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Jesus. H. Christ. Rides. Again.


9:26 pm - January 28th 2008

by Kate Belgrave    


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This is a quick blog to update LC readers on the latest god-based outrage against women. As most of you probably know, Gordon Brown’s cabinet contains a number of career Jesus freaks – Ruth Kelly and Des Browne are the main offenders, and there are a couple of other perpetrators whose names and point in our lives escape me for the moment.

Anyway – Ruthie and her fellow holy-rollers have revealed themselves concerned that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill will make it possible for lesbians to avail themselves of IVF and become parents.

I’m still trying to grasp the exact reasons why the thought of a couple of dykes pushing a pram is considered such a disaster – who gives a stuff, basically – but I’ll go out on a limb for you here and posit the theory that the big concern is that two women who bring a child up without male input will wash its hair and teach it to bake and turn it into a Gay.

Horrors.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is dear to our hearts here at LC, not least because we’re trying to stop followers of the Lord amend the Abortion Act through it.

Now it appears that Gordon Brown’s cabinet is peopled by people who are concerned that letting lesbians in on the reproductive act will upset Jesus H (who, let’s not forget, is only a made-up person, like Big Bird or Po) and spell the end of the traditional nuclear family unit.

So – two questions to be going on with:

1) Why do followers of God still get airtime in politics and press? In all other (normal) forums like parties and pub nights, they’re laughed out of the room and never invited back. The person who brought them is usually expelled forever as well. If you see a Christian preaching on the street, you cough the word ‘loser’ and cross the road. But there they are in Brown’s cabinet. Go figure.

2) Why does anybody want to preserve the traditional family unit?

In my considerable experience, the traditional family unit circa 2008 generally consists of:

1x overworked mother out of her box on SSRIs

1x aspirational stepdad

2x pubescent Ritalin fiends

all climbing the walls together in an overpriced two-bedroom closet in suburban hell.

I quite like my family, but would say that we could have done with less of each other at certain junctures in our history. I personally count the traditional nuclear family among the western world’s great failed social experiments, especially for women. Read The Women’s Room or the Feminine Mystique for a couple of detailed probes into this particular car-crash. Hell – read the latest divorce stats, or the Sun on Ashley Cole.

The sooner the traditional family unit comes to an end, the better. Why lesbians want to get in on the act is beyond me, but that isn’t the point of today’s thesis. The point of today’s thesis is to ask who the hell Ruth Kelly is to try and exclude anybody from breeding and stuffing up their lives like the rest of us?

The moral of today’s story – God plays no part in family life, and if he does, he isn’t too good at it.

I have spoken.

The next Abortion Rights protest against amendments to the Abortion Act as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill progresses will be held on Wednesday 6 February, so get along. Details on the Abortion Rights website.

This work of art is cross-posted at hangbitch.com, where I left in the swearing.

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About the author
Kate Belgrave is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She is a New Zealander who moved to the UK eight years ago. She was a columnist and journalist at the New Zealand Herald and is now a web editor. She writes on issues like public sector cuts, workplace disputes and related topics. She is also interested in abortion rights, and finding fault with religion. Also at: Hangbitching.com and @hangbitch
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Reader comments


Brilliant.

2. douglas clark

Kate Belgrave,

I might not agree with everything you say, but to be honest, it don’t matter. You are the much needed voice of unreason on this site. You have the voice of an incredibly pissed off woman, which I hope you’ll never moderate.

“Revealed themselves concerned”. What pish.

But don’t read books about other peoples’ experiences, yours’ are just as valid, right down to the nitty gritty. (Are we allowed to say that anymore?)

It is true that unreason is a specialty of mine.

4. douglas clark

Kate,

Sorry, you are not really unreasonable, you are just a lot pissed off. There is a difference, I’ll work on it.

Still wish there were a damn more polemics on here like yours. Which is my inverted way of saying I thought it was an excellent article.

No – I really AM unreasonable. That’s even recorded in a couple of my work appraisals.

It’s the Christians, Douglas. They are a tiny group and nearing extinction. My calling in life is to help them over the edge.

6. douglas clark

You too, and I thought it was just me. And young Richard, obviously 🙂

“The moral of today’s story – God plays no part in family life, and if he does, he isn’t too good at it.”The moral of today’s story – God plays no part in family life, and if he does, he isn’t too good at it.”

Damn right!

Sunny – i thought you were in favour of the “traditional family unit”?? i remember on PP there was this big thing where you went on about family and respect and authority..

Kate. Pure genius!

I think I love you. Tell you what, let’s make a gay baby together 🙂

Great post, very much to the point 😉

YAY for gay baby making!

Sorry to take issue folks – but while I would accept that there is probably scope on this site for questioning the role of religion in society per se, I really don’t think LC should go in for knocking particular religious faiths.

I would surmise that among the roster of LC bloggers there are people of at least three different faiths and several more of none. I think a bit of tolerance is not only desirable here but essential if this site is not to become a beargarden.

The sooner the traditional family unit comes to an end, the better.

