Clothes as magical objects

Oh, ffs. How many spurs to blog ranting can a woman take before noon on a Sunday morning?

The Big Question on BBC is debating the question “Should Britain ban the burqa?” (The basis of the topic is French president Sarkozy’s burqa ban) The answer is so obviously “NO” that you wonder how small a question has to be to qualify as “big.”

There follows a fair bit of debate about the burqa and its religious and social significance. There’s a burqa-clad woman saying it’s a religious issue for her. Another one defending wearing a veil as a personal choice. A male muslim scholar saying that burqa-wearing is not an integral part of Islam, anyway: it’s purely a cultural, rather than religious, garment. Nobody really deals with the implications of a ban.

Fortunately, there are no overt BNP speakers, this week, but the show does bring on Peter Hitchens… (Mail on Sunday columnist. Paleoconservative, scourge of political correctness. Christopher Hitchens’ brother – could be seen as almost his Evil Twin.)

The discussion never focuses much on what the concept of a burqa ban really means.

You have to dismiss instantly the argument that banning burqas will somehow “liberate” muslim women. In Europe, there must be already be many avenues of recourse for women who feel that they are pressured into wearing islamic dress, without having to compel those women who want to wear it – for whatever reasons – to abandon it. (Just like the careworkers who feel their very being is threatened if they can’t wear crosses at work.)

It doesn’t matter if their choices are incomprehensible to the rest of us.
Dress or ornaments are forms of communication. If the things being communicated seem absurd or offensive, surely we can challenge them or – Toutatis forbid, on current showing – just live and let live.

If the state gets engaged in ruling about what communication is acceptable, it comes bang up against the concept of freedom of expression.

And Sarkozy as feminist spokesman, indeed. A man whose only interest to the non-French world is his trophy wife.

(A wife who seems to have blithely overlooked Sarkozy’s lack of physical or mental charms, on the basis that he was the French president, in a way that seems unlikely to have happened if he was a shop assistant. Which makes even his wife seem like an odd feminist, unless you can expand the meaning of “feminist” to imply – “does whatever it takes to get wealth and power for herself”.)

Even a Spectator columnist, Rod Liddle, pointed out that
“Saqrkozy’s burqa ban panders to racism not feminism.”

Spot on. A burqa ban is a symptom of racism, not secularism, nor feminism.

Indeed the whole idea could be designed to polarise French society and provide new recruits for muslim extremism – in the same way that the Xian fundies are using every worker who’s told to remove a cross or promise ring to recruit people to their mad groupings.

As if the world isn’t dangerous enough, without creating more and more intolerance. Ah, there’s finally a convincing explanation on NewsBiscuit

Adam Curtis Manchester show

This is a link to Adam Curtis’s page on the BBC website. This has some engaging clips from his new “interactive theatre” show in Manchester. This seems the longest.

Interactive theatre does sound as if it might be beyond boring. Bear with me.

Charlie Brooker wrote about it in today’s Guardian supplement.

About now a sizable percentage of you will be thinking “that sounds wanky”, and starting to back away. Don’t. Because it’s also … well, it’s also a funhouse. To be honest, no one really knows what it is. After a struggle, Curtis himself says it’s “a psycho-political theme experience in which you become a central character. It’s going to be frightening. A walk of enchantment and menace.”

Adam Curtis has made some brilliant TV documentaries. (Wikipedia entry) These clips deal with the same issues, although in a more abstract way. Dare I say “visceral?”

If you prefer a bit more clarity of argument, you might want to try and find Curtis’s more verbally coherent documentaries elsewhere, on Youtube, frinstance.

This is how the BBC described his 2005 Power of Nightmares about how the war on terror was used to generate fear and consolidate neo-con power.

Campaign for Plainer Newspeak

Anyone who sits through meetings ticking off phrases like “leveraging” and “best practice” on a secret bingo card recognises how vile office language can be. All the same, the Local Government Association’s list of words that should be banned on Plain English grounds is a bit crazy.

