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mettaculture – Meurig Iestyn Horton – Harry’s Place – comments

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Pet Shop Boys on Israel

mettaculture • 6 hours ago
I don’t want him banned but to quote Stewie from the Family Guy;

‘Its not that I want him dead, its just that I don’t want him to be alive right now’

mettaculture • 6 hours ago
While I personally wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire, I do support the use of violence to bring about the destruction of you.


Lest you think this is any more of an incitement to murder than yours I want you to understand my support is [absolutely] not for any harm to be done to you by others but for you to practice an entirely voluntary form of terminal non-being on yourself.

I wouldn’t wish it to be thought that I would support anyone else doing violence towards you that would be a terrible thing, just imagine how it would sully a person’s soul to touch your person with any kind of intent. No that would be quite wrong.

I just hope that in a robust Zen or Samurai way that you, entirely from your own volition, consider various theatrical acts of revolutionary Nirvana. Apparently Yukio Mishima, also a fascist, had a rather charmingly poetic approach to the question of how a reactionary romantic narcissist, might make the best of a tragically empty and miserable hate filled existence.

I hope that your oppressive tenacity to your continuing self wanes and that your attitude to your self existence changes rapidly in the next few years and you begin every day, as you realise the pitiful evil that is your excuse for a life, that you contemplate in an ever more forceful manner your own dissolution.

I mean at least you could show a degree of moral consistency by prefiguring in your own life the destruction that you hope Israel to bring upon itself. Go on lead by example!

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Socialist Unity attacks secularist activist

mettaculture • 8 hours ago
No this is not going to be classed as a hate crime;

‘Chief Superintendent Alex Murray, of West Midlands Police… added: ‘There’s no connection with any other incidents that we can see at the moment – for example, Woolwich or other incidents around the country.

‘There’s no information at this stage to suggest it was a hate crime.’

Liam Byrne, MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, said: ‘This was not a hate crime, this was a tragic, sad, and isolated incident.’…

I googled Mosque Machete Attacker and I found one link on e first few pages under a welter of ‘Islamophobic rise in hate crime after Woolwich’ stories.

I would like to be proven wrong in my assumption that Tell Mama will not report this as an anti-Muslim hate crime , I mean how could it be the man has already been detained in a secure mental health facility.

Despite this being the worst attack on any Muslim since Woolwich, none of the reported Islamophobic incidents have resulted in any Muslim requiring medical treatment, Sarah AB takes issue with Andrew Gilligan for distorted reporting.

If this attempting to kill Muslims for praying the wrong way is not a sectarian anti-Muslim hate crime then I am a frog.

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Today’s GOP in one convenient photo

mettaculture • 8 hours ago
I can’t believe you actually believe this hogwash

‘teaching creationism alongside evolution. “Teach both. You know, don’t be afraid of information…. Healthy debate is so important and it’s so valuable in our schools’

FFS you know this means teaching Creationism alongside evolution in science classes as epistemologically comparable knowledge.

Creationism has never been prevented as being taught as a subject in religious education.

It does not belong in a science class. I do not surely have to begin to explain why ‘revealed truth’ as divine knowledge does not belong alongside science educational whether the philosophy of science or empirical method (they are not really separable).

And you say you are more worried by the ‘rise of Aristotelian science’ than the teaching of scriptural dogma on God’s creation in science class posing as freedom of information?

Why not teach other forms of superstition such as witchcraft? In fact witchcraft at least as sympathetic magic is rather more rationalist in explaining and seeking to influence the material world in material ways than ‘revealed truth’ is.

I am always astonished by what you are prepared to excuse or overlook in the name of ideology, frankly it makes me question your impartiality as a scientist in the politically contentious area of psycho-pharmaceutical research.

Or maybe you have never realised that the philosophical basis for your research is politically contentious?

And before you assume that I am an anti-psychiatry ultra I mean simply that the idea that brain disorders can arise principally from an organically defective brain ie the maladjustment is of neuro-biological origin and can therefore be treated bio-medically, while not wrong in itself, must obviously be as politcally contentious as the idea that brain disorders can arise from a natural adjustment to a disordered world and must therefore be treated by psycho-social intervention.

As for Aristotelian Science I am not quit sure what you mean though I am guessing you refer to the post- Hegelian idealists. The Teleological universal of this though tha there is a purpose or end point to change and development (history, evolution) and that this purpose is the motivating principle of the thing itself, is worryingly bad metaphysics I agree, but put next to creationism, Aristotle’s view that nature was about the substance of things changing over time was both the founder of Zoology/biology, geology and Psychology (will, volition, personality) is a whole lot more scientific than a scriptural belief in some divine world maker.

As Scientist Aristotle took a couple of thousand years to be bettered and I would certainly hope Aristotelian understandings of Science are still taught in, Philosophy and the History and Philosophy of Science,

In Philosophy Aristotelian logic is seen as limited and is is where the criticisms of Aristotle holding back ‘Science’ come from. This tends to misunderstand the enormity of the enterprise of Aristotles work and tends to reduce a part of his work to our smaller domain of what is scientific.

What we call Science today was for Aristotle the wider fields of ‘Natural Philosophy’ (natural sciences) and Theoretical Science (Physics, Mathematics and Metaphysics) he also studied and taught Practical Science (ethics and Politics), and Poetical Science.

”The ancient Greek term for science, “episteme,” is not precisely equivalent to its modern counterpart. In Aristotle’s worldview, science, as the most rigorous sort of discursive knowledge, is opposed to mere opinion (doxa); it is about what is universal and necessary as opposed to what is particular and contingent, and it is theoretical as opposed to practical. Aristotle believes that knowledge, understood as justified true belief,…

Aristotle accepts, as a general rule, that a conclusion in an argument cannot be more authoritative than the premises that led to that conclusion. We cannot derive better (or more reliable) knowledge from worse (or less reliable) knowledge.

Note that most of Aristotle’s scientific work is “historia,” [what we would now call empirical observation] an earlier stage of observing, fact-collecting, and opinion-reporting that proceeds the principled theorizing of advanced science.)…

And as for teaching Aristotle’ ethics and politics well Ayn Rand was a total Aristotelian as ar emost conservatives whether they know it or not, although his notion of the civic republic driven by virtue was also the basis of the revolutionary ideas of democratic governance among thinkers in revolutionary France and the US founders of the constitution.

You might think that Aristotle’s Metaphysics are the least useless but as this is the basis of the Christian Theology of Thomas Aquinas if you are going to let Creationism in then I suggest you cover Aquinas for the thinking Christians, free information and all that.

I am going to be very Aristotelian and say it does not matter what subject you teach but you must first accurately define the thing as an account of what it is to be something and hat is the thing itself (its essence) and not something else.

Quite scientific really you see.

mettaculture • 10 hours ago
No your arrogance in assuming that you even know what anyone else here does, let alone assuming that there is a moral hierarchy of worth in peoples occupations that you get to grade (and even that it is in employment that a persons help to others may be measured) and judge yourself superior is the quintessence of sanctimonious fraud.

A self-righteous charlatan always judges their worth in superior and supercilious terms.


mettaculture – Meurig Iestyn Horton – Harry’s Place – Comments

Where will arms to Syria end up?

mettaculture • 20 hours ago
For example, what can we do to help safeguard the Egyptian Copts?

Er how about making any aid or any trade dependent on not maltreating and otherwise persecuting them?

You see I find it quite astonishing that in the west we are prepared to accept Islam as a quasi political entity (even if not quite as a supranational state as traditionalist Muslims see the Ummah and islamist ne0-khilafatist types do), we talk about the ‘Muslim World’ and Obama even gives speeches to the ‘Muslim world’.

We talk about ‘Muslim’ as a social and political identity every bit as coherent as ethnicity or national origin we pass laws against discrimination on grounds of religion, we claim we must not be bigoted in anyway towards a religion or we are being ‘Islamophobic’ and yet and yet after all that we resolutely fail to engage in any kind of contractual demands.

We seem so resolutely secular , for all our blathering about religious tolerance, when so many Muslims are not that we think it would be outrageous to even mention the plight of Christians in Muslim majority countries.

Yet in the West our ending of our religious wars, the Westphalian peace was dependent upon a mutual peace treaty between confessional bloc, between and within nations.

In fact the peace of Westphalia was as much about a peace between ‘religious nations’, so much so that it created the concept of national sovereignty (or rather a cross confessional sovereign power of the Monarch, irrespective of sovereingty being bound to a particular faith) that is the basis for our modern world of sovereign states.

You know what? Muslim leaders and many Muslims in Muslim majority countries, would expect us to demand the protection of Christian citizens and the granting of their religious freedom in exchange for us granting muslims peace and the freedom of religion in the West.

They actually cant understand why we do not make this a mutual condition of dhar al Amin, the world of truce, the covenant under which Muslims are granted freedom in the West and are obliged to obey our laws.

The fact that we do not make such demands just reinforces the idea that the West is weak and its people stupid of the essential deal required in a politically brokered truce.

Read back even to Saladin and after in truces made with the Crusader states (also in the various truces made between Byzantium and the ever encroaching Ottomans, always military and political truces between Christians and Muslim states held clauses about worship and religious tolerance as part of the deal.

We may see our nations as Secular and believe that religion should not be mentioned politically. Muslim leaders do not and have never seen their nations that way.

They are astonished that we do not ever make the condition of Muslims a quid pro quo of any deal, even after Christians have been attacked for some imaginary book burning or cartoon or whatever, and Muslim leaders take our countries to task for inflaming Muslim sentiment, we do not say ‘alright we will listen to your demands as to how Muslims should be treated in our nations and here is the deal’.

There is one simple truth about Syria and remember this, arming Islamist and Jihadi factions against the Assad (Alawite but not all of them) regime will result in greater persecution of Syrian Christians. it already has.

Christians were granted religious freedom under Assad because they were recruited as part of the large minority of religious minorities intended to support a quasi secular regime.

They have tried to remain neutral in this conflict but they cannot because the politicized Sunni Islam that now rules the opposition and is its army will not allow it, for them it is a religious war.

The only reason to back the rebels would be to force the Syrian regime to change.

Once this becomes an impossible war aim and the only outcome of backing the rebels is the destruction of the State and all its secular and religious protection structures then backing the rebels becomes unconscionable.

Kurdish rebels against Assad, have already been murdered by Islamist militias because although they are in armed opposition they are Kurds and support a secular state by Islamists

Christians have already been brutally murdered by Islamist militias even though as a group, they have played no part in this conflict and have refused to take sides. They have been murdered by Jihadis for no reason other than being Christian and ‘we’ are arming the side that has done this knowing in advance that there is no way of preventing the weapons supplied from being used against Christians. This is unconscionable already.

The West will gain no moral standing or poilcal respect o influence by arming the side that will kill Christians.

This is a sectarian civil war but not all sides are waging it. Christians will die and when some of them take up arms in defence we will be told by the left that such confessional and chauvinist and islamophobic and pro-zionist self interest was always the reason why the West supported the Alawite regime.

it seems that the Wests ‘progressive’ media have already decided that all Alawites, even the poor women and children of the mountains are collectively responsible for Assad. Noone seems to be terribly concerned about their fate.

Stop trying so hard to find a good way to intervene, that you fail to ask ‘if there is no good way to intervene in a sectarian civil war that will affect the many innocents, by backing ‘one side’ fighting then perhaps the right thing is not to back one sides fighters hoping they will win, but limit our support only to defence and peace.

Assad and his family may be motherfuckers but after wars with motherfuckers there is always a peace made with many of those motherfuckers, always.

Our WWII and the de-Nazification process after was the closest ever to not dealing with the motherfuckers but many of them escaped and in Japan nearly all of the Motherfuckers were left in place.

The Khmer Rouge are still very much in existence in Cambodia and still in positions of power.

Arming this bloodshed the way the West is doing is wrong, very wrong. It stinks of Cold war politics and war by proxy this is not a moral humanitarian war but a grubby brutal civil war and civilians will continue to die from our support.

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Red line officially crossed

mettaculture • 3 days ago
ok fair enough

mettaculture • 4 days ago
Al Qaeda is not the only alternative. There is much more likely to be a mass bloodletting and score settling then a Muslim Brotherhood political dominance of the Sunni majority.

Attempts will be made by the Alawites, druze, Kurds and Sunni militias to create facts on the ground by demarcating more rigorously, through ethnic cleansing by refugee making through terror.

the demographic geography which is already very demarcated (people really need to study the history of this).

Any hastily enforced plebiscitary ‘democracy’ will intensify majoritarian rule by Sunni islamist parties (Salafist and MB mostly not Jihadis) and do nothing to create the conditions for the rule of law and protection of minorities necessary for democracy.

Sharia law already governs domestic and personal and much of civil law in Syria because of its almost Swiss Cantonal makeup of confessional communities.

I am astonished by all the ‘we’ should be seeking to create a secular pro-western future blah blah.

This is a collapsing failing state here that was one of the more elaborated civil societies in the Arab Middle East, tfrom a cultural literary perspective but one that hat was even at its best lacking in any independent civil society structures or organisations.

NGOs were banned. I know because I critiqued the British Council FCO endless wasting of money trying to support legal human rights/ civil society initiatives with the Bar Council Human Rights committee. Every initiative ended up with hanging judges and the minstry of the interior and security sending delegates to learn how to prosecute Israel at the ICC.

I refused to engage because the Syrians were not even being nudged towards allowing civil society organisations to register as lawful organisations. I was able to encourage UN agencies to support Womens sex and reproductive health NGOs (including dealing with teenage pregnancy, prostitution) in the Eastern bloc in the late 1980s In Indonesia, Nepal, China, Morroco, Tunisia, and even in Cambodia in the 90s but in Syria they just kept on arresting Women’s groups, palestinian refugee advocates etc etc.

The problem is there are absolutely no civil society structures (except in Kurdish areas) in Syria other than religious foundations and they are now in sectarian meltdown and fear.

In fact Christians and Kurds are more or less the only communities that can still field mediators and interlocutors that may be trusted as impartial, for the hard work of hammering out cooperative nascent secular future state structures.

But as this descends into sectarian hell they are being swept away by a tide of violence.

it is not that all the opposition is Jihadi but that there is every sign that serious Jihadis with their modus operandi of sectarian terror are now targetting the Kurds and Christians, precisely because some interlocutors from these communities have been seen up until now as honest brokers.

You only need a small number of armed people who are prepared for brutal sectarian terrorism to kidnap and murder honest community mediators.

I have read credible reports of Chechen, Turkish and Saudi Jihadis being in play targeting sectarian violence.

Without any existing mass membership organisations of civil society and with any possibility of national dialogue relying on very few very brave individuals whose literal ability to move around is now more circumscribed by carefully targetted terror by both the regime and Jihadi nihilist factions than any metaphoric room for manaouvre then any chance of agreements being brokered that will keep the rebel opposition from imploding become vanishingly small.

The Assad regime has launched terror and nihilism against the whole society in a total war to eradicate any space for any opposition become coherent.

The regime wants to force a brutal eruption of senseless sectarian violence across all communities a the most inhuman and savage level to terrorise the populace into submitting to the law and order of state terror through utter despair at the alternative.

In this war of attrition by terror they will find their willing enemies in Jihad.

This is an Algerian or Chechnya type scenario I’m afraid and probably the Russians are advising them on the helpfullness of Beslan atrocities to launch even greater Law and order by annihilation response.

Russian military advisers with experience in the Caucasus are apparently in the country. Read up on what the Russians encouraged in Abkhazia against ethnic Georgians to keep their control of a Black sea port.

There is very little influence or power for ‘we ‘he brutal tools of terror lie with’them’

mettaculture • 4 days ago
What kind of comment is that? Christians are 10% of the Syrian population (2.5 million) 300.000 are refuges 20% of the total number of refugees. 80, 000 forced out of Homs alone. 20 churches have been destroyed rapes and massacres are routine and two Orthodox Archbishops have been kidnapped.

I see you have a very simplistic view of this conflict. And if you can be that flippant about a minority who have tried to remain neutral and whose continued existence in a country where they have been present for two thousand years is now seriously endangered then it is hard to consider that you really care about anyone in the conflict.

The Syrian regime ensured religious freedom for the large numbers of religious minorities historically persecuted. Politically the regime was a ruthless surveillance state.

Tell me again what the opposition’s plans are for future civil freedoms when they take over?

mettaculture • 4 days ago
I don’t think division of Syria is too massive a project. The massive project was the Pan Arab Nationalist creation of an entirely unnatural country carved out of the Sykes-Picot remains of the Ottoman Empire.

French Mandate Syria and Greater Lebanon consisted of six states before ending up as Syria and Lebanon in 1946 (with the Muslim and Druze pro Nasser population of lebanon wanting union with the United Arab republic causing civil war in 1958).

Along the coast between Israel and Trukeu was Greater Lebanon (Majority Maronite at the time with Shia Sunni, Druze)

Then the Alawite State which was 90% rural peasantry with 62% Alawite bu the Sunni harshly dominated the Alawites in the cities of Latakia and Hama (where the massacres/ethnic cleansing of Sunni Muslims is taking place by government forces which is why many think that the Alawites are preparing a return to an Alawite Christian state as fall back to their historic territory).…

after the alawite state came the Sanjak of Alexandretta no e province of Hatay in Turkey.

This state had a majority of Alawites, Assyrian Christians , Armenians and Kurds but with a significant minority of Turks.

France did not do anything about Turkey bringing in thousands of Turks in 1938 cleansing al e Armenians and Kurds and rigging a referendum except with the league of Nations ratifying Turkish ownership. The fact that there are still many Alawites in Hatay is one of the factors that puts Turkey against Syria (and the Kurds of course)

Then there was the state of Aleppo which was (and is) majority Sunni but in the city of Aleppo there was a plurality of Alawites, Christians, Ismailis and Jews.