Except that what the evidence shows is that, all other factors being equal, two parents are better than one.

However, the important question is why, and the bit that the god squad routinely omit from their rhetoric is that the data on gay parenting (all on lesbian households to date) is that kids growing up such an environment thrive just as well as they do in the ‘traditional’ family, in fact the only measurable difference seems to be that lesbian parents are a bit better at passing on social skills to their offspring.

What emerges is a picture in which what makes the difference is a stable family environment and a good dose of parental attention, care and solicitude. Single parents come off worse, statistically speaking, because they face time pressures that two parent households cope with rather better by having two people to share the load. That not an indictment of single parenting, merely a reflection of the difficulties they face – which many, of course, successfully overcome.

What’s missing from the picture, which renders the model somewhat incomplete, is any reference studies into what could be called ‘communal’ parenting, which is relatively uncommon today but used to a quite a feature of life in working class communities in Britain 50-100 years ago. From my own family history I know that my grandmother and, to a lesser extent, to my mother grew up in that kind of environment, in which much of the parental role was taken on by my great-grandmother and her sisters. My grandmother’s generation were effectively parented by an all female collective derived from the extended family and I dare that if one looks at the few places one finds that model in operation today – in some minority communities – one will find that that too is no less successful that the supposedly ‘traditional’ two-parent family which, in many respects, is a creation of middle-class Victorian society.

In fact, I’d be inclined to argue that, historically-speaking, the model of communal parenting within the extended family is far more ‘traditional’ for the majority of people (certainly anyone with working class roots) than the ‘mom, dad and 2,4 kids’ model we’re told is traditional.

Brilliantly put and Mr Linford I, for one, will continue to applaud the knocking of any religion that tells me how I should live my life.

In that respect it’s only the Christians of the Labour party who are affecting me right now. This is a political website why shouldn’t Christianity that impacts on politics be knocked/criticised?

There are no other religions that have any single effect on my life. When they do then I’ll personally feel no problem with anyone saying what they believe about them

Personally I am enjoying the upsurge of atheism. We’ve respected religion too long and given it to its small mindedness. The reality is that Christians are a diminishing minority. It’s time that those of us without imaginary friends got to be honest about what we believe to be simply a superstition.

Can”t we leave this whole old fashioned God thing behind us?

Ourman

I think there is a difference between reasoned debate and the use of language like “Jesus freaks,” “holy rollers,” and likening Jesus (who whatever else you say about him was as much a historical figure as Julius Caesar) to Big Bird and Po.

Jesus (who whatever else you say about him was as much a historical figure as Julius Caesar)

*cough*

Sorry?

What we have for Caesar is a substantial weight of contemporaneous historical documentation, biographies and even his own writings, some of which are still very worth of contemporary study, all backed up by archaeological evidence.

What we have for Jesus is no contemporaneous historical accounts of his life, no hard archaeological evidence and a variety of religious texts, some incorporated into the Bible by the Nicean Council, other not, all of which are littered with inconsistencies and, in parts, verifiable historical inaccuracies (as in the case of the nativity where there was no Augustian census – in fact the first census of the Roman world was ordered by Vespasian who became Emperor in 69AD – only a local census which took place 4-5 years after the death of Herod the Great, which rules out the murdering first-borns bit of the story as well).

In historical terms the very best that could be argued is that there is likely to have been a historical basis for Jesus, one that was later subsumed into the mythical figure who appears in the bible by the efforts of later writers to establish his presumed divinity by way of embellishing what little historicity there may be with elements drawn from Jewish legend (the narrative errors in the nativity story derive, in no small part, from efforts to fit Jesus into established themes in the Jewish messianic tradition) and from the mythology (and philosophy) of other neighbouring cultures but there is nothing to verify the existence of Jesus the man or even that the Jesus depicted in the bible is a single individual rather than a conglomerate identity like, for example, Homer.

Whatever else it might be, the Bible is not a reliable historical text.

I don’t really want to get into a debate here about the historicity of Jesus, other than to say I’ve always thought it took far more faith to be an atheist than a Christian. I was merely making a comment about the tone of debate on religious matters I personally would like to see on LC. It is perfectly possible to argue that Christians are wrong about matters like abortion and embryology, or for that matter that extended family collectives are just as capable of bringing up children as mums and dads, without resorting to the kind of language used in the original post.

A marvellous article Kate, which shows the value of blogs: the dead-tree press would never print anything like this.

I agree entirely about religious figures being granted undue significance. Why, simply because someone believes in Jesus (or Allah, or the flying spaghetti monster) should that person’s views be considered more weighty than any other non-expert source? Couldn’t one argue that their weird belief in some mystic deity, contrary to all scientific evidence, is a reason to take them +less+ seriously than a non-believer? It’s anachronistic nonsense that the modern media can’t shake off even in an increasingly secular society where church attendances are falling off a cliff almost as fast as newspaper readerships. As the comments here show, even otherwise intelligent people blithely assume ‘facts’ about Jesus Christ’s life and existence (look at the annual outcry about children not being taught the Nativity story, which is demonstrably false, as Unity points out).