LGA chairman Margaret Eaton said: “The public sector must not hide behind impenetrable jargon and phrases.”

I think there’s a minor Fail, right there. “The public sector” is not exactly Not-Jargon, is it? The BBC even had to help her out a bit by saying “national and local government” in the next sentence, so readers who are unfamiliar with official jargon would know what she meant. And, surely, many people wouldn’t understand the word “impenetrable”

I’m all for the principle of officials explaining what they mean. The actual list of banned words has some stinkers but there are many phrases there that would be hard to replace.

Banning some of these words would make entire branches of knowledge invisible. I have to assume that “downstream”, “lever”, “fulcrum”, “toolkit,” “seedbed”, “mechanism” are banned for metaphorical use only. Otherwise car maintenance, physics, geography and gardening are all in trouble.

Some of the other words seem to have no reasonable alternatives. They would have to be replaced by a couple of explanatory sentences, which surely wouldn’t help to make them clearer:
Ambassador. Welcome. Area based. Capacity. Customer. Client. Agencies. Flex. Vision.

I defy anyone to describe an ambassador without using the forbidden A word itself or some much more complicated and incomprehensible formulation that refers to vice-counsels and international relations. Without referring to “protocol”, because that’s on the list.

Welcome – argh. Depends on the context. I can’t really think of any way to say “Welcome to X Council” that isn’t either longer or less welcoming. If you have to greet an ambassador then you really are in Plain English trouble,.

Area based: Erm, erm…. Set in a place. (Am tying myself in mental knots to avoid saying geographical. “Set” is a rubbishy choice anyway, though, but I can’t say focussed. I think it’s on the list.)

Customer – erm, “person who buys things or gets some sort of service”. (Can’t cheat and say “client”. That’s on the list.)

Outcomes was so bad they named it twice. I’ll assume that was a typo, because it doesn’t seem like a major offender. “Results” is only one letter shorter and I’m sure that most people could guess that they mean roughly the same thing from the context.

And what about “sustainable” and “freedoms”? It usually takes 3,000 word undergraduate essays to start to explain these concepts. Are council workers going to have to precis them.

Cleopatra Was Egyptian – Shock News!

Wow, breaking news brought to us by the BBC reveals that Cleopatra was, wait for it, of african descent! It seems that the in-depth research of the 1963 blockbuster Cleopatra was wrong and the queen of Egypt was not actually a white caucasian but was native to Eqgypt. Amazing claims like this needs some fantastic research. Fortunately the headline news on the BBC rewards us:

Cleopatra, the last Egyptian Pharaoh, renowned for her beauty, was part African, says a BBC team which believes it has found her sister’s tomb.

Wow. Knock me down with a feather. It gets better:

But remains of the queen’s sister Princess Arsinoe, found in Ephesus, Turkey, indicate that her mother had an “African” skeleton.
Experts have described the results as “a real sensation.”

Amazing. An African skeleton… How could Liz Taylor have got it so wrong only 45 years ago. Do we need to re-cast and re-film an entire generation of epic movies? Next you will be telling me Jesus wasn’t a tall, blue eyed, blonde haired Caucasian.

Actually, I cant keep it up. This is mind numbingly insane.

First off: Who is actually surprised that Egypt is in Africa? Seriously, anyone? This is a news item that basically says “Egyptian Queen is part African.” Is it really that quiet a news day? (no). This is the Online BBC news that ignored seven hours of riots and petrol bombs in Lurgan, Northern Ireland (despite coverage being in the newspapers). This is the online BBC news that is regularly a day behind unfolding events. It is obviously wasting too much time writing copy for the department of the BLOODY OBVIOUS.

Secondly: No one is disputing Cleopatra’s lineage coming from Alexander’s generals and being predominantly Greek. However, the idea that this remained purely Greek (Macedonian?) after the first generation is simply batshit insane. Yes there was a huge amount of inbreeding, and most royal marriages were with Greek nobles, but over 250 years without allowing locals into the bloodline is unlikely. That would have been news worthy.

