Category Archives: News Media

The Brandian Revolution

Oh hi there! It’s been a hwee hwhile. The last thing I wrote a little over a month ago was lending relative praise to British politics when compared to US politics as they were in the midst of the shut-down crisis, which was itself comprised of so many farcical elements that I haven’t the energy to go through them again now. It turns out this was a little ironic, as within days, if not hours, I descended into a murk of cynicism regarding all forms of politics everywhere, at all points in time, past, present and future. Eloquently I say, I stopped giving a toss.

Thanks to Twitter I even have a record of how exactly this happened, my various tweets prior to this sophisticated number, “Temporarily lost all interest in the world, politics and society. Total cynicism attack. Socialists, liberals, conservatives… #suckmyballs,” telling me that it was the Tory party conference wot did it. Or at least, the last of several apathy inducing conferences that served to me precisely the opposite effect of being politically energised. Add a dash of Richard Dawkins taking another pathetic jab at religion completely devoid of intellectual value and the looming final of the Great British Bake Off, and one can see why I might have switched off from matters of import.

There’s just too much diatribe sometimes, whether it’s fronted by big dick intellectuals, warriors for justice, cold and robotic government suits or populist ranters, and that’s hardly not the case at present. Strange that I’d wade back in now when a month ago I was even getting completely sick and tired of my own cognitive involvement in whatever bollocks it was, Miliband vs Cameron vs the energy sector vs the people or Greenwald and the Guardian vs… Christ, everything it seemed at certain points. As a side note, and although I do profoundly care about security services acting wildly beyond the brief, the less I see of Greenwald’s endlessly and eminently affronted person, the better.

So along comes Russell Brand, encapsulating precisely the reason I think I shut down in the first place, with another impossibly unanswerable dilemma for us all to chew on. Nothing so well contained as the Big Six making us choke on our winter porridge as we digest our energy bills, or the issue of the NSA or GCHQ or whatever, but actually the dilemma of… everything. It’s all crap apparently, the whole system and all of its enablers, and we ‘the people’ are in dire need of a wake up call to arms to turn it all on its head in, I kid you not, a “utopian revolution”.

I’m not going to go off on one against this bewildering comedic figure and all of his loquacious eloquence, that’s just kind of tired and Mr. Robert Webb and a thousand other commentators already had a fairly well-rounded crack at criticising most of Brand’s semi-constructions of politico-socio-economic dissatisfaction in his interview with Jeremy Paxman. I won’t even comment much on the “live chat” that Brand had with The Huffington Post’s Mehdi Hasan last week or his various articles penned lately, as it was all essentially more of the same thing, eliciting more of the same kind of varyingly disapproving or admiring sentiment.

What makes me grind my teeth more than any commercially golden posturing (if you choose to see it that way, the Brand brand is growing increasingly lucrative with so much attention) is the broader complaint of the global movement that at least here in the UK has temporarily and slightly unwittingly anointed Brand as its guru. Not just the Anonymous hactivists with their trite Guy Fawkes mask, (references to V for Vendetta aside, the history behind Fawkes and his movement speaks very little to the desires of these people today, Papist Catholic hegemony I’m sure not being the intended destination), but also Occupy and the entire anti-establishment family.

It’s not that I don’t sympathise to some small degree, my own aforementioned disillusionment being hypocritical otherwise, it’s just that the conclusions these folk reach and their employed means of promoting these conclusions are just so… f@cking immature! Just because the system isn’t currently working for them, or us, or indeed many, many people, is the practical response really to want the whole thing to come tumbling down? Really? Are you going to rebuild it? With your masks and twinkling fingers of democracy? Oh that’s nice of you, because there for a second I thought you were all full of shit and couldn’t provide the change you seek even if you were endowed with the power to do so. Why? Because there isn’t a fully fledged concept among you to speak of, beyond your points of criticism, rampant as they are.

To quote a representative of the Million Mask March, regarding the weekend’s slew of anti-establishment demonstrations across the globe, “It was a march against many things; political corruption, capitalism, the global dominance of the financial services industry, austerity, the democratic deficit in people’s lives, the assault on the welfare state, soaring bills and falling wages.” Flipping hell… while in this fully loaded statement are the fractured pieces of the narrative that the majority of people in the world aren’t adequately reaping the benefits of global systems, they, the protesters, heinously fail in forcing these elements to coalesce around a single actionable goal.