It’s not ‘intolerant’ to point this out, and I’d say it’s fair enough to be mocking about people who frequently think you’re going to hell and suffer for all eternity just for not believing what they do. Of course everyone has the right to believe and worship. But that doesn’t make them more important, more spiritual, more intelligent or more worthy to give an opinion on subjects like abortion than anyone else.

As for the nuclear family, I think it’s just as good and just as bad at bringing up children as any other system. I don’t think it matters so long as there are loving parents, caring relatives and the children’s needs are put first. Is that wrong?

Paul Linford – while you may have a point regarding the language, as for Big Bird and Po – what is written above is spot on.

To me, and to millions of others – Big Bird is actually more real (he’s big yellow and we’ve seen him on TV) – where is God?

There is not one single shred of evidence that would stand up to science that God exists and yet millions follow him. Yes, I know: proof denies faith yadda yadda. That argument is ridiculous and way way way too convenient.

Maybe it is time they stopped being respected and being allow to teach this daft superstition in our schools (superstition is being kind, if wanted to be negative I’d call it a con trick). Maybe it is time to point and discredit.

Christians are following something/someone that there is no evidence of. The King is naked. It’s time to take back common sense and to let go of sorcery.

Enough of this nice stuff, Kate. Get nasty. Get under this Cabinet’s skin (which is thick even by politician’s standards).

The evil way to do it is to quote the US economists’ evidence that legal abortion has lead to lower crime; even in God’s Own crime-prone Country. When they take it in, the self-proclaimed Anti-Crime Squad of Ministers will have a real hair-dragging, down and dirty squabble with the Anti-Abortion Squad. Could do a lot of good, not only on this Bill.

>the tone of debate on religious matters I personally would like to see on LC

I’m not sure you’re going to get very far with this one, Paul. I see no reason why Christians should be treated with any more respect than Trots or Tories. Neither would Mill.

Of course, that’s not to say that anyone calling her/himself a ‘liberal’ ought not to remember where liberalism came from., i.e. that it’s really a secularized version of Christianity.

#20
>US economists’ evidence that legal abortion has lead to lower crime

I think the ‘Freakonomics’ of this have been convincingly demolished, in fact. There is, in any case, no need to make any instrumental arguments for the right to abortion. To admit that, to go down that road, is to admit partial defeat. No ta.

22. Kate Belgrave

Paul,

Respect yr writing and views, but I think religion is a bunch of fabricated garbage that ought to be rubbished at every opportunity. I plan to continue taking those opportunities, and to create them if they’re not immediately to hand.

People can believe whatever they like, but the rest of us are not required to share those beliefs, or to show the belief itself an iota of respect. Thus thrives free speech.

I don’t expect anybody out there to respect any of my outlandish views. I only expect people to respect my right to hold them – a favour I return.

I am, for instance, a keen believer in trade unionism, but I don’t expect anybody else to be. I don’t expect people to keep their neocon views to themselves just because I’m in the room. Neither do I think they should refrain from calling me a commie, pinko, or hairy lefty if they feel like it. And they often seem to feel like it. So what if they do?

I have long associated organised religion with some of society’s greatest ills – war, guilt, oversized families, dangerous anti-abortion crusades and God knows what else. I am not required to pull my punches when discussing organised religion’s latest crusades into politics, and nor will I. Catholics want to be in government, and want their faith integrated into the politic picture – fine. They can expect a robust response to their input into proposed legislation.

Cheers,

Kate

PS – I’ve have focused on Christians in this instance, but am more than happy to move onto Islam, Judaism and any of the others when they wander into frame. I had to leave the SWP a couple of years ago, because I couldn’t believe that so-called socialist organisation was venturing into partnership with fundamentalist nutters. You spend yr life fighting for abortion rights, gay rights, strippers’ rights, etc, and then yr own organisation decides to hop into bed with Allah.

God help us all.

I have focused on Christians in this instance, but am more than happy to move onto Islam, Judaism and any of the others when they wander into frame

Well, if you ever do, Kate, it will be interesting to see whether the same rules apply.

“I’m still trying to grasp the exact reasons why the thought of a couple of dykes pushing a pram is considered such a disaster – who gives a stuff, basically – but I’ll go out on a limb for you here and posit the theory that the big concern is that two women who bring a child up without male input will wash its hair and teach it to bake and turn it into a Gay.”

It’s highly likely the kid will be gay but not because of any girlie fussing (gayness is largely genetic, that has been well established for a decade) but because he will inherit “gay DNA”. They are more likely to just do him a huge amount of psychological damage with their misandrist midsets, unless the child is female in which case it will just be bitter and twisted, and probably end up in social work.
I still don’t think that’s what bothers most intelligent people though. What bothers them is how the kid (and the adult) will react to being the only one in the class/school/street/village with 2 mothers. The outcomes for kids with any sort of “diverse” family set up are poor, so why introduce yet another variation on failure ? All kids want a mother and a father – ask any kid who hasn’t got them.