Then the state of Jabal Druze in the south West of the country created for the Druze (though ey did not join the state with Druze populations in Golan and lebanon).

Finally the state of Damascus made up the French mandate which lasted until 1946.

What is interesting is that French colonial policy did not normally go in for ethnic and religious partition of their colonial holdings like e British.

In the case of Lebanon/Syria however presence of large numbers of persecuted minorities generally at war with each other led them to believe that separation was necessary while they built for wha they imagined was a laiic state future.

The states of French Syria basically show the fault lines of where Syria’s current Balkanisation is leading to.

This is a reversion to the original religio-ethno-cultural divisions of the region of the Ottoman Empire that was artificially created (by French/British colonialism and Arab nationalist Imperialism) into Lebanon/Syria states that have been teetering on the verge of all out civil war since their fabrication and only held together be application of permanent repression and brutal force.…

I want a future for the peoples of the region that are free of endless sectarian bloodshed.

Imagining that this will happen by trying to hold together a fiction of a country with the fantasy of a secular democratic multi ethnic national state, by backing one side in a civil war in a splintering country that has at least five major sides and many more smaller ones is to do great violence to the history of the region and the hopes and aspirations of multiple ethnic groups (Armenians, Kurds, Circassians, Alawites, Druze, Assyrian/aramaic speakers etc etc) with what I count as four religions (Druze and Alawites are historically not classed as Muslim) and numerous sects (Shia (twelvers), Sunni, Ismaili, Catholic, protestant, Maronite, Greek, Eastern (Syrian) Orthodox, Assyrian(Nestorian).

To back what is largely a Sunni rebellion (most Christians are desperately trying to stay neutral ) that at its Islamist mildest is a continuing manifestation of the Muslim Brotherhood attempt to gain control of the state (and people have not been paying attention if they think that this time around it is any less sectarian than in the 1980s) can only mean the dominance of a Sunni state where a Muslim Brotherhood dominated polity (as in Egypt they are organised enough to rapidly become the shadow state) is the least worst outcome for a civil war that has already descended to one of mutual sectarian atrocity.

Yes the Assad regime is now stripped down to a brutal sectarian rule but the Alawites are now in a position where they are fighting for their future survival as an ethnic group and confessional minority that has everything to lose and so can only expect to fight to the bitter end.

Christians, Ismailis, Twelver Shia, Kurds and Druze, are split some( Shia and Kurds) are backing Assad some Kurds are hoping for an autonomous Kurdistan (while battling Islamists and trying to stay in a broad based opposition) but Christians are hoping to stay neutral, while knowing that they cannot come out of an increasingly brutal sectarian Islamised conflict, unscathed.

The danger for historically persecuted minorities in this conflict cannot be underestimated or brushed aside because ‘we’ want to feel that we are helping the Sunni Muslim victims to win against their oppressors in the regime.

If we cannot understand the vocabulary of this recrudescence of ancient conflicts between ethno-religious groups that have historically taken turns as persecutor and persecuted, if our analysis does not stretch to what is a highly probable consequence of victim turned victor, then ‘we’ are blundering fools.

The best that we can hope for is a strategic stalemate with a Balkans and Balkanised settlement but surely we do not want to intervene as military/political stewards with some inevitably highly restrictive realpolitik UN/Russia/EU/US rules of engagement only to find our forces being forced to administer ethnic civilian Safe havens, with every chance of supervising Victors with victim mentalities conducting Srebenica style vengeance?

mettaculture • 4 days ago
Well in that sense the Western response is to want neither side to win and therefore any intervention is going to be limited to preventing the currently losing side from losing to hard and too quickly.

The problem is that the West wants Assad to go in a controlled regime change, unfortunately Russia and iran and Hezbollah just want to keep Assad at any cost.

Therefore Western intervention will mean a prolonged civil war of brutal attrition.

Both sides will lose all right whichever one wins.

mettaculture • 4 days ago
Intervening on ‘our ‘erm so create the state that ‘we’ want. With such hubris you are unlikely to over-learn the lessons of the past you are clearly unteachable.

Discussion on Harry’s Place


mettaculture • 4 days ago
‘“They spoke classical Arabic, not Syrian dialect’

There is an inference from this statement that these people were Al Qaeda types.

The thing is no-one natively speaks Classical Arabic (or for that matter the educated Modern Standard Arabic which is a modernised literary form of the Classical or Koranic Arabic).

Everyone speaks their own dialect but the language exhibits diglossia, ie it has two forms MSA and the colloquial.

MSA is the universal written form but no-one really speaks it other than newsreaders, politicians and academics and they do so in a code switching way with their colloquial form.

Now the funny thing is most Arabic speakers claim their dialect is the closest to MSA (and by implication Classical) or fusha (and often educated people don’t distinguish MSA from Classical as they are both formal versions of literary Arabic).

Levantine arabic is often said to be closer to MSA or a purer form of Arabic and is recommended for learners of Arabic for this reason.

In fact it is more a case that educated people will understand the MSA spoken by the poor foreigner speaking an artificial language and will speak newsreader Arabic to them to aid comprehension.

When Arabs with different dialects meet they will generally upwardly lexify into formal standard Arabic, though Egyptians tend to speak a far more colloquial Egyptian (while understanding MSA) this is understood because it is the language of so much Arabic film and Music.

You see classical Arabic is not a spoken language it is the language of the Koran.

Religious types will speak a form of MSA peppered with archaisms and quotations from the Koran.

Now I have encountered Berber people speaking something close to Classical Arabic with Morrocans (whose dialect is very divergent from Eastern Arabic and hardest for all other Arabic speakers to understand) but this is a bit like a Portuguese and a Greek speaking Latin because they learned it religiously and they have no other language in common.

The thing is when two Arabs meet they still speak in their own colloquial accent with its dialectical forms, even if they are speaking in a ‘posher’ more literary register.

Most Arabic dialects are pretty well known and identifiable as a regional form owing to much greater exposure of Arab dialects on TV, so a Syrian will know with some fair accuracy and specificity the dialects closest to them (being able to break down Levantine into urban rural and even city variations as well as closely related Lebanese, Jordanian, Palestinian etc).

They would be able to determine Magrehb (Algerian and Moroccan) Tunisian/Libyan, Egyptian-Sudanese and Iraqi and probalby UAE also

Now anyone said to be speaking Classical Arabic then will be likely one of two categories,

a) a revert to Islam who has only learned Quranic Arabic, there are such Islamist Jihadi types

b) Arabian peninsular particularly Hijazi or Najdi (also some Bedouin dialects may sound similarly archaic) which linguistically really are closer to Classical forms in some ways (even though in fact they are derived in other ways and pronunciation particularly in Hijazi is very different from Classical forms though a few older sounds may have been retained) and are considered to sound archaic (in the same way that some people think modern English BBC is closer to Shakespeare). Yemeni dialect which actually has some very archaic forms stemming from the influence of ancient South Arabian that pre-date Arabic.

This is a very long way of saying that the observation that the Jihadi executioners of the poor teenage Aleppo market coffee seller spoke ‘Classical Arabic’ is very compelling evidence that already there is a very nasty Al-Qaeda presence in the opposition to Assad that ‘we’ are not going to be able to do anything about except that everything we do to help the rebels will be helping Al Qaeda establish a presence at least as destabilising as that in Iraq.

Without a massive troops on the ground presence which no-one is contemplating (I hope) ‘we’ are powerless to prevent the Jihadification of the resistance and always were because the Syrian resistance has been unable to prevent Jihadists from gaining power.

I think it pretty much certain that given the fault lines of the conflict and the fact that the predominantly Sunni Wahabi/ salafi regimes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar were always going to be backing the rebels against Iranian/ Hezbollah, that a rising tide of Jihad in the resistance would be the outcome.

This is the part of the story that is like Iraq, the origin and nature of Jihadi backing, the roads to violent Jihad always lead back to the Kingdom of Saud and this crushingly obvious fact ‘we’ never seem to learn.

mettaculture • 4 days ago
Because ‘we’ did not cause it does not mean it is non of our business.

If I see someone throwing a baby in a river do I do nothing because it is none of my business even if I am fit and healthy and a few feet away and the water is shallow.

We are not compelled to act when any thing we do is likely to cause more harm, but to imagine that we are never morally compelled to act, when we easily can, because ‘it is none of our business’ is to refuse any bond of common humanity.

as Kolya says eeeurrrgh!

mettaculture • 4 days ago
Russia has shipped anti-aircraft missiles to Syria in order to prevent the imposition of any no fly zones.

But how would more shame have ever helped the Syrians when the West was always in a cold war relationship of war by proxy with Russia?

I feel appalled and I suppose ashamed for humanity but i do not feel personally ashamed for things I have no responsibility for causing.

Surely the moral agony here is not one of shame per se but a sense of helplessness in being able to do nothing because there is no clear way of doing good whe nhere are no right ways to act.

Such utter powerlessness is humiliating and it brings a kind of self directed rage that can be seen as shame.

I think that wanting to feel more shamed is incredibly self destructive however and e danger is that it leads one to endorse any action that appears to offer some illusion of doing the right thing.

This is a very dangerous situation, precisely the arena where good people do terribly bad things, partly to help others but also to help oneself escap ehe feelings of humiliation and shame.

I do not want to lecture you morally because I feel you are motivated by a strong moral desire to do good.

here you must let go and let yourself feel the powerlessness but do not feel ashamed.

Greater moral clarity and hopefully a more realistic sense of what can be done can only come from greater moral truthfulness.

You are not to blame so beating yourself up with more shame is likely to harm you and help noone.

As Doc Martyn the greatest good, the morally clearest course of action that does not compromise us into doing evil in the effort to do something good, is to devote the greatest efforts to helping near two million refugees.

You can enhance the lives of those blighted his way without contributin to more death,

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Red line officially crossed

mettaculture • 4 days ago
Who the hell cares about ‘our’ credibility what a monstrous conceit when thousand have died and the final death toll will be in the hundreds of thousands?

‘We’ will have no power to influence a non theocratic regime, credibility has nothing do with the power and authority needed in Syria to avert a theocratic state.

There is no such power in Syria, no power, no social or cultural or political pre-conditons thatcan possibly lead to a secular state in Syria.

The Assad state was a pseudo secular sate that was based on certain sectarian fictions ( an outward more ‘Muslim’ stage managed appearance for Alawites) and an uneasy balance where other minorities supported the Alawite military hold over the regime in exchange for freedom from Sunni Muslim dominance and persecution (the historical status quo ante) Sunni Muslim Arab stakeholders were bought of by Market privileges for the Merchant class.

The only wa yhat total domination of minorities by an Islamist regime can be avoided is by the dismembering of the state into an Alawite/Christian, Druze and Kurdish regions.

These can only be achieved by further sectarian conflict and ethnic cleansing.

mettaculture • 4 days ago
‘But it appears that greater involvement is on the way. As you will know if you’ve read my previous posts about Syria, I believe it is long past time.’

Ok I get why you want intervention but what do you want to be done and how do you believe this is going to help?

And by help I don’t mean taking one side in a civil war that may avert some government directed atrocities I mean help Syria as a nation re-build itself so as to minimise future sectarian bloodshed?

This is the real moral question and the test is what can be done for Syria.

The argument that because the Bush administration was so eager to intervene in Iraq on supposed WMD grounds then the Obama administration must be just as eager to intervene on WMD grounds is more of a political equivalising point scoring argument than a moral one.

To the extent that it is a moral argument it seems to me that it serves as a morality tale for the US and its citizens, as a kind of corrective excercise in moral consistency.

But even if this is right it is all about America and the American people and their morality what the hell does this, properly speaking have to do with what is right for Syria?

I mean you do understand that anything that assists the Sunni Muslim Arab, takeover of the state will inevitably, I must stress inevitably, perfectly foreseeably, inevitably, lead to Islamist backed persecution of the approximately 40% of Syrians who are either a religious and or an ethnic minority.

You do realise that Alawites (most of whom are still poor) are historically persecuted because almost all Islamic authorities hold them to be heretical non Muslims (they believe in the divinity of Ali) and they will therefore face the fate of Bahais or Amadiyya?

Alawites were only accepted as ‘Muslim’ (the relevant fatwa was by Amin Al Husseini) as a political pan Arab nationalist move to allow the autonomous Alawite state under French colonial rule to be incorporated into an Independent Syria).

To support the Sunni Arab Islamised Muslim side to victory in this civil war will lead to the deaths of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of people because they belong to religious and ethnic minorities.

This is quite properly called genocide. tell me how what you want to be done will avert this?

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Hannity’s transformation

mettaculture • 4 days ago
Well yes but such hypocrisy is an inevitable consequence of governing the US. Because the US is self-consciously founded in a declaratory revolution against tyrannical and overbearing government the pure tapestry of government by the people for the people will inevitably show every speck of grubbiness of the exercise of actual power.

Twas ever thus, Thomas Jefferson was ostensibly opposed to all centralizing, nationalist tendencies of the Federalists as anti-freedom and pro-British, yet he released ‘states rights’ forces that entrenched slavery and the loss of Native American sovereignty.

As President he acted without constitutional limits on setting America on a path of territorial acquisition and conquest (Louisiana Purchase) that led inexorably to further war with Britain, Spain and Mexico.

Ironically even though Jefferson accepted that the Louisiana purchase was unconstitutional he authorized it anyway on purely realpolitik grounds, even worse he had given secret instructions that if the Louisiana purchase could not be bullied and threatened out of France then Monroe and Livingston were authorized to go to England and sign an Alliance, that would have inevitably led to England’s war with France becoming another global war that would engulf North America once again.

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Is it treason yet?

mettaculture • 5 days ago
And I don’t really dislike Obama that much, I just think it is diplomatically dunderheadish for the POTUS to say ‘this isn’t bad what we’re doing it only affects foreigners not mercans’.

I have worried for some time that Obama’s foreign policy views tended to reveal a terrible parochialism that I would have thought he id not suffer from.

Also I now want to litter all my online communication with Prism algorithm attracting Marxist, terrorist, anti-capitalist, exploding Taliban, Castro, Chechnya, arms smuggling, Heroin shipment, terms.

Not because I wish to undermine the fight against terrorism but because I want to critique a scattergun approach that misses the obvious psycho about to go postal wood for the sake of ‘hey everybody we’re only looking very, very, closely at all the trees’

mettaculture • 5 days ago
Have I committed Treason yet?

mettaculture • 5 days ago
‘President Obama, trying to play down the uproar, said Prism targets only foreign nationals and that it was worth giving up a little privacy for more security.’…

Well as only a Foreign National all I can say is fuck you Obama you Motherfucker.

Nice to know you what you think of the rest of humanity what do you suppose they now think of you?

I used to think that Obama was a man of some diplomacy now I think he just says and does anything to get himself through the next interview.

He has the standard moral character of most modern politicians in other-words, no worse but certainly no better.

As Tony Blair discovered this is a problem for those who gain office through the spectacular and ostentatious display of their own moral character and their claim that politics will only get cleaner if they are elected.

Oh dear what a sad legacy for a promising beginnning.

mettaculture • 5 days ago
Well I assume that the ‘deep web’ is compromised in various ways,

at least I hoped it would be by good old fashioned deception and sting tactics.

I can go onto the deep web via PGP tor fully encrypted and uncrackable and hire a hit man and pay with untraceable Bitcoin, but if our security services were doing a rational job I should expect to get a government agent not a hit man and I should be put under regular surveillance and my private keys should be pilfered, conned out of me and just plain old snatched by carefully placed key loggers inserted imperceptibly into hardware and data communication channels.

What worrries me about all this 9and is proven by Boston and Woolwich) is that the security services are so twitterpated by their own technology and so in thrall to some pretty shallow sales pitches by IT contractors who will big up their capacities (probably by using gullible but enthusiastic IT ‘geeks’ as clever sales and marketing tools.

It is almost like there is a collective delusion fueled by the Hollywood ‘pop tart’ munching spotty cyber geek hacker who can penetrate any military installation with his lap-top before the micro-wave goes ping!

I don’t think it is just terrorists who have fantasies about what the security services can do but it is just as much a flaw of the security services too.

They are managed by 50+ career types that have bought into a load of tech they don’t understand and are being led down a path of handing security over to IT contractors who can do this really cool stuff that must be powerful goes it involves terra and peta thingies.

The Red Brigades PDA’s and hard drives encrypted with PGP have never been cracked so not all terrorists are that dumb.

Just because loads of Jihadis are chatting and typing away in plain view while thinking they have cleverly avoided detection does not mean they all do.

As I say the hunt for Ossama Bin Laden, involving good old fashioned dedicated detective work by (mostly one) terrier minded lead follower, was almost abandoned for political reasons.

Mass data mining is probably no more successful than mass water-boarding in gaining critical information that translates into leads that take you to people preparing to do really bad stuff.

Mass data collection generates a huge amount of noise to signal ratio, someone with a brain (in the absence of Quantum tunneling AIs) and some lock picking or door kicking skills is still needed.

mettaculture • 6 days ago
Yes that is the British way but I didn’t think it was the American way.

And the great thing about the British is their militantly proud incompetence which means that they wouldn’t be able to make any sense out of all the trends in the meta data analysis anyway and even if someone did it would almost certainly be one of the technicians who was running the data thingy rather than someone with an Oxbridge degree who was head of a policy something or other in MI5 who had been suggested by by Sir Crispy Partridge at the travellers club to someone from ‘the National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP), a Cabinet Office-led initiative derived from the UK National Cyber Strategy’…

Prism has been used by the British government to bypass its own need for court orders for surveillance however.

And you know I have this funny feeling which is not about my National Chauvinism in relation to US congressional reassurances that Prism has only been used to spy on foreigners without any court oversight.

