28 Dec 2011

Should criminals have rights? Yes, actually...

You can bleat all you want about how they lost the "right" to any rights when they did whatever it was they did, but the fact remains that people who have committed crimes are still people. If you believe that rights can be taken away then they aren't rights; they're privileges.

At any rate, whilst I'm no fan of our prison system (it doesn't bloody work for starters), the whole idea is that in and of itself the sentence is sufficient punishment. Leaving aside the issue of the government blocking the European Court of Human Rights' ruling that prisoners should get the vote (which I'll get to in a minute), there remains a couple of worrying attacks in the past few days on the rights of ex-prisoners.

The first came yesterday, where it was revealed that there were plans (to be released next month) under which "convicted criminals are to be banned from claiming compensation for injuries sustained in attacks, in prison or after release" (emphasis mine). This is presumably the government wanting to win Daily Mail merit points for being tough on criminals, but even leaving the issue of it basically meaning prison guards don't have to bother with looking after the inmates (or possibly even it giving them the ability to beat up prisoners themselves (NB: I might be reading too much into this with that one)), the bar on suing after release, after the justice system has ostensibly done punishing you, after you could very well have reformed, then we have a major issue. Every human being should generally have the right not to be assaulted, so to see the government deciding to lift that ban, be it for populism (or wanting to apply the presented will of the people) or other purposes, is rather alarming. I don't really like the whole government thing, but if it absolutely has to be here it should at the very least offer some protection to all its citizens.

Now, I made mention of The Daily Mail earlier, and this is where the second attack on the rights of people who've been convicted/cautioned (it's somewhat fuzzy) comes from. Now, there haven't been any plans leaked for a direct attack in this regard from the government (as far as I know), but the Mail's decided that, as 1/3 of people on out of work benefits has a conviction (or a caution, it's actually really fuzzy on that point), 1/3 people on out of work benefits is a scrounger who's using them to prolong their criminal career. Not because the stigma around a criminal record is such that it's impossible to get a job, and that at least some of them have given up crime. The entire thing seems to be calculated to make people hate benefit claimants, even though, when taken in the decade leading to 2010, the figure for proportion who had received a conviction or a caution in the past decade was 26%. In the. This is a more indirect attack, but it's still an attack. Furthermore, I would be very surprised if something related to this doesn't appear on the aforementioned plan, probably barring anyone who's been convicted of anything from claiming out-of-work benefits, possibly for a long time. This is just drumming up support for such an action.(NB: I could be reading a lot into this which might not be the case)

At any rate, this brings me to the voting thing. The vote is, basically, a placebo button, but the disenfranchisement of prisoners is more broadly symbolic. It's a way of showing that the opinions of prisoners aren't meant to be considered. That criminals are, well, criminals and thus don't deserve consideration. So, all in all, it's a good thing that at least this government isn't prone to arbritary deterrent sentencing and arresting (e.g. of protestors) or anything like that, right?...right?...right?

... Okay, where do you reckon will be easier to mover to: Finland, Norway or Iceland?

27 Dec 2011

Citing Injustice

 EDIT: yeah, this didn't work out. Gonna leave this up though since I only Orwell stuff if I have really good reasons to.

A few months ago, I started a twitter account called "CitingInjustice", I decided to make it in response to an account entitled "InjusticeFacts", "an open, circulating, that deal[s] with the injustices which plague our world". The problem was that, due to not actually requiring any proof, it had posted a number of pretty blatantly false 'facts' (at this point for full disclosure purposes I should point out that I have several issues with the Activist Socialist Party (the group I think runs the account), but this in part comes from the issues I have with InjusticeFacts). meanwhile, injustice still exists.

I promptly failed to actually do anything much with the account, making only 3 tweets, in part because I was the only one doing all the work and I made it bloody difficult for myself in addition to this.

Anyway, I've decided to make a full-on blog for Citing Injustice over at Wordpress.com, and it'll operate off a roughly similar submission system (well, it's a hybrid of that and the one the broader ASP uses on their Wordpress site), since, much like the Death Eaters in Harry Potter, they have had some good ideas that are worth stealing. Even stopped clocks are twice once a day n'all that.

So yeah, this post was pretty much an announcement for this project. Note that, whilst I'm the main person who runs it ATM, I am not averse to any help, advice and/or criticism you want to give me.

NB: A large part of this post was 'nicked' and modified from the About page of Citing Injustice.

25 Sep 2011

Common Era: A Marxist Plot, Apparently

If you're bored, fancy a laugh, and don't mind giving MailOnline a hit, I humbly suggest you read this article by James Delingpole from today, entitled "How the BBC fell for a Marxist Plot to destroy civilization from within". This isn't some kind of joke, or an exaggeration, that's the actual title of the article.If you don't want to give the Mail hits, go here (thank you @LudditeWebDev) and don't tell them I sent you.
It's about the decision made by them to swap to using "Common Era" instead of "Anno Domini" and to use "Before Common Era" instead of "Before Christ" on the BBC website, with it citing that it intends to keep in with modern practice.*

And if you think that's bad, you ain't seen nothing yet. Indeed there are some real 'gems' in this thing.
Starting with, um, the start "When you mention to a Muslim or Hindu that the year is 2011, do you ever feel a twinge of guilt about your closet religious chauvinism?"He asks, rhetorically and ridiculously since the whole argument is about the suffix, not saying that they year is 2011 (which it is in both CE and AD). And why on Earth would anyone need to go round asking what year it is? It's a crap example really.
He then asks similarly ridiculous and rhetorical questions about the opening sequence of One Million Years BC and what you would if you were to catch your child reading 2000AD.
Skipping ahead a few paragraphs (in which he claims that only members of the Left-Wing academe have ever heard of CE (which is annoying, since I knew of it long before I was lefty, and I know that at least one of my older (not left-wing) relatives on my mum's side occasionally uses it (either my grandad or my great-uncle) since the the two terms are basically the same thing, not to mention that I keep thinking it's "Amino Domini") and generally moans about the weasellyness of the reason allegedly given*) we get this lovely thing: "And so yet another small part of our tradition, language and culture takes a step closer to extinction. We didn't ask for it; we didn't want it; yet still it's happening because a tiny minority of politically correct busybodies have wormed their way into institutions such as the BBC and taken control. 
Their goal is to create a world where Left-wing thinking – on 'fairness', on race, on sexual equality, on the role of government – becomes the norm. So far, they are doing brilliantly.
This capture of the language for political ends was exactly what George Orwell warned us of more than 60 years ago in his book 1984. In the appendix he described how Big Brother devised its language Newspeak to make it impossible for people to think in the 'wrong' way."
Where do I start? Well, first of all the implication that 'fairness' and sexual equality being the norm is bad, as is left-wing thought on race (i.e. going off his lovely little A-Z of political correctness, not being a racist) My personal favourite bit, however, has to be the invocation of 1984 to describe something a right-winger (who is writing for The Mail of all things) doesn't like. Really, it should be a corollary to Godwin's law: "As a writing by a right-winger grows longer, the probability that someone will be compared to The Party nears 1". let's call it Smith's law or something.