Whatever else it might be, the Bible is not a reliable historical text.

Very well said. Good piece too Kate.

Matt:

Sorry? He/she will inherit what?

Look, while there is evidence that genetics plays some small part in human sexuality there is absolutely no evidence of heritability – gay parents don’t automatically produce gay kids – nor is human sexuality as simple as putting people into boxes marked gay, straight and bisexual.

The real picture is one of a continuum in which gay and straight are notional end points and in which nature, nurture and culture combine to enable individuals to self-identify and assign their own individual positions in the continuum, positions which are mutable and which can (and do) vary over time.

Jeebus, Darwin preserve us from idiots wielding the rusty sword of pop-sociobiology as a vehicle for their personal prejudices and insecurities.

Yeah, great article.

But I preferred the version with the swearing.

ER Unity it’s actually you :

“The real picture is one of a continuum in which gay and straight are notional end points and in which nature, nurture and culture combine to enable individuals to self-identify and assign their own individual positions in the continuum, positions which are mutable and which can (and do) vary over time.”

If that’s not pop social psychology straight from a 1970s GCSE sociology paper I don’t know what is. It’s atheoretical twaddle, not based on any evidence or any empirical evidence the ongoing debate about whether there is anything between gay and straight isn’t new and isn’t going to be settled by you saying “The real picture according to me is……” on a blog.

True, gay parents don’t automatically produce gay kids. Any more than one legged parents produce one legged kids, or blonde parents produce blonde kids. All your argument demonstrates is that your understanding of genetics is woefully simplistic, like the idiots that say “no one can identify the “intelligence gene” therefore intelligence isn’t inherited”. No one can identify the “big willy gene” either, does that mean willy size is socially constructed ???? Genes act in concert, both with each other and the environment, the idea that there is some kind of paint by numbers set of genes that map neatly to each and every human attribute in every circumstance is laughable.

Heritability is a percentage, the percentage of a behaviour which CAN be inherited. I would dispute that there is “absolutely no evidence” of heritability for being gay – when I get home I will dig out a paper (last read as an undergrad, so hardly new) which identifies one gene implicated and give you the reference if you like, maybe you could do yourself a favour and read it. The most recent reasearch – into fraternal order effects (gays are disproprtionately younger siblings) posits that the cause may be in the womb, where later subsequent male foestuses are deprived of sufficient testerone at a crucial pre natal stage of development. It’s amazing how much you can learn if you refuse to blindly swallow orthodox opinion and actually read some real science.

And what personal insecurities are you ranting on about, you know nothing about me.

Good article, exasperation is not intollerance. it’s exactly the appropriate response to the privileging of unevidenced conviction in what should be rational debate.

Matt,

‘What bothers them is how the kid (and the adult) will react to being the only one in the class/school/street/village with 2 mothers. The outcomes for kids with any sort of “diverse” family set up are poor, so why introduce yet another variation on failure ?’

Last time I heard that argument it was being made as a ‘concerned’ opposition to mixed marriages.

Matt: “It’s atheoretical twaddle, not based on any evidence or any empirical evidence the ongoing debate about whether there is anything between gay and straight

Your assertion is there’s NO empirical evidence. I give you Kinsey and prove your assertion wrong. There’s been loads more since then, with much better methodology as well, but when you make a sweeping generalisation one response is all that’s needed.

They are more likely to just do him a huge amount of psychological damage with their misandrist midsets, unless the child is female in which case it will just be bitter and twisted, and probably end up in social work.

Generalise much? Matt, you’re either deliberately trolling to get a reaction calling you a fool, or you’re genuinely a blithering idiot, or, to give you a bit of credit, you’ve simply never met one of the overwhelming majority of lesbians. See me? Bloke. If all lesbians planning to marry and adopt/go for IVF are man hating loons, how come one such lesbian is one of my best friends?

I still don’t think that’s what bothers most intelligent people though. What bothers them is how the kid (and the adult) will react to being the only one in the class/school/street/village with 2 mothers. .

Why should it be the only one is the class/schools/whatever? I see no reason why there can’t be as many as are wanted. If any kid of mine reacted negatively to someone with such parantage they’d have a quick lesson in tolerance. Kids mostly don’t care, it’s people like yourselves telling them to that cause the problem.

Mixed race marriages and kids are now generally accepted, and this is progress. In not many years, kids of gay couples will be generally accepted, and attitudes such as you’re provcatively portraying will be consigned to the dustbin of history.

And thank the non-existent gods for it.

@ Kate: Agree with pretty much every word. Although I think PAul may have a point about the lingusitc style. Then again, I’ve done worse at times.

@ Paul: There are those with religion we can respect, and those with religion we can’t. See my comment at Cabalamat’s for one I actually do respect on these issues.

Re: MatGB’s comment above… And that is why I trust him to help bring up my daughter.

* proud smiles *

Sunny, I applaud LC’s desire for coalition-building, but is this how to do it?

Sunny, I applaud LC’s desire for coalition-building, but is this how to do it?

