Why I Will Vote UKIP

I believe in immigration and gay marriage and I’m voting UKIP. I believe in national sovereignty and individual responsibility and I’m voting UKIP. I care about the economy, the rich, the poor and the helpless, and I’m voting UKIP.

But when some people ask me why, there is no little surprise in their tone. Personally I’m astonished by their astonishment. How can anyone who’s experienced such a soulless sea of liars, hypocrites, cravens, traitors, and ultimately useless leaders we seem to have had forever, not find this small dedicated party that genuinely believes in something and doesn’t attempt to shy away from its beliefs, the most refreshing event in politics for a generation? Well, given the quite despicable and shamelessly biased coverage UKIP has received by the mainstream establishment media I guess quite a few people are less than enamoured by the only libertarian and truly conservative party we’ve seen in decades. I wouldn’t wish the mistruths and misinformation, ignorance and ignominy, disregard and disrespect that UKIP has had to endure these past few years on anyone, even my political enemies. So much for the British predilection to route for the underdog.

Even if you don’t agree with UKIP’s policies and ideology, you are compelled to concede that they are about more than playing the vote-grabbing game, and to call them simply populist is languorous and callow. It is undeniable that they have forced extremely relevant and important matters into everyday political discussions. Who was talking about radical Islam, immigration, foreign aid, taxation, the NHS and political correctness ten years ago? No one! Topics, for those too pusillanimous to raise or confront, which do concern the people of Britain are now being talked about by our leaders because UKIP forced the issue. For the second consecutive election and only the third since 1929, we will have a hung parliament next week. Can anyone claim this has nothing to do with UKIP? Clearly they are doing something right, and that is: raising salient and sensitive topics, trying to represent the people of Britain and act in the best national self-interest of our country. In other words, fulfilling their obligations as prospective politicians qua politician. Say what you will about UKIP, and many people have said many things many of which are nonsense, but in my opinion I see the only practical, common sense, real world manifesto out there.

If you want open door immigration, to give more power to the EU, more “progressive” taxation, multiculturalism, political correctness and misanthropic futile “green” politics, they aren’t for you. They will never be for you. They won’t change this fact to get votes. But I suspect that more and more people have become as sick to death of these insipid trite and regurgitated bromides as I have. Guess what? I’m proud to be British, proud of freedom, proud of capitalism, proud of individual responsibility. I do believe the undeniable and painfully obvious fact that some cultures are better than others. I believe that religion is dangerous. I believe that radical Islam is one of the greatest threats to our planet today. I believe that whilst an elite cadre of politically motivated scientists and “celebrities” cry wolf over climate change, that Iran, North Korean, and ISIS are the real enemies at the gate. And because of this climate of fear over what we say and do nowadays, I have to follow such a statement with ‘and I’m not a racist, and I care about the environment, and the poor’, in case anyone thinks I’m a neo-Nazi because I don’t buy the Guardian and I don’t watch the BBC, and I don’t think the NHS is Great Britain’s cultural apex.

Here, I limited myself to a triumvirate of topics with which I hope to best espouse UKIP. One disclaimer: I represent no one but myself. I am not an apologist for anyone. This is my opinion, and whilst I know I appear recalcitrant when I say I genuinely don’t care if you agree with me or not, the truth is I hope this does strike a chord with the honest undecided.

I am pro-gay-marriage

I believe that the State should recognise the lawful union of two human beings regardless of gender. I believe this because the State has no right to oppose those private choices of citizens which do not impinge on the freedom of others. Note: I am not saying that getting married is itself a fundamental Right. Rather, the State has no power to deny marriage to gay people because in a free society everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. Private citizens may choose to associate or not associate with other private citizens, but the government has no such freedom: it must be fair and impartial to all citizens with respect to the law. The government cannot choose to NOT associate with its citizens.

However, because I won’t claim a contradiction, I can’t force private citizens to enter into discussion, negotiation, business or contractual arrangement with other citizens against their will. The government must treat every citizen equally, because whilst all things not explicitly granted to the government are denied, all things not explicitly denied to citizens vis-à-vis criminal actions, are necessary legal.

UKIP’s stance on gay marriage is important because Nigel Farage explained in his own words his objections to it, namely his fear that private organisations would be forced to marry gay people if they didn’t want to. I am certainly not a religious person, but the church (any church) is a voluntary private organisation of free people and who they choose to deal with, or not, is their choice. It doesn’t matter if you agree with them or not. The same goes for cake makers who refuse to create wedding cakes for gay couples. To those who disagree: it’s their life and their property, and you’re a fascist.

In my opinion, forcing private citizens to act against their will, under penalty of fines or prison (!) in order to satisfy the “rights” of other citizens (even for a noble cause) is a gross and evil contradiction. This issue is more important than gay marriage. Why? Because the very principle of recognising gay marriage depends on seeing all people as politically equal. That principle must apply to all private citizens, even the ones we don’t agree with, or it means nothing!

In other words, if you feel you won something by the legalisation of gay marriage, but didn’t understand the price we paid for it — violating the rights of innocent citizens (who may or may not be bigoted religious zealots), I really pity you. I almost hope you choke on the irony, and I say this as someone who wanted gay marriage as much as you did.