Thirdly: In my limited archaological knowledge, WTF does “african bones” mean? Is this 19th century casual racism where its thought that the darkies have a different genetic makeup to us “white people?”  What on Earth is there about the bones that make them “african” rather than Egyptian or Greek? Seriously, WTF!

There has been some reluctance of late for this blog to attack the blinding madness that the BBC is pushing out, mainly because it puts us in the same camp as the Daily Wail, but this is a step too far.

The BBC has seriously lost any sense of what is, or isnt, news. This is thinly veiled advertising for a BBC program of dubious merit. Shame on the BBC and I want them to refund what ever portion of my licence fee went towards this drivel.

BBC site sub-editors in animal house

These are all real headlines from today’s BBC website. (These are pretty horrific news items, which makes the headlines seem even more crass. And my mockery even more so, I guess.)

Ape academic shot dead in Ecuador
(In your face, creationists. This proves that apes are so close to us that they even have their own universities.)
Turkey plane crashes in Holland
(Flightless birds forced to develop aviation skills, to escape from Bernard Matthews clutches before next Christmas.)
Tiger attacks trigger expert plea
(In court today, a ballistics technician’s claim to be “Not guilty” was destroyed by a forceful wildcat prosecutor)
Late amendment, the BBC heading now says “Turkish plane crash in Amsterdam ” thus making an apparent liar of me. But, I will choose to take the credit instead.

Ask a silly Big Question

If you could save the solar system from being extinguished by setting fire to your only child, would you do it?

Bloody stupid question. At best, it’s a thought experiment and even then it’s basically setting up an impossible scenario.

The BBC’s Sunday morning programme The Big Questions, which discusses moral issues, was talking about torture today.

One man made an intellectually dishonest pro-torture argument, which is basically as realistic a scenario as the “save the solar system” question I posed above. Paraphrased – because I am not going to watch the show and take notes – this argument is “What if you had to save the lives of thousands of people by torturing one man?”
This was discussed as if it was a real case to answer.

I am still in shock at finding myself in total agreement on this issue with Anne Atkins so I may not be too coherent.

This imaginary “save thousands by torturing one person” is meant to imply that those who oppose torture will happily sacrifice thousands to salve their own conscience. However, it is a complete crock.

As the token academic pointed out (sorry I didn’t catch his name), this scenario is from Hollywood, not real life. (24 is fiction, ffs.)

There are no conceivable circumstances in which you could know that the person in front of you was (a) the right person to torture to get the answers to your questions; (b) wouldn’t tell you lies which could endanger many more people and (c) would break under torture in such a way as to tell you the exact truth, rather than go mad.

So, there’s not even a need to bring in the standard arguments against torture to challenge this nonsense. The moral issue – although it is the basis of every decent human value – is actually irrelevant, here. The issue, of the practical consequences – the fact that using torture creates implacable enemies – is also irrelevant.

This argument leads us into the worst kind of moral morass. It softens us up for thinking that torture is bad but, just maybe, in really extreme circumstances… etc (As if the definition of which circumstances were extreme enough to justify it wouldn’t immediately be subject to an ongoing downhill standards creep.)

In fact, if a government’s knowledge is precise enough to confirm that they can save the lives of thousands on the basis of the evidence of one definitely-guilty person that they have captured, then they would already know enough to avert the imaginary catastrophe.

If they don’t have the exact right person, they are just torturing for nothing, which even the pro-torture-in-an-extreme-scenario voices on the show agreed was horrendous.

And just as a little topical torture aside, the Guardian website reported today that the supposedly threatening letter from the USA – that prevented the case of Binyan Mohamed being discussed in a UK court – was actually written at the request of the Foreign Office.

