Sunday, April 26, 2015

A term of abuse, when it should be celebrated

I'm not keen on Ricky Gervais. The novelty of his dad dance in The Office wore off long ago, and I've never found him funny since. However, his Twitter attacks on big game hunters who kill for "sport", showing the hunters' sickening photos, posing with their trophies, have highlighted an issue that needs highlighting. Whether it'll make any difference is debatable.

I didn't like one of his messages, however, because I hate the use of the word "cunt" as a term of abuse.
I agree with Elisabeth:
The Oxford dictionaries define cunt as "vulgar slang" and a noun meaning -

1     A woman’s genitals.
1.1  An unpleasant or stupid person.

What has the first to do with the second? Nothing, except that it's a symptom of the misogyny that associates female anatomy with nastiness. For centuries, male religious extremists have regarded women's genitals as foul or dirty, a necessary evil if progeny are desired. Women were kept hidden from society while menstruating and after childbirth, because they were considered unclean. It still happens in backward patriarchal societies. Nowadays it's a favourite term of abuse for women by male Twitter trolls, like the idiot who attacked the classicist Mary Beard online. Mary's commented:
"When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out. If you went into a bar and a load of guys started saying, 'Look at that old slag. I bet her cunt smells like cabbage,' you would say, 'Look, guys, cut it out.' Same on Twitter!
So please Ricky Gervais, choose your terms of abuse carefully. I don't care for those that indirectly insult women.

See what Wikipedia says about the term.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Let's scrap party politics and start again

OK, here's an idea. No more political parties. If you want to govern the country you have to study lots of relevant stuff, pass an exam and a psychological evaluation, then you go on a list. Members of Parliament are chosen from this list to represent a cross-section of society, half men, half women. It's a bit like jury service, only better. You serve for a fixed term. The house is divided in half and half changes at the end of the term, so there's an overlap and continuity. No one may serve more than once. Committees are formed of people who are interested in the subject, such as education, health, etc., informed by relevant professionals. They can't make decisions, only recommendations to the full house. No one is expected to win a popularity contest. Claims on behalf of the house are fact checked. The primary people's representatives are the most articulate, chosen for their ability to get everyone to work together, not to dominate.

Can't be worse than what we've got now, can it?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

God as a mouthpiece for earthly control freaks

Free will: The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.
Watched the BBC's The Big Questions this morning. Today's question was, do we have free will? I'm none the wiser. One of the speakers, an evangelical Christian, said something about those who don't accept Christ going to hell. I've been told by a Muslim that atheists will go to hell. The more I hear about it, the more attractive hell sounds, if it's free from the clamour of religionists all trying to impose their beliefs on everyone else. Free will? Not if the theists' God has anything to do with it. The Big Questions doesn't do religious believers any favours. By herding a bunch of them all together, arguing about who's right (they all think they are), they appear collectively silly.

Yesterday I watched the second part of Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch's series on Sex and the Church on BBC Two. Fascinating stuff about Christian history, and how attitudes to sex have been shaped by various Christian saints, all male, with sexual hang-ups of one sort or another, determined that free will and spontaneity would be strongly discouraged in matters sexual.

God is generally an authority figure invented by a succession of control freaks as a mouthpiece for their messages. The same is true of the various believers who take part in The Big Questions. They may be recycling someone else's messages, but they've all originated in the minds of men (mostly men, not women), not in some supernatural sphere. If you were looking for a religion, which one would you choose? The one that most closely reflected your attitudes and values? A majority of people, worldwide, don't enjoy the privilege of choosing. Their religion is chosen for them by the control freaks in their community, mostly male. No free will for them.

I'll stick to freethinking. The Big Questions' participants could benefit from trying it for a while.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

A puzzle, and a bored postman

A few days ago a small packet arrived with a pair of toe nail clippers I'd ordered from a company in Manchester. I don't know the people who work there and had never ordered anything from them before, so I was mystified by this hand-written message on the back of the padded envelope: "Hope you are fully recovered - David" and a smiley face. Who was David? And how did he know I've been ill? I'm recovering from a nasty bout of gastro-enteritis. Maybe, I thought, the message wasn't intended for me, but had already been written on the envelope before it was used.

Then, today, my home help came to clean my house. Did I get the message from David? she asked. All became clear. David is her husband and he works in the sorting office, sorting the mail at night. He saw the envelope addressed to me, and wrote the message. Mystery solved. I remembered that it wasn't the first time I've had a cryptic little message written on the back of a package. David amuses himself by writing them when he comes across packages for people he knows. I wonder when the next one will be?