Category Archives: Equality

Tolerance and politics

There were two big arguments going on in non-party-political politics the past two years: lifting the ban on same-sex marriage (England and Wales, 29th March: Scotland, sometime this autumn after the Commonwealth Games and this other thing: Northern Ireland as soon as they lose the court case).

Scotland: the 17th Country in the world to lift the ban on same-sex marriageMaking it legal for same-sex couples to marry, matters hugely to people in same-sex relationships, obviously, but to everyone else aside from a small number of seriously homophobic fanatics, it’s no big deal: two-thirds of the population of Scotland agreed that gay marriage should be made legal in a 2012 poll.

This other thing that is happening in Scottish politics: the referendum. In the US, where they have referendums whenever they can get enough voters to sign off on one, they went through a phase of holding referenda in which voters were invited to agree that “marriage is between a man and a woman”, which was then held to mean that marriage between a man and a man, or a man and a woman, was unlawful. In the UK we referend much more rarely, and only – so cynics say – when the government thinks they can get the public to vote the way they want.
Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Currency, LGBT Equality, Scottish Politics

Are corporations people?

Corporations Are Not PeopleThe legal definition of a corporation in the UK is:

a body of persons authorised by law to act as one person, and having rights and liabilities distinct from the individuals who are forming the corporation.

A corporation can own property, do business, pays taxes – well, sometimes – be sued, sue individuals and other corporations, and though it can’t be born or die, a corporation usually has a definite beginning and can come to a definite end. A corporation doesn’t have a passport: it may be registered in just one country, but it can exist in many.

But no matter how many legal rights and powers a corporation may acquire, there are things it cannot do: it cannot vote in most democratic electionsthough the richer the corporation is, the more it is likely to get its way regardless of democracy; it cannot have sex or experience orgasm or know love or laughter or tears; and it has neither soul nor conscience – from a religious viewpoint, a corporation is not a person at all.

Or so I always thought.

But apparently, in the US at least, the Catholic Church has ruled that corporations have souls and consciences, and therefore rights of freedom of religion that ought not to be violated.

The American legal definition of a corporation is similar to the UK’s definition. A corporation in the US is an independent legal person, created, organised, and – should that time come – dissolved according to the laws of the state in which it is registered. Each state requires articles of incorporation that document the corporation’s creation and the corporation’s management of internal affairs. Nowhere in the legal definition of a corporation does it explain where in this process the corporation becomes ensouled.
Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under American, Human Rights, Women

UKIP: gamechanger?

Last night the political reporter for the Nottingham Post tweeted:

The Bus Pass Elvis party is in the great British tradition of Screaming Lord Sutch. And they polled more votes than the LibDems.
Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Elections, Racism

Food, waste, and hunger

On a blog I frequent, the regulars have come up with a new method of reacting to a racist troll. [New? Though I had not seen it before, I was told it originated on Usenet.] When he posts his crap, they respond with recipes. Or sometimes detailed descriptions of food they’ve eaten, or occasionally cute-dog stories. But mostly, recipes. It can seem disconcerting to go from a vile comment which argues that George Zimmerman was in the right to murder Trayvon Martin, to a lengthy explanation of how to make a vegetarian chilli, but the odd thing is, it seems to be working: the troll isn’t getting the angry, outraged response he lives for, and the regulars can turn what might be a distressing thread about American racism and injustice into a pleasant discussion of smoked chipotles and beans. The troll tries again, and gets another recipe.

Today I saw two posts about food.

Cheeseburger stuffed crust pizza - promoshotFirst, the Observer article by Jay Rayner on what the existence of a thing like the cheeseburger stuffed crust pizza says about our food industry:

Most of the diners here today are going for the £6.99 all-you-can-eat buffet deal. Not me. I am ordering a large double pepperoni pizza with cheeseburger crust. I am consigning myself to my very own grease-stained, cheese-slicked gastronomic hell. I am doing this to shine a light on the way a deformed model of nutrition has come, in the past year, to play a key part in the debate around global food security.

Quickly it arrives. It’s certainly not misnamed. The middle is standard Pizza Hut: a soft doughy base as sodden and limp as a baby’s nappy after it’s been worn for 10 hours. There is a scab of waxy cheese and flaps of pink salami the colour, worryingly, of a three-year-old girl’s party dress. What matters is the crust. Each of the 10 slices has a loop of crisped dough and in the circular fold made by that loop there is a tiny puck of burger, four or so centimetres across and smeared with more cheese. It looks like a fairground carousel realised in food.

In a way, a pizza like this is Pizza Hut being a troll. It exists not because anyone thought a mini-burger at the crusty end of a pizza slice was a yummy idea, but so that food reviewers will write about it. As Linda Moyo noted in Manchester Confidential last October, Pizza Hut is a great place to take kids for a reasonably cheap, reasonably filling, and only moderately unhealthy meal out. (And when I was a broke – and vegetarian – teenager, Pizza Hut was just about the only sit-down restaurant that sold cheap hot meals I could actually eat.) But it’s not that thrilling for two adults:

The all-you-can-eat buffet can be handy I guess, but overall there’s never a time when Pizza Hut is top of the list. A bottomless trip to the Ice Cream Factory doesn’t entice me not being seven and all, and on the whole I find their pizzas utterly average.

To be honest, Pizza Hut would have to do something wacky like squeezing mini burgers into the crust of their pizza and calling it ‘all the fun without the bun’ to get my attention.

Oh, hang on a minute…

Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under About Food, Poverty

Mail attacks Labour

Adrian Hilton, Archbishop CranmerDoes Adrian Hilton – former Conservative party candidate, who blogs for the Daily Mail – really believe that Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt are paedophiles or support child abuse?