Of course, it could be argued that this whole thing is censorship, shaping the language to make us unable to articulate concepts which people don't like. Such as the first year of Our Lord being the 5th year of Our Lord. Okay, the whole AD vs CE thing is petty. The two terms are all but interchangeable. People don't think of "Anno Domini" as being inherently Christian (well, I don't at least), we just think of it as "AD" as opposed to "BC". We essentially use it as "CE" but without actually calling it that. Thus trying to make changing between two perfectly interchangeable terms to what is held up to be the high point of authoritarian language changing just makes Delingpole look like a ninnyhammer. Not least because he bemoans left-wing thought almost in the same breath - doesn't he realise that Orwell was a socialist?

A couple of skipped paragraphs later, and Delingpole elaborates on what he means by the capture of language for political ends, citing a series of alleged redefinitions:
"So it was, for example, that a traditionally free market cap¬italist word such as 'investment' was suddenly being hijacked to mean 'government spending'. 'Diversity' no longer meant 'plentiful variety' but 'an excuse to nurture grievance at tax¬payers' expense'. 'Discrimin¬ation', formerly used to mean 'discernment', now meant 'yet another excuse to nurture grievance at taxpayers' expense'." (NB: The weird dashes are actually in the article, not sure if it's a glitch, or actually meant to be there)
So, one word had a slight shift in usage so it could also be used to refer to public sector spending and two words happen to apply to people now as well, something not actually precluded in their definitions. Got it.

Also, elitism has got its more pejorative definition because, all to often, it is only society's "elite" (read: rich) who can afford the best schools, the best opportunities.People call the Free Schools scheme elitist because it is seen as being predominantly utilised by the middle class. In fact, "elitism" tends to refer to the social elites valuing themselves and being valued as better than others, or being granted better opportunities due to class-based discrimination. 

In fact, dictionary.reference.com defines elitism as: "1. Practice or belief in rule by an elite 2. Consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favoured group" Two of the definitions of elite (probably the ones used, going off word choice ("an elite" rather than "the elite") are: "...2.  persons of the highest class <example> 3. a group of persons excersising the major share of authority or influence within a larger group" With a 5th adjectival definition: "representing the most choice or select"  The term "elitist" itself is defined in the adjectival form as either "1. (of a person or a class of persons) considered superior by others or by themselves, as in intellect, talent, power, wealth or position in society" or "2. Catering to or associated with an elite class, its ideologies, or its institutions" and in the noun form as either "3. a person having, thought to have, or professing superior intellect or talent, power, wealth or membership in the upper echelons in society" or "4. a person who believes in the superiority of an elite class"

So, going off the second definition of "elitist" anything the Tories do is elitist. It's not really a redefinition of the word. Also, only by a stretch of a couple of all the definitions here can Delingpole's definition (the best) not be a redefinition and claiming of a word for his own political ends.What's wrong with using the words "the best" to connote the best of something anyway?

Mr. Delingpole does some weird rhetorical "does it matter" thing, in which the words "isn't it only fair that we should be a bit more considerate to the sensitivities of other races, religions and creeds?" actually and astonishingly appear. Followed by him calling such an undertaking "cultural suicide" and thus abusing the English language to his own political ends. Tut tut.

And this is where it suddenly shoots past Illuminati conspiracy theories on the WTFometer:  

"Most of us may not realise this but the ideological Left certainly does, for it has long been part of its grand plan to destroy Western civilisation from within. The plan's prime instigator was the influential German Marxist thinker ('the father of the New Left') Herbert Marcuse. A Jewish academic who fled Germany for the US in the Thirties, he became the darling of the Sixties and Seventies 'radical chic' set.
He deliberately set out to dismantle every last pillar of society – tradition, hierarchy, order – and key to victory, he argued, would be a Leftist takeover of the language, including 'the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care etc'. 
In other words, those of us who believe in smaller government or other 'Right-wing' heresies should be for ever silenced." 

It kind of speaks for itself, but there are a couple of things that I want to pick out: First off, "leftist grand plan to destroy Western civilisation from within" (emphasis mine)? So, all civilisation is Western civilisation? And "plan to destroy Western Civilisation from within"? What is this, the Cold War?! (admittedly, said war was in recent history and in Marcuse's time, so it could be, but it seems a bit of a stretch for 2011, plus I'll probably end up re-reading this after studying it for GCSE History and end up feeling like a knobhead, ah well). Anyway, what has Herbert Marcuse's race got to do with it? I digress, but was it really necessary information?

Anyhoo, Delingpole claims that he wanted to dismantle society and take over the language by... "the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care etc'". Delingpole correctly points out that the last part applies to right-wing thought (although the stuff the first bit is opposed to is better translated to "not being a dickhead"), and I'm not saying I think Marcuse was right (unless 'removal of tolerance' refers to counter assemblies and speeches the whole thing is very authoritarian and ungood and moral high ground giving), but, at the same time, I'm not sure how this tallies in with the "OMG, this will lead to Newspeak!" rhetoric of the rest of the piece. Nor am I sure how this will dismantle society and/or lead to total chaos. Really, if we're heading straight for the world of 1984 it's clear that there is some vestige of order there. This not even taking into account the fact that he's bemoaning disapproval of people who are opposed to free healthcare. We only need to point to the USA for why Marcuse might have been half-right there.

Of course, that Macuse's teachings formed the basis for "every revolutionary group, from the Black Panthers to the Baader-Meinhof gang". Which is probably true if we only count groups which follow Marcuse's teachings, and even then the groups mentioned had a wider influence than just one man, and I have yet to see evidence of some connection with the BBC, which is what Delingpole is supposedly writing about. Really, revolutionary state television? How does that work?!

The whole thing is wrapped up by the old "baa baa rainbow sheep" thing being brought up (and the lack of response to such things today being complained about, since it's not like that was one particularly egregious example or something) and this:
"This complacency is fatal. Great civilisations do not die from the sudden arrival of the barbarians at the gates. They succumb much more slowly than that, from the death-by-a-thousand-cuts permitted from within by those who have forgotten why their traditions and cultural values are worth defending." 
Which is a deep warning, but slightly over the top. And possibly inaccurate; in my opinion, the problem isn't people who decide that their traditions and cultural values aren't worth defending who are the downfalls of civilisations (if so, explain all the changes in society in the past century); it's the people who start to think of the thousands of cuts as worth keeping open since doing so is the done thing, even when it makes no sense. The people who've been charging for a cliff for years, but won't stop because they won't see the evidence arrayed of their impending doom. Which is also a bit over the top for this context, but there you go.