Discussion on Harry’s Place

The IRG’s involvement in Syria shows it is an active terrorist organisation

mettaculture • 5 days ago
The IRG’s involvement in Syria shows it is an active terrorist organisation’

Err I know its very bad what they are doing but we had kinda come to that conclusion a long time ago

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Author of Chinese labor camp letter speaks

mettaculture • 5 days ago
Surely the point is that we in the free West are more able to exert moral pressure on our governments to outlaw from our Markets goods produced by forced labour especially from countries that imprison and force labour from prisoners of conscience.

Of course this does not or should not prevent us from laying moral responsibility at China’s door.

The fact that there seems to be more of a debate in China bout this than the West at the moment is a good thing (as they are the ones imprisoning the Falung Gong) but knowing that they caused crimes against humanity does not absolve us from our complicity in buying cheap goods based on the forced Labour of those whose basic human rights have been abused.

its not a zero sum game.

In fact the Chinese abuse of Falung Gong seems to be backfiring and leading to an open critical debate where none would have been dared against ‘regular dissidents’.

I have read of police chiefs facing real moral conflict and apologising to Falung Gong members they have arrested.

This persecution seems to be creating a crisis of conscience precisely because people know that Falung Gong members are exemplary people.

This is rather like the British and American persecution of Quakers backfiring because people of some conscience realised that Quakers were people of even greater conscience.

Eventually the persecution of Quakers (through their flight to the New Netherlands) led to the first declaration of Religious Freedom in a North American colony which became the foundation of the later US consitituional protection of religious freedom.

We have lost the power of global market dominance to China, we can but hope we get to transfer the Enlightenment wrapped up and hidden in all the seemingly purely technical knowledge we have willingly transferred and they have greedily absorbed, in the hope of beating us by our own means.

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Is it treason yet?

mettaculture • 6 days ago
Perhaps but my understanding is that hackers are pretty evenly matched and this is a kind of digital version of the ‘Great Game’

Every intrusion leaves a trace as we know from the fact that every serious virus maker and launcher is traced and only those given cover by a hostile sovereign power seem to escape being at least identified if not caught.

I am quite sure that there is nothing startlingly new in the technology of Prism, its a direct product of the marketisation of the same search algorithms that have been developed in the last 15-20 years.

No doubt an ever increasing marketisation of the military have created a climate for them to be eager consumers of outside contracters selling them IT packages in much the same way they market them to big business.

A too cosy IT industry/Military complex relationship and the outsourcing of military security jobs to IT contract firms has resulted in a circulation of contractor types and an actual weakening of security safeguards as low level but IT smart operatives have been given access to secret surveillance systems.

This case will result in a tightening of security oversight, decreasing the likelihood of serious leaks to real enemies such as Iran for instance. So on this front there will be a tightening of security.

This will be worthwhile if it comes with better and smarter oversight

So the scary NSA spy camera in your brain part of the story is over hyped rubbish and the really interesting story is to what extent the security agencies have overreached the kind of protections put in place post Watergate.

There is a subsidiary story about how gullible members of Congress have been in being easily reassured and I suspect that an outcome of this will be an increase in the technical knowledge base that oversight committees and FISA courts will draw on in assessing how proportionate and effective as well as constitutionally compliant the NSA have been.

No doubt there is some potential gain to the Chinese state in knowing more about some administrative arrangements of the Prism system and how organizationally the US targets China, but I doubt this is mission critical stuff.

Technology wise there are enough Chinese graduate students all over the US and Europe so that there are no real unknown unknowns as China is so interdependent with Western markets and now is a major mostly collaborative player in the softer power structures of international politics and diplomacy.

As I say my view on the effect of Snowden would be very different had he had access to hard military secrets and he had defected to Russia, Belarus or Iran.

mettaculture • 6 days ago
No I happen to consider this story raises issues of great concern to those who live in free democracies precisely because I do not think states are capable of being embarrassed (what a weird idea descended from the idea of trespass against the sovereign’s person) or that its general security has been compromised in any way.

Additionally I consider mass surveillance the clumsiest and proportionately weakest method of combatting terror.

The negative reactors to this story do indeed make strange bedfellows.

It was brought to us by anti-enlightenment anti-Western ideologues who appear to be on the left but are really right wing romantic anti-rationalists and those wanting to charge Snowden with a capital crime seem to be romantic right wing anti-rationalists and statist liberal leftist types who seem joined by their upset about their romantic ideas of American exceptionalism being sullied.

On the other hand there seem to be some who genuinely believe that the constitutional and legal protections of the US should be taken seriously and seriously protected and don’t like the idea that they should be fobbed of with reassurances that unspecified terror threats have been averted by unspecified but really cool high tech means, when the Boston bombings showed that actual terror threats were not averted by standard means even when one perpetrator was known to the security services and good old fashioned suspicion triggering actual investigation was not done.

As short Order Cook has argued and as anyone who understands numbers and the numbers of possibles generated by data algorithms, this Prism system will generate hundreds of thousands of false positives while increasing the rate of false negatives and false reassurances

Snowden has done a service even if for utterly the wrong reasons and the actual harm is zero.

China already knew the US was hacking their systems you know. Every cyber attack leaves huge cyber splatter trails and the Chinese have armies of counter hackers.

I am slightly amused by the idea that the US may well have started this cyber war with China first, but given their lead on the technology this is not remotely surprising.

I am quite sure that one of the reasons China has sought to restrict Google is because they would have realised that it provided a Trojan horse for the US to data mine its citizenry revealing all kinds of useful (market and non market) trends in Chinese attitudes and behaviour.

The militarization of IT and the internet is nothing new (it kind of started that way after all) but it is not something we should ignore just because we are told bad guys can be caught by smart guys doing smart and secret things.

mettaculture • 6 days ago
Because even suggesting Snowden is guilty of treason is reactionary bonkers;

Because your country has to be at war with an enemy for you to be guilty of treason to it.

Also Treason is the most political of all crimes ever. It is actually a Trespass agains the sovereigns person will or line of succession. This is why fucking the Monarchs wife (but not their husband) is still high treason in the UK.

All signatories of the American declaration of Independence were guilty of treason, as were those irish involved in the Easter rising.

In the UK the last trial and execution for Treason was of the American citizen William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) in 1946.

In the US treason is still a capital crime and all confederate soldiers were potentially guilty of treason but not even Jefferson Davis was charged because Andrew Johnson issued a general Amnesty.

Because treason is the attempt to aid an enemy in the violent overthrow of the United States during wartime yet the First Amendment allows for an individual to call for the violent overthrow of the United States unless there is a risk of immanent lawlessness and the call is a direct incitement of it.

And because the revelation that the US have been illegally (potentially an act of war) hacking into their ally and preferred trading partner China’s computer systems for years while whining about the Chinese doing the same, is absolutely totally gob smackingly fucking obvious.

The actual harm of what Snowden has done other than to the egos of politicians is zero because all has done is to provide some fairly vague confirmation of something that was pretty much assumed by anyone with half a brain and we do not see any country getting even mildly upset about these revelations, like they don’t even feel like they have to pretend to be shocked and scandalised as they did over wikileaks.

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Tom Holland: caught out and stumped

mettaculture • 6 days ago
You see I think you are very clever but I think Richard Seymour is really, really thick, his arguments are those of a rather thick child whose parents believe he is bright and have coached him in working out first what it is your audience wants to hear and then marshaling some words and phrases that deliver the effect of agreeing with what he thinks his audience believes.

The logical holes are revealed the moment he has to argue with someone who disagrees (a scenario he puts effort into avoiding).

Unfortunately this exposure can also arise for him when because of his narcissism and stupidity he pisses of his fellow travelers and they then look more closely at his suspect arguments.

And surely the fact that Seymour thinks Jihadis are potential revolutionary socialists has to be the conclusive proof of his utter thickery? not merely a confusing anomaly?

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Fox News’s Kilmeade tells EDL’s Robinson: “We got your back”

mettaculture • 6 days ago

This is an interesting one. In fact in Islam marriage is a contractual relationship with all the elements of a contract and it can be dissolved as one (though there is not an equal power to the woman to initiate a divorce she has always been able to petition a Judge for one).

In fact the thing about islam it is more correctly a theo-juridical system than a theo-political one everything about he religion is the law and the law is everything.

Law binds in Islam by obedience and by contractual agreement. Now I would suggest that this is precisely where ‘going the extra mile’ fails because nothing offered as a concession unilaterally in a contactual system (just think of the business world) results in a counter offer or similar concession.

In fact I was criticised in Law school for my approach to negotiation. My approach has always been to analyse a conflict and work out which are the things of highest symbolic value to the other party that can be offered with least cost to the party I represent and then put it on the table up front.

I have found this to be a very effective disarming strategy that is a kind of enlightened self interest that also makes for friendlier negotiations that are more binding.

Now I was told by English Twit lecturers that it was forbidden to offer anything at all without extracting a counter offer and that all potential elements at stake had to be equally fought over to extract element for element matching contracts, where effectively even the drippings off ones nose could not be offered without seeking the highest possible price one could extract in turn for worthless snot.

I had negotaite deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars and I had to take out my brain and pretend to follow their silly legalistic protocol or fail.

Now it just so happens that one of my partners at Bar school for negotiation was a hijabbed British woman ( Islamist and convener of various Mulsim legal this and thats) who negotiated instinctively exactly like the paradigmatic pattern.

I mostly wanted to throttle her and I cannot believe that she would ever do much for her clients unless they all wanted to torture their opponents and gain the illusion of having given nothing away for nothing.

Islamic theo-jurisprudence is exactly contractual on this basis and I am quite convinced that we are quite wrong to keep offering more and more security and protection (ie the idea that society must shield all Muslims from all emanations of Islamophobia even if hey are just rude words) while demanding nothing in return.

Islamic Jurisprudence binds Muslims to obey the laws of non Muslim countries where they are granted freedom of religion and security, Dhar al Amin is a truce a legal-political truce that is personally binding on all Muslims.

So we do not have to insist that all Muslims change their views so that no Muslim can believe those who leave Islam should be coerced or punished. We should never try to police thought crimes anyway.

All we need is to make it very clear that our laws forbid any violence against the exercise of freedom of conscience (including losing ones faith) and that this law also provides for their religious freedom hence it binds them to their truce contractually.

My experience of many cultures (not just Islam) is that the nice Middle Class (Culturally Anglican) English way of seeking agreement by offering something ostentatiously as if it is freely given expecting no return, but really having an implicit agenda and an expectation that change should be reciprocal and forthcoming and worse that it is somehow perfectly clear what is expected and that it can be read easily from our vague (passive aggressive) generous offer’just leads to incomprehension, lack of trust, disgust, or a tendency to think we are a simpleton or a push over.

Many cultures do not expect that someone offering something for nothing is to be believed. It is not a trust gaining excercise because it seems so improbable. It is likely to lead to an attempt to gain advantage as often because others believe that there must be some hidden rip off somewhere that they haven’t worked out but are certain is there so justifying an attempt to maximise their gain.

Hierarchical cultures are more likely to be ‘passive aggressive’ assumers rather than explicit contractulisers of clear transactions because the assumptions are embedded in non equal social relations.

I would describe Islam’s fundamental economic and legal paradigm as ‘buyer beware’ mercantilism where you can throw a few stones in the rice being weighed because it is up to the buyer (or market inspector who might be payable) to spot it.

Before I am accused of cultural stereotypes I would say that ‘buyer beware’ is very defintitely the fundamental principle of English Common law and that many judges have lamented he interfering concepts of Roman law, in European consumer rights protection, good faith contaminating our right to make rotten bargains with idiots.

So this explicit contractualism is behind my suggestion of a law to prevent the persecution of apostates while protecting the free exercise of conscience and worship.

I think it better fits with Islamic notions of ‘fair play’ through binding contract rather than come on play by the rules of fair play by implicit suggestion but you have to work them out without any help and believe that I am very nice and generous too.

The moral is never offer something for nothing if you really expect something in return and instead say what you want and negotiate a binding contractual promise in fair exchange.

Otherwise don’t be surprised if you are taken for granted and there is no reciprocal return for something that was considered to engage no requirement for any repayment.

mettaculture • 6 days ago

As I say above the political cost of criticisng Islamic extremism is a price set by their apologists not an intrinsic cost created by the XXX.

It is very, very important to realise this fact.

One should not have to pay any political cost for criticisng radical nihilist political ideologies.

The long run encounter between secular society and Islam is a rather depressing one as the seeds of its destruction were already present in the great flowering of the ‘Golden Age of Islam’ which was really a sweet spot between the secular remains of the Roman Empire and its invaders before the tipping point.

The Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire was the sweet spot between the secular Byzantine Empire (the Church has always been subordinate tot he State in orthodox Christianity) and its invaders. The long decline began with the complete reconstruction of its legal system upon Sharia and the inevitable repositiong of temporal power in the hands of religious figures that followed (this process was never quite completed as persian was the language of governance).

The Ottoman revival began with the introduction of the Napoleonic code and the Tanzimat reforms. Western nationalism did for the Ottoman empire.

Erdogans Islamism is a self conscious and phoney Neo-Ottomanism but it has delivered a massive economic boom and a pious Capitalist class. It is too soon to tell how it will end but secular society is looking embattled.

I am encouraged by one thing however. The vast majority of the worlds Muslims (even those who support Sharia and death for apostates) wish for democracy over rule by a strong leader…

mettaculture • 6 days ago

That has always been my position. I completely ignore the EDL and have only ever looked at one video of Tommy Robinson after seeing Anjem Choudry on telly after Woolwich.

I applied the crudest BBC balance reflex (except they wouldn’t go there).

What I saw was a man who sometimes struggled with his words, knowing that he shouldn’t say ‘race’ so correcting himself quickly to ‘society’.

I felt no sympathy for the man and felt my usual dislike bordering contempt for the ‘place’ that he was coming from (reactive English cultural chauvinism of the kind that as a child I associated more with English officer class Tories than with the Welsh working class where I came from).

I did observe that he was capable of a far subtler analysis of Islamism vs Islam than any of the knee jerk opponents of ‘islamophobia’ on either the hard or the liberal left, he was aware of the the problem of the radicalisation of madrassas and Saudi backed Imams creating an Islamist gang culture in British prisons, he even speculated that the Woolwich pair were likely to have been radicalised by the HUT prison nexus.

He made it clear that he did not hate all Muslims and not even all of Islam, he stated that he had read of the Ahmadiyya who he considered fantastic but noted that they were less than 1% of Muslims were denied entry to Mecca and persecuted by Muslims worldwide who denied that they were followers of Islam.

Now this may all have been an excuse, a cover up etc, but it was a relatively sophisticated narrative, albeit expressed in a halting and rather unsophisticated delivery.

I work with working class people who talk like him every day and I do find a wretched class snobbery in the attacks upon Robinson’s lack of articulacy.

There must be some very stupid very snobbish people around if they are concentrating only on the way he says things not what he says.

Now I still have no interest in paying any attention to the EDL, other than to see them in passing as a reaction to two distinct (but sometimes related) problems relating to islam in Britain which are;

a) the cultural integration of Muslims from the Indian sub continent (largely Pakistan and Bangladesh) who live in large enclaves of former Industrial cities of the UK where a divided bi-cultural demographic patter obtains

b) the penetration of British political, social and cultural life by Islamism, driven largely by a Muslim Brotherhood/ Jamaat i Islam activists who have been boosted by political developments in the material conditions of the larger global world of islam and the issues of the cultural integration of second and third generation British Muslims as if they are direct expressions of a world ‘Muslimness’ under attack by the West.

However the problem that I see now is that one is no longer allowed to ignore the EDL and concentrate on Islamism and Jihadism.

The creation of an EDL/Jihadism yin/yang is a very effective tactic of the revolutionary far left.

Just as once it was a necessary demand of the Jacobins to attack the ‘Aristos’ or face Mdme Guillotime as one (even though most of the Aristos executed in the Terroir were actually trades people), just as it was once necessary to condemn bourgeois revisionism or be purged as a revisionist, just as once one had to condemn the the Kulaks or face a firing squad now it is necessary to condemn the EDL or else.

The central conceit of this problem is most importantly this; the condemnation of the EDL does not provide a shield whereby one is then afforded some level of protection in condemning islamism and Jihad.

Accepting the requirement of the prefacing of ones remarks with a ritualised condemnation of the ‘far right EDL’ is to accept the implied charge that one might really be soft on them or covering up ones real rightest tendencies. It merely begs more questions from the ‘Committee for the Defence of the Revolution’ and makes a further investigation necessary.’

The more that people accept the requirement for EDL ritual condemnation the less they will ever be able to criticise Islamism, worse eventually even complete silence on the EDL will be proof of ones complicity with them.

I have no interest in the EDL although I have to say that I did predict that some such thing would arise from the maw of Englishry. I am an anthropologist and anthropological historian by early academic formation. It seemed as inevitable as the rise of any other cultural reaction to a fundamental structural encounter with a very different culture on a large scale.

I find it quite humorous that post colonial studies types who understand the rise of cultural revivalist movements among third world peoples in response to the imposition of colonial forms of governance upon them do not see the structural nature of the inward migration of millions of former colonial subjects to the geographical source of that Empire , yet stripped of its Imperialism.

I am not going to mention the XXX again, but I can assure everyone it is no longer a choice I will be allowed.

It is one of the reasons that I rarely comment upon Islamism these days, other than with Muslims and ex Muslims.

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Ex-Muslim’s Facebook group comes under attack

mettaculture • 6 days ago
Oh definitely the earlier Foucault on the History of Madness is some of his best. Though he was taken up by the British anti-psychiatry movement he claimed they seriously misunderstood his work.

I studied for a year under the great Roy Porter at the Welcome Institute (who sadly died at the height of his productive career).

