Sunday, 11 November 2012

This week's world of stupid

The week started well - I was having a great time in sane, liberal Amsterdam and Barack Obama won the US election. Then the wheels started to fall off.

The US state of California depressingly voted against a ban on the death penalty - and the County of Los Angeles voted for compulsory condom use in porn movies. It was a bizarre example of misuse of big and small government. The death penalty is abhorrent and ineffective and government should go big and step in to ban it globally. That is the only civilised solution. But how the hell did condom use in porn even end up on ballot papers? How is that something that needs government regulation and a public vote? Yes, sometimes government can be way too big. It would be far saner to ensure sex education covers the benefits of condom use as well as intelligent class discussion on pornography and its relationship to real life sex. If you think high school students can't handle such discussions, you've clearly got no idea what they've probably seen online already.

And Nadine Dorries happened again. This time, the MP buggered off to Australia to appear on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here without telling anyone. On one hand, it is brilliant that she is currently not here in Britain. On the other hand, it is beyond scandalous that she is still accepting her taxpayer-funded salary, neglecting her constituents and abandoning her seat for important votes in the House of Commons. She further raises the idiot stakes by claiming that her appearance on a moronic TV programme will get people interested in politics and raise awareness of her views on abortion. If you are unaware of Nadine Dorries' views on abortion, you have been living under a rock. If you need to see MPs eat kangaroo testicles on TV to be interested in politics, you are too stupid to fill out a ballot paper and shouldn't leave the house without your name and address pinned to your clothes.

Meanwhile, Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, and Labour MP Chris Bryant, attempted to manufacture outrage over claims that bets were taken on the appointment of Justin Welby as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Apparently, people who knew Welby was going to be the Church of England's new leader took bets and it was likened to the ecclesiastical equivalent to insider trading. But the outrage missed the point. Why is government still involved in the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury? Given that Britain generally does a better job of separating church and state than America, it is time to cut this particular cord once and for all. This country has grown up enough to have an openly atheist deputy Prime Minister, freedom of religion, freedom from religion and a general attitude that religious beliefs are personal.

But any chance of intelligent discussion about betting on bishops, and the Church of England's role in Britain, got lost in the news cycle in the wake of George Entwistle's resignation as BBC Director-General after an ill-starred seven-week tenure. While the BBC-bashing newspapers get away with a tiny apology on page 23 buried next to an advertisement for mail order slippers for all manner of lies, inaccuracies and ethical failures, the BBC has to go big with a mea culpa. Yet ITV gurner-in-chief Phillip Schofield thought handing David Cameron an internet witch hunt list of suspected child molesters on live TV was the way forward and he is still employed. Alarmingly, Schofield made the Prime Minister look good - David Cameron handled an insane situation well.

Yes, there was much ineptitude on the part of Entwistle over the Jimmy Savile affair, and journalism at the BBC should be held up to a higher standard than The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Daily Express, ITV and Sky News, but this is not an excuse to tear down the entire organisation. It is a time to look ahead and ensure high journalistic standards are maintained at all times in the future. As I predicted on October 23, the real victims of paedophilia are being forgotten in the midst of a frenzy to burn Entwistle at the stake. There is no joy to be had in this prediction coming true.

Image courtesy of


  1. Although I abhor the witch hunt of some of the rag press regarding the DG resignation I do believe he should have resigned.

    He is (or was)editor in chief and as such is in charge of, and responsible for all output. I know the BBC is a huge organisation but he would only have had certain programmes on his radar. After all it is unlikely that The Archers or 'Eastenders' would be broadcasting contentious material.

    And I certainly further believe that those responsible for the broadcasting of the slanderous allegations against Lord McAlpine should not be given the chance to resign, they should be fired.

    Even the comics which purport to be newspapers would telephone someone and tell them they had a story prior to printing it, and ask them to comment. If I had been in the unfortunate position to be targeted by such a newspaper and replied that what they were about to print was totally untrue and if they did print it I would sue them I think they might check their sources. The BBC 'journalists' did not make even rudimentary checks and for that they should go.


    1. Correction: They didn't broadcast any names (unlike ITV's Schofield) , so no wrong done ... The poor chap had only been in office a few weeks, and just because he couldn't deal with Humphreys doesn't mean he isn't good at his job. But we will never know now will we?

      Phil L

  2. The problem with UK politics today is that there is little practical difference between the parties, so they have to find something moronic to vent their spleen on.

    I agree with much of what you say in the blog, but the Church/State separation is not as clear cut as you make out. The queen is head of church and state (the CofE is a construct of the UK Monarchy), so the CofE is actually the official state religion, whereas the US Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. In practical terms, though, the UK and US positions are reversed.

    On the DG's resignation, can we please all remember that, in the middle of all the navel gazing, there is a serious child abuse scandal? Steve Meessham's bravery in speaking out (and his dignity throughout) does not deserve to be ignored. And let's not let the Mail, Sun, Express (all of which have financial interests in rival TV channels) dictate the agenda (and try to sweep their own misdemeanours, see Leveson, under the carpet).

    Best comment on Nadine Dorries was by Eric Pickles. Something along the lines of "I don't know how we will get along without her, but we'll try to soldier on. As a loyal friend I shall be voting to keep her in the jungle as long as possible." Obviously, anyone who went awol for 4 weeks in any other job would be fired.

    As for Ms Dorries' views on abortion, I suspect (hope) that, if more people hear them, more people will be repelled by them. Not everyone in the UK shares your interest in politics (and you can't have a policy of "you can only vote if you understand the issues"). Many will share Eric Bristow's (tenable) view that "I don't vote. They're all liars."