Silly me, why should it when you can just launch a few fireworks at Buckingham Palace, hug Russell Brand and go home feeling like you were a part of something. You were a part of nothing, I’m afraid, you are not organised enough, you are not disciplined enough, not concise enough and no where near representative enough of the sort of changes that most people would be happy with, which are largely simple and achievable. Living with some degree of comfort, as far removed as possible from the economic desperation that many today feel. Forget sea-changes, revolution or uprisings, most of us aren’t so contrived as to call for anything that grand.

The most important aspect, however, of the miserable failure that is or will be this movement, is the fact that its constituents have situated themselves squarely outside of, and in opposition to, any recognisable manifestation of the establishment they want to change. Beating on the windows or doors as loudly or as violently as you care to won’t change the fact that you’re out in the cold while the grown-ups are inside making all the decisions. This may indeed appear to be a symptom of exactly the problems you are railing against, but in truth the only way to have a reasonable impact on the conversation is to be a legitimate part of the conversation. That is, short of breaking down the doors and causing the sort of drama that no-one should ever wish for (see the details of… every genuine revolution that ever was).

Mr Smith went to Washington and stayed there, he didn’t rock up, shit on the doorstep and run off to high-five his mates, or start taking heads for that matter. While it would clearly be delusional to hope that in real life one would ultimately claim victory with something akin to Paine’s climactic mea culpa, the point stands that we already have this wonderful mechanism for change called elected government that is only further neutered by calls to reject the system, (allowing the corruptible, invested and entitled to dominate affairs) instead of becoming involved and enriching it and being a part of the change you want to see.

Don’t tell me politics are just an inaccessible bastion of hereditary elites, as despite whatever lingering strain of that we still see, politics are in fact just about open enough to those who are passionate and committed to them. It’s defeatist to claim otherwise, a guaranteed lease of life for this status quo that you find so terrible. Simon Jenkins threw down the gauntlet to Brand. Serious about your own message? Why, there’s an upcoming race for Mayor of London, what a perfect opportunity to enter the system in a substantive fashion. But I doubt it will be seized upon. When offered the chance to support his critique with some solutions, Brand has simply said, “It’s not my job.”

Whose is it then? The people he wants chucked out of the doors of Westminster and onto the streets… what’s wrong with this picture? It seems to me that a surge of fervour for the current system, as it should be, would take us further towards desirable change. Active democratic participation is actually what makes politicians serve you. Younger voters get a raw deal because they don’t vote and political jobs aren’t threatened by ignoring their interests. How on earth can we expect the government we want if we’ve only just in 2010 crept back up to 65% eligible turnout after 2001’s pitiful 59%, and are already hearing calls to reject voting altogether?

The Liberal Democrats provide the best case I can think of for putting the shaft up that argument, having inspired some of the spike back to a lukewarm turnout and then appearing to consummately betray or fail their base with anything from tuition fees to social welfare reforms and much more. But then being on the verge of a hung parliament that forced the current coalition dynamic and all this unsavoury compromise is itself a symptom of democratic laziness and indecisiveness. We’re waiting for the political class to serve us up with something fresh, getting all worked up in a huff for not getting it, when all the while that something has to come from us.

This is a democracy, the political class is us, you, me and everyone who resides on the Isles. The sooner we remind ourselves of that fact and inject some enthusiasm back into the system, rather than embracing anything so Brandian* as saying, “Bugger it all,” the better. As disenfranchised as I felt this past month, which is a perfectly acceptable thing to feel from time to time (we can’t all have one eye on the state of affairs all the time), it is beyond important that we occasionally renew in ourselves at least some sense of constructive involvement in our political process and never reject it wholesale.

Also ironically then, I could perhaps thank Brand for providing what to me are some heavily objectionable opinions and for forcing me back to the keyboard. At least one of his stated goals in all of this was to get people thinking and talking, which I daresay he has achieved to an impressive degree. I just hope people are thinking practically and independently enough not to prescribe to the other specific points of his strain of wisdom, or rather the strain of wisdom that is prevailing among certain circles.

And by the way, if you didn’t hear much about the Million Mask March, it’s probably just the corporate media conspiracy keeping it all under wraps, but don’t worry. The established media is to be the next target of ire for these masked crusaders, further proving they have less focus than an addled puppy that can’t choose between eating dinner and licking its own balls. I would say to them that the established media probably lost interest in their ilk back in 2011 when the best they could elicit from the grimy hippies of Zuccotti Park were statements of lesser cogency or coherence than the aforementioned addled puppy could provide.

Methinks the protester doth protest too much. Or too painfully ineffectually. Right then, enough. Fin.

