Friday, 28 February 2014

Concerns raised over sex discrimination against teachers in Muslim schools

Cross-post from the National Secular Society 
by Terry Sanderson

Concerns raised over sex discrimination against teachers in Muslim schools

The National Secular Society has warned that the proliferation of religious schools could be opening the door to gender discrimination in the employment of teachers.

The warning follows the discovery of a job advertisement for a Male Science Teacher placed by Capita Education Resourcing on behalf of an Islamic boys' school in Leicester. The advert was passed on to the NSS by a qualified female science teacher looking for work in the Leicester area.

In a letter to Maria Miller MP, Minister for Women and Equalities, the National Secular Society has called on the Government to publish guidance that makes clear to schools that unlawful gender discrimination must not be accommodated within the education system.

Capita has argued that that the discrimination is permissible under exceptions to the Equality Act that permit religious organisations to discriminate on grounds of gender and sexual orientation if a 'genuine occupation requirement' can be established, and where an employer is seeking to comply with the doctrines of a religion or the strongly held convictions of a significant number of its followers.

However, the National Secular Society has argued that the explanatory notes to the 2010 Act make clear that such exceptions are intended to apply to a "very narrow range of employment" and almost certainly don't cover the post of a science teacher.

The advert is thought to have been placed by the Madani Schools Federation which governs the state funded Madani Boys School. Similar adverts have been placed by the school for a Male ICT Technician (PDF).

The school was created in its present form in October 2012 when the mixed Madani High School was split into separate girls' and boys' schools which occupy separate wings of the same building.

Schools with a religious ethos are already permitted to discriminate against teachers who do not share the faith of the school. Exceptions to equality legislation that permits single-sex schools to admit pupils of only one sex apply only to admissions, and do not apply to the appointment of teachers.

The National Secular Society has also alerted the Department for Education, which said it will look into it along with "several other adverts" which have come to its attention.

Stephen Evans, campaigns manager at the National Secular Society, said: "Being male isn't a genuine occupational requirement for a science teacher in a state school. Any attempt to try and make it so is unjustifiable.

"The Government's encouragement of schools run by religious groups will bring with it increasing demands for religious customs and practices to be accommodated within our education system.

"If religious demands to discriminate and segregate along gender lines are accommodated, teachers of the 'wrong sex' will be disadvantaged and children in such schools are unlikely to be adequately prepared for life as equal citizens in a liberal democracy – which should be one of the fundamental aims of education policy.

"For some religious groups, it is clear that the primary goal of state education should be to instil parents' religious beliefs in children. Equality must not be sacrificed in the rush to satisfy their demands."

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Katy Perry is targeted by the "easily offended brigade"

There are some people, particularly of a religious bent who have some very strange priorities when if comes to being "offended".

Reports have been emerging of a disgusting attack on a boarding school in Nigeria. The Times carried a full report today (no link it's behind a pay wall):

Islamists slaughter 43 children asleep in school dormitory

Some were burnt alive, others had their throats slit, many more were shot or killed by hand grenades when terrorists attacked a dormitory full of schoolchildren yesterday.

"They were slaughtered like sheep" said a teacher at the boarding school for girls and boys aged 11-18.

Rhe attack which bore all the hallmarks of the Islamist militants Boko Haram left at least 43 people dead..

The attack on the Federal Government college, in the town of Buni Yadi, Yobi State began, started at 2am, witnesses said, when gunmen locked the pupils inside their dormitories and set the blocks ablaze. Some of the children were shot as they jumped out of windows to escape the fales.

This isn't the first time such an atrocity has been committed by these Islamic fanatics. The Times reminds us of a previous attack in September on an agricultural training college which killed another 40 people.

Frankly I cannot think of anything more "offensive" (an understatement to be frank) than murdering children in a school.

But what are Islamists complaining about at the moment? A bloody pop video by Katy Perry!

The extremist website 5Pillarz publishes an article from the "London Dawah Movement" about the so called "offence" that the video has cause those fragile true believers:

In the video, the pop queen is seen dressed up as an ancient Egyptian Queen of magic and there is a consistent theme and lyrical reference to magic in the song.

Muslims have expressed outraged that Allah’s name was used in the form of a pendant worn by one of the protagonists in the video that was “burned”.

They then direct you to their petition to get You Tube to take down the video:

This petition is lodged in regards to Katy Perry’s music video ‘Dark Horse’; hosted by KatyPerryVEVO, on YouTube. The video is considered as highly controversial to its viewers as a result of its portrayal of blasphemy.

At 01:15 into the video Dark Horse; a man is shown being burned, whilst wearing a pendant (also burned) forming the word ‘Allah’, which is the Arabic word for God.

Such goes to show, that blasphemy is clearly conveyed in the video, since Katy Perry (who appears to be representing an opposition of God) engulfs the believer and the word God in flames.

Besides the fact Islam didn't even exist at the time of the ancient Egyptians, if you watch the video you would be hard pressed to notice what the hell they are on about.

Anyway what are such pious men doing watching videos of scantily clad women exactly?

At the end of the day its about priorities. 

The followers of the so called "religion of peace" should be more worried about the actions of its coreligionists in Nigeria. They should be condemning the murder of school children and learn that they cannot impose their medieval nonsense on the rest of us.

When the Islamists learn that Women, Gays, Jews and all human beings have rights, then, and only then will I even listen to their concerns.

Like that's ever going to happen.

Islam needs to grow up. The trouble with these "Islamists is that they are basically cowards who like to bully their own and don't give a damn about the rest of humanity.

That's why Islam has the death penalty for apostasy. Its the only way they can hang on to people who otherwise might wake up and realise what bigoted nonsense that these religious charlatans preach.

In the mean time here is the offending video. Not to my taste musically to be honest, but younger readers might like it. I typed this article to the sound of Black Sabbath, now that's what I call music.

The Islamists (having no sense of proportion) will probably call it satanic.

Like I care what these nutters think anyway.

Neither should Katy.

UPDATE: You Tube gives in to Islamist censors: Tendance Coatsey

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Islamists accuse Superman of being part of a "Jewish conspiracy"

Over at Harry's Place, Gene has published a short piece Hamas is outraged at UNRWA's school curriculum which includes a video of some Hamas nutter complaining that their kids are being taught about Human Rights by UNRWA (God forbid, well theirs does apparently) and even (shock horror) say they should be free to marry who they like regardless of gender or religion, live or emigrate where they wish and heaven knows what other degenerate democratic values that Hamas hates.

Hate is a good word for what these Islamist extremists preach. Freedom in any shape or form is an anathema to their medieval backward interpretation of life. 

Putting on a western suit like the Hamas spokesman does seem  a bit of an enigma, but then these people try to hide what they really are. That's for the benefit of "Lenin's useful idiots" in the West like the Socialist Workers Party who on at least one demonstration went around shouting "we are Hezbollah".

Which neatly brings me to the video below, which I saw by accident after the one Gene posted.

Superman is a Jewish invention we are told. Strictly speaking of course the creators of Superman were Jewish. Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster sold their character to National Comics (now DC) which then appeared in Action Comics No 1 (April 1938), now the most expensive comic in the world. A "Near Mint" copy would set you back a cool $2.16 Million these days. Get a reprint its' much cheaper and can picked up for  £3-4 in most comic book shops.

However I digress. The point of the video is that Superman is a Jewish role model for Hollywood (a Jewish "propaganda network apparently) which indoctrinates all and sundry. Blah, blah....

Now I grew up reading Superman comics (amongst others, still do today as it happens). I don't recall his adopted parents Ma and Pa Kent  (who lived in Kansas for the record) ever going to the Synagogue and if memory serves me right Supes was actually an alien from the planet Krypton whose real name was Kal-El.