A former senior State Department official said that it was the Foreign Office that initiated the “cover-up” by asking the State Department to send the letter so that it could be introduced into the court proceedings.
The revelation sparked fresh claims that the government is trying to suppress torture evidence relating to Mohamed, who is expected to be released this week after four years and flown to RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. (From the Guardian)

Darwin and the Tree of Life

Possibly the best “educational” program I have seen on television in as long as I can remember. Better than Michio Kaku, better than all the discovery channel shows, better than all the rest.

I am talking about a wonderful BBC1 program – Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life – which has just finished. If you missed it, I cant stress how much you really should watch this on iPlayer. It is a part-Open University funded education program, supported by an interesting BBC Darwin website, where you can catch a glimpse of the program if it isnt on the iPlayer yet.

In a nutshell, David Attenborough shows his fantastic qualities as a presenter and takes the viewer on a tour through the history of the theory of evolution. He is genuinely enthusiastic about the science and has a presentational style that is unmatched. I was actually saddened at one point in the program, when I realised that 30 years ago people were more accepting of evolution and our place in the world than they are today. Thanks to the idiocy of fundamentalist religion we really are going back in time.

Attenborough calmly and politely mocks the ideas that all species were created as they are with no change and gives a wonderful (if brief) example of how the eye is a good example of evolution at work. It is all well done and while the hardened scientist may object at some simplification, this is a program which explains evolution in an hour for the general public. To that end some abbreviation of the tree of life is understandable.

Sadly, the BBC website sort of undermines Attenborough’s fantastic work with this line:

David shares his personal view on Darwin’s controversial idea.

Now, while it was indeed controversial in the 1860’s it is now valid science with solid evidential backing. The controversy is not real. Implying it is still there plays into the hands of the idiots and anti-educationalists. Shame really.

This program shows that, despite its faults, the BBC really can pull it out of the bag when it comes to “important” programs.

Jeremy Whines

Radio presenter Jeremy Vine was given space by the Daily Mail to complain about how unfair the UK is to Christians. The headline says:

Why I won’t discuss my Christianity on air, by Radio 2 and Panorama host Jeremy Vine

Let me stop you, right there Jeremy. You host a lunch-time radio show. Your job probably involves introducing records and refereeing phone-in “debates” about nonsense. If you started discussing your religion in that context, people would be as interested as they would be if the local newsagent explained why she followed the Nicene creed. They would switch off. This applies even more to Panorama, which is supposed to be a serious current affairs programme.

Show a bit of humility, Jeremy. A presenter is the linkman or linkwoman. The clue’s in the name. You are supposed to link items. People don’t watch Panorama to find out what religious beliefs the presenter holds. Just as they don’t care what you had for breakfast or how many stairs you have in your hallway.

He admitted that he avoided discussing the subject on air, saying it is now ‘almost socially unacceptable to say you believe in God’. (from the Mail)

I would like to think that were true. But I suspect it’s only “socially unacceptable” in the way that traditional etiquette regards talking about religion or politics as unacceptable in polite society. Only true for that specific interpretation of “socially.” And discussing religion or politics is considered bad manners (not that that ever stopped me, but my manners are shite) because people start insulting each other and getting angry and “polite” society stops being “polite.”

If you are presenting a Panorama programme on the economy, it would be more than bad manners to say “… and by the way, I’m a Christian…” It would be like saying “Stop talking about boring things. Talk about ME.” Boosting your own sense of self-importance isn’t supposed to be in the job description.

His remarks follow a claim last month by Roman Catholic Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor that Britain has become an ‘unfriendly’ place to the religious. (from the Mail)

Yeah, right. See the chart (Ok, it’s a US chart, admittedly. We are a bit more heathen in the UK and the kinds of non-christians are a bit different, but it’s just a graphic…)

A religion pie chart...


“Has become”?… I don’t know whether Britain is any less religion-friendly than it’s ever been. I am pretty confident that shoving your religion in people’s faces, unsolicited, has never brought a friendly response.

The Jeremy Vine piece brought out the reliable harvest of Mail comment-nutters, many of whom seem to be suffering from fatwah-envy. This is one that could have come straight from the twat-o-tron without human intervention.