*Brandian, phrase coined courtesy of Suzanne Moore of The Guardian, who shall be paraphrased to provide the definition of, “endlessly see-sawing between braggadocio and yoga-ed up humility”

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Another News Crisis

I think I have to move off Syria for a brief spell, no amount of my raging against the geopolitical machine is going change a single thing. To the home front perhaps? No… party convention season is little more than high times for pure banality and political delusion, as we can currently witness in the Lib Dem conference and surely will for the other players to follow. One keen observer, who I forgot to note the name of, recognised that these affairs have moved away from grass roots energising and devolved more into political class backslapping sessions with a dash of lobbying thrown in for good measure.

Rame. I might even have talked about the terrifying shooting incident at a Washington DC naval yard yesterday, but for the implicit futility in doing so for any subsequent event to Sandy Hook last December. If that tragedy couldn’t change the tide of public or legislative opinion on having gun controls possessed of an element of sanity, what could? The NRA publicity machine was probably already preparing its diabolical sophisms before anyone even knew exactly what was happening. And I can’t even think about American right now without a sense of shame descending on my perception of Western dignity after the outrage of Obama’s deal with Russia over Syria.

Evidently I’m otherwise just floundering in the sea of middling current affairs issues, whether it be the propriety of Muslim veils in UK courtrooms and broader society, or the disconcerting clusterf@ck over the release of GTA5, including one life-imitates-art violent mugging of a proud new owner of the game. Dribs and drabs really. Wasn’t the Costa Concordia salvage quite the feat of engineering? If there’s one worthwhile reflection I had for this article it would be that the mainstream media appear to share in this occasional sense of narrative fatigue. All eyes and ears that were on Syria are now resting or looking for things of lesser import to alleviate the strain.

Oh, how I pray for an alien invasion, or some other event of such magnitude that all matters of existentialism and morality and gravity are called into play. But wait a minute… I just remembered something. I have a second blog. If I can scrape something out on an Edinburgh University’s student association decision to ban a pop tune because it struck some as a bit too “rapey” then the world is my scrutable oyster. Next on TranquilSigh, the mystery of the Nazi cat! Or maybe something slightly less ridiculous. The Huffington Post does rather continue to set the mark for confusing news with social media trollop.

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Monarchy Edges Closer to the End

Upon reading about today’s 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation and the corresponding ceremony, it occurred that, despite all the monarchic pomp and ceremony, the average republican might be quite pleased with the state of affairs. This might sound strange after a flood of grand events in the past decade, jubilees and weddings, not to mention the press fanfare and public rapture over the activities and developments of the royal family. But the less sanguine and more forward thinking of those who would be happier with an entirely ‘royal free’ UK, are probably content just letting the clock run down.

I don’t want to go through a history lesson, anyone with half a sense of the nation’s past will understand the general downwards trajectory of the power and political influence of the monarchy since even before the Civil War. Absolute monarchy is a thing of the dim and distant past, and most of the intrinsic authority that remained, through cultural deference to the institution and aristocratically informed politics, has waned. Today, the technical definition of our political system is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy, but that last aspect is a formality, short of being nominal. Being cynical you could call it clinging to a lost empire, or less so, a nod of respect to tradition and a dash of pride.

The reporting of the Diamond Jubilee was, as you no doubt remember, a vast and detailed enterprise, with every aspect of the event, and many of the historically preceding events, given great attention. Looking back only so far, we saw that occasions centred around the British royalty were once of a magnitude that you could fairly call them bloated obscenities, especially in contrast to the greater social economic divisions of the times. As expensive as that rain-soaked day was last year, in terms of a normal person, and as much of an outpouring of appreciation as there was for the stoic and enduring Queen Elizabeth II, it was a shade of the past.

A past that will continue to slip away from contemporary reality with every new generation that assumes the crown. It’s not something I relish in any particular sense, and will admit to getting a sort of patriotic vibe in recognition of the monarchy’s meaning to most of the nation and its prosperous history, but I’m no monarchist. When the sad day comes when the Queen passes, with her will go one of the last tangible connections to when the monarchy had a truly substantial meaning to the public, beyond social intrigue, the Second World War. Prince Charles, despite his perfectly legitimate and worthwhile activism in a variety of progressive areas, doesn’t carry the same sense of affection.