Why would we want to build a coalition with people who limit the choice for women’s access to abortion, and want to make it impossible for lesbian mothers to start a family?

So you want to pick and choose between who agrees with you and who doesn’t?

Thomas,

Why are women who speak passionately for women’s rights always – ALWAYS – accused of thwarting the agenda?

That line of thought reminds me of the good old days back in the SWP, when so-called Marxists were falling over themselves to build a coalition with Islam and the one and only Gorgeous George Galloway, and to finally make some sort of headway at the ballot box.

Those of us who pointed out that Islam didn’t have the world’s greatest record when it came to feminism, and that Galloway himself was an anti-abortionist, were told quite categorically to leave our concerns at the door, because they threatened coalition building. ‘Leave it, Kate,’ they told me. ‘It’s not important. The issue is the war.’ Thus women were dismissed at a stroke.

You got a problem with my language, my boy? Here’s an example of the kind of aggressive and majestically opportunistic language that those of us who believe passionately in, for example, a women’s right to choose have constantly to try and combat (this is Baroness Paisley):

“…Northern Ireland will not be bullied by political activists whose ideas and actions have brought about the massacre of more than seven million innocent unborn children in the years that this (Abortion) Act has been in operation on the mainland…

“It is difficult to comprehend the enormity of this murder campaign, and how many scientists, musicians, doctors, teachers and business men and women have been flushed down the sluices of our hospitals and clinics… We hear complaints about the brain drain, but it never seems to be recognised that the surgeons who advise women and carry out their wishes are the people who drain the brains, together with the lifeblood, dismembered limbs and bodies and crushed skulls of their silent victims…

“I wonder whether the women who abort their children and those who carry out the gruesome execution of these innocent and defenceless living babies ever think that they are emulating Herod in the horrific campaign that he perpetrated on innocent victims in his day. It is heartbreaking to think that any man or woman who has sworn to preserve life is instead wilfully and systematically doing what only God Himself has the authority to do—sons and daughters of Herod indeed…”

Perhaps if you tell us which coalition build we’re thwarting, we could put our heads together and decide whether if it’s worth picking and choosing?

A heads-up – I doubt we’re looking to hop into bed with the Brown cabinet. Good God, man. That’d be necrophilia.

Matt:

Just to bring you up to date, the continuum model of sexual orientation is a tad old hat now – us psychologists are moving on past notions of sexual orientation to the view that the complexity of human sexual activity can only be adequately understood in terms of sexual behaviours and relationship. We’re actually throwing away all the old boxes (including a fair few of Kinsey’s) in no small part thanks to the growing understanding of evolutionary psychology.

If you’d care to hit the current journals, you’ll find no great shortage of research, either.

I think people on here need to make a very solid distinction once and for all between organised and prescriptive religion and those that follow religious faiths. People such as Paul that go through their blogging, by and large, without religious overtones…people that are clearly religious yet allow their sense of objective thinking come out first, these people should not be so carelessly tarnished by what people are saying here.

It is fine for people to hold the belief that abortion is wrong, and for them to practice personally in a manner that means they don’t advocate it in general nor accept it out of hand in their family. These people are Christian (or from certain other religions) and by simply shouting out “Christians” are infringing on our rights is patently incorrect.

Many many religious people out there, of which I am not one of them, use their faith to do good work, without being dogmatic in their approach and dealings. What this article really gets at is the church, at think tanks and organisations that use religion as a reason for their policy wishes. These people that preach at everyone else are the problem, organised groups and entities that solely exist to push forward the religion they serve in to more households. How hard is it on one side to make more of a distinction between these types of proactive groups and more passive individuals of faith, as well as on the other hand for people like Paul to recognise that no-one is really begrudging religious people their views if they’re not forcing them upon us and trying to force changes in law against our wishes, despite language used.

That said, we could be a bit more sensitive here, while I don’t think Jesus-freak could ever be applied to a person passively practising their religion, it’s no doubt that they will feel attacked by it. Given the recent discussion over more ambiguous terms such as “bitch” by the feminist lobby here, I find it somewhat hypocritical at the ease in which they are happy to use more directly correlated insults against religious belief.

Good stuff (to the OP).

40. Kate Belgrave

Lee – my site is called hangbitch. And I am a bitch. Where was the argument about bitch, out of interest? It may well be here somewhere, but I missed it.

41. Kate Belgrave

PS – Are you implying you don’t like feminists?

How rude.

No, I’m implying that it was largely feminists that took the stance in that particular argument, perhaps that is ultimately irrelevant. However the argument was had on the post on this site about Hillary Clinton and the Iron my shirt incident.

Lee, I agree with you, but wasn’t your point on that thread that we shouldn’t be offended by it in order for the word to loose it’s power as an insult. Wouldn’t that apply here too?

