Bansturbation is the opiate of the masses.
Okay, maybe religion too, though I’m happy to accept that some of them are sensible people who look at the world and just come to a different conclusion*, but I feel that these days bansturbation is the true opiate not just of the masses but of those who periodically need to curry favour with the masses in order to stay in power. And that’s because bansturbation is starting to become almost like a religion for some people, and religions just love to compete with each other. Hence we have this:
A Belgian parliamentary committee has voted to ban face-covering Islamic veils from being worn in public.
A Muslim woman in Italy has been fined 500 euros (£430) for wearing a burka in what is believed to be the first case of its kind.
Militant atheists are trying to ban the age-old tradition of councils starting their meetings with Christian prayers by claiming it infringes the ‘human rights’ of non-believers.
A Christian street preacher was arrested and locked in a cell for telling a passer-by that homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God.
Now obviously there are different reasons behind these examples but the common thread is the banning of something, usually for something retarded. The Belgian ban on Islamic headscarves is the most spectacularly retarded since it’s supposed to be about freeing women, and nobody seems to have noticed that the state telling them that they can’t wear something they want to is no better than their personal version of the god squad telling them they must wear something they don’t want to. You don’t increase freedom by legislating against people doing things. The similar ban in Novara in northern Italy is supposedly about anti-terrorism and making sure people’s faces can be seen for identification purposes, which should make everybody feel so much better unless they’ve read 1984. Apparently it’s also about forcing migrants to integrate, which is another great blow struck
for freedom to freedom. Integration has its own advantages for migrants and eventually becomes the natural choice for most providing the locals don’t fuck up trying to deal with it instead of just carrying on as normal. Bend over backwards to accommodate the new arrivals and they have less incentive to fit in. Try to force them to change to your ways and you’ll find that the natural instinct of most people when pushed is to push back. Simply allowing the advantages of integration to become apparent on their own, e.g. how much easier it is to buy things if you speak the language, should be the ideal but of course it doesn’t carry the appeal for self important wankers chasing the jingo vote.
And then we come to the councils. I may think that religious beliefs are implausible and that some (but by no means all) people who have them are actually a bit mad, but since when does a prayer conflict with my human rights as someone who does not believe unless I’m being forced to join in? For fuck’s sake, as a preteen and teenager I coped with a very religion heavy school assembly five days a week, thirty-eight weeks a year, for seven whole years, and for most of that time I’d best be described as hovering between strong scepticism and outright atheism. The ‘rights’ industry wasn’t as powerful as it is today so it never occurred to me to demand to be excused because of ‘me rites, innit’ but even if it had been I wouldn’t have bothered. What harm did I come to from standing around while others sang hymns and prayed to something I thought wasn’t there? How can any right possibly have been infringed? Look, if I was beaten or buggered because I just stood off to one side and didn’t join in then that would be something else but simply being expected to be there? Course not. The same goes for council meetings. Anyone bothered by them having what Father Ted used to call ‘a bit of a pray’ should stop bleating and just go in when they’ve finished. They’ve got as much right to waste their time talking to what some of us may see as a 13.5 billion year old invisible friend as you have to rock up after they’re done and are ready to get some stuff done. It’s also worth noting that some councils fuck up much of what they put their hands to, so it could be said that the more time they waste in prayer the better off everyone would be.
As to the rights versus rights issue, there’s really not much to say that I didn’t say on Monday.
What we have is a system of rights that are not only granted by the government, and are therefore subject to the whim of whatever party happens to be running it at the time, but are also liable to be mutually contradictory and conflict with each other. What we need is not more of the same but something far simpler. … Mr McAlpine would be free from being persecuted for his beliefs and the PCSO would be free from being persecuted for his sexuality. Both can find the other’s opinions or lifestyle offensive, immoral or even thoroughly repugnant. McAlpine would be free even to stand on his ladder screaming that the PCSO was going to hell for eternity, and the PCSO would be free to yell through a bullhorn that McAlpine’s problem is that he lives according to what he thinks a non-existent god told Charlton Heston four thousand years ago, but as long as that’s about as far as it goes then both must let the other get on with it. They might not like it, and they certainly might not like each other, but since there’d be no call on them to that doesn’t matter, and each would have the same amount of freedom: to live, speak and do exactly as they wish up to the point they prevent the other from doing likewise, and no further.
About all I would add is that this will obviously mean the more thin skinned among us will need to harden the fuck up, or at least stop whinging about how offended they feel all the fucking time. Most of all it will mean the vote chasing bastards will have to give up the dog whistle politics and stop banning everything that someone gets even slightly upset about.
* Mine is that the case for any kind of creator is severely undermined by the poor design of the human body. Intelligent design would surely have arranged things in such a way that there’d never have been a need for the Heimlich Manoeuvre and that childbirth would involve some sort of organic zipper or kangaroo style external ‘gestation’ instead of something akin to shoving a fire extinguisher through a hosepipe. Our bodies, and much as I like the look of them women’s bodies in particular, seem more like examples of random development and sticking with what works at each stage unless something better turns up. Any other explanation seems more likely to be either unintelligent design or intelligence not actually designing. Now I’m not saying it’s impossible that there’s anyone ‘upstairs’, any kind of intelligence behind it all. It seems unlikely to me but for all I know there is someone there, but if so I’d be very keen to find out if there’s any kind of warranty on the work.