That would perhaps be the best word to describe the greater public feeling towards the British Royal Family – affectionate. The prominence of royalty in British society hinges on the degree of this sentiment towards this tiny elite, and while there’s no overt sense of dislike towards the Prince that I’m aware of, I would think that his time as King will be a comparable dearth of celebration and recognition on the scale that has greeted his mother. That’s not meant to be a slight against the man, just the way things go. It was the Diamond Jubilee that sowed the idea and today’s Coronation events that brought it to life. The UK and royalty are essentially going through their last hurrahs.

All of the princely public engagement and princeling image management, I suspect is simply a means to see the process out gracefully. I’ll be fascinated to see how the royals are gradually disengaged from the political formalities, as surely they must be, as the thought of King William opening parliament and delivering annual policy overviews seems absurd, farcically unnecessary. If I’m 50 years old and they are more than a semi-relevant social elite with benevolent or charitable pursuits as befitting their former status, I’ll be surprised. So republicans, relax. Slowly but surely, the whole thing will be disassembled. Civil List and all.

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Horror in Woolwich

Shocking news out of Woolwich, south London, as horrified observers witness the death of a young man at the hands of two machete-wielding psychopaths. Little is known so far other than that the victim appeared to have been wearing a Help for Heroes t-shirt, and his assailants were of Middle-Eastern or African descent. Reports of them crying “Allahu Akbar” as they perpetrated the vicious deed are spreading, in an indication that they were of the Muslim faith. A starkly morbid and tragic event with potentially far reaching consequences.

The Twittersphere and comment sections of prominent online news organisation already indicate a certain degree of knee jerk anti-Muslim sentiment, even before the murderers’ reported cries of religiosity were widely known. Angst is being vented out in some quantity over the worst aspects of the recent history of the British Muslim community, with attention being drawn to the Rochdale and Oxford paedophile rings, extremist preachers like Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada, and of course the July 7th 2005 London bombings.

With UKIP experiencing a boom in popularity in the UK, unsurprisingly against a backdrop of economic uncertainty and faltering living standards, there is a concerning development of legitimising fundamentally xenophobic positions. Members of this right wing fringe movement have already been called out for possessing inexcusably prejudiced views for the politics of a proudly progressive nation. This case in Woolwich is, beyond its sadness and brutality, an extraordinarily inconveniently timed thing.

It is more distorted fuel on the fires of those who think that the UK would be better off were we to enact draconian immigration measures in the form that parties like UKIP propose. Restrictions to permanent residence visas, freezes on immigration, stringent work permit systems and a rigorous and gun-ho deportation strategy are what’s on offer. This may appeal to some, but mostly those I would argue that think immigrants are in any way at the heart of the nation’s problems. A truly lamentable position, and one cynically capitalised upon by UKIP.

An event like the Woolwich murder is precisely the time to reaffirm the positive moral and egalitarian values that are the heart of a nation like the United Kingdom. This was a crime by two sick individuals and speaks not one jot to the contribution of the broader Muslim community in this country. Just like the crimes of the IRA represent the violent political attitudes of a minority and not all Irish people. Just like the crimes of Dale Clegan, Mark Bridger and Jimmy Saville speak to their illnesses and not all white Brits.

The United Kingdom is a better nation than to engage in a stint of antagonistic behaviour towards minorities who, for the almost complete majority, just want to live in a peaceful and democratic place where no one is persecuted for their private beliefs or way of life. Or so we hope. That is a picture I so greatly prefer to anything UKIP want for the country. Although I’m guilty of politicizing this event, and thoughts do genuinely go out to the family of the young victim, it’d be a greater tragedy still for this to be manipulated by the far-right wing agenda.

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Farage’s Fatuous Failure

Cuuuuurious. The moment Nigel Farage takes an iota of flak on the campaign trail he turns into a hyperbolic, reactive angryman. Touring the Royal Mile in Edinburgh yesterday he was slightly beset by the jeers and cheers of a group of Scots particularly intent on letting the UKIP leader know that he was Scum! Scum! Scum! Scum! Scum! Poor old Farage. UKIP is so oppressed and these sneering members of the public are just such bastards. “Yobo, fascist scum,” Farage eloquently hit back against his assailants during an interview on Good Morning Scotland today.

My prior characterisation of this grinning buffoon, as an honest but misguided soul with an irrational fear for the continent, was one that sort of deserved pity. Farage did seem to encapsulate that genuine frustration about the arguably technocratic advancement of the European project. But the wheel has now turned and we are given a fuller picture of an unintelligent man, lacking in nuance and restraint, and full of a rather nasty brand of vitriol when it comes to disagreement. Lashing out at the protesters was by no means the story of this incident.