I believe UKIP would fully support gay marriage but would not force any organisations (such as churches) to perform a marriage against their will. That is why I would choose them.

I am pro-immigration

I believe that the area of land on this small planet upon which we happen to start our lives is irrelevant to our fundamental nature as human beings. Not only is that the single greatest argument against racism, but it also means a truly free society does not restrict innocent citizens within its borders from living wherever they want. I believe where an individual chooses to live is not something the government, any government, should regulate.

I do find it humorously ironic, therefore, that those most supportive of immigration – those who have no problem with potentially anyone coming to Britain and having indirect access to the accumulated wealth of others, either through the NHS, housing or unemployment benefits – are the ones most vociferously opposed to their fellow citizens accumulating their own wealth. In other words, these people are quite happy to give me their money if I’m an immigrant, but spit blood at the suggestion of me keeping more of my own.

But I digress.

Immigration has been a matter of personal conflict because my belief in real freedom precludes me denying anyone the right to travel and live wherever they will – as if I, or we, have the right to draw a line beyond our own property and say “we, who call ourselves British, collectively agree that this area which none of us individually own is somehow ours to give or to take”. British people do not own the British land. “We” can decide only what to do with the land we actually own, and mind our own business about the rest. The only thing the British government should do is protect those who live on that land.

However, our law and our culture and our way of life is something that all members of this society should care about. And to claim that these things are not affected by, for example, barbaric uneducated unemployed superstitious religious fundamentalists, who mutilate the genitals of women, who see women and gays as second-class citizens, who despise the values of freedom and individualism, who want to see religious law as the law of the land, who believe in “honour” killings, who groom underage girls for prostitution and rape them (as a politically correct Council and police force turn a blind eye), who take what a relatively free society has to offer with one hand and plot its destruction with another… to claim that these things are a result of paranoia or racism and that they are not real terrifying problems that have happened and are happening in Britain – is an act of intellectual and moral cowardice. Anyone who denies the reality of this situation and the real threat it poses is an ethically bankrupt craven or an embarrassingly naïve ignoramus.

If we could adequately police our towns and cities (which we can’t, because no party other than UKIP believes in strengthening the police or army), and if our local councils were not crippled by political correctness and a terror of being perceived as discriminatory (which they are, but which UKIP would not be), and if the UK government could kick out these vermin from our nation (which it can’t under EU law but which UKIP would) and if we could stop such inhuman parasites coming into the country (which we can’t under EU law but which UKIP would), we could solve this social problem in one clean swoop.

You cannot have a generous welfare state and open immigration. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot tell the working people who prop up such inefficient and insolvent services that they must keep paying, keep sacrificing, keep “doing their part”, whilst the largest beneficiaries of such a system are those who have contributed the least, or nothing.

It seems to me that the NHS is here to stay. The welfare state is here to stay. If you care about these things, if you believe we in Britain must have these services then we must restrict who is able to take advantage of them. You cannot have it both ways. (A position that, as UKIP supporters and the polls show, finds agreement especially with ethnic minorities in British.)

I believe that the National Health Service should be a NATIONAL Health Service, not an International Health Service. It was created as a basic safety net for the very poor and helpless in society; a collective insurance policy that we all pay into. Certain party leaders can spout vacuous platitudes about helping people (whilst their own constituents struggle to pay bills), but that’s not the point. I will not even address the non-argument of enforced charity here except to say: if you think that people in this country, who are already playing the role of Atlas for this bloated and wasteful system, should have their money given away to non-contributors (or worse, corrupt foreign governments), at a time when old people who’ve paid into it all their lives are burning books to keep warm and dying in fuel poverty – yours is a position of self-hatred, altruism, insecurity, and misanthropy. Please go ease your fragile little conscience somewhere else, preferably with your own money. You don’t care about people, you hate wealth. You don’t want to save the world, you want to control it. You want an egalitarian utopia where everyone is equally poor.

What on earth is the problem with an Australian-style points system where, in order to live and work in this country, you have to have certain qualifications, not be a criminal (oh the humanity), and have your own health insurance for a brief initial period, after which you qualify for the full range of services the UK offers?

National sovereignty and the EU

Surely the most basic principle of evolved politics is that politicians are chosen in a free election by the citizens of a country, and the politicians represent and serve those people as best as possible. They then pursue the wishes and interests of their citizens and protect their value and freedoms. Did I miss anything?

Well that doesn’t happen anymore, if indeed it ever did. Being a politician today means using the power your people gave you, their money and their trust, like virtual resources in a computer game to trade with other politicians for favours and privileges. It means sacrificing and compromising on things that should never be sacrificed or compromised, to gain prestige, power, votes, or the goodwill and plaudits of others. Some might say that’s the whole point of politics. Well, forgive my innocence. I don’t think it should be that way.

National sovereignty isn’t about nationalism. It’s about the most important and sacred principle of free civilisation; something humanity spent thousands of years and millions of gallons of blood to fight for: that those who hold the most dangerous and corruptible of positions, our leaders, be these things to us: transparent, scrupulous, electable, impeachable, accountable, limited, delimited, and partisan.