On his personal blog, using his preferred pseudonym “Archbishop Cranmer”, Adrian Hilton writes:

But when three current Labour politicians – former officers of National Council for Civil Liberties – are confronted with documented links to something that really was called the Paedophile Information Exchange, and when it is set down in black and white that this group really did agitate for all of the aforementioned ‘progressive’ policies, you have to wonder why Ed Miliband has not at least instigated an internal inquiry and done a few background checks on Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and (former MP) Patricia Hewitt. Instead, he declared that he doesn’t “set any store by these allegations”, and that Harriet Harman in particular is a person of “huge decency and integrity”.

The evidence (if it be) has been set out in the Daily Mail, even alleging that “the Labour government of the time may have helped finance the organisation”.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, In The Media, Justice

Safe sex and Julian Assange

They fell asleep and she woke up by his penetrating her. She immediately asked if he was wearing anything. He answered: “You.” She said: “You better not have HIV.” He said: “Of course not.” 12th July 2011

The longer Julian Assange delays his return to Sweden to be questioned by the police, charged with rape and sexual assault, and for the Swedish justice system to decide what to do with him, the less likely it is that he will ever be tried at all. It is already three and a half years since two women went to the police to discover if they could force Julian Assange to have an HIV test and, in the process of describing what had happened, gave evidence that Assange had attempted sexual assault on one woman and raped the other woman.

Since 19th June 2012, Assange has lived in a room in Knightsbridge, a guest of the embassy of Ecuador, his request for asylum accepted by the President of a nation who has little concern for free speech. Assange has, in effect, sent himself to jail without trial under much more unpleasant conditions than he would have been subject to in Sweden: where he would have been unlikely – even if found guilty – to have been sentenced to more than three years. If he intends to imprison himself in Knightsbridge until the statute of limitations expires in Sweden, he will stay there til August 2020.
Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Healthcare, Justice, Women

Don’t Link To The Mail

From an earlier post:

  • If it a real fact-based news story, it will be available elsewhere on the Internet. No need to link to the Daily Mail.
  • If it is only available in the Daily Mail, it is probably not true. No need to link to it at all.
  • If it is a column that makes you angry just to hear about it and on reading it makes you want to spit bile and share the agony of having read something so hateful and so wrong, yes, that’s a strong part of the MailOnline’s business model, and if you link it to it, you are doing exactly what they hope you will do, providing traffic to their website and therefore revenue from their advertisers. Why do that for them?

DontLinkToTheMail

You may ask – why the Mail specifically?

Because in my view, the Mail is the worst of the British media for simply inventing stories when it suits them: for turning their Mail Online website to make a huge profit for the owner.

RT if you agree!

1 Comment

Filed under In The Media

Valentines for Vladimir

The Russian ConsulateI celebrated Valentine’s Day this year outside the Russian consulate, 58 Melville Street, Edinburgh.

The new cafe on Ferry Road, Coffee and Cream, was having a sale on, so with malice aforethought I selected the largest, cheesiest Valentine’s Card to be delivered to the consulate for Vladimir Putin, and a couple of packs of red shiny hearts and a roll of hearts on crepe paper.

The Valentines for Vladimir

Spoke to the two fine representatives of Police Scotland who were lurking on the corner pretending they hadn’t read the Facebook event, and assured them we wouldn’t be blocking the pavement or doing anything else that the police might feel they had to do something about. (On some previous demos outside the consulate, we’ve been instructed not to approach the door, but not this time.)

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence And met some friends. The nuns are two Sisters of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence, Convent of Dunn Eideann.

Vladimir Putin is, quite cynically, demonising the LGBT community in Russia in order to strengthen his position as President. The official Russian line is that any claim that LGBT people are being persecuted is slander – they claim “gingers” are treated as badly in the UK as LGBT people in Russia.

No, says Putin. Gay people are welcome in Russia. Just stay away from children.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under LGBT Equality, Photographs

Arguing the wrong debate

The currency debate is a pure waste of time.

Keep Calm and Waste TimeThe SNP’s line if Scotland votes Yes has for several years been that Scotland will continue to use rUK’s pound. This is a good campaign strategy as far as it goes, since it means people don’t have to think about the logistics of setting up a Mint in Scotland to produce our own coins and a national supply of banknotes: it means people don’t have to think about changing currencies if they go to England/Wales post-independence: it means people don’t have to think about monetary change as a symbol of the huge changes of independence.

So, good campaign strategy, but it’s a completely rubbish way of deciding on a currency for Scotland post-independence.

To counter this SNP campaign strategy, the UK government/Better Together campaign have announced they will not “permit” Scotland to make use of the pound post-independence, and to counter that… but never mind. The whole thing gets indescribably messy, with both sides grandstanding more and more, and the whole thing is an utter waste of time.
Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Economics, Poverty, Tax Avoidance

Because it’s my choice

Over two years ago, I wrote a blogpost outlining why I thought those who were opposed to same-sex marriage were also opposed to safe legal abortion. (Human Rights: Abortion and gay marriage).

In 2004, the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) won the general election and had as a manifesto commitment, lifting the ban on same-sex marriage in Spain. In 2005, Spain became the third country in the world in which same-sex couples can marry. In 2011, the right-wing Partido Popular (PP) won a majority, and had in their manifesto commitments to roll back access to safe legal abortion, and to have the Constitutional Court consider re-imposing a ban on same-sex marriage.

Courts and judges, upholders of law and order, have in general proved to be supporters of keeping marriage legal, because unmaking lawful marriages is disorderly, and to the judicial mind, disorderliness in marriage law is anathema. In 2012, so it proved in Spain: rather than fall into the unutterable confusion of declaring that seven years of marriages would no longer be recognised, the 2005 law was upheld.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthcare, Human Rights, LGBT Equality, Women