Doesn't sound very Jewish to me.

Recommended Graphic Novel
by British creators!

Superman does stand for "Truth, Justice and err...the American way". But it is an American comic after all...

That aside the video then talks about Schindlers List which is attacked for being about the So-called Holocaust.

The Holocaust (unlike Superman) is not fiction, its' historical fact. The video advances anti-Semitism at it's extreme. What bothers me is that the cheerleaders for the Islamists like the SWP and others ignore anti-Semitism as an inconvenience. Its a "shibboleth" as Lyndsey German once put such concerns, along with Gay Rights and Women's Rights which are also wilfully ignored in the name of anti-imperialism.

International Socialists? National bloody Socialists more like.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

PCS must condemn the use of death threats

The PCS union issued the following statement last week:

We are supporting a national day of action against multinational ATOS and the work capability assessments.

The protests, supported by campaign groups Disabled people Against the Cuts (DPAC) and Black Triangle, on Wednesday (19th February), are aimed at the hugely unpopular work capability assessments, carried out by the French multinational.

We are backing these protests as part of our campaign against the coalition government’s welfare reforms.

ATOS has been rightly criticised for its poor performance, but is one of a number of private companies doing very well out of the outsourcing of government contracts.

Our members working for ATOS have no involvement in the Work Capability Assessment. In fact we are currently in dispute with ATOS over pay, which branches should be aware of already.

The union went on to call on Branches to support the day of action last week. 

However a problem has arisen in the issuing of "death threats" against ATOS staff which raises concerns for PCS members, especially in branches like mine which share a building with an ATOS centre.

The Daily Mirror reports:

Many Atos staff have received death threats both in person and over the internet as well as bullying at the firm’s centres.

Atos said 163 incidents of the public assaulting or abusing staff were recorded each month last year.

Whilst such threats are not entirely new, PCS members working in DWP face abuse, violence and death threats working in Job Centres on a daily basis. 

If extremists working in similar campaigns get away with this, then they may be encouraged to step up attacks on union members who are faced with having to implement Government policy as part of their daily duties.

The General Secretary Mark Serwotka must issue a statement condemning the use of death threats in any campaign with which the union has chosen to associate itself and make it quite clear that PCS will call for the full force of the law to be used against those who threaten and attack its' members.

There are those who will see this as a victory for threats of violence. One poster on a left-wing chat room wrote:

I hope that these death threats haven't just been the few tame twitter comments shown on BBC News, I hope that some of these fuckers really fear for their lives.

The use or threat of violence is unacceptable in the labour and trade union movement.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

PCS take the sidelines in the Scottish referendum

The PCS union held a special conference on Scottish Independence in Glasgow today. There had been some concern over the event advertised as a "high profile event for PCS Scotland" since the unions circular (BB/SCR/414) also clearly stated that the afternoon session would be closed to the press and the media.

The circular (signed by PCS Assistant General Secretary Chris Baugh & PCS Scottish Secretary Lynne Henderson contained the following and unprecedented statement that:

The national president will ask that no delegate or observer text, tweet or communicate the proceedings during the conference. This is an internal PCS meeting and it is imperative that members receive feedback from their union and not from other sources.

Given that this issue had been widely debated across PCS in Scotland as part of the AGM season that branches are now coming to the end of such a censorious move was surprising if not exactly untypical of the centralised and bureaucratic way that PCS is increasingly run under the Socialist Party.

According to STV News :

Janice Godrich, PCS national president and chair of the conference, said "Today we've seen PCS members present thoughtful, balanced arguments weighing up the pros and cons of the way forward for the union and its members. Today does not mean sitting on the fence.

Yeah right.

Socialist Party Scotland

Such a position comes as a surprise given that the Socialist Party in it's Scottish franchise clearly supports independence:

Socialist Party Scotland, while supporting a Yes vote in September, is campaigning against the SNP’s pro-business blueprint. We stand for an independent socialist Scotland as part of a democratic and voluntary socialist confederation with England, Wales and Ireland as a step to a socialist Europe.

One can only surmise pragmatism has gripped the Socialist Party Grandees for the time being. Taking sides may have caused divisions in PCS that they could not afford at election time, which also explains the unnecessary presence of AGS Chris Baugh, the weakest link in the Trotskyist coterie that runs the union.

Despite two large DWP branches in East Kilbride and Glasgow voting in favour of independence, STV reported:

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union voted on Saturday on whether to back the Yes or No campaign or stay neutral at a conference in Glasgow.

They voted overwhelmingly to stay neutral in their position on September’s independence referendum

The fact that PCS has knowingly placed itself on the sidelines will come as no shock to members across the UK who are increasingly used to being in an ineffective union.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Another suspension from the Socialist Party (updated)

Socialist Party logo

There never seems to be a day go by when members of the various Trotskyist sects don't squabble and fall out with each other. A couple of days ago we learnt that the rather ego-eccentric Bruce Wallace had been suspended by the Socialist Party in one of the most tedious of factional disputes over areas of Marxist economic theory.

The only saving grace for "brucie babes" as he self referentially refers to himself on occasion has been the inclusion of some sarcastic personal attacks on the Grandees of the SP in his prefaces to impenetrable Marxist verbiage (and lots of graphs) published on his blog, Marx Returns from the Grave.

It turns out he has some mates. Well some factional collaborators anyway. That's the way things work in the Trotskyoid milieu. 

There's been a further suspension announced, this time in London in the form of Steve Dobbs. One of his crimes against the party was to secretly record a debate between himself and Lynne Walsh at a Branch meeting. Then to the horror of his comrades it appeared on the den of wickedness the Internet. (No link I'm afraid, frankly couldn't be arsed to find and listen to the rantings of the Mediocrity Tendency on line, life's to short). However for all you inveterate sectarians out there (and you are legion) here is the man's statement from his own blog Socialism is Crucial

Steve Dobbs suspended from Socialist Party/CWI

On Thursday 20th February 2014, I was informed of the West London branch agenda, 4 hours prior to the actual meeting, that it included the item “Conduct of Steve Dobbs”.

I queried the branch secretary via email on what this was and he replied “It’s exactly what it says, a discussion about your conduct as a member of the branch.”

I then replied “ok thanks for confirming that this is simply a discussion.”

My branch secretary replied: “What do you mean ‘simply’ a discussion. There may well be action arising from the discussion as is always the case with our discussions. We are not a talking shop.”

When I arrived at the branch meeting, it was announced that an “emergency motion” was proposed by my branch secretary, and forwarded by the Chair. This was read out at the end of the meeting.

The “Emergency Motion” was as follows:

This branch believes that trust between Steve Dobbs and the branch has deteriorated to such a degree that he should be suspended from membership of the branch. This is due to his public attacks and accusations against the branch secretary, the branch, the leadership of the party, the CWI, his repeated failure to heed any requests from the branch to stop such attacks, and his secret recording of a branch meeting when members had clearly stated this should not happen without members’ consent.

I responded many times throughout the “discussion” that it was unconstitutional to carry a disciplinary/suspension motion as an “emergency motion”, when my branch secretary clearly knew what would be discussed. Even capitalist bosses and the bourgeois courts let you know what you are being ‘disciplined’ about before you enter a discussion/tribunal/court!

Additionally, according to the Socialist Party’s own constitution:

“26.5 Members violating majority decisions of Branches or of the National Congress, National Committee, or Socialist Party Wales Committee may be subject to disciplinary action. The National Executive Committee and the National Committee shall have the power to remove from office, suspend or expel members who act contrary to the constitution, or who act against majority decisions of the Party, or whose actions and conduct are contrary to the aims and policies of the Party or damaging to the political reputation and influence of the Party.”