He certainly had a lot of time for Foucault and saw his theory as a real aid not an obstacle to understanding the history of an epistemologically wriggly category such as Madness.

As I say I think this is because underneath it all Foucault was rather conventional in his Kantian view of consciousness and categories of thought and as he seemed to know quite ‘Mad’ and often dangerously self destructive himself.

Foucault had a crazy heavy drug using sexually violent relationship in the Mid 1950s with the serialist composer Jean Barraque forcing him towards what he saw as their joint creative work based on the book by Herman Broch ‘The death of Virgil’. Foucault was obsessed with Broch’s celebration of suicide as an affirmation of life and wanted to force Baraque with drugs and sexual violence to the point of avant guarde creative genius. Barraques work seems full of unrelieved utter despair of great Romantic intensity but no possibility of any transendence.

He seems to have been mentally undone by Foucault and he left him because he had to escape the ‘vertigo of madness’.

It was around this time that Foucaults work on Madness was focussed and fortuantely for him (but not for Barraque) he seems to have excised his demons becoming a more settled and affable person afterwards.

His earliest students found him a seriously weird, and unsettling character apparently though he became more popular and populist with his students in later years, one of the few Gaullist establishment professors to embracing the student 68 movement.

Roy Porter held that Foucault’s view on the changing treatment of the Mentally Ill as a result of changing social values was not only well conceived but historically easily demonstrated.

For me the most profound proof of this was the evidence of how the mentally Ill as a consequence of the enlightenment had been treated in such an enlightened way, the forms of punishment and restraint, the breaking of the will of the mentally ill through discipline and incarceration came later.

I was lucky to study under Roy Porter a delightful man and one of the most prolific authors on the social history of madness. Really though he was a defender of the enlightenment and had all the greatest virtues of an 18th C humanist.

He told me to read Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas prince of Abyssinia as the seminal text on the gentle treatment of delusion by the reconnection of a person to a gentle companiable re-engagement with others.

Incidentally Roy Porter had much less time for others in the anti-Psychiatry movement particularly Thomas Szasz who he found to be a libertarian hypocrite who argued for the deconstruction of mental illness only to replace it with moral failure.

Roy Porter understood the agony of Psychiatrists faced with terrible human suffering and considered that Szasz simply refused to deal with suffering preferring to derive his supposed truth from political conviction.

He had little time for those who railed against the bio-medical model as if bio-medicine was a greater threat to humanity than having to live with curable conditions and treatable mental health issues.

His greatest contempt was held for Ivan Illich and Medical nemesis (limits to Medicine) who while apparently arguing that modern medicine caused more medical harm than it cured (iatrogenic illness) was really arguing for no Medicine (and no modernity) at all. For him Illich was a radical anti-enlightenment reactionary like Mother Theresa who really wanted suffering because it is through suffering that we find God.

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Author of Chinese labor camp letter speaks

mettaculture • 6 days ago
I should add that in respect of Child Labour there are international instruments outlawing the worst of child Labour.

However the US has never ratified the International Covenant of the Rights of the Child.

It should be rather easier to exclude prison or Labour Camp produced goods (although here there is an exception under ECHR in terms of labour handed down as part of a Lawful sentence. The problem is here that many countries think many kinds of prison Labour are acceptable rehabilitative for prisoners or just good punishment.

The point should be that no goods on a commercial scale can be produced as this would be an easy way to undercut the competitiveness of countries with free Labour in the International Market.

Not outlawing prison forced labour strikes me as a no brainer even for right wing politicians as a nations compettiveness can be beaten by any nation prepared to undercut human freedom in the interests of cheap manufacturing of goods.

I note there is a law in the UK still technically in force now considered outdated (ie probably ignored) that seems exemplary for tis time)


Goods Prohibited or Restricted at Import into or Exported from the UK

Foreign Prison Made Goods: Outdated 1898 UK prohibition on imports of goods made by prison labour. Lead Department – Department for Business…

mettaculture • 6 days ago
This story just made me cry. The utter awfulness of the man’s situation in a camp, hoping that his ‘message in a bottle’ might reach a free country and be read by a person with a conscience who might pass it to someone who might publicise it which might possibly have some effect, is heart breaking.

That KMart believe that there are no company rules that forbid forced labour is shocking. so make them.

mostly guidelines not Instruments of national and International Law that forbid the circulation of goods in Markets gaining trading privileges under GATT and in trade with the EU and US markets is shocking.…

I would argue that EU countries probaly are in breach of the ECHR which has an absolute prohibition on forced Labour (this means that there can be no qualification of this right in defence of national interest etc) if they allow the importation of goods produced by forced labour

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Ex-Muslim’s Facebook group comes under attack

mettaculture • 7 days ago

Well its Foucauldian in the sense that sexual morality is to be found in the pursuit of a moderated pleasure principle as in his history of sexuality. But this is just a sub category of Hedonism/Epicureanism and he commits an ahistoric error by granting sex a greater prestige than other forms of pleasure.

Marcus Aurelius is probably the best exemplar of an epicurean in total mastery of his desire.

In person Foucault was a Sado-Masochist and heavily into Leather as was his partner Daniel Defert (La Veuve the Widow) who founded AIDES the French AIDS organisation he agrgessively decoupled any relationship between HIV and homosexuality in prevention work (thus ensuring a generation of Gay HIV positive Frenchmen at far higher rates than elsewhere in Europe where the response to AIDS was initially based in the Gay Community.

It took Daniel Defert two years to even admit that Foucault died of AIDS.

I have mentioned before though I think not to you, that I once stayed in Foucaults Apartment (Daniel Defert and he had neighboring apartments and even though I was a critic of his policy a friend of mine worked with AIDES and sub let Foucaults apartment).

This was after Foucault had died and after I had shared a similar formation to Foucault (anthropology of meidicne and Knowledge studying the History of madness and medicine at the Welcome institute).

I remember spending a weekend reading Foucaults library. I can confirm that he was a bit of a fraud as Habermas argues basing a specualtive Nietschean nihilism on un-acknowledged Kantian enlightenment assumptions.

The reason for his contradictions and dishonesties are more prosaic than critics imagine (they assume a deep philosophical contradiction that he wrestled with.

Almost the entirety of Foucault’s library consisted of very sober thorough bog standard (but in its traditions brilliant before the absorption of Foucault destoyed empirical faculties) English empiricist social History of the medieval, early modern and Victorian periods. prison and hospital reform, public health, Syphilis etc etc.

I remember one book on Prison reform (forget the Author I do wish I had not lost the notes I made that weekend) that had a plate of Benthams Panopticon. Bingo I thought. There is his data unacknowledged (I think its called plagiarism) and no-one ever seemed to object to Foucaults Histories having almost no citations, except the professor at Uppsala who refused to give Foucault a PHd because of his shoddy speculation and poor historical scholarship (he let others do that for him).

Several Friends have claimed that I am the most Nietschean and thoroughly self constructed person they know, but I have always rejected any close examination of this.

I can see it in the almost reckless social and cultural transgression in my character but that is an Epicurianism and ADHD as much as anything, morally I am an Edwardian boy Scout and I have always hated the nihilism and death cult side of Foucault and the posties.

It is easy to see where Foucault got his hard on for the Ayatollah from, his own need to find pleasure in Sado-Masochistic self destruction, revelling in his own auto-eroticism and his own attraction to those who might hold a desire to kill him.

There was no liberation in Foucault (or those who follow his shallow performativity of power as shadow liberation with a kinky twist) just the erotic pas de deux of death between the repressed homosexual of scientific criminology and his existential twin his own sex murderer.

I have condemned Foucault and his legacy many times for their Worship of Thanatos. Give me habermas anytime.

What is most useful in Foucault is the broad synthesis of Kantian social history that lies rejected and scorned by his own self flagellating scorn.

However like you I wish to subert the fixations of identity and pom mo drivel.

Hence my cyborg post-human hypocrite anti-colonial Jesuit sex mastery guild, trying to protect the pure Alien civilisation (a radically unalterably other hive mind civilzation) from being colonially othered by post human colonialists trying to preserve their ‘indigenous authenticity of resitence’ by turning them into a poor simulacrum of their own historic human inadequacies and weaknesses, by creating ‘game park reserves’ for natives to inhabit a protected cultural landscape that is really a badly drawn fantasy re-creation of how they imagined pure humans once were.

The trouble is that so few people hold onto any idea of deep civilisational time now that the subversion of our own time will be likely missed as it rapidly becomes so ‘five minutes ago’

Oh well I have bits and pieces written maybe I should settle for short stories lol

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Is China’s “Special Administrative Region” committed to free speech?

mettaculture • 7 days ago
Well exactly.

Good old fashioned detective work which is mostly deductive logic combined with ‘reasonable suspicion’ (enhanced pattern recognition) ‘likely suspects’ and probable cause is the most refined method, except as I discovered when doing criminal law no detectives do the detective method any longer they are politicised performance managers producing criminology statistics that effect to manage the data as if it is the thing.

For a while the security agencies continued the detective work to get their man (though they nearly lost Osama bin Laden when they lost interest in detection) now its all gone subsumed within technology and a jock culture of self promotion through decisive action to colonise a new area of data or launch a cyber attack. We have a gamers generation led by mangers and market research types selling their latest data mining package.

mettaculture • 7 days ago
sure but in the US there is no law that is supposed to exist outside of a constitutional framework.

If even congress people supposed to be the oversight believe that they have been unable to provide that by being excluded from knowing then there is a problem.

One can always claim National Security and Public Protection (The Terror of the French revolution was public protection) as the ultimate ‘legal’ defence.

It is rather a semantic argument being held by officials here that it is not illegal by being extra legal (ie conducted outside of the remit of the courts) and well you’ll just have to trust us because it is too secret to be legally regulated.

I mean I don’t fear that I am about to be arrested but I certainly am conscious that I no longer write online the things I used to say in conversations or write in letters.

I long ago learned that silly jokes about bombs and hanging x group of people was likely to get you arrested if posted online.

We censor ourselves we police each others speech the police police our speech and we are under surveillance in unspecified ways to better protect us.

In the UK people have been imprisoned (9 months ) for refusing to reveal the code for encryption keys (no other evidence of probable cause provided) it is now an imprisonable offence in the UK for insisting that one may communicate in confidence to someone else. It used to take a warrant to intercept confidential mail now wanting to send confidential mail may be an offence.

Sure it is illegal under RIPA but should it be.

We are told that we cannot be told how safe we are kept by things we may not know and to keep us safer we must know less and be surveilled more.

Now I am sure that many terrorist incidents have been averted because of surveillance but whether it is the result of this blunderbuss total sampling sieve it and see approach remains questionable.

Yet the terrorist atrocities that do occur seem never to have been stopped by this necessary surveillance, though their occurrence (via good old analogue methods of unimpeded direct person to person plotting) inevitably triggers a demand for more mass surveillance.

So much secrecy resting on an assumption that somewhere someone knows what is going on and is a due process obsessed democrat, I find highly implausible.

We all know from our own lives that our most conscientious work does not come from a certain knowledge that our work is never going to be seen let alone evaluated and put on display, quite the contrary.

There are many ways of monitoring without revealing all of the content, in fact the very technological algorithms of data surveillance can be used for legal compliance surveillance without entering the data stream at the level of content at all.

I dont buy the it is too secret to monitor effectively line at all ever.

mettaculture • 7 days ago

The release is highly damaging got the government there is no evidence any individual has been compromised in a place of danger.

Yes he wanted to be able to prove that he was the source and he is a cryptographer (funny story about Glennwald the freedom campaigner being an open book to the US authorities as he is clueless about cryptography) and he has the private key.

The man is hunted and wanted being wanted (and wanted not to reveal more vs please reveal more) is part of the balance to resist being hunted like game.

A sitting duck has few defences except decoy and delusion that he might be so rare that he needs to be captured alive.

I happen to believe that a massive security state hoovering up everything and tracking everything because it refuses to target actual terrorists who can easily be profiled and tracked is insanity.

Despite endless claims about lone wolves independently radicalised by the internet every Jihadi has been through a small group of 20-25 dedicated handlers and radicalisers almost all of which were known about or should have been by the security services (I can spot a young rage boy Islamist at 50 yards in poor light)/

This security state is bad, sad and mad.

As a result of this I am learning of the encrypted deep web where well your worst nightmares can lie there.

Without old analogue espionage the encryptions used cannot be broken. Hard drives belonging to Italy’s Red Brigade seized in 2007 cannot be cracked by cryptanalyis.

Maybe quantum computers might crack the codes one day.

But lets keep on trusting our governments who wont profile and proportionately target real threats except everyone of us all the time just in case.

What about the history of the world tells you that this power will not be abused, simply because it can?

The existential consequence of assuming that there is no longer any personal privacy left witll be the final closing of the Western mind.

Individual privacy, personal private space has been the single greatest contribution by the west to world civilisation to the development of reasoning ethical autonomous individuals.

I have once steamed open someone else letter and what it taught me about myself served me fucking right. I have never even so much as snooped in another’s diary since.

One of the greatest real freedoms is not being obliged to tell anyone where you went or what you did today,

I am returning many things to analogue and encrypting others not because I have anything to hide but because once I escaped the intrusions of family and school as a child I have felt truly free by the idea of my time being my own unless I chose to share it.

I am now going to sit in a cemetery, I always have I like the pathos of the company of the quiet and the dead.

For a surveillance state a happy consumer suddenly going to a shoppingless, CCTV less and weird land spooky location it might not be innocent, must be a bit clandestine, log it lets see how often he goes to cemeteries, who else is going there? maybe we should put a discrete camera in a tomb etc etc.

This isnt paranoia it is how the truly paranoid, those who must do surveillance must think.

Its crap, Iceland is beginning to look attractive in a windy northern way to me.

mettaculture • 7 days ago

The Washington Post is being cagey about this clearly they themselves are bound by certain secret laws.

The line goes well just because there is a legal procedure and just because there is a massive collection of data about US and foreign citizens that takes place in complete secret with no effective oversight and no truth telling to those congress people who are supposed to be the oversight it doesnt necessarily mean that any laws were broken.

Or because the agencies should ahve always sought court orders for what they did but because there is no way of telling when or if they did we should assume that court orders were always sought even though there would be no knowledge and no comeback if they werent.

Yeah right I feels so reassured now

mettaculture • 7 days ago
1)spying on US citizens is supposed to require court orders but given the absolute secrecy with which the NSA operates this is impossible to determine.

The NSA has lied in congress point blank saying that it did not deliberately collect such data.

Collecting of data on non US citizens is not regulated although they are supposed to have a treaty with the EU to give data collected a safe harbour, the fact that this is unregulated and secret in the US means at least according to Angela Merkel and the Italians that their laws have been broken.

The UK has used Prism and this cannot be legal as court orders are required for such data collection but using US data gained without such oversight is evading our legal regulation.

2. of course it is argued by the defenders of secrecy and the allowing of the military to have ‘direct access’ to millions of commercial records, that all of it is to defend National Security but no one gets to determine what that is except the NSA that denies its existence.

I mean having access to all information about everyone is obviously useful for National Security but such excess cannot be argued to be strictly proportionate…

mettaculture • 8 days ago
Here’s another thing. Snowden is a spy whose worked directly and via contractors for the NSA he’s traveled and spied for them. Something led him to feel safer in Hong Kong. I imagine he’s been there as an agent he knows the p[lace has some contacts and knows something else. This cyber war between the US and China is a real war not just a trade war it reaches to space. It is online but the Interweb has channels and tunnels and boundaries and domains of control.

I am pretty sure that he has estimated that China’s protective cyber shield covers Hong Kong and that their ability to block US cyber attacks is powerful there and that he is probably safer there from drill down and discovery from the NSA there than almost anywhere else on Earth.

We know he is online and he has warned that almost nowhere is safe in the zones of the US greatest penetration (look at the map of Prism penetration in the leaked document).

As I say he is no fool and if he slips and is zapped or milked and thrown into a dungeon with rats for company then we should realise that he has the most powerful intelligence agency in the world after him.

We do not have to impute him granting a moral or democratic equivalence between the US and China for him to correctly surmise that the only nation with the will and the technology and the actualite to oppose US world cyber dominance right now is China.

There is a balancing of cyber arms in this equation with Hong Kong a partial no man’s land covered by Chinas technological and political reach but not yet subsumed legally or socially within it.

I also think that China’s legions of hackers that they let lose on US networks daily might quite like the game of tracking and blocking the NSA’s tracking attempts particularly if they have been given a little cyber leg up and look in on the method in use by Prism.

China already have their national version of Prism also given with the compliance of the major internet firms and computer companies. What western business will do for a slice of the Chinese market is legendary (he who can put an inch on the Chinaman’s shirt tail will be rich beyond all imagining etc never worked out hat way though but the dream will not die)

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Haitham al Haddad guest speaker at City University Islamic Society event

mettaculture • 7 days ago…

mettaculture • 7 days ago
Although I have seen no signs of drug use in brightly lit and tastefully decorated Foyers of Boutique Hotels so perhaps higher interior design production standards are the answer.

mettaculture • 7 days ago
Not all but many

‘gay people in England and Wales are seven times more likely to take illegal drugs than the general population, with one in five of those surveyed showing signs of drugs or alcohol dependency.

…more than a third of LGBT people took at least one illegal drug in the last month compared to 5% of the wider population.

The study, conducted by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation and the University of Central Lancashire, sampled more than 4,000 people over two years and warns that there is “significant problematic” substance use among the LGBT community.

The most widely used substances among those surveyed were party drugs such as cannabis and poppers, followed by powder cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine and amphetamines.

LGBT people were 10 times more likely to have used cocaine in the last month, and 13 times more likely to have used ketamine.

