzinger, for those who would try to see Our Church destroyed recognise that that small, elderly, bookish Bavarian is just the man to launch that counter-reformation, to unleash that zealous missionary spirit that this most glorious church, custodian and embodiment of our most glorious religion, seems to need in its most ancient centres and oldest Western homes. Ad multos annos, Papa. The Lord be with you.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Serious Men Of Law

'There is no more illiberal force on earth than a liberal with his hands on the levers of power' -
'I know some serious men of law who are discussing what to do if Benedict tries to make his proposed visit to Britain in the fall. It's enough. There has to be a reckoning, and it should start now' -
'Why can't women tell jokes? Because we marry them!' -
The personal proof of Lette's maxim can perhaps be seen in a commentary written by her husband Geoffrey Robertson QC, the liberal lawyer, entitled 'Put the pope in the dock'. It is difficult to know where to begin with this. The letters 'QC' carry weight only in courtrooms, not on the comment pages of the 'Guardian', and certainly not on the blogosphere. I don't know whether Robertson is one of 'the serious men of law' Hitchens referred to. I hope not. Serious men of law behave seriously. This is not serious.
It is nothing less than a frontal attack on the statehood of the Vatican, a state of affairs recognised by the fact that we send an ambassador to it. It should be understood that this piece is not anti-papal, but anti-Ratzinger. The degree to which much commentary surrounding these scandals is specifically anti-Ratzinger in character is remarkable. It suggests that Jozef Ratzinger could be committed for trial to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity on the absurd charge that he abetted the sexual abuse of children. Robertson gives a long precis of the Vatican's status under international law. However, the fact that the UK exchanges ambassadors with the Vatican means that the UN's posture in regard to that body is neither here nor there. For the purposes of British law, the Vatican is a state. The Pope is its head. It would be impossible for British authorities to arrest him on British soil in order for him to be sent to The Hague. It would be impossible for British citizens to attempt to effect a citizen's arrest upon him in Britain. There will be no replay of Peter Tatchell's Charge Of The Light On Their Feet Brigade-style attempt to arrest Mugabe. End of.
I'm not even sure the piece is factually accurate. Did Vatican policy directing that alleged abusers be reported to the police change as late in November 2002? According to this report, the firm change came in 2001. The importance of November 2002 for Robertson's contention is that the ICC was established in July 2002, giving it a four month window in respect of which it could claim jurisdiction over Jozef Ratzinger. If it was 2001, there is no case to answer. There is no case to answer anyway, but it's disturbing to find that one should find oneself having to say it in the context of the words of one very much more experienced in the ways of the law than myself. Indeed, it doesn't even make sense. Not only is there no case to answer, the only case that is being attempted seems to be one based on mistaken identity. If we're going for top guy culpability in relation to events that occurred between July and November 2002, Ratzinger was not the top guy at that point. Not only is there no case to answer, the principal putative defendant is long dead.
This is a fantasy, a legal fiction in every sense. When a prominent liberal like Robertson wishes to attack the very existence of a state, the foundation of all civil and international law, one has to wonder to just what lengths they'll go to in order to get what they want.

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A Pair Of Talking Eyebrows Speaks