44. Kate Belgrave

Ah – no good to say yr insult above ‘is ultimately irrelevant,’ Lee. You implied I was a hypocrite in yr post above:

‘Given the recent discussion over more ambiguous terms such as “bitch” by the feminist lobby here, I find it somewhat hypocritical at the ease in which they are happy to use more directly correlated insults against religious belief’

and you were wrong. I was not involved in the ‘bitch’ discussion and as I pointed out in an earlier comment on this thread, I would not expect others to tone down their language when discussing my interests and beliefs. People can call me what they like, and they do. I don’t expect them to respect my beliefs – only my right to hold those beliefs. You are wrong to say I am hypocritical in that respect.

I make my point again – cabinet ministers who decide that the rest of us should wear their faith and put up with the consequences of that deserve a harsh response. They are bullies and I respond to them as such.

And I will continue to do so. I have no intention whatsoever of toning my language down on the topic of God in government and abortion. I am amazed that some LCrs think that the views of a passionate atheist should be nipped in the bud.

Sunny,
there are limits on the practicality of a womans choice and need for abortion and this is what should be reflected in law – I don’t think anyone takes the choice argument to it’s absolutist conclusion where infanticide is made socially acceptable.

On the subject of homosexual reproduction, you are quite confused over how gay social identity combines and overlaps with gay sexual identity, as Unity starts to point out, so instead of labeling such women ‘lesbians’ try dealing with them as women.

KateBelgrave,
the question of rights is a long story of counterbalancing artificially created injustices (usually by those in the process of gaining power), while the history of building coalitions to fighting those injustices has continually developed fractures when new injustices are created in place of the old instead of removing the artifice that is the locus of all injustice: at some point all legacies of oppression must lose their weight, or equality and any hope of maintaining equality is lost.

Your example of the SWP and George Galloway typifies the fractiousness and incoherence of illiberalism, highlighting the flaw of Marxism and its false perceptions of equality and diversity.
For them the issue wasn’t the war (for they weren’t the only ones against it), the issue was power.

Coalition building can only ever be centred on gaining influence, never power, as the necessities of power overwhelm the substance of the real issues of equality.
Blair managed this temporarily in fits and starts, but he could never sustain the practice (if he ever really wanted to) for long once he held office (and his big tent blew away as a result), while the Brownite doctrine of undermining, negating and crushing all opposition has gained sway.

Pre-election coalitions succeed where the issues are raised above partisan interests, failure comes when the coalition is taken over by entryists with the inevitable subsequent exposure of links between it and it’s parent – look at how many people marched against the invasion of Iraq (more than a million), but how many could the ‘Stop the War Coalition’ finally muster as different and emergent sectarian forces fought for control over it and to turn it into a rallying cause – 3,000 was the last figure I heard when the numbers were still counted.

It is easy to see that religions have survived as popular social movements because when push comes to shove they recognise they are and must remain open institutions centred around private belief – though I’m sure specific cases of exceptions can and will always be identified.
So Sunny’s close-minded and generalised implication of religious people as a whole as antiabortionists and antiegalitarian, and your blinkered view of the whole of Islam as sexist (by your terms) both fall wide of the mark.

45. I don’t deny that argument and do think that Paul should ultimately shrug it off because it isn’t worth being offended over. That said though there is a double standard here and that’s not good.

46. I’m more than happy to accept that I’m wrong in placing you in the argument when you weren’t, though the issue of the lack of parity on such a subject is still present. I don’t see them running to Paul’s aid over this issue as they so fervently did on an issue perceived to be about sexism. That is the problem in the end. 🙂

thomas:
so instead of labeling such women ‘lesbians’ try dealing with them as women.

I do, but in this context it is the govt trying to restrict the rights of lesbians. In that context, their sexuality matters.

Your example of the SWP and George Galloway typifies the fractiousness and incoherence of illiberalism, highlighting the flaw of Marxism and its false perceptions of equality and diversity.

That makes little sense. OF course the SWP types wanted power. Who in politics is involved just for the jokes and long hours?

Pre-election coalitions succeed where the issues are raised above partisan interests, failure comes when the coalition is taken over by entryists with the inevitable subsequent exposure of links between it and it’s parent

This was always the case anyway – STWC was always a loose coalition spearheaded by the far left. But it was initially a useful vehicle for all those who opposed it. Some people made their point and never came back. Others were frustrated their voice was never heard. And some just didnt like the SWP and Respect. Blaming it just on entryism is silly.

So Sunny’s close-minded and generalised implication of religious people as a whole as antiabortionists and antiegalitarian

Have never done that. Please read more carefully what I write.

Lee, sorry, but who ran to our aid???

On the bitch thread some didn’t like the use of the word bitch and we argued our case for it. I can’t see any of the people on that thread who had a problem with ‘bitch’ using the term ‘jesus freak’ on this one.

I’ll let people know when I’m offended by a term and I don’t expect anyone to ‘come to my aid’ over it, I’m quite capable of standing up for myself and my own views. As an atheist I am not offended over the term ‘jesus freak’ (although it is not something I would use myself) and I don’t see that Paul needed someone to come to his aid. I’m not some kind of anti-offensive emergency service.

Sunny, I’ll take you point by point.