Heroin use was comparable among both populations, but the use of crack cocaine was again higher in the gay community.

So for Horse say no, no no but for Ketamine say yay, yay, yay.

Actually I have a bright red T shirt that is emblazoned with


Discussion on Harry’s Place

Haitham al Haddad guest speaker at City University Islamic Society event

mettaculture • 8 days ago
I prefer the Gay Lobby. It always makes me think of a cheerfully decorated foyer.

A few years ago some of us nearly named a new organisation ‘The Gay Lobby’ just so that no-one could be in any doubt as to who we actually were. Gay Mafia was another idea but apparently it can make fundraising a bit harder.

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Is China’s “Special Administrative Region” committed to free speech?

mettaculture • 8 days ago
You people are all being so weird and John Le Carre esque.

When did China last disappear an American citizen in broad daylight carrying a US top secret Swag bag revealed to the worlds Media?

FFS China is he Worlds other superpower and Economic giant and its economy it mutual interdependent with the US.

They have both been engaged in a major cyber war with each other and have just had major peace talks over this and reached a secret negotiated diplomatic solution.

Generally days after a truce a signatory to the peace treaty does not shoot someone from the other side in no mans land.

Snowden’s timing is perfect and his place. He chose non man’s land a buffer zone between East and West between China and the US, its like fleeing to Tangiers during the 1920s, yes the Germans or the French could have bumped someone off or kidnapped them but the free port status and diplomatic balancing of the major powers in Tangiers at that time tended to prevent open action that would have broken a fragile peace just brokered.

China is a major world capitalist economy playing mostly according to the rules of GATT etc it is not Putins russia or Ceaucescus Romania.

Jeezuz people don’t keep up to date with the way the world is.

China would be much more likely to quietly hand Snowden over in a deal with the US, but that is why he went to Hong Kong not Beijing.

He needs a place of legal and political stalemate where he couldn’t be handed over quietly before the story broke and built.

Look he knows an awful lot of what the NSA knows, who are the countries and agencies who do exactly what the US wants and which ones cant prevent the US from doing what they want.

This is not the cold war set up there are almost no non aligned countries now, almost all are players in the global market or are hostile and closed countries practically at war with the West.

He did not go to Belarus or Iran or North Korea or even China. He did not go to a Western European state where he would have been gone before anyone knew (even Iceland has to be alerted and to build a case for him first).

He did not go to south America cos he knows that it is the CIAs back yard (unlike Assange apparently) and how easily he could disappear.

He did not go to China mainland he went to Hong Kong, some of us understand the significance of that and the delicacies for the Mainland. If he had gone to Taiwan it would have been a provocation to China and the US would have got him anyway.

Hong Kong cannot according to its current legal hiatus deport him and China’s diplomatic face would not be saved if he were deported to the US. They might want to send him quietly but they would not extradite him because of loss of national prestige.

they can’t really kidnap him and torture him because he is a US citizen with IT that would let them do just what they have promised to the US to stop doing.

I am sure he has held some techinical knowledge back as an insurance policy to tempt China into thinking they can get something from him in a soft non kidnappy torture deal (hence his secret location giving the US kittens)

Snowden has even said that Triads are one of the paid agencies of the NSA and they might pay to bump him off except he has said that now and if he is bumped off we know it is not China even if done by a NInja Turtle wielding a wok it will be another extra-judicial killing by the US.

Too much red button trigger responding on this site not enough independent thought.

There is no law that everyone has to give a declaratory response like him or hate him in 140 characters or less you know.

we can make arguments as propositions and test them and devlop ideas through sharing knowledge and ideas about things we dont have to have preformed ideas about everything.

Being so predictable is how Prism works you know it doesn’t read everyones communications in depth. It does a meta scan of our tedious repetitive habits of thought and click and surf and matches them with algorithms of particular combinations of online habits that show our tribal and political affiliations then when certain patterns are triggered the bots drilldown and take a closer look and a second wave of scan is done.

Humans beings are so regimented int heir habits that this makes this mostly an automatic process only when a combination of pattern and new activity of a classified but predictable kind such as goes to how to make a suicide belt in your lunch time on the Northern line (this sequence I have just uttered will probably call down a drill down algorithm but I wont add the next steps to attract further notice).

I repeat: Snowden has not defected to China, he has not said China is a free place and the US is the most evilest nation on Earth. he has not said I trust Julian Assange not to come in me.

mettaculture • 8 days ago
Lamia you are just reacting and assuming Snowden is an Assange or a Manning.

he did not say what Saul O reports or rather he said first that it is terrible that he should have to come to a place less free than the US, though it does have a tradition of dissent.

He also scrutinised every single disclosure so as to eliminate any harm to innocents, clearly distinguishing himself from Manning and arguing that it is a US popular reaction against the excess of US state surveillance and violation of the constitution that he wishes to invoke.

He seems to be having some success and the majority of Americans seem to have considerable sympathy.

Going to Hong Kong was not stupid at all he seems to have been perfectly aware of their land mark Legal ruling giving due process in Asylum cases and that without a mechanism to enforce the ruling any person applying for Asylum cannot currently be deported. Very smart.

He realises exactly what the Chinese might want to do with him and what the US would like but is aware that the US is in a major diplomatic row with most of the world (except the UK of course) for its total disregard for their citizens and their laws.

He knows that considering the secret talks with the Chinese and the US over their mutual hacking war that the Chinese are unlikely to dare to use him as an asset and though they might want to hand him over to the US as a friendly gesture there will be huge consequences for them in that too and for the US )Hng Kong does have considerable autonomy legally still. yes it could be vetoed by the mainland but at a considerable cost.

Plus he wants to claim Asylum in Iceland and they have new consitutional guarantees in place granting haven to internet whistleblowers and there is already considerable activity within the Icelandic interior ministry to legislate for him before he has even formally applied.

The cost to the new Icelandic government of handing him over to the US would be likely to bring them down and the US would be wary about seeking to squash a little country for applying its own Human Rights laws correctly.

I’m afraid to say that whatever you think of him International Lawyers think he has plaid an incredibly smart move playing legal instruments and realpolitik pretty deftly.

He knows that there are NSA officials who want him disappeared but they have already been caught articulating such a desire and publicly exposed.

What he is doing is to follow obediently the letter of what the US law should be and the deepest spirit of the US constitution and bill of rights.

It is the Administration that has breached the law to protect American rights and lied to and deceived congress in its attempts to gain oversight on the NSA’s activities.

It is pretty easy within a US narrative (a libertarian one that is bi-partisan) to portray Snowden as a patriot not a traitor.

It is going to be difficult to show that he has aided an enemy by revealing something that is illegal and beyond the powers of the military to enforce upon civil society.

It looks to me more like some members of the NSA are going to be thrown under the bus and accused of ‘overeach’ and a cosmetic job on freedom will be done by overhauling the Patriot act.

Then as Snowden knows his only safety lies in mass popular support and in order to do his best to generate that he has cast himself as a sober man of conscience willing to face anything alone in the face of a Government that has shown itself to have exceeded any restraint whatsoever.

Just because the dick wad Glennwald has reported on this does not make
Snowden a Jihadi enabler. Julian Borger also has reported on this suggesting that even the Guardian may have learned from its previous Assange tryst realising that when he promises not to come in you its certain to be a lie.

I reserve my judgement on Snowden because of the seriousness of the NSA’s constitutional outrage.

But this man is neither a naive fool nor a tool though he may yet not be able to avoid being used he knows exactly what he faces and what can be done to him.

I am not a conspiracy type but I have known for some years that Microsoft had given a backdoor to the Pentagon/NSA some years ago when I was cyber stalked by a very senior (but whackey) head of IT for a global corporation.

This weirdo with an authoritarian personality used to laugh that the worlds computer users were sheep and that he could take control of almost any computer he cared to with a little preparation.

He certainly id it to my PC and was runningmy PC remotely for months evesdropping on everything until I rumbled him and informed another person whereupon I witnessed every e-mail from this person and every instance of any mention of him or any link to him or his company on my PC twinkled and winked out.

Curiously I had just read of this capability in a novel Quantico by Greg Bear (youve heard of that place its where Manning has been kept) a 2005 novel about Jiahdis and bio-terror. In the novel this twinkling out trick is done by the FBI and ‘I thought at the time neat story telling device but it is a SF novel and it may one day be possible but surely it can’t be done remotely for years yet”

My psycho stalker did it in a trice and he told me that not only the security services but major corporations had been sold back doors and data mining capabilities by Microsoft.

What whacko told me was that data mining which in reality is little different from content access (one can be used to get the other unless powerful encryption such as Tor or PGP is used) would be slowly introduced to the masses in a series of stages as a helpful tool that gave us greater consumer choice so that while it involved an itsy bitsy little bit of personal data about ourselves and everything that we did online but this would be so good for us that it was not a bad thing that it would also be and good for marketing and business. I mean how else would we get the best consumer services without this?

Whacko just chuckled ‘sheep, sheep’!

Whacko at least let me understand how this Prism has been conducted at such a minimal cost of $20 M (though I am sure that its real funding is as secret as its true nature). There has been a massive buy in (give away really) by the big internet companies.

The one thing about the modern US security services that this case shows is the the ‘Military-Industrial’ complex has grown beyond all proportion since 9/11 through contracting out of services.

This has happened at a time where corporate market research technology of data mining and ‘drilling down’ to construct personal consumer profiles (the main purpose of Windows 8 business according to a friend who works for them) just happens to dovetail perfectly with a surveillance state coupled with a politics of ‘musnt profile groups at any cost just every consuming individual on earth from which when we chose we can ‘drill down’.

One doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist at all to see that the co-occurrence of a technology for business provided by business for security services just happens to fit their requirements perfectly.

Look SF writers realised 50 years ago that a perfect business technology of individualized and perpetual marketing, advertising at the level of personalised psychological intrusion and persuasion would lead to a surveillance state even without any political requirement for it.

It is less that the technology was sought and developed by shadowy evil military scientists for world domination more a case of it being developed in plain sight as a natural extension of harmless sales and marketing, but now on a scientific footing that was predictive and persuasive at an individual level.

The pursuit of profit in a post industrial producer state capitalist economy that must now create ever more novel products for personal consumption (the profit from mass consumption of basic goods mostly goes to China and the Brics) has lead inexorably led to a recording device attached to most every individuals fingers recording their fleeting thoughts and impulse surfing and purchasing.

Humans are creatures of habit and our habits are recorded, it was too tempting a technology to be resisted by a Western world at war with plotters who have conducted so many of their activities online.

It is fitting that the little bugs that have eradicated our personal freedoms in the name of shopping and freedom from terror are called Trojans.

Quite funny for a psycho IT type I suppose. I am feeling very ignorant and sheep like myself and feel I need to learn an awful lot more about this story.

But enjoy if this site is now going to go into a memetic rage over Snowden as Assange mark two please don’t me get in the way of a little synthesised online Bread and Circusses.

I’m off to explore PGP and Public private key cryptography might buy a few Bitcoin if I can afford it too, Cypriots and Spanish people seem to be fond of the encrypted government free currency. I wonder why that might be maybe they are all troofers?

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Ex-Muslim’s Facebook group comes under attack

mettaculture • 8 days ago
oooh Sarka I have so many variations of this game.

One of my favourite used to be ‘OK you win a time travel holiday for two economy class, ie you can get to be a free person with full board and catering but no extras, which period of time would you travel too’?

Used to be cos try playing this with Brits under the age of 40 and you get dazed looks, and Victorian London, Indiana Jones times, or Olden times, seem to be the only choices.

There is a SF space opera that I keep claiming that I am going to write (as the sands of time clutch at my ankles) but my biggest problem has always been pinning down how my beings are going to do and or think sex.

Read Ian M Banks or or Dan Simmons or Greg Bear or David Brin for how they get stuck on sex. usually their universes are rather hetero-normative in the early novels until they get told how so unimaginative that is in a universe to play with beings bits and bobs. Then they seem to turn to ursula Le Guin in rather transparent but still very humanoid desperation (eg Ian M Banks The Player of Games).

Its a tricky one , at least if you want to sell your novels and that has to be a reason for any space opera. If you are too far ahead of the curve you will end up in the remaindered bin and out of print promptly only to find yourself lecturing and deconstructing the plot to a bunch of queer theorists at Amherst college (Samuel Delaney ; Dahlgren, Stars in my Pocket like grains of Sand he never did write the sequal after he did away with narratives in a frenzy of literary theory).

The very best SF author who has thoughtfully evolved his literary sexuality and that of his beings is Ken McLeod who went from revolutionary action babe ala Sigourney Weaver (something Ian M Banks never got beyond although he occasionally has his men become women in a very teenage crush lipstick Lesbianish or As Maiden Aunt neuter observer types a la Jan (nee John or James Humphrey) Moriss) through Bedarche cultures to Bisexual bat people astronomy professors coming over all Socratic and tucking a (ultimately Platonic) furry wing over their students on a camping trip.

I know I have a central Jesuitical Stoic Epicurean Pleasure Guild ‘The Masters of Desire'(how could I resist?) Whose home system is an Autarchist Empire but as relentless missionaries and meddlers they have gained control of the New Galaxies with Mission worlds that claim to free the Indigenous collectivist hive beings from human slavery by teaching them complete self control while really enslaving them by being able to induce never before experienced but newly addicting individual orgasms in them at will.

Obviously this is a sexualised European colonial encounter replete with meddling Pope figures and opium wars, but the longer it has remained unwritten the more the post colonial narrative seems trite and unlearned and the sex just as studenty trite and silly.

The only thing that seems worthwhile now is the hedonist stoics because oh how people misunderstand the Epicurians. I just no longer seem to be able to find a non trite way of telling this but this is as much a sign of our hysterically modest, flash your gentle piercing and hijab times.

mettaculture • 8 days ago
I love past cultures. The past is another country and all that. The Herculaneum, Pompeii exhibition at the British Museum is quite wonderful. The greatest irony was the juxtaposition between the very monocultural visitors and the socially, culturally and economically diverse Romans (I was with a comparatively culturally other disinterested Spanish friend who commented upon the dominant mild mannered silver haired English matriarchs who herded us along to their own passive-agressive rhythms on by little by tuts, he had never seen such a concentration of Radio 4 listeners having been deluded by the myths of a post class multi-culture only living in London).

The bit that I found hit no chord at all was the video on the position of Women (of even modest economic means who had considerable social freedoms), which was in so many ways so very like the Women visiting, except that far greater numbers were ethnic minorities, and of poor and slave origins (40% of Romans but upwards of 60% of Pompeiians were originally of slave origin. Slaves we were told, in the Roman world did the jobs of providing services to the middle and upper classes much like ‘those who are around us serving us today’.

The big difference I noticed was that despite slavery Ancient Roman society had greater social mobility than contemporary Britain. There were no Polish cleaners among the visitors whereas manumitted slaves in Herculaneum stood for electoral office and freed Women could gain considerable social prestige as patrons of the arts and religion.

What I was enjoying were the gasps of ‘how like us they were’ as people encountered with a shock of recognition the similarities of life between our distant iterations of what should be seen as a continuing civilisation. As someone observed ‘no its more how like them we are’. Except we don’t eat fried Dormice that we fatten in little terracotta pots gently feeding them delicate herbs.

mettaculture • 8 days ago
Mohammed Amin

Thank you for your reply. There are a number of reasons that I use a Pseudonym, or ‘nome de blogue’, belonging to a small and gossipy profession, particularly among hman rights Lawyers, is one, not wishing to face death threats for my often trenchant criticisms of Islamists and Jihadis is another (I am a survivor of al Qaeda’s first known bombing in Aden in December 1992, they Bombed the Gold Mohur Hotel where I was staying, and engaged in a fire fight with US marines at the Movenpick hotel).

I consider that to keep a consistent Pseudonym, for certain kinds of writings is quite different from being anonymous and is a venerable tradition among British satirists and political commenters, one that should be preserved. A Pseudonym can work positively and modestly compelling the reader to evaluate the writers words on their own merit rather than attributing ‘professional or celebrity credibility or notoriety to a known writer, something that may be wholly unwarranted.

I don’t think we should confuse consistent pseudonymous writing (my identity is well known to the HP owners and commenters ATL, BTW) with hiding behind changing anonymous screens simply to hurl abuse.

As you know many Muslim reformers are compelled to write anonymously. I salute you for not doing so though you have some enviable room for manoeuvre being both doctrinally orthodox yet liberal and humanist in your outlook.

As an aside on anonymity I note that a large percentage of the negative reviewers on Amazon of Irshad Manji’s ‘The Trouble with Islam Today’ are anonymous posts.

Incidentally I quite agree with you that my ‘proposed draft bill’ does have some rather illiberal and unenforceable definitions of ‘threat’ and ‘coercion’ (the later ones) as you discern.

The drafting of legislation is complex and all legislation falls foul of the law of unintended consequences. I have participated in the drafting of International Human Rights Instruments (The right to education with UNESCO and the Right to Palliative care pain relief with the WHO).

Unfiortunately drafting in England and Wales despite the best efforts always gets given to the mysterious Parliamentary Legislation Drafters who are renowned for making a vague mess of clearly specified Parliamentary Intention.

I wrote a hurried draft to stimulate debate and I deliberately pastiched the shocking language of ‘Harassment Alarm and Distress of ss 4A and 5 the Public order Act 1986.

This legislation has been used in most illiberal ways chilling free speech in resect of religious and political freedoms particularly the inclusion of ‘Insulting’ language as an offence even where no specific victim can be identified.

I know you oppose the illiberal elements of this Act and forgive me if I was testing/provoking you a little. I am afraid the habits of a forensic mind imagining a cross examination of someone’s testimony and the ways one can detect inconsistency and contradiction in a witnesses testimony are not easily broken.