To conclude, if there really is a left-wing dictatorship in the vein of 1984 (or the many actual ones there's been (e.g. China, the USSR)) on the way (which there isn't), or even the principles Marcuse espoused being enshrined in law, I would be dead set against it. But there isn't, and to suggest that there is based off the BBC switching to CE* is somewhat ludicrous.Well, I say "somewhat", I mean "so very incredibly"...

 *On some Q and A I can't find. I might have been accidentally putting "Amino Domini" into the search box when I was trying to find it though. This being one reason why I don't mind the alleged switch to the easier to spell "common era", despite the actual reason they gave being a really crap one. It's also worth considering that Christ being born circa 5BC according to most estimates is a far better reason ("Before Christ" fundamentally makes no sense). All this said, commenters on FailOnline appear to also be unable to track down the Q and A, making this a bit fishy.

See also: The Angry Mob: Mail on Sunday becomes the Daily Star
Tabloid Watch: AD and BC not 'jettisoned' by BBC

EDITS: Fixed the formatting, added an extra sentence which just occurred to me and added this as an explanation of the edits.

22 Sep 2011

Recession? What's one of them?

Today when I was round my (maternal) grandparents, I found myself perusing a copy of The Daily Mail, like I usually end up doing since always reading stuff you agree with is probably a bit polarising and ungood. Anyway, whilst skimming it and being immensely thankful that Littlejohn wasn't in today's edition, I stumbled upon this little brainfart (not direct link, credit to @uponnothing) from Liz Jones, in which she implies that the recession can't exist because she personally hasn't been affected positively by it.

If I was forced to pick the most blindingly ridiculous paragraphs, it would have to be these two anti-gems in something considerably worse than "the rough":
"I brought a brand new land Rover Defender the other day for use on my farm. I went to pick it up. 'Are you throwing in a tank of diesel?' I asked, not unreasonably. 'Oh no,' said the salesman. 'We can't do that as we'd have to do it for everybody'
I thought the motor industry had been the worst affected by the recession?"

Weird grammar aside (speech is meant to have a separate line to indicate a new speaker, and why the hell is that question mark there?), I really don't think Liz Jones knows what a recession is. Or why the motor industry is struggling. Really, she likes to moan, she surely must have noticed the price of a little something going up.

Oil prices? Ring a bell? If so, you're doing better than she is. Honestly, does anyone really think that a struggling industry is going to shell out any more than it absolutely needs to? Oh, right, Liz Jones, apparently (if you can afford a brand new Land Rover Defender, you can probably afford a tank of diesel, whilst the dealership might be comparatively less lucky).

Other "gems" from her amazing brainfart include her bemoaning her treatment at some fancy bar (pro tip: vote with your wallet you ninnyhammer, if you don't like it, leave, don't stay just because it charges a lot) and her overreacting over someone apparently not knowing where something is kept (and maybe being a bit bemused at her trying patronising sign language of the sort we Brits stereotypically use when abroad), and the three anecdotal examples meaning that nobody cares about customer service and/or gives 'journalists' special treatment, so the recession can't be happening. All wrapped up by her pondering whether it's just her who gets treated so horribly by everyone as typified by 3 examples which are clearly so comprehensive /sarcasm.

The fact that unemployment is rising, the economy is shrinking (or growing so little that it might as well be, and even said growth is mucked up by stuff like a fricking wedding) and we're presently being cut to death by the Tories mean precisely nought (okay, the last one is expecting a bit much from the Mail, but come on).

I'd ask why the Mail pays her so much but, uh, yeah. People talk about her. Like I've just wasted quite a bit of my time doing. Oops.

1 Sep 2011

We aren't out of the metaphorical woods yet

Last night the Guardian ran a story online with the headline "Downing Street forces U-turn on Nadine Dorries abortion proposals". What it should have read was "Downing Street withdraws support from Nadine Dorries abortion proposals", since that's what the PM actually did, presumably because his party is viewed as being Conservative enough as is (since they're, y'know, the Conservative party, and they do tend to live up to the name if you're talking US-style "Conservatism" (just not really to the extent that they do it, actually some US Conservatives probably think our Tories are socialists)) and he knows the way the political winds blow (i.e. most people support abortion).

The proposals could still go ahead. Heck, the Grauniad even states:
"...a combination of the unpredictable intake of new Tory MPs, split between social conservatives and modernisers, the number of Roman Catholic Labour MPs, and the high degree of nuance of the amendment make it extremely unclear which way the vote will go."

Whilst I'm not exactly sure what  "high degree of nuance of the amendment" means, that it's "extremely unclear" as to whether it will pass means we're probably not quite out the woods yet. 

This is, of course, the bit where I tell you to write to your MP. I have very little faith in the democratic system, and even less in my MP (he's a Tory in a really safe seat), but it's still worth a shot, I suppose (I am aware of the Abortion Rights letter, but chances are, writing it yourself may be better). Heck, get everyone you know to write to them. MPs aren't going to let a ton of votes pass them by, and they are meant to work for us.

This said, if you happen to possess an uterus, it might also be worth telling Nadine Dorries about it. We ought to stretch that out to Frank Field as well, since he doesn't even have an uterus and he's trying to control what we do with ours (and even who we go to for advice). Although, it'd probably be better to (politely) inform our MPs who do vote in favour of the Amendment of what our uteri (I think that's the plural of "uterus") are doing, since they are more required to listen to us, and more likely to (I reckon Dorries is likely to make sure it isn't something she can report us to the police for and then bin f you aren't a constituent, to be frank). Still, the blogging thing is a brilliant idea, and since Nadine Dorries does have an unhealthy interest in what we do with our uteri we might as well spread the word.

Oh and, Guardian, please stop with the misleading headlines. As of last time I checked, you aren't the Daily Mail.

31 Aug 2011

Dear Nadine Dorries

 This is something I've written for A Thing @Stavvers is doing. I sort of ended up severely digressing and probably missing the point of the Thing, but here it is (note: I wholly intend to send this to Nadine Dorries, hence the first paragraph although I'll remove the footnote at the end for obvious reasons This is now an open letter since I'm a coward and I've realised that this probably won't sway her and will probably just  cause her to be annoyed, (I'm not really into annoying people who aren't my brother)). I am aware that Downing Street has apparently forced a u-turn, but that's just The Guardian going for Mail-style headline.

Dear Nadine Dorries,  

For starters, I'd like to apologise for writing to you as a non-constituent, but since this letter is about an amendment to an important bill you're involved with I suppose it's best you let this slide (well, it certainly is from my perspective).

I'm not going to bore you with the details about what my uterus is doing. Mostly because aside from the monthly bleed, which isn't even happening right now (stopped two days ago thank God, I swear it goes on an unreasonable amount of time...) it isn't doing a lot at all. This being a state of affairs I'm fairly content with, although periods are a right pain (literally) at times.