Mr. Vine’s situation is caused by PC run amok.
The world has a ‘Religion’ that is secular now.
It’s all about: group rights; gray-area standards; adjustable truths; climate change and radical ‘greeness’; and marginalising real faith as anachronistic and childish. (except for Islam ,of course. ) …

*snigger* (If I was playing Bigot-speak Bingo, I think this would give me a full house.)

That’s by someone from Texas, who would never get to suffer the effects if every UK daytime easy-listening radio-show-presenter started using his or her airtime to present his or her philosophy of life.

But 34 other people, who you assume haven’t thought through the consequences, have clicked to vote for this comment. (What am I saying? These are people who, almost by definition, can’t think through the consequences.)

Pretty consistently, the comments that are like that one get lots of pro-votes. The ones with the big-minus votes are the ones like this (minus 17):

I think Jeremy Vine is alone in feeling like this as most of the time it seems like every man and his dog insist on spouting out about their faith. Indeed several BBC radio shows have features dedicated to this.
Religion is reclaiming public ground, not only have the number of faith schools increased in the last few years but creationism is now going to be taught in science lessons!
It is interesting that some people of faith are now finding it uncomfortable to speak about their faith as this is how people of no faith have felt for decades…

Yes, there are well more than enough tv and radio shows that deal with religion. On purpose. People who want to hear about religion can choose to watch or listen to these. How hard is that to accept, Jeremy?

Let me explain. People who watch Top Gear want to watch a show about cars. If Jeremy Clarkson started discussing how to make feather-light shortcrust pastry, the viewers would get pissed off. Even if they really like cooking, they don’t expect cooking in a car show. They would use the remote control or the channel dial or the off switch.

(Ok, even if my radio had a broken off-switch, I wouldn’t listen to the Jeremy Vine show, but I think the point still stands.)

W00t. It seems that you can vote on Daily Mail comments without logging in. I will give it a try. I boost all the big red minus ones. This short and sweet one is still the lowest (at 34 minuses) even after my non-divine intervention :

Good, don’t discuss it as we don’t want to hear it. We hear enough rubbish from your religious leaders.


Wow, I just came up with a new hobby. Anyone can join in. Voting down all the bigotry-central Daily Mail comments and voting up the saner ones. If there were enough people willing to waste ten minutes a day, the Mail might even suspect it had misjudged the zeitgeist and rein in the tone of its more extreme pieces.

This blog is bigger than god

In what must be one of the longest waits from confession to absolution on record, the Vatican has forgiven John Lennon for saying the Beatles were bigger than god (or more popular than Jesus, or something) according to the BBC.

This was a mildly jokey casual remark made in the early 1960s, by a man who’s been now dead for decades. Has the Catholic Church been fretting about it ever since?

The BBC has a 1960s clip that shows some of the aftermath of the Beatles’ bizarrely notorious jokes about their huge success in the USA.

In this clip, a reporter with an impeccable old-style “BBC” accent talks about US fundamentalist baptists with the barely disguised distaste of someone who’s spotted another guest eating a fly at a dinner party.

The implication is that the UK saw the extreme US responses to the Beatles’ remarks as symptomatic of a strange and backward American culture. Beatle atheism was more or less taken for granted in the UK. The tolerant attitude of UK religious believers is also taken for granted. The BBC reporter could clearly assume that even UK churchgoers would see US bonfires of Beatles merchandise as exotically bizarre.

This was 40 years ago.

You certainly can’t imagine science teachers thinking that Intelligent Design should have an equal billing with Evolution in the biology curriculum, forty years ago.

The world can’t be a sci-fi novel. If it were, the hero would surely have detected by now that time is running backwards.

New genre discovered

I commented on my last post to say that the Guardian link to the boxing monks video was removed. But now I’ve spotted that the BBC has it.

Watched it, decided the choreography was pretty poor but the costumes were impressive.

(I even enjoyed the ironic soundtrack, until I noticed that was my own music playing in Winamp at the same time.)