In reality I would not seek to add subjective lements such as alarm or distress or anxiety to protect individuals freedom of coercion. I do not believe in thought crimes I would only seek to criminalize real harm in a manner proportionate to the problem.

On this matter you are clearly legally morally consistent for a principle when it both benefits your position and equally when it may oppose it. On this you are evidently no hypocrite you engage with the issues from first principles not one of strategic advantage.

Creating consistency checking questions for questionnaire/survey instruments is a very similar process and something I would like to do in this area of the Protection of Apostates freedom from Harassment and Persecution is to engage in some applied research in the Muslim community as to the extent of the problem.

Of course this itself is problematic as is research into honour crimes or forced marriage or (from my perspective) perhaps as equally pressing but less sensational research into the actual practice of Nikah in Muslim communities and the relative application of Talaq vs Khula and the practices of Shariah courts and how consistent they are in delivering the theoretical rights for women to petition a qadi for divorce faced with the refusal of the husbands permission in actual practice.

Just because such research may be difficult does not present an adequate reason for not doing it.

I am no fan of recent Governments dedication to turbo charged, unnecessary and burdensome criminal legislative activity to fix some momentarily perceived problem and through research is necessary to dislodge the presumption in English law that all things are legal unless prohibited, or in other words things should be left uncriminalised unless there is a very pressing need for them to be criminalised.

I started my proposition for a bill as a way of framing the debate as a thought experiment in how to balance the very real religious freedoms granted to worshippers of all faiths in our society with the often harsh and threatening abuse of those who would chose the freedom of their conscience over unquestioning obedience to normative demands.

I am convinced that there is a problem and that solutions to protect doubters and questioners and apostates are needed. Further as a humanist I believe that these protections actually create a self confident and outward looking religious faith as well.

It is because I believe these freedoms, to believe and to believe not, work in a virtuous circle to enhance a moral and social space for mutual comprehension and tolerance, that I would only countenance framing this as an extension of religious freedom not a restriction.

To what extent legislation can aid this I must now devote far greater thought and structured investigation.

When I was at college I knew a young Muslim woman from Pakistan whose deeply pious parents lived in the Gulf, they received reports of their Murtad daughter and arrived to essentially remove her against her will to the Gulf. She went in to hiding and we helped, it got nasty and some very serious threats were made to her boyfriend. Some of us offered to broker a meeting first with the parents, then with them and the daughter, then finally the boyfriend and with quite a bit of cloak and dagger (neutral meeting points with the location given at the last minute etc) this was carried out.

Astonishingly the parents relented because even though they were deeply pious, the religious aspect was perhaps the least compelling. They believed their daughter had fallen in with drug using squatters and criminals and was in danger and they were reacting the only way they knew how.

Of course the scruffy student types were not the monsters they feared and most surprising of all the father hit it off with the boyfriend.

I remember long conversations with the Father (even then I was into cross examination) and he said that he realised that he had encouraged his daughters education in the West ( his wife had miscarried several times before giving birth to his daughter and she had been seriously ill as a child) and that it would be a violation of the promise he had made to her as a child (and to him and his wife and to God) as she lay sick in hospital.

He was seriously troubled but his piousness helped him because he decided that his decision to abandon any attempt to coerce her back into tradition and his faith was a decidion between him and God and that God would judge him as he saw fit.

I got the impression that he was resigned to a rather fiery furnace of an afterlife but with real courage and love for his family he did not seek to displace his responsbilities and sense of failure onto someone else.

Now I say his piousness helped and it did in an individual way as an excercise of conscience.

I remember thinking that the outcome was helped by the fact that the parents had only distant relations (of a rather scary character) in England.

As foreigners in the Gulf they would have been able to deflect unwanted attention or gossip so they were not subject to communal coercion there either.

I suppose that the moral of this story is that individual conscience best governs the way that people feel they need to adhere to their faith and traditions and the solutions they adopt when this faith is challenged, when they are left free as individuals to fully pursue their conscience free from inappropriate coercion.

The criminal law is a blunt instrument and should only be used to deal with real and present risks of harm not to intervene casually in the subtle interplay of peer pressure, communal religious and social identity and moral choice.

However it is also true that the existence of a criminal sanction can act as a deterrent. It is not however as many people believe the case that the draconian nature of the punishment works best as deterrence (otherwise Sudan would be more law abiding than Sweden and it is not) but only if there is a credible belief (supported by actual empirical examples) that the perpetrator faces a high probability of being caught and punished.

Cluttering up the statute books with notionally serious crimes that are never (or highly selectively) enforced is the best way of causing a flagrant disregard of the law bringing it into ever greater disrepute.

I need to think more and consult a whole lot more on this. If my initial consultations are productive I will be in future contact over this.

Thank you for your time and thought.

mettaculture • 8 days ago
I dont really wish to engage in ad homimems on the Tell Mama folk. I do think that they had a problem with the way they collected and recorded their data and worse what they claimed the data said about a rising tide of islamophobic hate. I would be quite happy for an organisation that uses different (clearly explained) criteria than the Police to do a serious job of collecting data and keeping policy makers and the police from brushing the problem under the carpet.

I know something about how difficult it is to present the hardest of data to civil servants that shows them that a problem is far greater than their political masters are prepared to deal with. The task requires resilience, resilient recording, resilient data (so hard that it is untouchable) and resilient people. The data presented to us by DCLG to criticise Tell Mama was purely subjective ‘fewer incidents than we might have expected’ that is crap and even the shonky data of Tell Mama was far better than than if it had been presented in a sober but very ‘worried’ tone rather than a ‘told you so’ manner. Maybe their inexperience with a bit of hubris was too much for them.

mettaculture • 9 days ago

Yes an organisation with a brief to document anti-Muslim hate crimes and anti-Muslim bigotry should exist and be securely funded. (as at the CST there should be a distinction between narrative analysis seeking to interpret both data and what it says about changes in the expression of anti-semitism). It seems that Fiyaz Mughal is far too inherently a flawed and volatile character for this rather sober job. This is a shame, having a rather self publicizing director using the organisation as a campaigning tool with a clear political agenda was always going to lead it astray into rhetorical anti-Islamophobia rather than a painstakingly punctilious monitoring and evaluation of reports and the compilation of statistical trends that is so necessary. Losing his temper and using Tell Mama as a platform to threaten libel actions against critics, particularly pro Israeli critics apparently, retaining the services of Raed Slah and george Galloway’s Lawyer probably had more to do with him upsetting civil servants than anything.

The shame is that the ostensible reason that his data does not match police ACPO data is the feeblest of excuses and is itself redolent of a highly politically manipulated collection of statistics.

The data I would trust least would be that of the Metropolitan police given their increasingly nakedly politicised role in massaging inter community relations. Cressida Dick seems about as trustworthy as a bottle of citric acid posing as a bag of unwaxed lemon. Her brilliantly objective data crunching of anti Muslim hate after Woolwich to Parliament contained the risible ‘figures’

‘the Met’s assistant commissioner, Cressida Dick, told MPs last week that it was “slightly less” than after previous terror attacks.

“There has not been such a very big increase in attacks as we might have feared,”

Wow with statistical precision like that Tell mama must have been utterly data blind not to have been able to fight back.

I have personal experience of exactly how the Met refuse to record hate crimes as hate crimes or gang violence as gang violence in order to down rate the prevalence and make it look like there is a steady improvement in policing effectiveness despite cuts and fewer crimes being investigated charged or prosecuted.

It is laughable how a steady decrease in incidence is proof of the Mets effectiveness despite the data ignoring any actual policing inputs into their model. Only the Met collects anti-Muslim hate crime figures and they are steadily declining to levels rather lower than they might have expected. So remarkeable are the Met’s figures that they almost make tell Mamas look objective except they werent as was easily shown by Gilligan.

Here is the real shame and the really shocking betrayal of the Muslim community by the chancer Mughal. It would have been so easy to produce some very hard stats by being sober and by formulating surveillance criteria that erred on sensitivity (so that some more dubious but possibly anti Muslim incidents were excluded false negatives) in order that specificity (the fact that each recorded hate crime was of the highest probability of being a valid incident i.e.low false positive rate).

This is the way that CST operates and Tell Mama should have at least employed a statistician who would have understood that over time robust trends trump flaky exaggerated claims every time.

If this work had been done responsibly it could have easily detected and challenged over time any systematic under reporting of the Met.

The thing to do is to keep strict surveillance criteria and not fudge them or apply them capriciously, but just keep it up. The thing is that there is no reason to ignore ‘milder’ forms of abuse as they are still not acceptable and any spiking increase in insulting language documented over time is still a very important indicator or portent of hardening attitudes. What must not happen is that minor infractions that are not even crimes must not be presented as crimes and minor crimes must not be presented as major crimes.

The shocker was to misrepresent online insult as physical injury.

I hope a group of sober documenters step up to do this work in a measured and restrained way. I would contribute to such an organisation for sure. We have to have a civil society monitoring of these things. We cannot leave such a contested issue solely up to politically appointed career Police, thats like leaving the NHS in the hands of the managers AKA stat fakers.

mettaculture • 9 days ago
Well Sarah I have no interest in ‘defending’ the EDL and I have only ever looked at one video of any EDL person speaking and that was Tommy Robinson after Woolwich, simply because I wanted to do a comparison between his pronouncements with Anjem Choudry.

Look I am a person who desperately sought cultural difference as a child. I am constitutionally incapable of living in a monoculture, even my brain slows down and my vocabulary and cognition diminish.

For whatever reasons (no doubt many of them psychological) I need social and cultural movement, translocation even. I am some strange combination of a sensate who can only think when challenged almost beyond my ability to think until I grasp some other level of cognitive relationship to the signs and symbols thrust upon me (kind of like Helen Keller but at a total neuro-cognitive level) I have learned that my four distinct learning ‘disabilities’ quite severely disabling in the quietude of ‘life today being just like yesterday’ vanish and become enabling abilities in circumstances that would drive others into catatonic culture shock.

As an 18 year old I took myself alone, on a shoestring to the Sahara with the predominant motivation of exposing myself to the most extreme culture shock I could get to for £55 on a one way ticket. I remember I had a kind of Ken Kesey/Philip K Dick/Ray Bradbury, Psychedelic Beat Philosophy of my own scrambling that led me to believe that if I could take my brain to a culture where I understood nothing then I could ride the transcendental gestalt wave and become an Illustrated man, or something like that.

I certainly succeeded, in part, I remember ending up smoking opiated hash with a rather dodgy man in Goulemime who had a rather vicious monkey on a chain the doors of perception were ripped off their hinges and thrown at me as it tried to keep Mustafa the Monkey from biting my face while trying to understand whether I was hallucinating or hearing that I was going to be taken to meet some Tuareg Nomads.

Hassan and Mustafa left me (alas they reappeared but that is another story) alone with some Veiled men in very blue clothes and a nice big camel hair tent.

The Nomads were real and very nice as were their slaves and I realised (while the hairs of the chinny chin chin of the goat waterbag tickled my lower lip) that I was a very long way from the Welsh borders now, left alone with slave owning people who were insisting that they were taking me home to Mauritania with them and a few tonnes of food.

I had stupidly put myself in very real danger in a culture that I could not begin to understand, for despite my culture fuck surfing pretensions, were little above a crude desire for an T E Lawrence themed ethnically exotic holiday (as was patiently explained to me by a nice Tuareg who realised what a helpless but harmless jerk I really was).

I did some things that were so cluelessly culturally offensive they nearly got me (and a Camel meat butcher) seriously killed and if it were not for the protection of two men who saw beyond the confines of their own culture, Rachid (the son of the chief of the Village where the Tuaregs had camped to trade) and Amastan a rather contemplative and philosophical warrior, I would be a Vanished in the desert stat.

What I learned before I studied it anthropologically, is that most people are utterly, unquestioningly monocultural, they do not question what they do not question and they have no particular interest in the ‘other’, other than how they conform to their ‘inner’ categories.

Very, very few people are actually culturally curious to wonder how things might be if they were not the way they naturally are and therefore must be and even fewer are actually interested in the life ways of other people, though most people have an ability to strategically use the ‘other’ to achieve and ‘inner’ aim.

The thing about anthropology as method that came to me as naturally as breathing is to embed oneself participating inside a culture to understand it as monoculture.

An anthropologist does not (or rather did not when they still had whole cultures to visit rather than sub-cultures at the margins defined as problematic for the host society in some way) approach cultural understanding by demanding ‘cultural pluralism’ and ‘non othering’ and multiple deconstructing narratives of performativity. The job is to understand the culture just the way that cultural insiders do, but never will or can articulate, through the mechanism of the anthropologist who seeks to join the culture as one of them but never can and is doomed to fail.

This failure, the ultimate culture shock in fact, precipitates understanding of that which can only ever be conveyed indirectly through praxis (plus with the assistance as it turns out by the odd but essential quirky questioning insider.

This is a long way of saying that I hate where the EDL are coming from (a reactive desire to conserve their monocultural isolationism) but I cannot hate them for it, because this is how almost all people are. Most people do not wish to demonise the other (that was a task for colonial elites) the other serve only a walk on part in confirming how ordinary and unproblematically inner most people are.

I was the other growing up. In the only country that I have any legal or historical or cultural claim to come from I have spent most of my life answering ‘but where are you originally from’ and if it may not be so apparent to EDL/UKIP types now (I would go so far as to claim that the actual political expression of EDL supporters vote wise will always be far more UKIP than BNP) that is only because there are others so flamboyantly and declaratively other, that they may not pay too much attention to me at first.

Sarah I do see the EDL/UKIP nexus as a threat to cultural pluralism, the greatest threat perhaps because they represent the majority culture which is as basically as non interested or non welcoming of other cultures as every other culture in the world I have been too (apart from a few settler societies).

The only thing that has kept them quiescent, the one cultural trope that has kept the normative cultural centre of this nation from reacting en mass to a rather insistent demand that they adapt and accommodate extreme cultural difference is a rather deeply entrenched code of fair play.

Even those who are generally dismissive of English culture as having any centre let alone virtue will concede that it is basically ‘tolerant’.

Well yes kind of, but the fatal flaw is to assume that the ‘tolerance’ is a unilateral elasticated and ever expanding natural slack that can be found in the ‘host society’ stretching out ever more lengths of spongy accommodation.

This is wrong. English tolerance (and to a less flexible extent British tolerance) is not an elastic acceptance freely given it is a rule based game of reciprocal ‘fair play’. The reason this is not readily recognised is because the rule is not to enforce the rule too harshly, as long as the game is not too seriously played. ‘fair play’ means pretending that a rude rule breaker has not just pushed into the queue, for a while.

You have to remember that the English will not generally tell you that you have broken a rule and insulted the host, but they will react. Seemingly unconsciously but collectively there is a decision made that someone is beyond the pale and while they may be smiled at they will never be spoken to again and certainly never invited home.

I felt a great collective decision being made by the British Public, with some regret, but also some considerable resentment at being told so forcefully that we were not to mention the Hyena munching on Aunt Sylvia in the living room. Resentment after Woolwich, but it seems some kind of ‘alright then’ complicit agreement, about what was to be done but not spoken about in respect of the final act of rule breaking, by those who are to be dealt with decisively but indirectly.

This scares me because it is an electoral majority forming a collective decision about who is going to fix what none else will mention.

I have spent most of the time I have not been commenting at HP working in multiple Council Estates in North London at a grass roots organising level.

The Zeitgeist I observe in London is coagulating into something utterly different from the out of London Zeitgeist which seems almost ready to build a wall around London and let no-one out.

This is not Greece we do not have a Golden Dawn the English will be far more mannered in their rebirth of culturally chauvinist authoritarianism, there will still be ‘fairplay’ but of the old kind.

This will not happen all at once but there is a hardening and a refusal to be told to keep being fair when what we are supposed to be fair about is, well, so horrible and unfair.

You see the thing is this is not, it cannot be the end of Jihadi atrocities in this country. The rate of growth of attempts is increasing and the security services have caused their own blowback, as it were, by it seems triggering what they sought to contain by their method of containment.

I have seen some hope following Woolwich that perhaps we can reach a negotiated settlement with the interlocuters for the Muslim community that is based on shared values and a shared framework and not just on the same old, same post colonial model of cultural pluralism being solely a problem of the priviliged host politely accomodating to the underdog guest.

This is not a multi-cultural model of accommodating cultural pluralism it is a monocultural must give or else model.

The thing is that empirically in London at least there is no longer a dominant white host culture sitting in place to do anything much in the way of accommodating. Most Boroughs of Inner London have no host dominant society they are genuinely multi-cultural places where there are now more frictions arising from the many cultures have no historical reason to respond to a call to be a gracious host. There is an ‘arriviste’ demotic jostling for position and competition for cultural capital among London’s cultural plurality.

Perhaps for this reason UKIP will make little inroads in the Capital. I will breathe more easily, at least until I realise the height of the security wall that the rest of the country fantasizes about being built to keep us in.

These are very dangerous times we have to be very un-British and talk openly about the rules of fair play that must govern our mutual accommodations or cultural pluralism as well as equality before the law will be the biggest fatalities.

Discussion on Harry’s Place


mettaculture • 8 days ago

Quit it! I do not want to hear your homophobia even if you don’t think it is, it is.

I do not generally respond to you as I feel your obsessions colour what otherwise sometimes is interesting commentary.

Recently you raised the important issue of homophobia in the English speaking Caribean/Central and South America. You did this probably more as a stick to beat HP with (in fact this issue and homophobic West Indies dance hall music culture has often been covered at HP) though you seemed to believe that anti LGBT violence and discrimination was a major and under documented human rights violation.

Now with your Macho posturing you sound exactly like a West Indian homophobe with their associations of homosexuality as a deficiency of manliness with a lack of courage and physical weakness and equally as a form of mental weakness or illness.