Just to be clear, the tone of the protest as Farage left a pub, his favourite campaign venue, was boisterous, jovial, perhaps a little cheeky. Farage moved smoothly through a small crowd of grinning antagonists and straight into a minivan without so much as a physical feather ruffled. To hear him lament his woes later you would think some burly Scotsman had pinned him down and ruthlessly, repeatedly stolen his virtue. “I’ve never seen anything like it… it was deeply racist, with a total hatred for the English.”

“If this is the face of Scottish Nationalism, it’s a pretty ugly picture,” he continues, “the anger, the hatred, the snarling, the shouting, the swearing, was all linked to a desire for the Union Jack to be burned, and extinguished from Scotland forever. There’s absolutely no doubt who these people were, or what they stood for.” David Miller, conducting the interview, at this point had to interject again with the suggestion that Farage was conflating anti-English with anti-UKIP sentiments, although I suspect the word ‘hypocrite’ was struggling to leap off his tongue.

It is the most indisputable and pure of ironies that a man like Nigel Farage feels beset by the evils of nationalism. His suggestion that these people had no interest in debate was brilliantly juxtaposed with his refusal to engage with Miller on the more considered angles of this story. When Miller referenced a recent Ipsos Mori poll as indicating that UKIP support in Scotland is roughly to the tune of two per thousand voters, Farage bullishly rejects the poll. And when Miller suggests that UKIP are therefore an “irrelevance” in Scotland, Farage starts to get mad.

Sensing the opportunity to strike deeper, Miller puts Farage’s own words to him, words quoted from the Times, “Telling everyone how much I love Scotland, and what a big part of my life it’s been, how sincere I am, it would all have been a lot of rubbish.” Legitimate grounds, you might think, to accuse Farage of a fundamental disconnect with Scotland, its people and its politics, as Miller indeed does. “I’m sensing similar hatred from this line of questioning that I got on the streets yesterday in Edinburgh,” is Farage’s interpretation of this.

Things conclude bizarrely. Trying to trump up UKIP’s representation in more constituencies than any other party, including members for Northern Ireland and across Scotland, Farage attempts to salvage the pan-UK appeal of his party. The irrelevance of this fact to electoral efficacy and voter support is pointed out by Miller. “And remind me, how many elected representatives you have in Scotland?” “Absolutely none,” Farage retorts, choking up a bit, “but rather more than the BBC do,” he strangely adds.

Bumbling over some point about how if the interview had been conducted in England he wouldn’t have faced this kind of hatred, he whines, “And frankly I’ve had enough of this interview, goodbye.” And he hangs up. Remarkable, pathetic, petulant stuff. The first strident bullet of reality in the heart of this overblown UKIP surge. Even in Farage, the supposed master of his party’s mainstream aspirations, do we see something deeply unpleasant and unwanted in our politics. But there is no need to fixate on this one incident. Plenty of further proof is inevitably yet to come, if Farage and his party truly feels so misunderstood and hard done by the media.

UKIP, like the BNP, are a nominally pro-union fringe movement but actually represent a sort of anachronistic ‘Little England’ mentality that is dismissive of the other nations that form this union. Pro-Britain is a more marketable brand than pro-England however, whatever the ratio of anti-EU sentiment it is cut with, and we can only be thankful that they are so painfully transparent in their cynicism. I credit most of those who voted for UKIP in the locals with a respectable desire to protest against the established political class. I also credit them enough not to do it again when it counts.

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Also Coming Soon

Focus on a real job in combination with much time spent on a philosophical piece for counterpart blog TranquilSigh has resulted in this shocking dearth of material for ProlongedSigh. Don’t panic. The piece is nearing completion and I will be procastiblogging again at the first opportunity, especially given all the excitement of today’s telling council elections across England and Wales.

Will UKIP chew up the Tory share? Will Labour steal back those 2010 losses? Will the entire Liberal Democratic party commit nationally mandated harakiri for being so disgustingly… Liberal Democratic?

Do we care about Green at all? Is the UKIP surge a sign of a national lean to the right? Is this a concern for the Tories on party political grounds, or for Labour on basic ideological grounds? Do council elections actually mean anything at all when so much can dramatically change between now and the next general election?

If the answer to my last question is “No”, have I actually just written this article in its completion? Possibly, but I wouldn’t be a political and current affairs blogger if I didn’t find a way to say something about most things. Coming soon. Probably after whoever shouting the loudest on Question Time later informs me of my position.