In other words, only the EC and the NC have the power to suspend members. The branch does not have the power to do so. However, this “emergency motion” came from one branch member, which directly contravenes the Party’s own constitution. What were the full-timers and branch committee members’ responses to this?

“We’ll let the EC decide that”.
“This organisation bases itself on the first 3 congresses of the Communist International…. ‘It is the supreme duty of every Party member to defend the Communist Party, and above all the Communist International, against all enemies of Communism. Anyone who forgets this, and instead publicly attacks the Party, or the Communist International, is to be treated as an opponent of the Party.’”
“You can’t turn up when you like”
“You ought to be careful of the allegations you raise”
“You hide behind formality and bureaucracy”
And my personal favourite from Paula Mitchell: “Some of this is written, some of this isn’t written, it’s a living function and we don’t have a rulebook”

No one was able to show me the rules and documented process that the Party were following. The full-timers and branch committee blatant flaunted the democratically agreed constitution of the Socialist Party. I was told I had a right of appeal, which I will exercise.

I made it clear, and it is clear, that this suspension follows hotly on the heels of Bruce Wallace’s suspension from the Socialist Party Scotland last week. The Socialist Party’s Congress is in two weeks time and the CWI want to stop all known “heretics” from attending. This is the real agenda behind the timing of the suspension. They want to get rid of us for our political critiques of the leadership, which incidentally my branch secretary has refused to circulate amongst West London members.

Heretics? That's interesting. And people wonder why I define Marxism as a religion!

Not sure how much of interest will come out of this. No real scandal, just boring theological disputes that will have no impact outside the myopic world of Trotskyism.

Ice Pick

Update: Sources now indicate that NUT NEC member Pete Glover is also getting e-mails threatening him with disciplinary action by the Socialist Party. There appears to be a full drive against dissidents inside the SP in the run up to their National Congress.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

RMT to fund Bob Crow for No2EU candidate

The RMT led by Bob Crow and his sidekick Steve Hedley, has been at the forefront of supporting and funding the Socialist Party's Trade Union & Socialist Campaign (TUSC). Recently the TUSC announced it would be standing "hundreds" of candidates in the forthcoming local elections, something bound to put pressure on the unions coffers.

However the Council elections will take place at the same time as the elections for the European Parliament, so today's announcement that the RMT will be handing Bob Crow £35,000 to fund his personal campaign comes as no surprise. Additionally The Times reports that:

It hopes to secure £115,000 more to help ten other candidates.

The report reminds us that:

Mr Crow stood in the previous elections in 2009 on a No2EU ticket. The party won 1% of the national vote. Relaunching the the group at the TUC congress in Bournemouth last year, he said that the EU had severely weakened the power of the unions.

And there's me blaming the Coalition Government, especially Francis Maude whose personal vendetta against the Trotskyist led PCS has led to severe, almost fatal reductions in TU Facility Time and is planning to end the "check off" system in which ever civil service departments he can.

Which EU directive was that I wonder?

Frankly the opposite appears to be the case. Withdrawal from the EEC would likely see an offensive against workers/union rights on a scale we have never seen. 

That's why so many bloody Tories and reactionary UKIP supporters want us out of the European Union. They see the EU as protecting us too much!

Undaunted comrade Crow assures us that:

The only rational course is to leave the EU and rebuild Britain with socialist policies.

Like his kind of Marxist based socialism has ever led to any kind of prosperity!

The workers of Russia and Eastern Europe couldn't wait to throw off the shackles of communism. The fallout still continues in Ukraine today.

Fact is that most people looking for a way out the EU will be doing so for exactly the reasons he opposes (immigration being one of them) and I'm not convinced that RMT members themselves are entirely persuaded of the Crow road to socialism. I was amused by an interview in the Independent back in the Eastleigh by-election (after another TUSC flop) with a member of the RMT who voted UKIP.

Herein lies a problem. The RMT leaderships politics and that of its' rank & file do not always overlap. The No2EU campaign, like the TUSC attracts the support of Socialist Party PCS officials in the PCS union who also have a policy of "standing & supporting candidates". 

That policy has yet to be implemented due to its controversial nature, but one NEC member inside the Serwotka led "big tent" assures me it will never happen. Personally I think it will when the likes off Assistant General Secretary Chris Baugh and Vice President John McInally have the confidence to do so.

With the PCS elections about to take place it might be worth while members raising this issue with the likes of Chris Baugh and his chums when they come touting for your vote!

The No2EU campaign will likely receive derisory votes as will the TUSC in the local elections. The far-left will simply be shouting for no gain.

Meanwhile if we really want to defend workers and trade union rights I suggest people vote Labour.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

A Liberal MP, Saudi autocrats and a satirical magazine

It seems the controversy over whether one can criticise Islam is all in the news again.

Over at Harry's Place Sarah AB returns to the Jesus & Mo tweet story once again as she reports that Liberal Democrat MP Gordon Birtwhistle has confirmed his views on Maajid Nawaz in a letter to a constituent:

Dear Shoib,

Reaction Muslim Action

I can confirm I find the actions of Maajid Nawaz completely unacceptable and an insult to people from all religions. The Liberal Democrats should condemn his actions, deselect him and cancel his membership. If asked I will pass my views on to the leadership.

Yours sincerely,

Gordon Birtwistle

So much for defending the supposedly Liberal values of freedom of speech and expression that we all take for granted in this country.

No such luxury for this man whose marginal seat is under threat at the next election. His stance wouldn't have anything to do with the Muslim vote in Burnley would it? 

After all we all know how the Lib Dems principles helped electoral reform, student fees and are at the forefront of defending trade union rights in the civil service. Nah only joking. They've sold us out on everything else why should our fundamental human rights stand in the way of this vainglorious man.

Birtwhistle is in good company to. Over in that bastion of democracy and human rights (cough) Saudi Arabia the Freethinker informs us that:

SAUDI Arabia’s culture and information ministry has warned online media and websites that they could be shut down if they offend Islam, abuse people or insult community traditions.

Abdul Aziz Al Melham, the ministry spokesperson, said:

We will deal decisively with all those who affront Saudi Arabia or its citizens. This includes targeting the Islamic faith and the Prophet, peace be upon him, as well as attacking the customs and traditions of the Saudi society and compromising the security of the homeland.

He then added some blah about “responsible freedom”.

Then promptly shut down 41 websites.

One wonders why the Saudis think Islam is to weak to stand up to any kind of criticism, its' not like they have to worry about the electorate like Gordon Birtwhistle. 

They don't even let women drive a car. Heaven forbid. Oh yeah, heaven does forbid.


Talking of fascists readers may recall that a few self appointed Islamist censors decided to do a bit more than just shut down a website when they fire bombed the French Satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2011 over some cartoon on its cover.

Those satirists are at it again with yet another provocative cover with something along the lines of Islam is crap on its cover. Didn't think it was that funny myself, but then these French have a wee bit of an odd sense of humour obviously. 

Where's the Danish cartoonists when you need them?

The Freethinker  takes up the story:

No firebombs this time. Instead, the League of Judicial Defence of Muslims (LDJM), led by the former lawyer Karim Achoui, has decided to turn to the courts instead.

Taking advantage of the existence of the crime of “blasphemy” uniquely available in the Alsace-Moselle region – it no longer exists in the rest of French common law – the League has brought the case against Charlie Hebdo to the Criminal Court in Alsace-Moselle’s capital, Strasbourg. The hearing is set for 7 April.

One complication is that the Alsatian blasphemy law does not recognise Islam, covering only Catholicism, three forms of Protestantism and Judaism. This test case will decide whether the law can be widened to include Islam.