Sexuality doesn’t matter in the case of would-be lesbian mothers as much as reproductive ability, and as neither depends on the other why make a distinction. As I’m of the view that rights reflect ability, or inability, rather than some imposed normative view I argue that wasting our time expensively counterbalancing the injustice of a false question actually diminishes equality rather than enhances it.

If you’re in politics solely or primarily for the power then you are setting yourself up for a fall and deserve to fail. Power is a consequence of success, not a pre-requisite. What matters are the policies and these are what any judgement will be made on, not the time spent in office.

Stop the War Coalition was a bandwagon created by those on the far left to attach itself to widespread public sentiment and thereby capitalise on it by popularising left-wing causes by association. I walked on a number of early anti-Iraq war marches and spoke with many of the different groups, lots were making political stands, not principled stands, the result of which was diminishing influence and infighting. Even some of the LibDem activists there saw this as a tactic that held appeal (though this caused an argument with those saw this as a danger, so I removed myself quickly). The STW coalition was built from these early demonstrations, it didn’t exist to build them in the first place – in other words STW destroyed any possibility that the coalition of opinion would hold, and therefore it destroyed exactly what it stated were its aims. STW was retrogressive in its actions, whatever it said, and like all the empty promises given by any illiberal leftie, is exemplified by the gulf in the distance between word and deed.

I refer you to comment 34. Who are the people to which you refer, if not religious people (and by your lack of specificity, it can only be infered generally)?

As I’m of the view that rights reflect ability,

And we have IVF treatment to offer them that ability. Why offer it to mothers in heterosexual families and not those not?

Power is a consequence of success, not a pre-requisite. What matters are the policies and these are what any judgement will be made on, not the time spent in office.

Agreed, but power should not come, in theory, without success. I assumed that success (in something) is a starting point. But it doesn’t contradict my point.

The STW coalition was built from these early demonstrations, it didn’t exist to build them in the first place – in other words STW destroyed any possibility that the coalition of opinion would hold

Well, its easier said in hindsight. I also marchec initially, and now I don’t. So we’re in the same boat.

The “people” are anti-abortionists, religious right etc who seek to limit the choice available to other women based on their own vision of what a moral society should look like.

51. douglas clark

thomas,

Could you please explain this sentence for the hard of thinking, i.e., me:

Sexuality doesn’t matter in the case of would-be lesbian mothers as much as reproductive ability, and as neither depends on the other why make a distinction.

OK, I can see that sexuality doesn’t matter, as it would presumeably have to be a medical procedure, but do recall we are talking about two women who want to do this.

I can also see that reproductive ability would be kind of important too.

But, what I don’t get is why neither depends on the other. Without the will, there would be no need for an end, would there?

It would seem to me that if two women want to get together and have a baby – is this technically possible? – then I see no reason whatsoever why the State should stop them.

Anyway, to quote someone else, my head hit the desk, with this:

As I’m of the view that rights reflect ability, or inability, rather than some imposed normative view I argue that wasting our time expensively counterbalancing the injustice of a false question actually diminishes equality rather than enhances it.

Does that go down a bundle in your local pub? If I read it right – and frankly I doubt it – you think that rights accrue to those with ability and that equality is a chimera? See, I can do it too, although I’d bow to the Master.

Anyway, see the bit about STW? That was lucid and right on the money.

52. douglas clark

Sunny and thomas,

As the evidence points to at least a million dead in Iraq, it ought to be a matter of more than a little concern that genuine public outrage at the war was subverted. The folk that did that are thieves and liars. This is not really about politics, it is about humanity. The failure of the STW campaign to stick together is an utter disgrace.

I consider anyone, whatsoever, that rose to public prominence on the back of that campaign to be, at the very least opportunistic. They rose on the back of public sentiment and, instead of meeting it, they polarised it. That has got to be wrong.

The three of us have probably different views on many things. What we had in common was that early march. Bright dawn shit. And subsequent betrayal.

Sunny,
I wasn’t trying to contradict you, because I think we share similar aims, but I was hoping for clarification because I think there is a question about methods, some of which may appear instinctively proper but don’t work and actually undermine those stated aims – which is where the analysis of the politics comes in, as in the example of STWC.

Douglas,
when I’m in my local pub we usually talk about football, and what people say about serious issues is either veiled by a sheen of insecurity and humour or is of little consequence as most punters are disinterested, disillusioned and disenfranchised by politics, anyway people don’t finally make up their minds on who to vote for until stumbling into the polling station.
I’d never support a situation where rights and liberties accrue, and could or could be accumulated, elsewise we could trade them away and exchange a life in slavery for a bowl of gruel in a bout of necessity.
Surely rights are the product of equality and the basis by which we can express our individual abilities safely and under the protection of the law, not the other way round – that’s the difference between liberalism and illiberalism!