When it finished, I see that the BBC is subtly fostering a whole new internet movie genre (which is not as bad as other new genres that involve kids beating each other up or brandishing guns, so I’m willing to appreciate it, I think):

I don’t have a proper name for it yet. I think Fight Club is already taken.

So I’ll have to use the working title “Mass brawls with respectable contenders”:

South Korean parliament mass fight
Czech politicians hitting each other.
Bolivian parliament erupts in brawl
This one doesn’t really count – it’s just one-on-one fight action between the Czech PM and a photographer, but I can’t resist the opportunity to quote the BBC’s words.

The Czech prime minister has lashed out at a photographer as he was questioned about calling a snap election.

Congratulations America

Well done America. You have put aside my lingering doubts about your national sanity (although looking at the red-blue map of the US, it seems there are an awful lot of nutcases) and the elections are all but over. Phew. A double sigh of relief; not only have you avoided putting a screaming nutter with nothing to offer other than “I was a POW” but the coverage on the UK news must surely soon dwindle. You have no idea how much that cheers me up!

Today however, it is still very much headline news. I can sort of understand this, it is a monumental change and is historic in that the Obama is the first black President. Wonderful. I do find it monumentally racist, however, that lots of commentators have suggested black people were going to vote for Obama because he was black. It carries the implication that black people dont have political viewpoints, the same issue arose around Hillary Clinton and Sarah “Crazy Eyes” Palin. Why would women vote against their political views simply to elect a woman into office?

Anyway, hopefully this will see the end of our 24 hour news coverage of the election campaign visiting places no one in the UK will have ever heard of. Of politics that have no impact on us and a government we have no say over. Maybe we will be able to get back to the days when a soldier dying in Afghanistan can make at least some headlines (maybe he is less news worthy because he was a Gurkha?). Or when a riot in the UK injures police and closes off half a city. Or even rocket attacks in Gaza if you must showcase world news.

Not long now.

US Elections: The End is in sight.

Praise be to Thor. Finally, after what has felt like a campaign that lasted my entire life, the US presidential election is about to be over. I can not express in words the true depth of my relief.

For months now we have had coverage of the run-up to today on pretty much every news bulletin. The early stages were just annoying – outlines of the varying candidates as they slugged it out to represent their parties. As the election got near though, it has become a joke. We have local news stations running “US Election specials” – when I can pretty much guarantee that there are no more than one or two listeners who even have a chance to vote.

Today was the worst, although it points to the light at the end of the tunnel, with almost blanket coverage. Odin forbid something newsworthy happens today (for example, a series of bombs in Northern Ireland) because it isn’t getting any coverage. Instead we get to listen to genuinely subnormal people, who actually have got a vote, demonstrating their prejudice and ignorance.

Having met quite a few Americans, all have turned out to be basically normal so I can only assume the examples on the radio were specially selected to demonstrate ignorance, racism and general stupidity. Shame on all the news agencies. (Shame on America for making such ignorance socially acceptable anywhere inside its borders).

Here in the UK, the coverage of the US election has, without a doubt, been greater than the coverage of a UK parlimentary election. The only thing missing would be daily party political broadcasts. Being an avid news watcher, I feel I have been fed so much about the elections I should have a right to vote. I could certainly make more of an informed decision than some of the whackos on the radio.

The madness of this was highlighted on BBC Radio 1 yesterday. During one of the shows (Scott Mills) a researcher went out and asked members of the British Public how they would vote in the election today. Every single person asked named a politician they would vote for. None passed comment on it being the US elections, there was the implicit assumption that people could vote. When challenged if he could vote in the elections today, one person said “Yes, I am 19, of course I can vote.”

Now, survey techniques aside, this pretty much shows how much we have endured over this election. Finally the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight.

The big problem remains what is that light? Is it the end of the tunnel or an on-coming train?

Mathematically Challenged Education Authority

What hope do the children have?

In the UK we suffer a very bad obsession with league tables in which the performance of every public body is graded (on an arbitrary scale) and compared against others – rarely in a like for like but that is another matter.