The LDJM is also trying to prosecute Charlie Hebdo in a Paris court for:

Provocation and incitement to hatred on the basis of religious affiliation.

The Tribunal of First Instance in Paris will decide whether the case can proceed.

France has racial and religious hatred laws that are intended to protect only individuals. French courts will consider cases that cause “injury, personal and direct attack against a group of people because of their religious affiliation” or incitement to racial or religious hatred in cases involving defamation of individuals.

One can only hope they lose and all Blasphemy laws are abolished.

Also on my "wish list" is that Birtwhistle gets kicked out at the next General Election and the Saudi people overthrow their medieval rulers.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

More trouble for Trots

The world of Trotskyism may be small but it does attract a disproportionate amount of attention.  Over the past year the Socialist Workers Party had a crisis which both appalled and bemused many in equal measure. That's not to denigrate the fact that there were allegedly several victims of abuse in their organisation not least of whom was the target of unwanted attentions from "comrade delta".

This affair and the way it was handled led to coverage in the national press and eventually caused splits in the SWP leaving it virtually a pariah inside the trade union and labour movement. Their leader, the aptly nicknamed Prof didn't exactly help matters in his totally inept handling of the issues at hand. To the horror of most, if not all women activists the SWP turned the term "feminism" into an insult.

You would think that even the most dim-witted of the Trotskyist sects would  would learn from all this, but as we have seen the former allies of the SWP in America certainly haven't. Coverage of the "comrade daniel" affair was published on this blog last week. The controversy still continues and Ross Wolfe writes more about this scandal at The Charnel House today.

At the same time (surprise, surprise) the ISO leadership has expelled it's factional opponents. Not really unexpected as they had already set up an External Bulletin on-line for the whole world to see, not likely to go down well with the would be Lenins on the Central Committee! The faction announced that:

On 17 February 2014, the National Convention of the International Socialist Organization voted to expel the Renewal Faction. Our delegates were excluded from this session, as they have been from the last two days of the Convention.

A longer statement is forthcoming, but we wish to take this opportunity to thank our comrades inside and outside the ISO who supported us during this difficult struggle.

One former member commented of the organisation:

Everyone seems to imagine themselves to be some mixture of Huey Newton, Che Guevara, Lenin, and Trotsky.

Whilst news of the way the group handled the "comrade daniel" prompted one poster to write:

I have no idea why anyone would take a charge of sexual assault anywhere else than to a lawyer or a policeman. If a socialist’s house gets robbed, they go to the police. If a socialists’ bike is stolen, they report it to the police. If a socialist’s boss, coworker, or neighbor threatens or assaults them, they go to the police. If a socialist’s child is missing, they go to the police.

That anyone in either England or the US would expect a political organization with no legal authority, prisons, ability to fine, or protect citizens to solve major criminal offenses for them is almost beyond my comprehension. What is entirely beyond my comprehension is why any leading political activist not holding a law degree, when confronted with such an issue, would attempt to solve it through a discussion among their activist friends rather than frankly admit the problem is of larger scope than they are qualified to advise or solve.

Its all down to self centred arrogance at the end of the day. We saw that with the Prof and his "lynch mob" in the UK and no doubt his peers in the ISO will act in the same fashion over this.

The capacity for self delusion is not just limited to the seeming corrupt leaderships of the sects. One faction member concluded in his premature resignation from the IS that:

As it stands today, I’m convinced that there exists an almost unprecedented opportunity to rebuild the Left..

Really comrade? Have you not seen the mess that happened over here when the SWP fell out. Even their fragments are falling apart over the most obscure of issues. Leninism just doesn't bloody work.

Meanwhile back in the UK, the Socialist Party (Scottish franchise) has just suspended Bruce Wallace who has spent the last year attacking the CWI/Socialist Party leadership of over aspects of Marxist economic theory. 

It amazes me anyone stayed awake long enough to take notice. However Brucie informs readers that: own branch, of which I was a founder member in the late 1970’s, apparently unanimously passed a resolution demanding my suspension without me even being informed that this was to be discussed!!

Peter Taffe and his mob are a boring bunch at the best of times. However as those of us active in the PCS union are aware when it comes to bureaucratic manoeuvres the old Militant tendency sure knows how to stitch a man and his mates up:

The reasons for your suspension are your continued public campaign of attack against the party through elements of social media, which has been conducted for almost one year. Your blog, which was established in March 2013, has been a platform for a continual stream of invective and attacks on the party in Scotland as well as England and Wales, individual members and the CWI. Your campaign has been escalated recently through the “Really Radical CWI” Facebook page, which you are one of the main contributors to, and now a website set-up by your small grouping.

This continued conduct is despite repeated appeals to you by the democratically elected party bodies in Scotland to stop this behaviour. Instead you have ignored the letter sent to you by the EC in October 2013, the resolution passed by the National Committee in January 2014 ...
Splitters! All twelve of them!

Expect the birth of two new Trotskyist groups in the English speaking world. A world of ever diminishing returns it would seem.

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Apartheid Smear

Cross-post from BICOM

Israel is not an apartheid state

P Israel Flag.png

The allegation damages the peace process

The launch of an important new publication from BICOM

The idea that Israel is an ‘apartheid state’ is the intellectual foundation of the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (BDS). This pamphlet shows it is a smear: a malicious lie that does huge damage to the peace process.

The pamphlet shows Israel is not an ‘apartheid state’
  • Israel is a multi-ethnic democracy. Every citizen is guaranteed equal rights under the law.
  • Universities and hospitals are integrated and the judiciary counters discrimination.
  • Israel’s Arab citizens hold collective rights as a national minority. Arabic is an official language and there is a thriving Arabic mass media, literature and theatre scene.
  • The Israeli government combats discrimination and is pursuing policies to close the economic gaps between majority and minority, open up the civil service, equalise welfare, introduce Arabic into Jewish schools, and improve access to higher education.
The pamphlet shows that the Apartheid Smear works against peace
  • The smear stops us from understanding the conflict as it is – not apartheid but a complicated and long-running national conflict between two peoples, about their equally legitimate national claims over a piece of land, requiring mutual recognition and a negotiated solution: two states for two peoples.
  • The smear damages hopes for peace by encouraging extremists, demoralising moderates, and fostering a destructive ‘boycott activism’ in the West. The smear causes political polarisation, damaging the chance of compromise, mutual recognition and reconciliation.
  • The smear consumes energies that should be invested in a different kind of activism; pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli: pro-peace.
The pamphlet refutes the supporting arguments of those who push the Apartheid Smear
  • It shows that Zionism is not a form of racism.
  • It shows that in 1948 the Jews accepted the UN partition plan but a pan-Arab invasion of the infant Jewish state caused a war. The Palestinian refugee problem was born of this war, not by design, and certainly not by ‘ethnic cleansing.’
  • It shows that being a ‘Jewish state’ does not make Israel an apartheid state. Israel is not a theocracy (rule by clerics) or a state exclusively for Jews, but a democracy, governed by the rule of law as drafted by an elected parliament, the Knesset. All faiths vote and all enjoy freedom of worship. The Declaration of Independence explicitly provides for the protection of minorities.
  • It challenges a series of myths about the Territories: the Palestinian Authority is not a ‘Bantustan’, the security barrier is not an ’Apartheid Wall’, and settlements have not killed the two state solution.
The pamphlet reveals the true history of the Apartheid Smear
  • The smear originated in the well-funded, and often antisemitic ‘anti-Zionist’ campaigns waged by the Communist states for their Cold War purposes from the 1940s to the 1980s.
  • The smear was boosted when a coalition between the Soviet Bloc, the authoritarian Arab states, and the Non-Aligned Movement’ used its built-in majority at the UN General Assembly to pass Resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism in 1975.
  • The smear went global when anti-Israel activists hijacked the UN’s World Conference against Racism, Racial Intolerance and Xenophobia in Durban, South Africa in 2001 to launch a global campaign to label Israel as an ‘apartheid state.’ South Africa’s then Deputy Foreign Minister, Aziz Pahad, responded: ‘I wish to make it unequivocally clear that the South African government recognises that … [the Durban Conference] was hijacked and used by some with an anti-Israel agenda to turn into an antisemitic event.’
  • The pattern is clear: whatever the good intentions of some supporters of the Apartheid Smear, in the minds of its hard-core promoters there is a darker purpose: the demonisation of Israel as a pariah state in order to prepare the ground for its eventual destruction. Enough is enough.
The pamphlet shows there is an alternative
  • It is possible to be pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli: pro-peace.
  • Nelson Mandela challenged us to support those on both sides of the conflict who seek mutual recognition and peace: two states for two peoples.
  • Many organisations do just that, including One Voice, Parents Circle – Families Forum (PCFF), MEET, Merchavim, Peres Centre for Peace.
  • This is the real alternative to the dead-end and destructive politics of ‘BDS’ and the Apartheid Smear.
Please down load this important pamphlet HERE