Let's face it, this whole Thing (with the capital “T” since it's really that important) is about your amendments to the Health Bill. I'm not really sure I agree with this Thing, but it has to be said you certainly have an undue interest in what my uterus is doing, especially since I'm a teenager, and thus the target of whole other bill, that being one I'm fairly certain you're behind (you'll note that I'm a lot less civil there, possibly due to me probably having a case of PMS at the time, sorry about that, although the general gist of it does actually kind of fit with this as well (a revelation, you'll be interested to learn, which came courtesy of a high-rated comment on... your Daily Mail article from today of all places)).

But back to the Amendment. Given that, until you and the Labour MP Frank Field - who I suppose we should all be having far more truck with, since he really will never be in a position to have to consider abortion (whereas you do, I assume, possess an uterus) not to mention it stops us being able to blame your party (Not that I mind having a go at Labour (they are really just as bad as the Tories) or anything, but things are a lot easier when it's only one party doing it) – added it the Bill had precisely naff all to do with abortion, it's not clear that this will be getting the debate it needs, and if it does it will simply detract from discussion about the biggest changes to our healthcare system since the NHS was set up. Not cool, Nadine. Not cool at all. Or democratic really. Mind you, I'd argue that the political system is inherently undemocratic, but this is just plain egregious.

Of course, I probably wouldn't mind this that much if I agreed with the Amendment. I'm not sure I do; the BPA is a non-profit organisation, I'm willing to assume the best and that there is, despite their function as an abortion-provider, actually no vested interest in them getting women to have abortions, heck something like 20% of women chose not to have an abortion following advice from there. It is probably mostly balanced, which is more than I can say if, say, a Christian pro-life group was doing the counselling (it is ostensibly a pro-life organisation). And that is a possibility since there is precisely naff-all in your amendment to guarantee that stuff like that won't happen.

Admittedly, you probably don't view that as a bad thing. But if someone can regret an abortion, what happens if they regret not having an abortion having been pressured out of it? I know from personal experience that mothers can be abusive even if they want a child, I imagine an unwanted child would get even worse. And, as I'm sure you'll agree, every child deserves to be wanted. And your own experience with a relatively late-term abortion should make you understand why it is perhaps best that women do not put off the decision, especially since, if they're seeking counselling, they may well have put a lot of thought into it. People won't make that sort of choice lightly.

So your amendment to a Bill which has naff-all to do with it has naff-all to stop it from doing something which you said it wouldn't do. Really not cool, not cool at all.

Also, neither is the obsession with what happens to my uterus. I'm 15, I am mature enough to know what it does, and what I want it to do (naff-all), most, if not all, women who seek an abortion are. It's not really your place to decree who we ask for advice. From what I can gather, there isn't anything stopping women from seeking advice from “independent sources”, they can go to them if they choose to. You say you're pro-choice, well, that's probably one of the choices you should support.

Yours sincerely,


*Side note: referring to myself using my full first name feels really weird. 

EDIT: Corrected a couple of typos ("I f" and a missing ")", thanks to @latentexistence for pointing that last one out). Also, looks like I dropped a "u" at the end of "you", now fixed.

26 Aug 2011

Patriarchal Double Standards Waste Water!

According to a survey by Thames Water, one in three women leave the shower running whilst shaving their legs, thus wasting 50 BILLION litres of water. To the shock of perhaps quite a  few people, but to the surprise of no one, the Daily Mail and Telegraph jumped on this for a chance of light women hating.

Of course, neither of those stories questioned why the hell women have to have their legs in the first place.This is also not a surprise nor a shock, but it is worth remembering that women only feel the need to shave their legs because society tells us to. If we didn't "need" to shave, all that water wouldn't be wasted. Seeing as men don't "need" to shave their legs, why the hell should we have to? After all, the water saved could apparently keep London going for 25 days.

 Of course, as is, if any famous woman goes out without shaving their legs, guess who jumps down their throats? The Daily Mail. Hypocrites (I couldn't actually find any examples from the Telegraph though, all fairness to them).

Conclusion: If you want to save water, let's get ready to smash the patriarchy. And stop leaving the tap running whilst you're at it. That stuff wastes 120bn litres of water a year.

16 Aug 2011

Reactionary Riot Reactions are Reactionary

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there has been a massive shift to towards authoritarianism following the riots.Today Yesterday, 2 men were sentenced to 4 years in jail for "inciting" riots on Facebook. Riots which never actually happened (they could have happened, but they didn't) but still count because they do. Never mind the proportionality of the sentence (seriously, 4 years for a freaking Facebook page), this is justice.

 In addition to this, there have been a ton of calls from various quarters for knee-jerk actions, most notably Theresa May calling for the police to have curfew setting powers, David Cameron wanting to censor the internet (with Louise Mensch MP doing the same thing) and the calls for stopping rioters' benefits. All of which will achieve nothing, in my humble opinion, but making the world a worse place and fulfilling some desire for vengeance, which happens to conveniently help the Government (more police power, plus it helps their anti-"scrounger" rhetoric). This not even mentioning the members of the public braying for rioters' blood (literally in some cases (just look at Facebook, the Sun also ran a poll), and the evictions that are already happening (NB: in the household in question no one had been convicted).And the cliche attacks on the Human Rights Act, but that happens for everything now.

All these aside, the disproportionate sentence I mentioned at the start of this post ay well be an egregious example, but it certainly isn't the only one; courts have been told by the Government to scrap the present sentencing rules and be extra (and, even according to some MPs, too) harsh in order to fulfill an urge for revenge that many people have. Violation of the separation of powers aside,  this has resulted in several highly disproportionate sentences. One man (who had brought £100 worth of stolen goods from "a junkie") was jailed for 22 weeks for handling stolen goods. One person was jailed for 16 weeks for using "threatening or abusive language". A student was sentenced to 6 months for stealing a case of water.Three young women none with any sort of criminal record) were handed down 6 month jail sentences for entering a store with intent to steal (nothing was stolen). Infamously, a mother was sentenced to 5 months for accepting a stolen pair of shorts. She wasn't even there for the riots [EDIT: which is why she was freed and given 75 hours' community service on appeal]. These specific cases aside, several were referred to the crown court as the maximum sentence Magistrate's courts could give (6 months) wasn't considered sufficient, and bail was refused as a matter of routine, with the desire for the punishment to be strict superseding the need for proportionality.

By way of comparison, someone who functionally looted thousands from the public purse was simply fined £7000 made (an incredibly rubbish) Education secretary. Because, at his age, there was no way he could possibly have known better /sarcasm.

One thing that is legal, however, is publishing the names and addresses of subjects, which is very probably connected to one getting his house burnt down, in what is probably a reflection of the rage of someone at the riots (given the present situation) and generally a worrying, given that the old maxim of "innocent until proven guilty" apparently has stopped applying, sign.