As you can imagine, schools bear the brunt of this. Parents are understandably determined to get their children the best education possible, often moving across the country to be in the catchment area of their chosen school. Most of this one-upmanship is derived from the school tables, helpfully published on the BBC website.

All the trust has to be placed in what ever body is responsible for collecting these numbers. Are they up to the task?

Idly surfing the web, I came upon this educational report on the BBC. It is the stats for an infants/primary school (ages 3 – 11) in Shrewsbury. All normal. Have a look at the stats and it seems like its a reasonably good school – it performs above the average for its educational authority, which is also above the average nationally.

Then have a look at this:

37 eligible, 18.9% of whom had special educational needs

At first glance it seems normal and slightly low compared to some schools.

Then look at the numbers.

18.9% of 37 is 6.993.

This means that 6.993 students have special educational needs. How is that possible? Is this just a rounding problem? No, because 7 pupils would be 19% in any normal formulation.

Either the organisation who collates the stats is mathematically challenged, or they have massaged the numbers to make it look lower than it is (and are ethically challenged).

Whichever it is, how much faith can you have in this system?

Christian Voice says people don’t like being preached to

A Christian Voice spokesman acknowledged to the BBC that

“People don’t like being preached at.”

To what do we owe this unaccustomed recognition of reality?

Unfortunately, he hasn’t had a sudden world-view revision. He’s talking about the British Humanist Association Dawkins-backed plan to put an anti-religion advertising campaign on the sides of London buses. Which the Christian Voice chap has oddly decided to define as “preaching.”

The complete slogan reads: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

I am a bit ambivalent about this. I like the idea of having such slogans on buses and I like the idea that Christian Voice must be a bit nervous that it will actually succeed in deconverting people. But I don’t like the idea of being told what to think, in poster format, by an invisible narrator.

Brothers and sisters in christ

A bit of a shock quite how extreme some people on the “traditionalist” wing of the CofE can actually be. You might assume that the most rabid English traditionalists had upped and left the CofE for the Catholic church (thinking of the likes of Anne Widdicombe, and ignoring the horrors of the wider anglican communion) ) and that the CofE was at least now a safe haven for standard liberal anglicans.

However, the BBC reported today that a female priest – who has already been forced to stop doing her job by a campaign of serious intimidation – has now found a death threat hidden in her Bible.

(Quick aside for the comedic value “hiding” a death threat in a church bible. It’s a church. I imagine the stupid bastard responsible for this threat sitting and waiting with malicious anticipation for the reading to be Mark 7 – or whatever- and getting really frustrated as the vicar plodded endlessly though Leviticus week after week.)

The intimidation against her began when she began leading services after the retirement of the previous parish priest………
Last year she was sent a series of hate letters and a burning candle was forced through the open window of her car.
Another candle was left burning in the porch of her house, causing logs stored there to ignite.
Rev Hobson decided to take break from her duties and the Rev Tim Heaney was appointed to the church in June. (from the BBC)

Hmm, that sounds like rewarding the lunatic who threatened her, although i can see that, faced with a death threat, she might not have had much choice.

The BBC webpage about this story has links to a few articles about similar incidents. In 2000, a University of Bristol study suggested that dealing with extreme opposition was a common experience for female priests.

Some have received hate mail, some been branded witches and some threatened with rape since the ordination of women priests started six years ago.

(I was distracted by the “branded witches” phrase. I assume that this is using the word “branding” in a metaphorical way, I haven’t yet seen an Anglican churchwoman with a giant “WITCH” word burned into her forehead. Although, I must admit that I very rarely see any clergy, so it may be a common sight.)

Allowing for hyberbole and the possibility that the University of Bristol study has inferred a more general opposition to females in the Anglican priesthood from a few anecdotes, it still seems as if there are a fair number of English anglicans whose views on women would let them fit right in with the Taliban.

Blimey, doesn’t religion bring out the best in people?