My most vivid recollection of the movie 'Fahrenheit 451' is not the luminous beauty of a youthful Julie Christie, but the officially robust and demanding attitude to male personal grooming in the society it depicts.
In that world, paramilitary gangs roam the streets rendering No. 2 blade length haircuts to any male foolish enough to let their follicles fall over their ears. While fascistic and totalitarian, it is also deeply impressive, in its own way quite moving. In a world where children starve, the obscene amounts of money spent on the production, distribution and sale of hair care products for no purpose higher than their consumption by vain men is a sin crying out to Heaven for vengeance.
While his public utterances might sometimes have made him seem like a creature from the universe of that most sublime TV show 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine', the recent passing of Michael Foot made one realise that he missed his true vocation in life - as a Cardassian barber's model, one he could easily share with both A.C. Grayling and Francis Maude.
The onset of middle age brings many challenges. One is curmudgeonliness. It was with great difficulty that I restrained the shout of 'Tintin!' upon seeing 'drugs adviser' Eric Carlin (?) announce his resignation from the government yesterday. Another is the inexorable advance of orifice hair. Here, I must confess my own vanity.
Chaps, you know things are in a bad way when your wife gives you an ear-hair trimmer for your 33rd birthday; entirely unbidden. Since that dies irae dawned, it's been a running battle. Keeping these lugs well-mown would challenge the entire pantheon of celebrity gardeners from Alan Titchmarsh all the way back to Capability Brown. To paraphrase Bill Pullman in 'Independence Day', I will not go quietly into the night! I will not go down without a fight! I will not become an old man with silly eyebrows and a hedgerow growing out of his ears! I'm a conservative, dammit!
And if there ever was a pair of silly eyebrows begging for the Fahrenheit 451 treatment, they belong to Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. Those puppies are so rich and luscious that they deserve to protected as a site of Special Scientific Interest. A charity patronised by the Duke of Edinburgh should be established to ensure their survival. They deserve park wardens, if only to deter illegal logging.
Dr. Williams is reported as having given an interview to the BBC in which he states that "I was speaking to an Irish friend recently who was saying that it's quite difficult in some parts of Ireland to go down the street wearing a clerical collar now...And an institution so deeply bound into the life of a society, suddenly becoming, suddenly losing all credibility - that's not just a problem for the Church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland."
It is extremely doubtful whether the Catholic Church has lost 'all credibility' in Ireland. The liberalisation of Irish society has inevitably resulted in the partial substitution of one priesthood for another. Some prefer to listen to Michael O' Leary instead of Father O' Leary. Instead of going to confession, some watch DVD's of 'Father Ted'. It was ever thus. Liberalisation has just made it more open.
One of the defining features of all nationalisms is that they attempt to substitute ideology for religion, and Irish nationalism is no different. What does differentiate Irish nationalism from other nationalisms is the extent to which religion permitted its own co-option into the nationalist structure, assuming responsibility for the performance of state functions and in turn thus giving abusers very many more opportunities than they might otherwise have had. Ireland is a society so Catholic that it should be considered a Southern European society grafted on to the North, a fact that Ol' Bush Eyes might not quite grasp. One of this anthropology's consequences is anti-clericalism. Another is civic and political corruption. From what one reads of Irish public life, it seems to be comprised of an endless series of scandals. The clerical abuse scandals seem to alternate with the civic corruption scandals with almost metronomic regularity.
I used to think that this persistent reporting of scandal was the consequence of the Irish having a great deal of pride in their new nation, and there may be some truth in that. However, what that analysis lacks is an understanding of why there should appear to be so much corruption in the first place. The answer lies in the fact that it's Italy with slightly different accents and more rainfall. Georgi Markov's murder should be considered politically motivated, an assassination; it should not be forgotten that the Republic of Ireland is the only English-speaking nation I can think of where criminals have murdered a journalist for doing their job.
The great difficulty with ideology, all ideology, is that it turns turtle when confronted with events for which it has no solution, and Irish nationalism is no different. Those Irish who complain about 'the Church' could also be very sensitive to the suggestion that the abuse scandals were allowed to continue for as long as they did due to profound structural failings in a society rendered in the image of Eamon De Valera's personal conception of the Irish nation, one in which no Commissioner of the Guards, nor any member of the Dail, nor any RTE journalist nor editor of the 'Irish Times' would make public matters that I am quite sure were within Establishment knowledge. That they might also be accused of hypocrisy in continuing to attend Mass while appearing to harbour antipathy for the Church might also hit a raw spot. They could attempt to reconcile this internal contradiction by ditching the ideology and turning their eyes to Christ. We live in hope.
One really does hope that Dr. Williams isn't trying to score one off The Holy Father after the old Bavarian invited his congregation to swim the Tiber. That would be a puerile gesture unbecoming of a man with eyebrows so resplendent as his own. And if there are parts of Ireland where priests are either physically abused or in physical danger on the street, one would hope that every legal counter-tactic is on the cards. No country needs a Catholic Action movement quite like Ireland, for without Catholicism, Ireland is nothing. For its own sake, it had better not forget it.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Foetid Drivellings Of Christopher Hitchens