You haven’t said the word ‘fag’ but your insults of wimpy, unmanly, retarded, psycho, pshychiatric medication dependent, cry baby scream it.

Fucking cut it out.

What is your problem anyway? Do you really have such a tiny dick (real or perceived) and such a poor sense of your own masculinity that you feel the need to verbally emasculate and try to bully someone who disagrees with you by threatening them with what you insist is your superior courage and machismo.

Your ridiculing of mental health issues (something that over a third of all men will experience) is a disgusting bully’s ploy not. It is not acceptable stop it.

And listen mate I have had my share of serious and debilitating ill health and I suffer from recurring PTSD from the trauma of horrors I experienced in war zones.

I am still 240 lbs of lean muscle I can still Bench Press over my body weight. I have a neck like a Hyena and am covered in thick body hair with 19/1/2 ” pipes.

My dick is bigger than most men’s I have encountered (about 10 % are bigger its an observation) and that is quite a few because I am one big 21st Century faggot who would be right in your face right now if you said any of that cissy boy bullying shit in my presence.

Only total jerks throw their weight around with men who they think are weaker, wimpier or girlier than they are, and such behaviour is one of the few things that is still likely to get me to knock such a jerk down a few literal pegs.

Wanna get your ass kicked by a furious faggot so you piss your pants? You will if you talk like that in public.

I wouldn’t fuck you though, you’d have to get a decent hair cut, clothes and improve your personal hygiene before I’d even look at you.

Discussion on Harry’s Place

Ex-Muslim’s Facebook group comes under attack

mettaculture • 9 days ago
Thank you for your reply. I do not quite understand your reply. If you are informing me of your understanding of there being a general criminal prohibition on threatening and violent and coercive behaviour already in the Law of England and Wales, then yes I would assume (a state of awareness) that you would know this. That was not my question however. I was being much more specific as my proposal for a draft Bill to outlaw the harassment of Apostates should suggest.

In case you were wondering whether I was aware of such general prohibitions then, at the risk of some immodesty, I can say yes I am. I am a qualified Barrister and have a specialist interest in legal history, Legal Theory and comparative Law especially Islamic Law (I am also an Anthropologist by training and an Epidemiologist that has worked in the area of Law, Disease Prevention and Human Rights).

As Sarka has pointed out having general prohibitions of a generic nature is not always considered the most effective way of targeting specific ‘mischiefs’ that the law seeks to prohibit or punish.

Just has there has always been a general prohibition on violence and coercion as you say, there was not (prior to the Crime and Disorder 1998) a statutory offence (and definition) of a religiously aggravated ‘hate crime’ component of otherwise generic criminal offences prohibiting and punishing violent and coercive behaviour towards individuals.

The law only allows for the courts to convict an accused for offences that they have actually committed that are clearly enough drawn so that evidence may be presented that if compelling enable the prosecution to prove to the Jury (or Judge if no Jury) ‘guilt beyond any reasonable doubt’.

As you will appreciate without a specific element of an offence specifying a mental element ( a guilty intention) and a physical element ( a guilty act) for ‘religiously aggravating’ any other offence (say assault) it was often difficult, or impossible, to show religiously motivated hate crime from, say a non religiously motivated, assault. There were somewhat subjective guidelines for Judges at sentencing to add to the punishment if they considered that it was a religiously motivated crime of violence.

This meant however that clearly religiously motivated crimes that were expressions of hatred towards faith members (often for no other reason than their religion) could not be adequately investigated, charged, prosecuted, proven and punished without the specific tools of specific Criminal Acts and the instruments aiding effective prosecutions that come with these tools.

Now I am quite convinced that there is a specific set of crimes (and aggravated crimes that otherwise may have a non religious motivation) that manifest religious hatred and bigotry that are utterly unacceptable in our society. I do not think that a vague criminal sanction against violence and coercion is a precise enough legal instrument to prohibit and punish a specific mischief, that of religious hatred. I would assume that you would agree with this.

So I cannot consider you answer very persuasive at all. In fact I consider it woefully inadequate that you maintain and assumption that the general law is quite sufficient, as it is without any modification, to deal with the persecution of apostates (from Islam or any other religion).

Now you recognise that a large minority of Muslims in this country (and a clear majority Worldwide) believe that Muslims who reject their faith should be killed. Now I appreciate your argument that no worldly punishment should be enacted upon Muslims who are apostates and this position has a considerable historical pedigree in islamic jurisprudence, with such a view being found even among some medieval Jurists.

However you know as do I, that this position is held by an almost vanishingly tiny percentage of scholars and that the vast majority of scholars of all orthodox schools of Islam have argued that the death penalty is the Islamicly correct punishment for someone who falls into regression, (ارتداد, irtidād or ridda) or a going back on or rejection in word or deed of Islamic belief.

You know as well as I do that Islam places a great stress on the need for Muslims to proslytise and convert non-Muslims (as does Christianity) but uniquely among major religions is aggressively coercive in its insistence that conversion away from Islam is prohibited.

Now this strikes me as a problem that is far greater in its ramifications than the percentage of people who are actually killed for apostasy in Islam and greater than the number of Muslims whose ability to freely think according to their conscience without fear of the consequences.

British laws and customs that underpin religious freedoms are driven by simple logic of fair play that underlies Equity. One cannot plead a right to deny a right and the argument for why anyone else should uphold religious freedom when someone demanding this right is not prepared to reciprocate is not a trivial one. In fact this basic golden thread of Equity lies at the heart of human rights law. You quite properly have no rights in law (technically you have no standing before the court if you come with ‘dirty hands’ to plead a right to deny a right you will be denied a hearing).

Put another way human rights jurisprudence in Europe (and even International Law) has its own radical prohibition against hypocrisy, which is defined as seeking laws of equal treatment to deny equal treatment.

Laws prohibiting religious conversion run contrary to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Now I also understand that there is a doctrinal issue of normative Islam here and far be it from me to demand that a Muslim spokesperson, should endanger themselves, by arguing that it is forbidden in Islam for apostates to be punished (this view has caused some scholars to be accused of apostasy).

What I am proposing is a very simple quid pro quo via support for legislation that can only be beneficial, not least in neutralising one of the biggest single Achilles Heels seen to affect Islam by ex and non Muslims.

I am well aware of the hostility towards man made Western legal instruments to protect apostates from harm among many traditionalist Muslim religious leaders and scholars.

Now I would like that the views of the other Al Banna (Gamal) held sway;

We believe in freedom of thought. It is the basis for all advancement. Nothing must stand in its way. The response to ideas that contradict the articles of faith must be through words, not through confrontation, terrorism or takfir (declaring someone a non-believer). There is no contradiction between complete freedom of thought and religion because religion is built on belief

There is no belief without conviction. This can only exist in an environment which allows liberal examination and pious scrutiny. The Holy Qur’an has nearly one hundred verses which lay down absolute freedom of faith and says that the decision is to be made by each individual (“There is no compulsion in religion”. Qur’an: II, 256).…

It is not however the point what I personally believe on this matter. I do not consider it is my role to engage with Islam in any way deemed acceptable or not to Muslims. I do believe I am entitled to negotiate in a frank and uninhibited way with any group that claims concessions and accommodations rights and privileges, from the British polity as the distribution of such social, economic, political and legal rights are part of our post enlightenment social contract settlement with liberal democracy.

I do not wish to involve the criminal law in carrying out of religious worship as normatively described by any state.

Your suggestion that the criminal law already covers the violent and coercive treatment of apostates and that it is enabled (compelled even) to act in such cases is a terrible hostage to fortune. Nothing in your understanding prevents the police tomorrow from complying with the law by marching in to a mosque and arresting someone who is reciting this fatwa as part of a discussion on apostasy;

This man [a convert to Christianity following marriage to a German woman] has committed apostasy; he must be given a chance to repent and if he does not then he must be killed according to Shariah.As far as his children are concerned, as long as they are children they are considered Muslim, but after they reach the age of puberty, then if they remain with Islam they are Muslim, but if they leave Islam and they do not repent they must be killed and Allah knows best.

Seal of Al-AzhrHead of the Fatawa Council of Al-Azhr.Abdullah al-Mishadd (عبد الله المشد‎)

23rd September 1978.

The law I propose is one that fits our laws, protects religious freedom, and dovetails perfectly well with the requirements for truce in exchange for peace and religious freedom.

The point is that even if many wish to hold that ‘Qur’an 4:89′ is the prosaic reference quoted in Sharia courts as justification for the execution of an Apostate it doesn’t matter as we don’t need to go there because, the following verse Qur’an 4:90 expands on this to state “Except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. If Allah had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then Allah Hath opened no way for you (to war against them)’.

In other words anyone leaving Islam in this society joins a community with whom there is a mutual truce (Dhar Al Amin) of peace and religious freedom and whose laws Muslims are bound to obey in exchange for this peace and freedom.

Simple really and it is where I started this by stating that an absolute refusal to countenance any harsh treatment of apostates is a simple lego-political contract or truce between the host society and those to whom it grants a covenant of security peace and freedom.

No real need to keep bringing religion into this is there? Well other than by way of a reminder to Muslims that this do no harm to those who doubt or wish to leave Islam is not only a requirement upon Muslims here but a mutually beneficial agreement that grants very real religious rights to all faiths. The payment for this is no kind of tax or surcharge just a requirement for moral and legal consistency is all.

What is there for you not to like about my proposed Apostasy Protection from Harassment Bill again?

mettaculture • 9 days ago
I am not suggesting that there is no room for ‘balance’ as it were. Anti-Muslim bigotry is unconscionable. You are aware however that I ceased using the term ‘Islamophobia’ other than in scare quotes many years ago. I think as a term it obscures more than it reveals; eliding racist behaviour towards brown skinned people with ignorance of an unknown religion, with opposition to religion with anti-Muslim Bigotry.

I feel that such a portmanteau word creaking under a port-manteau of concepts does more of a disservice to Muslims and paradoxically is as likely to hide genuine anti-Muslim bigotry as it is to cast a searchlight upon it.

We should always be alert to the way in which the linguistically deft of hand (users of ‘elaborated code’ to borrow from Basil Bernstein and Mary Douglas) can port whatever they want into carefully chosen discourse, while those who are more used to ‘restricted code’ find it difficult and are easier to ‘catch out’ with language crimes that may not be (though they may) revealing of deeper attitudes.

One can construct a ‘I am not against ordinary Muslims but it is their religious texts that is evil and brainwashes them’ type of discourse that can be labelled ‘Islamophobic’ or freedom to criticize religion discourse according to choice and yet the surface analysis of language use would tell us almost nothing of deeper motivations in such a case.

This is why I want specificity and extra textual ‘form’ as evidence in any case.

I looked at one speech by Tommy Robinson BTW the one where you jumped on his use of ‘English race’ (quickly changed to ‘society’).

Now I have to say that I also zoomed in on that one but I decided to reserve judgement, partly on a ‘restricted code’ historical linguistics basis.

In many European languages Race (Spanish Raza cognate with similar other Romance languages and Germanic Rasse) is still used in ways that we find hair turning today, not least it still refers to ‘breed or strain of dog or horse or sweet pea (Nazi Eugenics are alive and kicking in the dog show world).

In Latin America ‘Nuestra Raza Latina/ our Latin ‘race’ is used in the sense that Latinidad is used as the pc North American version of ‘shared Latin cultural forms’.

Race was once the ‘officer class’ way of describing human variety, culture and society in the English speaking world and the first Neanderthal skull was dismissed as belonging to ‘a micro-cephalic idiot or a member of the Dutch or Welsh race’.

Now Tommy Robinson who sometimes does struggle with his use of ‘elaborated code’ may have been stumbling over an embedded or restricted ‘code’ word ‘race’ inherited from an age and type who laughed at the name of the dog in ‘Dambusters’ or he may have just been rapidly dissembling for a particular audience. I reserve judgement on that matter but language policing as if there is a one to one relationship with bigoted attitudes is fraught with peril and very slippery wordsmiths for that matter too..

Anyway please don’t take my comments as an existential broadside against you. I do not doubt your motivations Sarah, on the contrary.

mettaculture • 9 days ago
Thank you I am looking at your site and I will consider the offer very seriously. Perhaps a discussion on whether a law ‘The Protection of Apostates: Freedom from Harassment and Persecution Act’ would be in order?

mettaculture • 9 days ago
Kolya this is what I mean and I posed it as a question to Mohammed Amin

Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, and to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

However this right is expressed in positive terms as a right one may enforce if a public authority denies an individual such a right. This is therefore a right a citizen has in respect of the state. What I was thinking of is framing this in a statute such as an amendment to the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (which introduced a statutory basis for religiously aggravated criminal offences) such as

Prevention of Freedom of Thought Conscience and Religion, Protection of Apostates from Harassment Act 2014

Section 1

i) It is an offence to seek to prevent a person from the free excercise of their freedom of religion, conscience or thought, through the application of threats, intimidation or force so as to deny them the right to excercise this freedom to question, challenge or change their religious belief or freedom of conscience and thought.

ii) It is an offence to seek through the application of threats, intimidation and force prevent an individual from manifesting their freedom of religion, conscience and thought, alone or in the company of others, in public or private, and to manifest their religion, conscience or thought, in worship, teaching, practice, observance and free discourse.

ii) It is an offence for any individual to threaten, harass, alarm or distress a former believer or follower of any particular communal expression of religion, conscience or belief with
a) the intention of preventing their free excercise of the right to question, challenge or change their previous religion, conscience or belief or
b) to keep them through the excercise of threats, harassment, or any other pressure whether financial or emotional as members of a community of religious or other believers against their will.

iv) an individual excercising this freedom of religion, conscience and thought is free to entertain, heterodox, heretical or frankly ludicrous notions of a religious or just plain whacky nature.

alright I accept that section iv) is not very legally watertight and is itself a bit silly but I am sure you understand what I mean.

To repeat my question. Given that we have rights of freedom of religion, thought and expression, which you accept that 31% of British muslims are rather violently opposed to, don’t you think a specific law laying down what is forbidden in this regard might be helpful?

Would such a law, as I argue, make it clearer to those are rather aggressively inclined to enforcing their view of their religious requirements, that a) such a response is forbidden under our laws and that
b) it is forbidden by precisely the same laws that grant them security and religious freedom?

NB I am very clear that this law is not discriminatory in nature. It does not target any particular religion but all people who would seek to impose a their view of a religious imperative at the expense of allowing others to excercise their religious freedom.

I am seeking to turn a positive right into a negative prohibition only because there is still a problem for freedom of thought and of religion in this country, at least in how far some are prepared to allow others freedom.

Also note my proposal would equally criminalise attacks on the freedom of worship and places of worship as it would criminalise the freedom to have none.

I consider that one of the ‘memetic closures’ on the pathway from normative Islam to violent Jihad is the easy abii challenge and threaten those who question any aspect of Islam as Murtad/hypocrites/apostates. The accusation of being about to become a non Muslim is a very serious and threatening one. In the blog post b the Leeds ISoc retweeted here is a perfect example. ‘You are slipping into dangerous error my friend’ must be one of the most terrifying of threats even to an Islamist.

Yet we have a real situation now where thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Muslims feel constrained (threatened even) from criticising or even mildly questioning aspects of the way their faith is presented to them.

It seems to me that a Muslim should be free to argue ‘there is no compulsion in religion’ to its logical conclusion thus allowing for the re-birth of islamic humanism.

As well we clearly need to do more to afford the degree of protection to ex Muslims that we grant to ex Christians or ex Moonies or ex Scientologists.

mettaculture • 9 days ago
No the Human Rights Act deriving from The European Convention on Human Rights is a quasi constitutional code that acts more like a bill of positive rights. It is only enforceable against an emanation of the state (this includes schools, prisons, courts etc) not between private individuals.

For instance it is unlawful for a government to prevent freedom of expression. So the gagging of a Newspaper could be found to be in contravention of article 10. However there is no criminal offence that specifically makes it unlawful for one individual to prevent another from freely expressing themselves, Obviously actually applying a cloth gag to someone would be a criminal offence of assault but not a prevention of free expression offence.

The criminal law means that individuals are able to demand that the state, the police and the courts, move to act against crimes committed against them.

I am proposing a specific law that prohiibs certain kinds of threatening and violent coercion against people who are expressing their freedom of conscience by questioning, challenging, changing their mind or even choosing to leave a faith any faith either for another faith or for none.

mettaculture • 10 days ago
I certainly approve of your formulation that God is big enough to fight his own battles and that there is something rather contradictory and insecure (if not a trifle blasphemous) in those who argue that Islam is the way of life required by God yet somehow requiring human enforcement for protection. I can see the appeal of this argument for a moderate believer. However we also need laws for the intemperate and immoderate who will act aggressively against others (whether they claim religious motivation or none). Tell me would you support a law prohibiting the persecution of apostates?

In fact we have this right already expressed as a freedom as article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (and thus of the Human Rights Act);

Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, and to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

However this right is expressed in positive terms as a right one may enforce if a public authority denies an individual such a right. This is therefore a right a citizen has in respect of the state. What I was thinking of is framing this in a statute such as an amendment to the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (which introduced a statutory basis for religiously aggravated criminal offences) such as

Prevention of Freedom of Thought Conscience and Religion, Protection of Apostates from Harassment Act 2014

Section 1

i) It is an offence to seek to prevent a person from the free excercise of their freedom of religion, conscience or thought, through the application of threats, intimidation or force so as to deny them the right to excercise this freedom to question, challenge or change their religious belief or freedom of conscience and thought.

ii) It is an offence to seek through the application of threats, intimidation and force prevent an individual from manifesting their freedom of religion, conscience and thought, alone or in the company of others, in public or private, and to manifest their religion, conscience or thought, in worship, teaching, practice, observance and free discourse.

ii) It is an offence for any individual to threaten, harass, alarm or distress a former believer or follower of any particular communal expression of religion, conscience or belief with
a) the intention of preventing their free excercise of the right to question, challenge or change their previous religion, conscience or belief or
b) to keep them through the excercise of threats, harassment, or any other pressure whether financial or emotional as members of a community of religious or other believers against their will.

iv) an individual excercising this freedom of religion, conscience and thought is free to entertain, heterodox, heretical or frankly ludicrous notions of a religious or just plain whacky nature.

alright I accept that section iv) is not very legally watertight and is itself a bit silly but I am sure you understand what I mean.