Too poor to be a Trot

Socialists stand up for the poor and low waged don't they?

It seems that when it comes to faction fights inside their organisation, the American International Socialist Organisation takes a dim view of their poorer members paying "low membership dues".

The case of Vanessa B is bought to our attention by the Renewal Faction in their External Bulletin which is helpfully published on line for "leftist train spotters" .

Vanessa B is a Black woman with disabilities who clearly has trouble making ends meet. I don't know anything about the US Benefits system, but even living on disability benefits in the UK must be a struggle. I'd expect so called "socialists" to understand the problems such people have, but no. Factional interests come before natural justice. The External Bulletin explains:

On the afternoon of Tuesday, November 12, SC member Keeanga T provoked a confrontation with Vanessa online, attacking Vanessa in the most personal and uncomradely manner; eg, “I don’t really care what you’re a member of beyond the triflin’ ass bullshit committee.” (The full Facebook exchange, now deleted, is reproduced below as Appendix A.) This followed a number of interactions online in which Keeanga was, in our view, needlessly hostile to Vanessa.

Within half an hour of the November 12 exchange, Vanessa received a message from Tristan B of the DC Branch Committee informing her that she was no longer a member in good standing per an email from…Keeanga. She was instructed to contact Ahmed for details, which she did right away. (The message from Tristan B to Vanessa is reproduced below as Appendix B.)

Two days later (November 14), Ahmed replied, writing: “The reason we (at the National Office) don’t consider you a member in good standing is because we have no record of you paying dues. If I am mistaken, please inform me.”

He was mistaken, and Vanessa informed him that she had paid dues for October, in cash directly to the branch treasurer. Ahmed then replied, “if you are referring to the $6 you paid in October that’s not paying anything close to scale.”

Yet as Vanessa pointed out, how could Ahmed know if her dues were “close to scale” without knowing her income or personal circumstances? As Vanessa explained, “I am on disability so my income is extremely low"

It seems membership of the ISO is only for the better off, can't have poor people in it can we comrades?

Revolution is and always has been a rich man's game!

No wonder all Marxist revolutions end up corrupted beyond belief.

Just ask the Great Larder in North Korea. 

Sunday, 16 February 2014

PCS Elections: Fight for democracy!

The late entry of Lynda Priestley into the election for Assistant General Secretary caused more than just simple consternation amongst the supporters of Socialist Party incumbent Chris Baugh. They've panicked.

Word has reached me from more than one source that some activists are not only hell bent on getting their own nominations through ,but are allegedly trying to "block" nominations for Lynda. Frankly given the political shenanigans that go on inside the PCS union it should come as no surprise.

More to the point such tactics are born out of fear. 

Fear of an open and democratic and election.

Last time Baugh stood he was opposed by the then virtually unknown Rob Bryson, a Branch Secretary in the DWP. He nearly lost. This time Baugh faces a much more well known and high profile opponent who has been Group President of the HMRC for the last three years with a record of beating off challenges by the far-left.

It is absolutely essential for the health of democracy in the PCS union that Lynda gets the required number of nominations to get on the ballot paper and I would appeal to all branches, especially the majority that never make nominations to put Lynda Priestley forward for the AGS post.

There needs to be a proper debate, through a proper election. The far-left have treated our union as their personal fiefdom for far too long.

At the same time I remain concerned that so many Labour Party members and supporters remain in alliance with the Left Unity organisation, which is used and abused by the Socialist Party for it's own ends.

The Socialist Party are anti-Labour. They want to break the link between the unions (in general) and the Labour Party. The SP even seek to stand candidates against Labour, dividing the movement against the Coalition Government.

The Socialist Party are the Tories best friends. Handing propaganda victories to the Government whenever and wherever they intervene.

The time has come for PCS politics to grow up.

Lynda Priestley is NOT a "right-wing" candidate as the Socialist Party/Left Unity imply. She is simply in the political mainstream, like most of our members.

Last weeks by-election shows the real "right-wing" (Tories, Lib Dems and UKIP) are divided. Labour can move forward and with the continued attacks on the trade union movement members can no longer afford the "luxury" of the political sectarianism pursued not just by the Socialist party, but also the General Secretary Mark Serwotka

These people have failed us for a decade or more. The time has come for a political renewal in PCS and in the trade union movement in general.

The various tin-pot campaigns that our subscription money is wasted on at a time when the union cannot provide for our political futures is a disgrace.

The time has come for a break with the antics of the charlatans within  Left Unity and work towards the creation of a new alliance of Labour orientated activists in the union.

We can start by getting a fresh face at the top table and then work over the coming year as the General Election approaches to finally rid ourselves of this troublesome Tory Government.

The Socialist Party and their various far-left allies are a dangerous distraction.

Be part of the solution.

Nominate and vote for Lynda Priestley for Assistant General Secretary. 

Protests work! South Bank University Students Union apologises for censorship

The widespread condemnation of the decision of the South Bank University Students Union to remove posters advertising the Atheist Society (see here) has led to an apology from the President of the union:

Further to our investigation and meeting with the Atheist Society an official apology & explanation was given by the Union and accepted by the Atheist Society:

Both the Students’ Union and its elected representatives encourage and promote debate of all religious, political and social issues. We will always listen and respond to complaints made to us by our students but we do not condone censorship; we encourage and promote debate of all religious, political and social issues at the Students’ Union.

A complaint was made as the result of the interaction of individuals at a student-led event. In regards to the removal of the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” poster, a Union staff member did remove the poster but did so with a misunderstanding of Union policies. It is not currently nor has it ever been the Union policy to censor student groups or the materials they produce and as such this was not an authorised act and we have now ensured that staff know that they should not do this. The refusal to reprint the poster was an extension of the same misunderstanding of our process and we have now rectified this.

We have apologised to the Atheist Society for the actions taken and the distress that it has caused. From a Union perspective the ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ Poster has not been banned and we have agreed with the Atheist Society to reprint these posters and distribute them on campus for them. They will also be displayed inside the Union’s locked poster boards in order to prevent them being taken down by other students. We respect that all students are able to have opinions, but as a Union we wish to support the promotion and growth of any Union Society or activity without having to be subjected to harassment by fellow students by having their free speech curtailed . We remind students that the appropriate response to opinions they may find offensive is to engage in healthy debate respecting the rights of others to hold views or beliefs differing from their own.....