On a slightly lighter note, someone else was recently arrested and charged with "encouraging or assisting in the commission of an offence" under the 2007 Serious Crime Act  for trying to arrange... a water fight. And it isn't a very light note at all since it means that water fights are some sort of serious crime, which is just absolutely ridiculous and that arranging a water fight should be stopped by any means necessary.You couldn't make it up.

In conclusion, though, things are looking pretty bleak as far as civil liberties and freedom of speech are concerned. It'd be incredibly easy to blame this on media rhetoric, and I suppose that's what I do blame it on. The ore important thing, however, is figuring out how we're going to stand up to all this because, as is, I think we're screwed.

EDIT: Forgot that I wrote this overnight, have corrected it. Also, I somehow misspelled "in".
UPDATE 1: Reportedly, an independent monitor was beaten up during the Enfield disturbances on the 7th. This is alarming to say the least

UPDATE 2: A 17 year old has been given a ban from social media for 12 months, 120 hours' community service, a 12 month youth rehabilitation order and a 3 month curfew for posting a message on Facebook which read ""I think we should start rioting, it's about time we stopped the authorities pushing us about and ruining this country.
"It's about time we stood up for ourselves for once. So come on rioters – get some. LOL."
Whilst I can't condone the message, it was probably, as the teen in question said, a joke (you don't add "LOL" if you intend to actually incite a riot) and this is turning out to be an incredibly bad week for freedom of speech. I'd say something about the sentence being disproportionate, but I'm not entirely certain that the message should have resulted in a charge at all.

13 Aug 2011

A warning to tumblr folk out there (short)

 EDIT: As explained in the longer version, the problem's been solved! Just leaving this up here for posterity.

There’s a post floating around on tumblr which has a link to “myiqtcst.tumblr.com”. Please don’t click it; it’s a blatant scam. Seriously, there’s like 30 odd thousand people who’ve posted it in the same words. And it’s a dodgy redirect.
Don’t click it!
(also, if you think you’re in danger, change your freaking password, damnit!).
(this (and therefore this (it’s the same thing))) explains how I came to this conclusion and goes into more detail, but it’s a bit long).

(cross posted from my tumblr)

A warning to tumblr folk out there

 EDIT: All links on this blog are defunct, including the one to mine, which indicates that the problem's been solved. It would also explain why I was forced to change my password a few months back ("suspicious activity).

Yesterday I saw a post on tumblr which alarmed me, I'm actually a bit shit at technical stuff, so I can't post a screen shot, but here's a link to the second version of it which appeared on my dashboard (the first was on the same tumblr and was identical). EDIT: It's been removed, which is fair enough everything considered..

If you don't want to click the link, here's the text
"i guess im legally retarded or something >:(
tell me this is fake guys please i took this twice and i got a 92 then a 96.. thats too close right :( am i stupid?
i took the test at http://myiqtcst.tumblr.com reblog or tell me through asks if you think its real / what you got! :("

Scummy ableist language aside ("retarded" is not okay), there's a few things that worry me about this.
First, although the initial URL is given so it appears to be myictest.tumblr.com using a weird looking "e") when it's actually myictcst.tumblr.com. That's pretty petty, but there's more to it than that.

Secondy, I know for a fact that the person who posted this can in fact use capital letters and apostrophes and tends to do so, they also were in the middle of posting a load of Killers spam (including urging people to vote for some thing) when this popped up in the middle, which seems a bit off to me (it's out of character).

Third, the link itself redirects to some random site of the sort which asks for your personal details and blatantly isn't an IQ test. The first site I got redirected to was some fake social networky dating site thing (I didn't stay there long enough for it to load) and the second was something about discovering deals in my area (I also didn't stay long enough to give you a proper description or for it to load, since I only clicked to confirm my suspicions of its scammyness).
Fourth, and most obviously, the post has accrued large numbers of reblogs, many of which (not all, I reblogged it to voice my suspicions, for example) use the same wording as above. Here's an example and another, and here's a third for luck. [EDIT: I can't check to see if those pages are still up (tumblr's borked on my computer) but there is a good chance that they've been deleted or the URLs are obsolete (people tend to change URL a lot)]. They also accrue incredibly quickly, showing an abnormally large degree of spread.
Finally, I actually responded to the request on anon to point out it was fake and got a gif of Brandon Flowers looking confused as a response. The first one has just been deleted, meaning that the post was probably made on a compromised account, so the people who are posting it have probably been hacked.

This is quite obviously a scam, so I advise you to not click on the link. It would appear that several people have already been hit, and quite recently at that (last night I swear it was on something like 4,000 notes, tonight it's busted past 35,000 36000 37000, so yeah) . I've not seen any warnings about this, so please spread the word, tweet, reblog (I'm cross posting this to tumblr), whatever - and if you think that you have been hit CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD. That's pretty much all the advice I can come up with to beat this thing.

Thanks for reading! /cheese

31 Jul 2011

A is for Authoritarianism...

“Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. Any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local Police.” - The Griffin Briefing 29/07/2011

My views are now, illegal, apparently. Or they're going to be, at any rate (they're already demonised anyway).
Why else do the local police want information on me?

Admittedly, they don't know that they do; most people I know in real life know that I'm obsessed with politics, but think that, if anything, I'm a Marxist (maybe Maoist (I really, really am not)). Not to mention I call myself a “Libertarian socialist” in my Twitter bio specifically to avoid the stigma around anarchism.

Of course, this call for information is still pretty worrying, but it is worth noting that the police want ANY information relating to anarchists.

ANY information, with no apparent clause to make sure that the anarchists you're snitching on (anyone who replies to this request as it is intended is a Grade A knobhead BTW) a) are, have been and/or will be in the local area, and/or b) alive or active. Not to mention that, although the request is in an anti-terrorism briefing, the kinds of information that they want isn't specified.

Who says it has to be relevant information? (Well, the law might (I honestly don't know), but since it's a matter of when, not if, anarchists are going to get rounded up now, I think that this isn't the most pressing concern)

I mean, the number of digits we can recite Pi to (around 40 in my case /boast) may well prove to be the key which cracks our evil anarcho-terrorist cells. As well as our jam preferences and favorite type of iguana (assuming there are different types of iguana, I'm a bit fuzzy on this). I mean, it can't really identify anyone, but it sure could come in handy.

Not to mention anything about that Mikhail Bankunin, or that Emma Goldman... I mean they're really influential and stuff, if the police could just capture/kill them then the grip of anarchy over this fair land shall be broken!...

Oooh, and I could swear that the Daily Mail, the Sun and the like have a ton of articles on anarchists. I should send them directly to my local police!

There, now we should be really safe from the non-existent anarcho-terrorists. Sorted.;)

18 Jun 2011

I don't think Gove 'gets' GCSEs

The Coalition's Education secretary, Michael Gove, has recently given an interview to the Times in which he bashes GCSEs for being too easy and a bit crap (my words, not his). Due to the pay-wall I haven't read the interview in the Times, but the Guardian has got some of the stuff he said on their site.