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A Problem for Faith Detractors

Oh so reluctantly I head back into the murky waters of the religious debate. Today I am a fully self-assured secular agnostic but memories of the intellectual slaughter I would subject myself to in college philosophy classes are still raw. Back then I had a curious, wilful belief in god that was ever at odds with the subconscious always rapping. “Idiot,” it would chime as I ran head first into another logical obstruction to this forced faith.

It only took a couple more years of increased exposure to higher education, simultaneous to my withdrawal from the grand and imposing edifices of public school religiosity, before the façade began to slip. Not being in a beautiful church five mornings a week unsurprisingly takes the mind away from these things, but more than anything in was Mr. Paine and The Age of Reason wot did it. Far from rationalising my dwindling faith, deism killed it.

Perhaps trying to rationalise faith will inherently kill it but the crux of the matter for me was that no faith could be possibly true when all claim to be true and divine and so on, so forth. And if you can’t reconcile divinity with divinity, how exactly can you reconcile divinity with humanity? Are we to just take a stab in the dark like some Pascalian wager? Indeed, how can something even be divine if it can be dissected and selectively reconstructed by humans?

Paine’s attempts to make this ancient faith system compatible with the modern world and its improved understanding, (always at the expense of increasingly redundant theological reasoning) made me fully commit to the notion that mankind dealt in theological reasoning in lieu of understanding, until understanding was gained. If that wasn’t enough, along came Hume’s Natural History of Religion just to throw the last confirming clump of sod on the grave.

There is no question anymore, I have no faith and that is fine. But this doesn’t mean Richard Dawkins, in my humble estimations, isn’t a bit of a dick. Just to catch you up, Dawkins went on the Twitter warpath with Islam and one Mehdi Hasan, socialistic journalist of Guardian, New Statesman and Huffington Post fame. Dawkins challenged Hasan’s professional integrity and aptitude on the basis that Hasan is a Muslim.

To paraphrase, “Should we take a journalist seriously, who believes in the Islamic faith, which in my douche-bag opinion is like believing in a flying, winged horse.” Essentially, should we allow a person of faith to deal in the trade of facts? For an intelligent man I have to say this was a stunningly unintelligent assault on a journalist who, although I caustically disagree with on a near daily basis for political reasons, never earned derision for his expressions on faith.

In fact, Hasan has written some excellent pieces on the need for Muslim communities to properly integrate with British society and is generally very constructive in his approach to faith and the modern world. What is not constructive at all is this recent collective of hyper-smug, liberal intellectualism, so well embodied by the likes of Dawkins, which believes it has the run of the “right way” of thinking. Religion is an antiquated superstition. Conservatives are morons and dicks. Disagree with these things and you’re a dick too. And stupid. And a dick.

This aggressive tendency towards those of competing, or even of slightly more nuanced views, was rather cringeably played out on last week’s episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. The silver-haired HBO demagogue conducted an abysmal interview with security expert Brian Levin, going at loggerheads with the guest over his bigoted views on Islam. Maher’s view is that Islam is a problem faith, more so than other faiths, and this should be the outspoken position of anyone with a brain.

He threw buckets of water on the idea that his show was a forum for debate when he informed Levin, off the back of the suggestion that perhaps one could look at these things more carefully, utterly bluntly, “You’re wrong”. Two or three times actually. And sure enough, people like Maher and Dawkins are ever pushing themselves into the realm of iconoclasm, one they would logically want to avoid given their views on religion. They betray what is to me a fundamental value of secular agnosticism, that being humility.

I’m simply not interested in going around and telling people that they or what they believe in is stupid. It achieves nothing but the defensive ire of those you’re attacking and sheds a poor light on those who have less harsh interpretations. The modern world, always advancing, is putting an inexorable secularising force on everything that will in time accomplish more than a million Mahers and Dawkins combined.

Religious institutions for the most part recognise this and are in “terminal debate mode” over their traditional values versus the need to adjust to contemporary climates, if terminal decline is to be avoided. This process is only hindered by the disgust of people like Maher and Dawkins, who with so much disdain for the lack of science and logic in these belief structures are equally complicit in creating entrenched opposing forces.

When I was a bit younger and breaking into my present beliefs, I treated them like heroes of the New Faith of Reason. But they’ve become too much like preachers for my comfort and they don’t speak to or for me anymore. Maybe it still appeals to the reactionary freshman, militant atheist type. If the two of them gain satisfaction from impressing that particularly gaggle then bully for them. It’s just a bit sad really.

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