In regards to the removal of the Atheist Society stall from the Fayre, this was due to a Pre-Planned Volunteering event, because of which resources and space were limited. To accommodate the situation we used a first come, first serve policy with the remaining tables and backing boards to make the best use of them. However, we do not wish to make excuses for posters having been removed and will from now on ensure that the policies the Union stand for are being observed by all our staff and all societies and members of the Union are treated fairly and equally. In recognising the distress caused to the society by our actions we have met with and apologised to The Atheist Society President and Vice president.

We recognise that issues with communications on our part meant that the Atheist Society was not aware of the switch to first come first serve in regards to the Refreshers Stalls and this subsequently meant that they lost out on their space at the fayre to the LGBTQ Society. As such we will be looking into better communications and general relations with the Atheist Society and all LSBU societies.

The Atheist Society are as welcome at the Students’ Union as any group or Society and we completely respect and support their right to freedom of expression and free speech. We will continue to support the Atheist Society in this manner.

Barbara Ahland
Students' Union President
London South Bank Students' Union

The Atheist Society has responded to this positive development:

Cloe Ansari, President of the South Bank University Atheist Society said, “I welcome this statement and apology from the Students’ Union. We are glad that junior union officials will no longer be able to censor our society or prevent us from holding debates. It is encouraging that the Union President and CEO have fully supported our right to free speech, we hope that this support will be accepted by the Union officials who had censored and harassed us. We will be meeting with the Union President and CEO again in two months to follow-up on their commitments”

However there remain threats to freedom of speech both in our Universities and elsewhere which means everyone needs to remain ever vigilant against (particularly) religious censorship.

Watch this space!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Comic Reviews: Two alternative World War 2 stories , Politics and Science Fiction

Today's comics are nothing like the ones we bought as kids back in the sixties and seventies. More to the point most comics around these days originate from the USA as British comics are virtually extinct, mores the pity. It also has to be pointed out that there are some modern comics are not actually suitable for children. A lot are quite graphically violent and sexual content is at times what you would expect from a 18 cert film (R for US readers).

One of the reasons for this is actually quite simple. Kids don't really read comics these days, its all computer games from what people tell me. There are plenty of comics that would be suitable for children, Superman, Batman, Spider man and the Avengers still get plenty of readers, though nowhere near the numbers that go to see the films of these characters . Shame really.

I still find them fun, but I thought I'd review three of my favourite current titles, two of which get the 18 Cert and the third a 12A.

The Royals (DC/Vertigo)

image Copyright DC comics

The first issue of this little gem was released this week, making it easier for you to pick up a copy at a comic book shop near you.

This is the tale of a world where the Royal Family  are seemingly the only ones who have "God-given" superpowers and this issue not only takes deep into action in Berlin 1945, but also quickly flashes back to the self indulgent times being had by the royals during the blitz when the young Prince Henry develops a conscience and leads spitfires into action against the Luftwaffe.

Of course the Prince doesn't need a plane to fly....

The British people have been told a different story up to now, but the rub is the British Royal family are not the only royals with power. And so the scene is set for this six issue mini series by British creators Rob Williams (writer) and Simon Coleby (art).

Uber (Avatar Press)

image copyright Avatar Press

Avatar comics are a small quite brave and controversial publisher whose titles are purely for adults and frankly not for the faint hearted. Irish creator Garth Ennis came up with his take on the Zombie" craze with his Crossed title which is currently published fortnightly rather than the normal monthly frequency of most US comics.  Instead of the undead rising, the infection brings out the worst that mankind has hidden in his soul. Graphically so be warned, It will offend some.

The Uber title is another  alternative history take on the second world war and sees the Germans develop supermen (and women) of varying power levels (the most powerful being called "battleships") at almost the wars end.

Don't worry though the British secret service has pinched the formula  and so just in the nick of time we get our own. Trouble is most people given the serum tend to die rather gruesome deaths and only a handful on all sides survive the process. More of a problem for the democracies than the Nazi's or as it turns out Stalin either whose attitude to life is somewhat different to western sensibilities.

Written by Kieron Gillen, this is a unnerving but worthwhile read. Currently there have been 10 issues of this series but you can catch up in a couple of months with the publication of a trade paperback collection of the first story arc.

Letter 44 (Oni Press)

image copyright Oni Press1

Another title from the small publisher Oni Press, that deserves credit and wider recognition for this mixture of politics and science fiction in the not too distant future.

Former US President Carroll has kept America involved in every possible conflict he can and in the process has developed an army of well equipped veterans. The new President discovers the reason for this on taking office after the election.  There's an alien artifact in the asteroid belt and no one knows why its there or what the aliens want.

The story then switches to the crew of The Clarke which is currently heading on a (probably) one way mission to see what is going on out there.

Over the first four issues the "action" has switched between the political shenanigans on earth around President Blade, the CIA and the military to the crew of The Clarke making for an intriguing story that means when this arrives in my "pile" at the comic shop its' the first on my list to read.

And no, still haven't seen an alien but we're getting there......

Where do I buy comics?

There are over a hundred comic shops around the UK and a number of mail order firms you can look up on-line, but for those of you in London I recommend:

30th Century Comics. (Putney) 

Go to:


Dates for your diary - stand up for secularism!



Date: Thursday 27 February 2014; Time: 19:30-21:45
Venue: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Join Terry Sanderson as he explores the extraordinary life and career of one of the 20th century’s great entertainers. Using generous extracts from her films, he’ll examine her fantastic Hollywood career, and then accessing rare archive material, will look at her heroic war time efforts against the Nazis. The show culminates with a complete showing on the big screen of her famous one-woman show with which she toured the world. Accompanied by Burt Bacharach and his orchestra, this is Dietrich at her peak. The event is a fundraiser for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and coincides with LGBT history month. Tickets can be purchased here:


Date: Monday 10 March 2014
Time: 19:00-21:00
Venue: The George, 213 Strand, London WC2R 1AP (nearest Tube: Temple)

Open mic comedy for interested kuffar starts at 8pm. Look, we know it's not easy defending yourself constantly against a religious mob. So take a break from the forums and let out the frustration with a laugh. If you've got some steam to let off, this is your night to do it. RSVP at But don't laugh too much, Hell awaits us all later.*
Entry: £3; £1 unwaged.
* "Let them laugh a little: much will they weep: a recompense for the (evil) that they do" (Surah At-Taubah 9:82).


Date: Monday 28 April 2014
Time: 18:30-20:00

Venue: The George, 213 Strand, London (nearest Tube: Temple)

Ana Gonzalez, a lawyer of a well-respected law firm which has represented a number of apostate asylum claimants and CEMB members will speak about the right to asylum and apostasy. No need for RSVP.
Entry: £3; £1 unwaged.


More from Jesus & Mo: here

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Will the real Dave Spart stand up!

Readers of Private Eye will be familiar with the spoof character Dave Spart whose rants are legendary piss-takes of the rantings of the far left. Of course what most people forget is that there are real people like that in this world.

Today's trots tend to be somewhat boring, if still wild eyed and insane in their pursuit of the glorious revolution. And worrying at the same time, not just because of their inherent authoritarianism and wrecking tendencies where ever they get involved but mostly because they act as cheerleaders for the Islamists.

However, the "Professor" and his crew in the Socialist Workers Party, the remnants of the International Marxist Group in Socialist Resistance and even the Weekly Worker crowd all pale into insignificance compared to the past glories of the Spartacist League.

Being an old git I remember purchasing a copy of their first newspaper (see below) on some demo or another in my youth.

Unlike today's Trotskyists they have no time for the veil enforcing beheading medievalists that the extremes of Islam has produced in the twenty first century.

Trouble is they are err...somewhat barmy themselves.