He's said some, erm, interesting things, unfortunately they're almost all wrong and boil down to “things were better in my day” conservatism, but I'm going to focus more on the 'wrong' bit since I don't know what things were like back in Gove's day. I happen to be studying GCSEs (I'm in Year 10 in the state education system) at this moment, so I think I'm qualified to say if they're actually hard or not. Let's see what he said (in italics, my commentary will be underneath every sentence or so in crimson)

(NB: I've omitted t start of the article since it isn't the part I'm focusing on. I'm also relying on a probably biased source since, y'know, pay-wall.)

"It has become easier to get an A at A-level or GCSE than it used to be, and that's a problem

A. More people achieving something is not indicative that it's getting any easier to do it, chances are there are other factors behind the rise in As. As far as I know, the percentage of possible marks gained is how grade boundaries are determined (although I will concede that some questions may have their values reduced according to the percentage of people which could answer the question (I'm not certain how this would work but I am hoping it will happen with the astonishingly badly worded AQA GCSE Humanities exams I took earlier this year ("Describe 2 agents of Primary socialisation" Primary really? (the family counts as a single agency of socialisation as far as I know))), so I'm going to guess that your argument is that exams are getting easier.

Which is weird because I don't think they are, for my year group, at least, think they've actually gotten harder (but this may be due to the “things were worse in my day” effect). Incidentally, if anyone reading this can tell me what AQA meant by any of the 12 mark questions in the exams mentioned earlier I'd be very grateful.
[EDIT: Never mind, I did really well in it. God only knows how, turns out I'm really good at coming up with clever-sounding stuff (and they probably ignored the second bit of the answer of the primary source question since it made no sense). Way to undermine my own point...]

“… If you are doing art or geography, you've got to have a work of art or a field trip. But if you're doing mathematics or English or French then the logical thing is to have a proper rigorous exam at the end of year 11”

The ellipses at the start of this bit does indicate that the Graun missed out a bit, which could have helped people reading it know what he meant by this, but I'm not certain Gove knows what we actually study in GCSE (WJEC) Geography (I'm not certain we can go on a field trip to, say, an urban area in an LEDC, or even an MEDC since we live near one making it pretty pointless,likewise with rural areas, and here's the small matter of getting funding for these field trips, since they're trying to make 'savings' (cuts)). Also, going off what context the Guardian has given for this quote, we should be marked... based off a field trip? Seriously? WJEC Geography is examined in the very way the Tories advocate (actually, I think there's an 8 hour controlled assessment, but that's probably one of the ones which is a weird hybrid between exams and coursework (1st part probably coursework, 2nd part exams) in a classroom since 8 hours is too long for a standard exam).

Also, I don't think that a single rigorous exam at the end of year 11 is the fully logical conclusion for assessing maths, English or French, especially not for French. I suppose there is a logic behind the maths one, but it should probably be split in two as to allow assessments of mental mathematic capability (calculators aren't that ubiquitous, and I imagine it'd be a pain to have to get your calculator out for everything (plus, I kind of find mental maths fun) and more comprehensive assessment of techniques... I sounded like a Tory there, didn't I? Moving on, there is the small matter of English and French being languages which are both spoken and written in practical applications. A single exam simply wouldn't be a suitable medium for assessing both these things. This not even getting into comprehension and (in English more so than French since it's the lingua franca of this country) analysis.

Also, exams are stressful enough as is, and it's human nature to goof off and procrastinate until something important is staring you in the face (I think, this is armchair psychology at best though), guess what modular exams do! Seriously, those things are bloody stressful...Also, I could've sworn Tories were against 'teaching to the test' (I read the Daily Mail for 2 years, I know this stuff), how does this tie in with that at all?

The Guardian then reports that Gove said there had been previous attempts to make science relevant, by linking it to contemporary concerns such as climate change or food scares. But he said: "What [students] need is a rooting in the basic scientific principles, Newton's laws of thermodynamics and Boyle's law."”

First things first, Newton most certainly did not come up with the laws of thermodynamics. Secondly, linking stuff to contemporary issues? I'm not an expert, but it provides a practical case study which shows the application of... basic scientific principles (kind of).

Actually, I don't think I'm qualified to comment on this, since I've only got up to year 10 science to go off, and I don't know what the Year 11 syllabus involves (beyond the stuff for Biology Unit 3, but I think that, for Gove, biology doesn't really count as a science (to be fair, it is a pretty boring one IMO, physics is more interesting since it's mathematically based)), but I know that f=ma (Newton's 2nd law of motion) and p=Vk is on there (there's a few other equations I don't recognise on the walls of one of my science classrooms, and I'd be willing to bet that us not learning them is what he is complaining about)

This said “Cold stuff does not make hot stuff hotter”(which is what the 2nd law of thermodynamics boils down to) is pretty much common sense, and Newton's 3rd law is also a common saying (“for each and every action, there is an equal and opposite re-action”).

His daughter did not understand the way history was taught, Gove said, because it was not chronological: "My daughter does toys through the ages, then she does the Vikings, then the Greeks; and she gets confused."”

I don't think basing the education system (which I think this interview may well have generally been about, not just GCSEs and A-levels being too easy <glares at The Guardian>) off any one person is a good idea, and I'm not certain that history not being taught chronologically is the problem, but I suppose it's unfair to assume that Gove's wrong about his daughter's needs. I can't see how it's confusing as long as the time transitions are explained properly though (but this could just be me). I think in this case, it comes down to what time periods are suitable. E.G. The details of the Roman era aren't suitable for kids really (Gove, as a Tory, should probably be able to get behind this aspect of it).

He added: "We are now seeing with the new exams regulator how we can make GCSEs tougher. Exam boards need to sharpen up their act. We are also saying in GCSEs that you need to award marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar. We need to have stretching exams which compare with the world's most rigorous."

A. We're already marked on spelling, punctuation and grammar! (“Quality of written communication”) Heck, that's what the marks for French consist of! This being despite it making GCSEs biased against people with dyslexia. 

B. Why do we? The improvement in GCSE results could be due to any number of factors other than the stuff about “dumbing down”, like better teaching. Also, we're talking about general exams for 14-16 year olds for the most part. Having exam's which “compare with the world's most rigorous” (at God knows what level) probably isn't suitable for this purpose (especially since they are mostly compulsory). It's a general exam. Due to the nature of it almost everyone should be passing.

Having a 69.1% pass rate (A*-C, which is all employers care about anyway, and what passes for a pass in the BBC reportage, I actually couldn't get any information for A*-G) isn't too high. Especially considering that this is just for GCSEs (I think, trying to find information on this stuff makes my head hurt) and probably skewed towards the people who get high numbers of passes (and probably take more exams). I'm not even going to try to tell you what the rate for the 5 A*-C GCSE or equivalent baseline is - really, information on this is impossible to get, the best I've got is 35% from The Daily Mail of all places, and they're reporting that Gove's complaining because it's too... low, um yeah, not sure how that works, but going off this 5 A*-C rate is a bit crap. If anything, it kind of totally renders Gove's point irrelevant. It does raise the question of why it's so bad, but that's a whole other blog post.  EDIT: Tried to track down the article, turns out I misread it. Considering this has over 350 views, that's slightly worrying. As an aside, yeah, this shit's impossible to track down. I was right!.

