Abortion. There, I’ve said it. That’s another 100 extra hits on the statcounter today, fellow Sharpeners. There’s nothing the political world likes more than a contentious moral issue, and this particular issue is one of the daddies. This post was going to be a collaborative effort between me and Katie, but alas she is too busy, so you lucky souls just get my bit. That’s nice for me, of course, because it means I’m the de facto winner. King of the debate, if you will. Lord of the argument. Duke of disagreement. Enough…
This is a post I’ve thought about a little while, but was slightly delayed in the writing for mundane logistical reasons. Nearly a week after the 7th July bombings, my Sharpener brother Phil wrote a very thoughtful post here, ‘The value of defiance’. There were many sensible things Phil said in this post – he was clear on what terrorism is (and perhaps more importantly, is not) and there was a strong argument made against those in power using the ‘against terrorism’ argument to stifle political debate and try to smear reasonable opposition by associating it with (if you will) the baddies. But the main thrust of Phil’s argument, eloquently expressed although it was, left me appalled.
My mum did warn me about getting into rucks, but I’ve been at it again. Worse: I’ve been in the same fight more than twice. It’s starting to look careless.
First time around, in the comments here and elsewhere, on the Dilpazier Aslam affair, originally raised by the much-imitated Scott Burgess. Second, over the Guardian column written by “Saudi dissident” Saad al-Faqih, in the
zoo comments at Harry’s Place.
I guess it’s no surprise to find messianic strands of left and right making common cause: same moral certitude, same authoritarian itch, same mistrust of letting people think for themselves. Deluded blah fellow-traveller blah blah useful blah idiot.
Many Muslims in this country, as correctly reported by the media this week, will not be sorry to see the back of Omar Bakri Muhammad, the leader of the former al-Muhajiroun. He had a small, marginal following, which mostly preached in the streets and was banned from some mosques. His, and his group’s, opinions were the subject of much disagreement, particularly his insistence that voting for non-Islamic parties was against Islam, even when it was intended to keep an even worse candidate out. There were also doctrinal issues, both those dating from the time when al-Muhajiroun were an offshoot of the British section of Hizbut-Tahreer, and from the Salafi movement they later embraced.
His decision to leave the country for Lebanon, where he holds citizenship, demonstrated that his claim of refugee status in any case has no merit. If you fear persecution in a country, you don’t go there for a holiday or to see Mama or to “take the pressure off the Muslim community”, as if he has shown much concern for that with his behaviour since 2001. “Not conducive to the public good” is a fairly good assessment of his presence in this country, unless his contributions to the economy by helping to sell papers with his various pronouncements and interviews counts as “public good”.
I’m going to start my Lords Reform Day post on something of a dissenting note: I don’t believe that an elected House of Lords would be the best possible second chamber for the UK. Democracy has little merit beyond its empirical tendency to produce less awful governments than most real-life alternatives. As opinion polls regularly highlight, the popular will is something that should be kept well away from the corridors of legislation.
Democracy has less dire consequences than other systems because public outrage generally prevents governments from doing too many utterly egregious things, whereas tyrants can do whatever they like under the impression that it’s beneficial. This hardly suggests a Mystical Wisdom of the People, merely that the people don’t much like Stalinist or Mugabe-ish behaviour… Nonetheless – no, not even nonetheless, because of that – it’s vitally important that the House of Lords should be reformed.
The lack of news from the south of the country may have lulled some into thinking that that the region was tranquil. It is certainly much more peaceful than the area in and around Baghdad. But Vincent claimed that this “peace” had come at a price and it looks like trying to discover just what that price was cost him his life.
Well, dur… Trying to destroy the country and its people would, in most people’s books, count as treason, I’d imagine. But then again, it’s a fairly tricky crime these days.
Until 1998, the penalty for treason was death. Under the Treason Act of 1351, anyone who “do violate the king’s companion, or the king’s eldest daughter unmarried, or the wife of the king’s eldest son” is committing treason. So James Hewitt and Will Carling, plus whoever else got lucky with her, should have been burned at the stake (the required punishment) for shagging Princess Di.
Was there once a better time to be British? A time when life was sweet and untroubled? When we were a more moral nation? In other words, was there a Golden Age for Britain, which we have now squandered with our descent into crime, aggression, family breakdown and ethical laxity? Many think there was, others claim such an age was a myth, while yet others claim that it is this myth of a Golden Age that is the myth.
But what would it be like if we could recreate a lost moral order? How much sweeter would life really be? Let me send a fairy godmother to an average British street. Let her fly down a fictional Acacia Avenue, working her magic to re-establish our lost Golden Age. Let’s observe the results.