It provides a wholesome and hygienic contrast to the foetid drivellings of the toping atheist lout Christopher Hitchens, that empty vessel that makes most noise. As I have recently remarked on this thread, when one sees the name of Christopher Hitchens cited in order to advance the cause of atheism, one can only ask his partisans when they plan to bring out the really big guns. Being fundamentally unserious, he is not a person to be taken seriously, and it is a mistake to accord his words that respect. Their violence, and the almost Tourettic nature of the rage they barely conceal, mean that they must be given consideration; but never respect. Hitchens is the type of public intellectual whose cards Byron had marked the best part of 200 years ago; the type of whom it can be said that as their careers progress, the balance between the public and the intellectual in their careers becomes skewed to such an extent that it might have difficulty passing a roadside sobriety test - and goodness knows, sometimes I like a drink myself.
Yet how appropriate that it should be on Good Friday that he should manage to trip himself up.
In this incredibly stupid piece entitled 'The Pope Is Not Above The Law', in which he appears to sublimate the anti-child Jacobinism of Louis St. Just onto the Catholic Church, he writes,
"This grisly little man is not above or outside the law. He is the titular head of a small state. We know more and more of the names of the children who were victims and of the pederasts who were his pets. This is a crime under any law (as well as a sin), and crime demands not sickly private ceremonies of "repentance," or faux compensation by means of church-financed payoffs, but justice and punishment. The secular authorities have been feeble for too long but now some lawyers and prosecutors are starting to bestir themselves. I know some serious men of law who are discussing what to do if Benedict tries to make his proposed visit to Britain in the fall. It's enough. There has to be a reckoning, and it should start now."
Given that the Holy Father has one of the world's best-known addresses, it would be redundant for Hitchens to say that 'We know where he lives', but that's just about the only piece of thuggery that paragraph does not contain. Witness the witless disdain for law, the rule of law, national sovereignty and diplomatic immunity. The Holy Father is not 'the titular head of a small state'; he is, of course, the actual head of the world's smallest. In this great intellectual's mind, the difference between the titular and the actual, between what is de facto, de jure and in nomine, seems to have become blurred. Either he wrote this while hung over, or else he's deliberately mis-stating the nature of the Pope's status, or else he has no regard for the rights of sovereigns, or else he doesn't know what he's talking about. If he doesn't know what he was talking about, Hitchens could at least be considered intellectually consistent. I have met many young atheists who don't seem to know shoeshine from sunshine, but they all know that God doesn't exist. When they read a public intellectual who doesn't even seem to know his most cherished target's exact status, such ignorance can hardly be considered surprising.
But Hitchens reaches totalitarian levels of Kulturkampf thuggery in those last three sentences. Read them again -
'I know some serious men of law who are discussing what to do if Benedict tries to make his proposed visit to Britain in the fall. It's enough. There has to be a reckoning, and it should start now.'
If this is true - let's assume it is - I want to know who these 'serious men of law' are, if only because I pay their wages and they're not fit for purpose. If they exist - let's assume they do - these men deserve to be called many things, but not 'men of law'; certainly not 'men of law'. If Hitchens is having a Dumbo-like DT fantasy about The Holy Father being Pinochet'd on touchdown and whisked away to Belmarsh to share a cell with Abu Hamza, or, even better, rendered to Morocco or the Chagos Islands on a black flight in order to be seriously waterboarded by the editors of 'Slate', then I'll have what he's having, because it's good stuff. The Holy Father's visit - not proposed visit, not planned visit, but visit that is going to happen - is a state visit. He is coming. Get over it. He will be here as a head of state. He will enjoy full diplomatic immunity for the period of time that he is within the territory of the United Kingdom. He will be untouchable. If there are forces in our government or elsewhere who wish to touch him, or who are planning to touch him, then these people must be exposed and denounced at once, for what they are planning is in direct contradiction of laws too numerous to count. They are planning to place the UK beyond international law, to make us a rogue state. Hitchens might yet get to see a reckoning - just not the one he'd imagined.
While Hitchens himself is profoundly unserious, these claims are not. If Hitchens claims to love law and the rule of law, he should publish these peoples' names immediately. If he does not, he will forever lay himself open to charges of being a hypocrite, or of being a moral coward, or at the very least of being a fantasist windbag undeserving of the slightest shred of credibility. The great gadfly might just have stung himself on his own fat backside at last. Te Deum Laudamus!

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