Like the omitted start of the article, most of the remainder of what Gove has to say involves his stance on the academies thing and the like (which is probably a whole other other blog post), but The Guardian leaves us with this:

The education secretary also thinks that, in A-levels, state schools are suffering at the expense of private schools, which are opting for a more traditional-style exam, the Pre-U.
He said: "If private schools are having an elite qualification and state schools are being left with a qualification that can't match it, that is of profound concern to me, so we do need to do something to strengthen confidence in A-levels."

And I have to say I have a little suggestion for him (and the rest of the Government, going off his use of the plural 1st person): STOP UNDERMINING THEM!!!! Really, you can't say you're surprised that employers and universities have no confidence in them when you spend the rest of the time going on about how they're useless. It. Doesn't. Work. That. Way.

The article quoted throughout this can be found here on The Guardian's site and was written by Jonathan Paige. 

EDIT: Have fixed the font, credit goes to @IdioticInuit for pointing this out. Also added tags. 

EDIT: Updated to boast about my marks in the Humanities exam I mentioned and to try to rework a paragraph since I apparently borked the grammar on it, or I accidentally used the selecty-draggy-texty thing when making said edit and borked it up that way. I'm not sure. 
EDIT: Finally capitalised "Times" in its second instance, and realised an epic mistake I made. Which no one picked up on, but still...

15 May 2011

An A-Z of illogic

If you haven't read James Delingpole's atrocious Telegraph article from today [15/05/2011], I strongly suggest you don't as it will probably end up destroying whatever faith in humanity you have (likewise, whatever you do avoid the comments). If you have had the misfortune of seeing it, here's my response/letter-thing to his frankly ludicrous 'A to Z of Political Correctness'.

“A is for 'A-Levels'”
Which, contrary to popular belief, are not in fact just given away free with cereal, but require 2 years of work. Whilst the pass rate is pretty high (over 90% A to E, and yes over 25% get As), to make it look like this is due to a lack of effort on the part of the people taking A-levels and that A-levels are thereby worthless is pretty damn breathtaking. See also, 'Y'. P.S. If you think that people only go to University to get a self-esteem boost I strongly suggest you slap yourself in the face.

“B is for 'Bumper Cars'”
Not 'dodgems'. The Butlins guy explained it, come on. You were just pretty desperate here, weren't you.

“C is for 'Climate Change'”
Which there is, in fact, evidence for. From NASA, NASA. And anyway, we're running out of oil. We need to stop wasting energy to delay that too. If I find out you disapprovingly refer to people as 'deficit deniers' I'll... um... point out the disrepancy... on Twitter! Wait... that's a really shitty threat... never mind.

D is for 'Drowning'”
There's no denying that Jordon Lydon's death by drowning was immensely tragic, and, had the PCSOs been trained, could have been prevented. However, I doubt it was Health and Safety rules which prevented them jumping in rather than said PCSOs being unable to deal with such a situation. Also, considering that the media is fostering negative attitudes towards immigration and multiculturalism, having a degree of knowledge concerning how to help reduce that is important (especially for a Police Community Support Officer).

E is for 'Edinburgh, Duke of'”
An old man who makes not particularly funny jokes. Said jokes being non-PC has no bearing on the fact that they're shit. Also, I'm I'm fairly certain that the real 'greatest bastion of political incorrectness' is in fact another 'E': the 'Encyclopaedia Dramatica'.

F is for 'Feminists, and Our Sense of Humour'”
Which is odd, as feminists aren't one homogeneous group. Nonetheless, I do recommend following @MediocreDave on Twitter, since he certainly has one (actually everyone I follow generally does, even Philip Davies MP (albeit a small one)). Also, the joke you stuck here was actually less funny than some of the Duke of Edinburgh’s.

G is for 'Golliwog'”
An outdated, and possibly slightly racist, character. The suspension of two Conservative party activists after a complaint about them posing with one on Facebook (after being warned by the local branch that it didn't look good) being analogous to the censorship under the Soviet Union (you don't directly make this comparison, but it is certainly implicit (he refers to a couple of other probably racist things as being 'verboten' (German for prohibited, possibly utilised to produce Nazi connotations) and 'samizdat', apparently being unaware of what the latter term actually means). )).

H is for 'Health and Safety'”
Which has absolutely fuck-all to do with political correctness, moving swiftly on...

I is for 'Islamism'”
Which appears to have been conflated with Islam insofar that it isn't PC to offend people of other religions (at least deliberately offending people will be met with opposition, unintentional offence should really be met with an explanation of why something is offensive in my opinion). Also, I believe that this is the story you were referring to in your piece, so yeah, I'm actually inclined to take The Daily Mail's word on this and assume that you've managed to get your wires crossed in his head.

J is for 'Jon Snow'”
The Pub, specifically... um, people should be kicked out of pubs because people complain about their sexual orientation. Wait a second... isn't the point of that article that people being offended isn't a reason for this sort of stuff?

K is for 'KFC'”
Which only sells halal chicken in some of its 'restaurants' [citation needed] because it wants to have Muslim customers. Likewise, some Domino's Pizza have stopped selling pork products [citation needed], including pepperoni. Of course this is the truth, we should just take the good solid word of James Delingpole for it. EDIT: We actually should; he was half-right (KFC and Domino's did try the halal thing, but they stopped after it hit sales badly), well, even a stopped clock is right twice a day...

L is for 'Llantrisant, South Wales'”
Where apparently £190,000 has been spent on making sure that dormice don't get killed [citation probably needed]. Um... what's that article meant to about again? EDIT: Delingpole was also right here, this being the second time a day he's right. Although it's still unrelated to the topic at hand really, and he missed the opportunity to bring up the nationwide cost (which is only tangentially related to the subtitle of the entry, but hardly dissimilar to what he's done on a large number of entries).

M is for 'Motor Insurance'”
Because correlation doesn't equal causation, women have to pay the same as men when it comes to this. This is bad since women are 10 times less likely to have an accident (even though correlation is not the same as causation, and chances are it will pay off in the insurance excess instead). Unrelatedly, the EUCJ ruled that men and women should get paid equal pensions per year. Honestly "P is for Pensions" would have been way better than "P is for Peppa Pig".

N is for 'Nigger'”
An indisputably racist term. Nonetheless, you seem to mourn being able to use it. I do have to agree that changing it to 'slave' in Huckleberry Finn isn't the right thing to do though, due to it being an artifact from the social-historical context in which the book was written.