When it comes to would-be lesbian mothers it isn’t the state that is stopping them from having kids together, but biology.
This doesn’t, however, translate to a moral view of how we use technology (such as IVF treatment) to unequally favour some over others (ie homosexual partners against heterosexual partners) as some religious ideologues would insist.
The principle that matters more here is equality, not freedom of choice, especially since the supposed couple in question have exercised their freedom of choice to override their reproductive biology in the first place, whether in hope or expectation that economic factors may reconcile the difference or not at all (from a behaviourist viewpoint).
As pointed out above there are alternative options that this couple have the opportunity to explore (communal parenting, but also surragacy, adoption and fostering) which I think should precede IVF or envisioned scientific advances into artificial reproduction techniques on the priority list for the state and taxpayer, especially when public money can be better spent on healthcare, schools or police.
Should the cost reduce and success rate of these procedures rise to a level where it isn’t a factor then there is no issue, as it wasn’t when there wasn’t a possibility – it is only now as we are poised on a burgeoning threshold that this has become a discussion point at all.
My personal view is that this is a matter for private individuals, who should bear the reality of all the factors in consideration prior to taking their decisions – if the state can’t interfere in anybody’s choice of personal relationship, why should there be a call for all relationships to conform to any politicised norm whether from right or left?

(breathes deeply)

Not all religious people are on the right and I personally know some highly religious people who are involved in research the moralising right would castigate for their scientific activities.
It is the hijacking of debates, such as that over abortion by right-wingers, that have skewed opinion into creating the false alliances you implicate – this is exactly the same tactic as employed by the left-wing extremists re STWC, which I criticised above for creating resistance to what otherwise would be seen as worthy aims.
Under the current prevailing climate of these false alliances it is easy to forget the reality that many faithful churchgoers were the instigators of the original liberalisation of the law on abortion as a result of seeing and dealing with the harm the as-then law resulted in (a case of doctoring trumping doctrine).
The act of abortion is traumatic for any woman who undergoes it, as is the violence of war wherever it is experienced, but while we might prefer to avoid either both are the effect of failing to plan for unforeseen consequences ahead.
Though this failure is regretable in either situation reality requires that it must be dealt with to prevent any potential worsening, so by any political or ideological analysis your stance must pass the tests of relevance and practicality.

In justification for all that (anyone who read through it all is a saint…lol) I think this article is misplaced in being published here for the reasons that should be clear if you did read it all.

In short methods and aims, relevance and practicality.

I like this site and I don’t want LC to start losing its rigour and slacken off by inviting self-describing socialists to come and change it: more liberalism, less conspiracy -please.

55. douglas clark

thomas @ 55,

But, what the hell are you on about.

I’d never support a situation where rights and liberties accrue, and could or could be accumulated, elsewise we could trade them away and exchange a life in slavery for a bowl of gruel in a bout of necessity.
Surely rights are the product of equality and the basis by which we can express our individual abilities safely and under the protection of the law, not the other way round – that’s the difference between liberalism and illiberalism!

I cannot be alone, Christ I hope I cannot be alone, in having no idea whatsoever about what you are on about. Try simple, then I’d understand……

First you say: When it comes to would-be lesbian mothers it isn’t the state that is stopping them from having kids together, but biology.
This doesn’t, however, translate to a moral view of how we use technology (such as IVF treatment) to unequally favour some over others

And then you want more liberalism and less socialism. I’m not sure what version of liberalism you’re following, but restricting the rights of homosexual mothers who want kids through IVF, just because the moral police doesn’t like it, isn’t liberalism.

Using IVF doesn’t favour one over another because its also used (overwhelmingly) by heterosexual families. I really don’t know where you’re going with this. Its going round in circles.

Douglas:

I think Thomas is, in part, expressing a Rawlsian notion which holds that basic liberties cannot be legitimately exchanged for (or their loss/reduction compensated for) by means of conferring social or economic benefits.

Beyind that he’s arguing from a classic contractarian notion of liberalism – ‘we the people… truths self-evident… all men are created equal’ – under which rights and liberties are derived from the premise that we are all notionally equal as human beings.

Its a respectable enough position to start from but not without its complications – one has to find ways to reconcile universalist notions of rights and liberties with the reality that rights are, in actuality, attached to members of a particular polity, which is where we move from notions of ‘universal equality’ to ones of ‘equal citizenship’ which are a bit easier to work with conceptually.

In that sense what Thomas is say, perfectly reasonably, is the argument for extending access to IVF is not about providing freedom of choice but about providing for choices to made under conditions of equality where such choices are possibility.

The technology makes it possible for a lesbian couple to choose to have a child without the involvement of a father, hence their right to exercise that choice should be equal to that of anyone else who has the same possibility of choice, and its that which makes the idea of having rights in this situation meaningful.

Conversely one cannot talk – rationally – having the right to be a fish because as humans we lack the ability to develop gills and all the other stuff that goes with fishiness.

I’m all for homosexual couples having access to IVF treatments, but why should this be undertaken on the NHS using taxpayers money? – if it is for the private good, then it should be paid for using private monies.
The problem here is the current situation where the expense is beyond the reach of large numbers of the population: this is an economic problem, not a political problem.

In belatedy reading the blog and Paul Linford’s comments, I cannot help but observe that he sees Mike Huckabee as a good christian in his comments upon the US presidential hopefuls. Um.


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