The Sparts support North Korea's Nuclear weapons programme and think Iran needs the bomb for its fight against the Zionists (not so much a workers bomb as Gods bomb) whilst at the same time promoting the immoral activities of the NAMBLA organisation in the USA. A rather bizarre range of policies most ordinary workers would find abhorrent.

For those of you interested in the sectariana of the far left, the Spartacist Leagues material has been published as an on line archive which you can find here .

Reading their material will make you laugh out loud, cry and despair all at the same time. They still exist (albeit just) today, but haven't seemingly published any copy since last year which you can find on the website of the International Communist League, their international body.

I suppose not everyone can be "normal".

Continued on page 94...

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The disgrace of the Stop the War Coalition

The most misleadingly named organisation run by the far left in the UK has to be the Stop the War Campaign, launched by the Socialist Workers Party at the time of the Iraq war. Today the SWP is no longer in control but a group of its' ex-members around Lyndsey German and John Rees called Counterfire is now running the StWC.

As a result the so-called "anti-war coalition" has become nothing more than a mouthpiece for some of the more unsavoury currents on the left of British politics.

Given the Iraq war which it was founded to stop has been over for some years, you'd think they would be focusing on the Syrian conflict and demanding an end to the Assad regime bombing and killing civilians. Nah, not a single demo. It doesn't suit the comrades agenda. The StWC only campaigns against wars it doesn't agree with, which usually means they take the side of dictator's or terrorists.

So it should come as no surprise that they have chosen to cross-post an article by the rather unsavoury Alison Weir from the anti-Semitic Counterpunch website in America which sees Jews Zionists behind every problem in the world.

Gene at Harry's Place usefully links to an article published in 2009 that tackles the promoters of "Blood libel" at Counterpunch and outlines the disgusting political trajectory that Weir and her co-conspirators take. Adam Holland writes:

The blog Counterpunch, which is edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, has published an article which alleges that the blood libel is true and is related to purported Israeli thefts of human organs from Palestinians. The blood libel, the charge that Jews ritually murdered gentiles and used their blood to cast spells, was a mainstay of medieval European anti-Semitism. In Europe, the blood libel led to pogroms, mass slayings and expulsions. The Counterpunch article may be the first instance of an American leftist media outlet promoting the blood libel.

Read the rest:here

The offending article on the Stop the War Campaigns website tells us that the terrorists involved in the 1972 Munch Massacre where unarmed Israeli athletes were murdered should be seen as victims.

You can find this disingenuous nonsense here.

The borderline between so-called anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is blurred at the best of times but this is a clear example of the left, I repeat the so-called left, crossing the line. 

Nothing surprises me any more. We have seen the left-wing Palestine Solidarity Campaign having to expel its former Chair Francis Lowles-Clarke for "Holocaust denial", the SWP having to admit their former favourite Jazz musician Gilad Atzmon is in fact an anti-Semite and many of the "comrades" like Socialist Unity and Ken Livingstone backing the pro-Hitler, genocidal Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

This is where it ends.

According to the StWC terrorists are victims.

The time has come for the left to challenge the blatant ant-Semitism developing in its' ranks. The trade unions should also now reconsider their affiliations to this disgusting little campaign.

Stop the War? Stop bloody left-wing racism more like!

Facebook promotes the oldest anti-Semitic libel of them all

Cross-post by Eric Lee

I learned this morning that Facebook has a page devoted to “Jewish ritual murder” which I found hard to believe — so I checked and found it’s true.

So, as one does, I used Facebook’s complaint procedure to formally report harassment. After all, I do feel harassed — as a Jew and a human being — by people promoting vile anti-Jewish propaganda.

It took Facebook 32 minutes to respond, which is great.

Good to see that they care about racism and antisemitism and are as keen as I am to … wait a minute … here’s a screenshot of their response:

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 10

Just in case you can’t read that, here’s the essence of it:

You reported Jewish ritual murder for harassment.

Status This page wasn’t removed
Thank you for taking the time to report something that you feel may violate our Community Standards. Reports like yours are an important part of making Facebook a safe and welcoming environment. We reviewed the page you reported for harassment and found it doesn’t violate our Community Standards.

When I went to look at the Facebook “Community Standards” here’s what I found under “Hate Speech”:

“Facebook does not permit hate speech, but distinguishes between serious and humorous speech. While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.”

So, Facebook, how is a page promoting the oldest anti-Semitic slur, the infamous “blood libel”, not hate speech?

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Obituary: Shirley Temple a childhood icon

I was saddened to hear of the death of Shirley Temple, child actress turned politician today. Her films included Curly Top and Heidi.

In adult life (after some time on TV) Shirley developed a political career running as both Republican and Conservative candidates in elections though losing on both occasions.

She was appointed a representative to the United Nations by Richard Nixon in 1969, later on becoming Ambassador to Ghana and then Czechoslovakia.

It is for her childhood films that Shirley Temple will be forever remembered and this is one of her well known songs from the film Bright Eyes.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Religious censorship is offensive to freedom of speech!

Yet another attack on freedom of speech and expression has taken place in one of our seats of learning.

This time the culprit is the Southbank University Students union who have banned the following poster:


The Southbank Athiest & Humanist Society also had its' stall closed down by the Student Union.

The National Federation of Athiest, Humanist and Secularist Student Societies reports:

.Southbank University Atheist Society (SBAS), had a poster depicting the Flying Spaghetti Monster removed from its “refreshers fair” stall by their students’ union on grounds of causing “religious offence”. The AHS are very concerned by this bizarrely sensitive act as further evidence of intentional hostility by Southbank’s students union towards our member society there.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism, a parody religious movement that promotes a light-hearted view of religion and opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in state schools. The SA displayed the well known image of the FSM on their pre-prepared stall the day before the freshers fair this week but when they returned to the stall the following day found that the posters had been removed. When they went to print some more to replace the missing posters they were stopped by union representatives who said that the posters had been deemed offensive and that it was the union that had removed them. 

The image parodied the Sistine Chapel painting of God poking Adam. The initial justification was that the posters show Adam’s genitals but when Cloe Ansari, Southbank Atheists President, offered to censor them, they then said the problem was religious offence, because the image was based on religious art. The next day their stall had been replaced with that of another society.

AHS President Rory Fenton said, “This is beyond parody and it is not the first time one of our groups have had similar problems with Southbank University, who were last year told not to criticise religion. We are very concerned by the tendency to censor our member societies for fear of offending religious sensitivities by overly zealous union representatives. Universities need again to be reminded to recognise our members’ right to free speech: the same rights that also ensure freedom of expression for religious students, adherents to the Flying Spaghetti Monster included. Universities must recognise that their duty is to their students, not their students’ beliefs”

Southbank University Atheist Society President Cloe Ansari said, “I felt harassed and intimidated – it was not aimed at protecting other students from harm, but rather an attempt to sideline and restrict our rights; perhaps perceived as the easier option rather than standing up to the (much bigger than us) “religious societies”. Rather than included, we have been made to feel as an unwelcome minority of secularists”

What is it with Student Unions these days? Have they all been taken over by the "easily offended brigade" or are they just subservient to religious sensitivities  interests

Freedom of speech and expression is clearly under threat. 

From Channel 4 censoring "Jesus & Mo" to Student Unions, our rights are under attack.

Its' time to stand up to the bigots and their allies on the censorious left and right!

Hat Tip: Sarah AB

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Musical interlude with Satan's Pilgrims.....

As regular readers of Howie's Corner will realise by now is that my musical taste is somewhat old fashioned but frankly I find very little in the modern music scene to be appealing.

One of my favourite musical "genre's" is the instrumental and I had been listening to several old classics such as Telstar by The Tornadoes, Wipeout by The Surfaris and Apache by the legendary Shadows when I came across Satan's Pilgrims.