O is for 'Offence-Taking'”
Which we have become so skilled at it should become a new Olympic sport”. I'm quoting out of context, but see 'Jon Snow' for an example of someone taking undue offence.

P is for 'Peppa Pig'”
Who has been redrawn to wear a seatbelt because not wearing seatbelts offends Muslims or something. Alternatively, it's an attempt by whoever makes the show to avoid showing Peppa breaking the law.

Q is for 'Quangos'”
Such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which is bad. Because, um, human rights are bad? (Mind you, I wonder who's been put in charge of drafting the British Bill of Rights... if it's them you're going to end up eating your words for sure).

R is for 'Rover'”
Who is presumably not a human since we apparently have to refer to him as a 'companion animal' rather than a 'pet'. Seeing as this is literally the first I've heard of this, the PC-brigade is obviously far too ubiquitous./Sarcasm

S is for 'Sooty'”
A mildly racist nickname for the Prince of Wales's friend Kuldip Dhillon, which he apparently doesn't mind, and is probably not meant to be derogatory, but, since I don't know how he acquired it, I can't comment, so yeah.

T is for 'Twitter'”
Apparently run by the 'Twitter Taliban' (read: people like me), who pick up on anyone who isn't PC and scream at them until they shut up. Or, y'know, use the block button.

U is for 'Unreliable'”
Because I don't think you understand that people who are disabled have good and bad days, and thus are unreliable. Hereby, advertising for someone who is 'reliable' is being ableist (albeit unintentionally).

V is for 'Vegetarianism'”
Which is a real pain for you since you really cannot be arsed to cater for guests who partake in such eating fads as having a gluten intolerance, the politically correct bastards.

W is for 'Winterval'”
A fake festival in the way that the PopStation is a fake games console. What you doesn't realise is that Winterval isn't even that.

X is for 'The Cross'”
Um. No it isn't. I'm fairly certain the 'Cross' begins with 'C'. Don't be lazy.

Z is for 'Zoo'”
Which should really be in plural since we're moaning about the fact that they don't have any big animals in them any more, like in Twycross, what with their elephants, tigers, and apes. Also, I'm fairly certain that humans are the only animals with guns, so yeah, we are the most dangerous animals out there.

I am aware that I've skipped out 'Y', because I want to reserve the worst until the last.

Y is for 'Yoofs'”
A. It's 'youths' not 'yoofs', and yet my generation is the one which has been dumbed down, go figure. And B. You know what, I'm going to let Delingpole do the talking here.
Who, thanks to our failing education system’s “all shall have prizes” ethos, believe that the world owes them not only a living but also three taxpayer-subsidised years of rutting and drug-taking at university. Tell them it is unaffordable, and they riot around the Cenotaph. This is the generation whose parents were too caring to say “no”.

Actually scratch that. Because you know what? Yes GCSE pass rates are high, THIS IS NOT A BAD THING! 5 GCSEs A*-C is considered to be the benchmark, and far too many kids aren't getting that. As for the 'taxpayer-subsidised years of rutting and drug-taking', just because you, Davey, Boris and co. spent your uni days slacking off doesn't mean most kids do. Most kids have to work, and as for the 'all must have prizes' bullshit... what prizes are there to be had? I'm genuinely curious. The sad thing is, in my experience this isn't a fitting depiction of the generation I'm in, it's one for yours (well, for people of your class at least... yes, yes I am a bit bitter, but can you blame me?). 

Concerning edits: Thanks to @DickMandrake for giving me the info. 
By the way, his take on it can be found here: http://dickmandrake.blogspot.com/2011/05/a-z-of-delingpole-being-twat.html 

4 May 2011

"Empowerment" Merlin's Soggy left buttcheek

I'd like to apologise in advance for any cisnormavity here, but this is Nadine Dorries (who quite probably has a secondary citizenship to Daily-Mail-land) we're talking about here. And the bill this post rants incoherently about discusses is pretty aggressively gendered.

Did you hear? Girls like me have apparently been so corrupted by the sex which is ever-present in the media that we have completely forgotten who is in control of our bodies, and as such need the wonderful, amazing, uber-empowering, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries to empower us through the medium of having special lessons set aside solely to teach us how to say no. And by empower, I mean 'reinforce negative perceptions about'.

There is absolutely no way that I can see this actually doing anything empowering, the exact opposite would happen. But this is what you get with a bullshit bill based off the bullshit premise that girls aren't taught how to say no (we don't need to be, if anything people should be taught that 'no' means just that no but I digress) and being given decent sex-education has caused the teenage pregnancy rate to reach the unacceptably high rate of.. oh wait, as of 2009 the teen conception rate has been the lowest since the early 1980s (when, if I remember rightly, it was Nadine Dorries's own Conservative party which was in control, how very odd). How bizarre. Still there's no denying that teaching 7 year-olds how to put condoms on bananas is wrong. Which is why IT DOESN'T BLOODY HAPPEN. In my LEA we do get a nice lesson on STD prevention in Year 8 and one in Year 10 on contraception where we do the condom thing (the learning how to put a condom on 3 times bit actually being true, probably), but we're told that abstinence is actually the best way to avoid STDs and pregnancy. So this bill is redundant, this raises the issue of what the bill would, if passed (something which is, admittedly, rather unlikely unless our MPs are exceptionally rubbish... and I mean exceptionally), actually do.

Since the extra sex-ed lessons are female only, well it's hardly going to be good for gender roles in that area. These 'empowering' lessons work off the premise that 'consent' is simply not saying no, rather than saying yes, I can't exactly see this as being a good thing. Saying nothing is not the same thing as consent. These 'empowering' lessons will also quite probably provide our still patriarchal society with a handy way of blaming girls who are raped for their rape* because girls have been taught they can say no, it puts the onus on women for stuff like this, when it takes two to tango, and some people may well not take 'no' for an answer. Not to mention that it's just a reinforcement of the patriarchal assumption that girls aren't interested (which I actually can't rebuke from personal experience, but I reason that this probably isn't the case), and shouldn't be, meanwhile guys will never need to say no* which probably isn't an exactly brilliant image to send out. And by 'probably' I mean 'bloody well'.

Meanwhile, the capitalist hierarchical culture which gives rise to patriarchy is going to escape unscathed; Dorries outright said that the reason behind her moral panicking was related to the media which is then completely ignored (Dorries seemed concerned about the abnormally high (read:low) teen pregnancy rate, I don't think same-sex kissing should be an issue for her, unless it is (wouldn't surprise me)). Actually that's unfair, she did say that Mary Whitehouse was right, but that's going a little too far in my humble opinion. Still, as a Conservative, and going off this bill, she doesn't see any issues with our place in society. So let's see, the proposed bill will reinforce patriarchal perceptions of women whilst not actually doing anything about said patriarchal perceptions. Really empowering Nadine. Thanks.

*I am aware that it is possible that guys can also be raped, this bill isn't.