To repeat my question. Given that we have rights of freedom of religion, thought and expression, which you accept that 31% of British muslims are rather violently opposed to, don’t you think a specific law laying down what is forbidden in this regard might be helpful?

Would such a law, as I argue, make it clearer to those are rather aggressively inclined to enforcing their view of their religious requirements, that a) such a response is forbidden under our laws and that
b) it is forbidden by precisely the same laws that grant them security and religious freedom?

NB I am very clear that this law is not discriminatory in nature. It does not target any particular religion but all people who would seek to impose a their view of a religious imperative at the expense of allowing others to excercise their religious freedom.

I am seeking to turn a positive right into a negative prohibition only because there is still a problem for freedom of thought and of religion in this country, at least in how far some are prepared to allow others freedom.

Also note my proposal would equally criminalise attacks on the freedom of worship and places of worship as it would criminalise the freedom to have none.

mettaculture • 10 days ago

No I do not think that she is personally soft on Islamic extremism. I do think the formulation ‘extremists on both sides’ ‘Islamist extremists vs the EDL’ etc is fairly characteristic of her and it is something that I know drives Sarka to polite distraction. This is not because it is wrong to oppose anti-Muslim bigotry but because there really is an impression of that one can only oppose Islamist extremism while incanting the evils of anti-Muslim bigotry a perception of an equivalence or at least a down grading of serious differences of degree of threat or harm is inevitably conveyed.

I mean if there were mutliple plots uncovered among members of the EDL to kidnap and behead Anjem Choudry and his followers, and fortunately there are not, then perhaps we could begin to ‘talk of extremists on both sides’ in comparable terms.

You see I have remained in agonized silence over the horrors of Woolwich because I really wanted to observe rather than participate in commentary on a crime I found so gut-churningly horrendous. I have witnessed comparable brutal sectarian murders and remained scarred for life with PTSD as I believe that many of the people who witnessed this barbarous act will. The first thing I noticed is that there was no attempt by the authorities to counsel or support those who witnessed such horror, rather there was a morbid (and frankly irresponsible PTSD promoting) media sampling of testimony along with a simultaneous careful censoring of reports and social commentary to minimise ‘anti-Muslim’ bigotry. An unprecedented and quite extraordinary policing of non violent speech under the Communications Act 2003 (criminalizing offensive indecent or annoying speech that may cause anxiety) resulted along with stern warnings by Police Officers that no anti-religious comments would be tolerated against a ‘section of our community’. This can only have grossly backfired.

You know the vast majority of British people did not hold all Muslims to blame and despite Sarah’s support for the ‘Tell Mama’ Narrative there were far fewer incidents of an anti-Muslim nature than following 7/7. On the other hand most British people including most British and resident Muslims do realise that there is a problem within Islam. Maybe people don’t know exactly where that problem lies but they know that there is something in the creed that says something that is not always just Kumbaya and lets hugs puppies.

Simply put there is an increased awareness now that just as most Muslims do not fall zombie like under the evil spell of the shadowy dark Imams of death that inhabit every Mosque there are some dark Imams of death that gather a following and they do so by telling a story of regular Islam in such a way that it can lead British born people to chop other British peoples faces to an unrecognisable bloody pulp.

Now for me the way to confront this is not to simply exhort people to not be ignorant about Islam and think that all Muslims believe this or that, while simultaneously avoiding what it is that normative Islam asks of its adherents because somehow that gives a very strong impression (often with justification) that those who would tell us that x, y or z is a perversion of Islam or only believed by extremist Islamists, either does not know what they are talking about, is unwilling to look too closely themselves because they fear it may be unpalatable, or at the very least is really so personally utterly secularised that they are actually totally uncomprehending of people whose lives are determined by normative religious orthopraxy (and what the consequences of this must be).

To me a strident concern for complete religious tolerance that seems so insouciantly undemanding and un-enquiring of the inevitable intolerances generated by any religion that utterly refuses to tolerate any supra religious legal authority, seems not only unconvincingly patronising but doomed to fail.

A secular quasi-religious determination that everyone should be equally free to live according to religiously incommensurable theopraxes, seems to be to be a betrayal of the enlightenment and the painfully evolved social and political solutions to centuries of religious warfare that I believe is the real source and foundation of the enlightenment.

Just as ignorance of the law is no excuse I might wish to claim that ignorance of the requirements of enlightenment thought is no excuse to ignore its diktats either.

Now I know you hold a strong interest in the contribution of Judeo-Christian thought to the enlightenment and to scientific rationality and I think you have something there.

Part of what you seek is to be found in the epistemological categories of religion in renaissance Europe but most assuredly in heresy. Giordano Bruno who was burned at the stake by the Roman Inquisition (he narrowly escaped a similar fate at the hands of Geneva’s Calvinists and Prague’s Lutherans) for his cosmological theories including the idea of a Universe of stars with planets full of intelligent beings circling them, was certainly a Dominican Friar, but he was also a pantheist who dabbled in Arab astrology Neo-Platonism and Hermeticism.

I would argue that the other strand you seek for a judeo-christian contribution to later rationalist and enlightenment thought is quite simply Christian (and Jewish) renaissance humanism the idea that it is God’s will that human beings should be able to live life to the fullness of their human potential. Paradoxically it is the reformation that nearly snuffed out this humanist development that saw society as being constructed in God’s image to set humans free. The protestants of the reformation were deeply anti-humanist Calvin and Luther were totalitarian human potential destroyers.

This humanism later emerged in the deism of the Scottish French and American enlightenment and led to our very ideas of human dignity and human rights.

It is not an Islamic reformation we need Salafism is Islam’s Calvinist reformation now in its second century. What Islam needs is simply the rediscovery of islamic humanism a humanism that sets humans free from God’s supposed law so that they may live fully to their potential according to God’s grace.

As an agnostic and rationalist I have entered deliberately into the way of religious thinking in order to understand precisely what it is that people who wish to live in the way of their faith really want.

What they want quite simply cannot be achieved in a religiously pluralist society other than through a highly pillarised communalised and highly unequal society. Therefore it is necessary that society imposes a secular framework that ecapsulates and enwraps religious freedoms with first ‘do no harm to other faiths and their followers’ requirement.

This must de-limit total religious freedom if that freedom insists upon a ‘right’ to heavy doctrinal proselytism to ‘convert in’ along with a right to persecute or kill those who ‘convert out’.

There is no nice way of putting this debate in a way that does not offend many Muslims unfortunately. I am sorry for this but it is not me who created these unacceptable apostasy human rights abuses on the grounds of religious conviction.

As I say a law against the persecution of doubters, out-converters, apostates, heretics and atheists may seem terribly anachronistic but it it may be necessary to codify a basic freedom for the avoidance of any possible doubt as to what may be granted along with religious freedoms.

If this is not sufficient I would then consider supplementary legislation against coercive religious proselytism.

This is not enitrely unprecedented either the Uk had a long standing ban on the entrance of leading ‘Moonies’ including the founder until it was lifted in 1995 when the reverend Sung Yung Moon was no longer considered to present a threat of coercive conversion towards young people.

mettaculture • 10 days ago

I don’t really comment here any longer, for various reasons. I support, still, the work HP does but I cannot support its comments policy which in my belief is largely responsible for the descent of the BTL commentary into a red button hate fest. A political blog must have a forum for debate that is preserved otherwise it is a propaganda site with an ephemeral commentary that will reflect the contempt with which it is treated. Why Sarka still has the patience for reasoned argument when her treasures of commentary are wiped out without thanks after 7 days is beyond me.

I have remained during the provocations of Woolwich but Sarah AB.. you must stop this endless floppy moral equivalency of ‘hate and extremism on ‘both sides’ stuff’. I know you mean well but you do not do well. The ‘both sides’ response of Jihadism and ‘Islamophobia’/EDL when Lee Rigby a man who was executed/assassinated (not merely killed as for the BBC and Independent and Guardian) by followers of a violent revolutionary Islamist ideology in such a brutal fashion that he had to be identified by his dental records.

I know that there are anti-Muslim bigots but a lack of specificity and, frankly, simple honesty when dealing with the central problems of Islamism has put you on the problem side of ‘multiculturalism and its discontents’ not on the side of how to find a solution to preserve a reasonably culturally pluralist, reasonably egalitarian society, where citizens are equal before the law in the face of the gravest threat to our tolerant society.

I really do not think that you or any of your ‘extremists on both sides’ fellow travelers realise the Rubicon has been crossed and we are now on an inexorable slide towards a future intolerance where a chauvinist nationalist socially authoritarian polity is the least worst outcome that can be hoped for.

I have paid no attention to the EDL because I do not like where they are coming from, but I can see their growth and the growth of UKIP as a sign of the times a nexus of economic, social and political forces in which a pretense a refusal to identify the centripetal forces, unleashed by ignoring the malignancy that is Islamism plays its part.

Now I have to say that for the most part following Woolwich the interlocutors for the Muslim community, (unlike their non Muslim apologists) have been exemplary in their realisation of the gravity of the problem. While the usual suspects have taken the opportunity to turn the horror of a broad daylight execution in our streets as a cautionary tale of the perils of a natural backlash to Islamophobia, most Muslim commenters seem to have been genuinely shaken by the incident to begin to address some major problems of mutual coexistence that Islam more generally must face, if not alone, then largely from within in coming to terms with Western society.

Now take the central issue of this post APOSTASY AND ISLAM.

It is not appropriate to even begin to appear to minimise the gravity of this issue by throwing in a reference to anti-Muslim bigotry because there is no commensurability here.

No other major religion holds such a normative view (all four madhab or schools of Sunni Jurisprudence and the two schools of Shia Jurists) that the penalty for a person leaving their faith MUST BE DEATH.

Now we have a major problem here, at least those who believe in religious freedom, in a non partial and non hypocritical way, do. We have a religion, Islam whose adherents, who wish to be able to pursue their religion with freedom in our society, which includes BTW a religious requirement for proselytism, who normatively at least, worldwide among the Umma, require the death penalty for those who leave Islam.

Now this simply will not do, but to my knowledge no one has ever been arrested for calling for the death of an apostate from Islam (presumably such a call is not considered an incitement to violent crime but an empty religious cliche).

Now I must congratulate Mohammed Amin for his robust refusal to countenance this requirement of his faith and he sees hope in the fact that apparently 69% of British Muslims agree with him.

I still see the fact that 31% of British Muslims who hold traditionalist views on apostasy as problematic but unsurprising if we consider world Muslim attitudes.

Support for sharia as the official law of the land also is widespread among Muslims in the Middle East-North Africa region – especially in Iraq (91%) and the Palestinian territories (89%)….

Compared with attitudes toward applying sharia in the domestic or criminal spheres, Muslims in the countries surveyed are significantly less supportive of the death penalty for converts.19Nevertheless, in six of the 20 countries where there are adequate samples for analysis, at least half of those who favor making Islamic law the official law also support executing apostates.

Taking the life of those who abandon Islam is most widely supported in Egypt (86%) and Jordan (82%). Roughly two-thirds who want sharia to be the law of the land also back this penalty in the Palestinian territories (66%). In the other countries surveyed in the Middle East-North Africa region, fewer than half take this view.

In the South Asian countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, strong majorities of those who favor making Islamic law the official law of the land also approve of executing apostates (79% and 76%, respectively). However, in Bangladesh far fewer (44%) share this view.

A majority of Malaysian Muslims (62%) who want to see sharia as their country’s official law also support taking the lives of those who convert to other faiths.…

Now here I am only referring to the desire for Shariah as it applies to the taking of the life for those who leave Islam, I am not referring to the far higher figures for those who support the stoning of adulterers or the amputations for theft for example.

However I am talking about normative Islam not Islamism or Jihadism a subject you seek to prohibit from scrutiny with your veil of anti- Islamophobic obscurantism.

Again I am grateful that people like Mohammed Amin will talk about such things and it is with such people that I would like to develop such a dialogue. Far be it from me to argue for him theologically, as it were, but he does face a problem, namely how can he argue why the lives of apostates should not be taken when he is arguing up hill so to speak against the force of Juridical commentary on this matter.

Now Tariq Rammadan, has called for a moratorium on such punishments, which seems to me to eternally dodge the uncomfortably unalterable. I would suggest there is a solution and it comes in the form of a relationship between what our society and law must demand and in response the ‘covenant’ binding Muslims living in our society that can be delivered to the Muslim community in the form of a series of fatwa from prominent Jurists.

Muslims live in the West under the covenant of Dhar al Amin, the world of truce as it were. In exchange for being able to follow their faith freely Muslims are compelled to obey the laws of the land. Even Anjem Choudry gives lip service to this covenant, its just that he thinks we are too permissive to demand much of it.

Well we must demand more, our laws and politicians that is. We must demand that our offer of religious freedom requires that there can be no utterance of a call for the death of apostates. We must, if necessary pass a specific law forbidding the Islamic persecution of apostates, including calls for violence against those who exercise the freedoms of conscience, thought and religion that we protect by our laws. This law would not be discriminatory because no other religion makes such unlawful calls for violence and it only seems to be necessary and proportionate, now, to deal with a specific problem.

The existence of a specific law against the persecution of apostates should actually make it easier for the likes of Mohammed Amin to argue why such compliance becomes a condition of abiding with the laws of the land rather than an unacceptable and heretical Bid’ah or ‘innovation’.

You see Sarah AB there is a need for specificity sometimes when dealing with specific problems. Being so determinedly even handed as you are can be an impediment when the hands in play are not carrying an equality of arms.

Ex Muslims and those who simply seek to question their consciences in freedom cannot be adequately protected by shielding normative Islam from inquiry as if only Islamism is an extremism that can be critiqued while insisting that those who criticise Islam qua Islam must be, well if not racists, then their confused running mates.

I held a debate today with a Lebanese Shia and a Sunni who were trying to keep their tempers in check by finding common ground. The only common ground they could agree on was that Islam was a way of life not just a religion but that it was mandated by God’s Law not Man’s (which was wrong and against the will of God). Their solution was to declare that only God knew for sure what he intended so it was best that they left it to him and did not fight.

Pleased as I was that they sought peace rather than conflict, it was not a view I could accept as one that could be allowed to hold sway in our society. Our laws are human made things, laws made by humans, for humans and to bind humans. If we allow the laws of humans to weaken before those who will only obey what they believe to be God’s law we lose not only Religious freedom but the freedom of thought, conscience and expression itself and everything is lost.

The persecution of apostasy is a violation of the freedom of religion and conscience is a violent red line that cannot be crossed nor can it be diluted to pink by mixing it with a wholly incomparable ‘offence’ of being rude to a religion or insulting its adherents.

Mettaculture – Meurig Iestyn Horton – Harry’s Place – About

Pleased to see a great idea come to blog.  

My blogging name is mettaculture my actual name is Meurig Horton. I
post almost exclusively at Harry's Place mostly I snipe from the
comments boxes but do occaisional guest posts.

I think I am held in pretty good regard from the team especially
David T who I have spoken to in person several times (the last being
my stalking of Maqbool Javaid at the bar Conference and my
intervention with the bar Council to inform them exactly who he was).

My posts are predominantly about Islamism, cultural pluralism,
multiculturalism, medicine and law.

originally I am a medical anthropologist and Epidemiologist.  I
worked for a number of years for several UN agencies especially WHO.

I came into contact with resergent Islamism in the late 80s and early
90s and saw how they systematically destroyed all the progressive
social policy based on intellectual enquiry and reason that i
believed in (their attacks upon womens reproductive rights in
Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt (who had previously had good programmes
were blatant).

Many of the progressive intelectuals that I worked with in Muslim
countries were under attack.

I personally survived the first known Al-Qaeda bombing in Aden Yemen
December 1992 (I was a target but my life was saved by an 'iraqi
heating engineer').

When I returned to England in 1998 I was astonished. I saw signs of
islamist activism everywhere but any attempt to mention this was met
with embarassed silence or accusations of racism.

(I have spent my adult life in places where I was often the only
white person among decolonised people who would have told me in no
uncertain terms if they thought I was racist).

I retrained as a barrister and entered a 'human rights set' who
are now one of the most hypocritical self serving defenders of
Terrorists (they hired a colleague of gareth Peirce to get the new

I see that islamists have heavily penetrated the legal
establishment and I am trying to unravel the process of the
incorporation of Sharia law and its acceptance and promotion by
prominent legal figures.

So far I have found that the FCO has been involved with the bar
council with 'engagement' with Syria over 'human rights' ie
providing seminars on International law and how to indict nations.
In exchange it was argued (this was 2004) that we could learn so
much about sharia from and how to introduce it as muslim domestic
law in England.

i went to the House of Lords launch of the one law for all'
campaign to oppose Sharia' .

I had announced at last years bar Conference, rashly, that
I would form a secular lawyers society.

Fortunately other people have had the same idea at the same
time and a group is now formed housed in the national
Secular Society.

Anyway without going on and on I am saying that i would be
happy to contribute to your blog when and if you think I
might have something to say.

You may ask David T for a reference regarding me and whether
I am an internet troll or loon.

Congratulations again on an important initiative, I look
forward to reading and supporting your work.

Meurig Iestyn Horton