I had not heard of them before and was surprised to learn that despite playing "surf" music they had only been formed in 1992 but had a perfect sixties feel to them.

You can find out more about them at their website:

And here's a performance by the boys in Memphis at an Animal Welfare benefit!

Sleep tight tonight....

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Religion is not accommodated, it is privileged

Cross-post from the National Secular Society

Religion is not accommodated, it is privileged

Anne Marie Waters reports on a recent event organised by the Cutting Edge Consortium, a group which campaigns against homophobia in religion, and looks at how far religious belief should be, and is being, accommodated in employment and public life.

The Cutting Edge Consortium, a group of religious and secular activists who campaign against homophobia in religion, hosted an event this week in the House of Commons to discuss how far religious belief should be accommodated in employment and in public life; particularly when it clashes with the rights of LGBT people.

The event featured speeches from three experts – namely Karon Monaghan QC, Carola Towle of Unison, and Frank Cranmer, who is honorary research fellow for law and religion at Cardiff.

I will recount some of the highlights.

The first speaker was Karon Monaghan, a QC from Matrix Chambers, who opened with a statement of constitutionality with which she claimed that religion "occupies a place of privilege" in the UK. She evidenced this by pointing to the fact that there are several Bishops in the House of Lords who contribute to the legislative process by virtue of their religious status. She also pointed out that our head of state is also the head of our established church. In public life, she said, "religion is not accommodated, it is privileged".

Moving on to law, Monaghan stated that religion presents unique and specific challenges as 'get-out clauses' are permitted within certain legislative tools that provide exemptions to discrimination laws if a discriminatory belief is backed up by religious authority. The problem, she argued, is that some religious beliefs are inherently discriminatory, in particular against women and LGBT people, and as such we witness frequent clashes. Moreover, previous cases of religion versus women or LGBT folk have provided little guidance as to who might be prioritised, as they have often been decided upon by consideration of separate factors. For example, the case of Shirley Chaplain, a nurse who was prevented from wearing a crucifix at work, lost her discrimination case on consideration of health and safety concerns, rather than any profound ruling on religion in the public space.

Monaghan summarised by offering her own opinion as to the accommodation of religious belief in public life. She said, and I wholeheartedly agree, that religious belief should and must be accommodated, but only when it does not clash with a core set of basic civil rights. (For some reason, she seemed to think she was in "a minority of one" with this view, I tried to make it clear to her from the audience that she most certainly was not).

The crucial point here is that religious belief is often subjective (though not entirely – religions also have objective authority in the form of scripture); evidenced by the fact that many believers of the same religion believe different things about that religion.

If a society is to function, we simply cannot legislate based on subjective belief – we must have a core set of civil rights to which all are bound and which are universally applicable. Outside of these rights, one should be free to live as they wish. If we allow for subjective belief to chip away at core rights, then those rights become meaningless, society becomes a free-for-all, and we find ourselves in the position of "I believe it's ok and therefore I should be allowed to do it".

It is this attitude of subjective and relative morality that has allowed FGM to prosper, along with other heinous abuses of women and girls in 21st Century Britain

In the US in 1878, the case of Reynolds v United States produced a vital ruling in this area. Reynolds was a Mormon who was on trial for bigamy having married, in accordance with his religion, more than one woman at the same time. He argued that the ban on bigamy in the US violated his religious right to multiple marriages. In delivering his judgement, Mr Justice Waite made this immensely powerful and important statement:

"So here, as a law of the organization of society under the exclusive dominion of the United States, it is provided that plural marriages shall not be allowed. Can a man excuse his practice to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances".

Back in the House of Commons, we next heard from Frank Cranmer who recited a fascinating tale from Canada and asked "how reasonable is reasonable?" when we talk of reasonable accommodation. This episode of religious belief versus women played out in a martial arts class in the Canadian city of Halifax. A young Muslim had joined an Aikido class, only to insist that the class be segregated by gender as he refused to touch or be in proximity to any person of the female variety. His request was granted. Cranmer quite legitimately questioned how reasonable this really was. "Why couldn't he have joined a boxing or wrestling class" if he wanted a combat sport that was segregated by gender? Good question. An equally good question was asked by 17-year old Sonja Power, a black belt in Aikido at the Halifax school who suddenly found herself in a woman-only zone. Power said that the accommodation of the segregation request had made her feel like a "second class citizen, that I was so disgusting and unworthy that this man doesn't even want to interact with me" and asked "why would something you choose, your religion, trump something I'm born with, my gender?"

Ms Power's articulate objection brings to the fore an oft-forgotten element of the religious accommodation debate; an element which was raised by an audience member at the Commons discussion. When religious discrimination against women or LGBT people is accommodated, what exactly does that say to women and LGBT people? It is, as Power says, a message of inferiority – contamination even – coming from the religious believer, which is then legitimised by accommodation, rather than being condemned as the humiliating and degrading treatment of another human being. When Universities UK sanctioned gender segregation recently, they tacitly agreed that there is merit to the argument that women should be sent to the back of the bus. What does this say about women? More importantly, what does it say to women?

The final speaker was Carola Towle, the National LGBT officer of the Unison trade union. She too addressed the point that in accommodating those who hold a religious belief in the inferiority of women or LGBT people, that results in humiliation and degradation of women and gay people and must be taken in to account when accommodation is debated.

She asked "is it reasonable to expect people to treat each other with respect regardless of belief or sexuality?" I agree with her, it is.

Before I finish, I want to mention two more points.

The first involves a personal heroine of mine, the incomparable Baroness Flather. When the debate was opened for questions, Flather was first to take the stage and asked the panel what they intended to do about the sharia law in the UK. She said there was little to no discussion about this and made clear her strong feelings that sharia, given its appalling treatment of women, should not be accommodated under any circumstances.

The discomfort of the panel was immediately visible, as so often when matters pertaining to Islam are raised.

Monaghan replied that she was indeed deeply concerned about the growth of sharia and demonstrated knowledge of the treatment of women under its dictats. Worryingly however, she added "we haven't been able to close the gender pay gap" so how were we expected to bring an end to sharia? With respect to Monaghan, I think sharia is a rather more urgent threat to women's liberty and humanity than the fact that men and women are often economically unequal due to the value placed on diverse tasks.

Cramner responded by quite reasonably pointing out that the entire system of Islamic marriage, divorce etc. is taking place outside the law and the debate therefore needs to focus on this question: the parallel Islamic system "doesn't engage with the law – but should it?"

It was the response of the Unison representative which reminded me of why I no longer position myself on the left-wing!

Having briefly referred to her disappointment at the decision of Universities UK to endorse gender segregation, Towle immediately changed the subject to "Islamophobia". Unison, according to Towle, spends a great amount of time and resources dealing with cases of "Islamophobia" (she did not offer a definition). She pointed to a particular trend of "Islamophobia" and said that Unison is seeing increasing cases of non-Muslims "encouraging" LGBT people to "engage in Islamophobia" by alleging that Islam somewhat frowns upon homosexuality, indeed punishes it, when – as Towle put it – "we all know that's not the case". Flather replied "but it is the case". This may have been my favourite moment of the evening.

I will end on something I think very important, and something that we secularists perhaps need to reflect upon more often. A person from the audience, who was a Christian, stated that the prejudice between LGBT people (or secularists) and believers travels in two directions – religious people are often subject to unfair accusations of misogyny and homophobia when very many believe strongly in gender equality and the rights of same-sex couples.

This is a fair point, and I resolved to take it away with me and remember it often.

Anne Marie Waters is a council member of the National Secular Society. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the NSS.