A society where its leaders are not elected, cannot be unelected, cannot be vetoed, cannot be questioned by its people, can pass any law or statute without ratification or consensus, and are immune to referendum and resistance — is not free. It is feudalistic, elitist, oligarchic, and tyrannical. It will necessary descend, as all powerful and irremovable men of power have done, into totalitarianism.

If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m talking about the European Union – a lie that was sold to us as a mere trading partnership, but which is and always was intended to be, a supranational federal union. A utopia conceived by we-know-best elitist socialists even before the Second World War, the European federal government continues to accrue ever greater powers and authority to itself, with less and less autonomy residing in member states. Like all central planners, they refuse to let the facts of reality get in the way of “the dream”.

This isn’t the place for an exposé of the EU. You must do your own research and decide if those of us who dislike this insidious monstrosity are Europhobic “little Englanders” or not. What I must say is that there are those out there who love the EU. They are of a kind: they want globalisation, they care little about accountable government (because people allowed to choose might make the wrong choice), and they all say the same things and tow the party line on everything from climate change to Palestine to welfare to taxation to nationalisation to regulation to big government. They want this to happen. I have nothing to say to them and you should challenge everything they claim about Europe and Britain’s relationship with it (because most of it is lies). Don’t take my word for what I’m going to say. Please, research this yourself. When I say that the EU is run by fascist elitist undemocratic power-hungry megalomaniacs (many of whom are unabashed former communists and Marxists), obsessed with control over private life and property, who want to take away your precious right to elected representation, I am not revealing a conspiracy. This isn’t even a secret! This happens every day before our eyes, but most media sources don’t choose to report it. I wonder why. (That the EU gives ‘charitable donations’ to the BBC is surely a coincidence.)

If you care about personal freedom, accountable politicians, a say in what happens to you, your country and your government, you must oppose the EU.

I cannot emphasise this next point strongly enough, because it transcends the political spectrum (except for those on the far left and far right who only care about freedom of choice if they’re making the choices): it doesn’t matter if you’re left or right. It doesn’t matter if you’re pro-immigration or anti-immigration. It doesn’t matter if you’re a socialist or capitalist, pro-freedom or pro-statism. It genuinely does not matter whether we agree or not on anything. Why? Because if we, the British people, do not have control over the laws of our own land then nothing we say or do about politics matters. The EU can dictate to us if we should open our borders or close them. Today we are told to open them. Tomorrow we might be told to close them (yeah, right), and we’d have to comply. You might think terrorists should be allowed to live in this country. I think they should be deported. What does it matter? If the EU says they can stay, end of debate. They can give away our fishing waters, give away our borders, give away our money, ban our vacuum cleaners, have trackers installed in our cars and negotiate our trade deals. What does it matter what you think, what I think, what you think should be done, how much we argue, debate the matter, exchange opinions and maybe even agree – it does not matter – because we have no real power anyway. A bunch of bureaucrats in Brussels, people you’ve never heard of, who you didn’t elect, who you cannot remove from office, have control over the law of our land.

I find it so macabrely funny seeing the political parties falling over each other to bribe what they think is a credulous and capricious electorate with everything from: more of someone else’s money, NHS spending, less austerity (let’s pretend the debt doesn’t exist), increased foreign aid, stamp duty, devolvement, neo class warfare and envy, and (god forbid) more useless green taxes. They must think we’re all stupid. And does any of it matter in the long run anyway? When over half our laws are made in Brussels (a deliberately modest estimate at best), isn’t it pathetic to see these Party leaders squabbling over the fraction of power that the great EUSSR has deigned to let remain with us? (For now.)

This is why, in my opinion, the question of whether Britain remains in the EU is the single most important one to be answered in British politics today. It is why you have to vote UKIP if, regardless of whatever else you believe, you believe in this: that you’re voting for a British government.

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Suarez v Evra / Racism in football / Free Speech

I’m going to give my opinion on the recent Suarez/Evra racial abuse incident, racism in general and where freedom of speech and the law should come into it.

What happened between Suarez and Evra?

I’m going to assume the reader is fairly familiar with the situation, but to summarise: Luis Suarez, a Liverpool player, allegedly racially insulted Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. I say ‘allegedly’, because I think we will never know for sure what was said between the two, but having read the evidence presented to the panel and their judgement, I will say that it is hard to defend Suarez. My opinion from the start in this has simply been that a man is innocent until proven guilty. The question for me wasn’t really if Suarez is a racist or not, but whether it could be reasonably proven, since otherwise it’s one man’s word against another, something we don’t usually accept as damning evidence. I think Liverpool FC reacted so strongly to the affair because they felt a miscarriage of justice had occurred. I also felt there was a witch-hunt going on; the perfect chance for the politically-inclined to curry some favour by jumping on the anti-racist bandwagon. Whilst I still believe this, I think it’s hard to defend Suarez.

What I will say is that, ironically, if Suarez completely denied using any racial words at all, he might’ve been acquitted. He admitted using the words but denied there was racist intent. I’m not saying this excuses Suarez, but it does make the incident seem less clear-cut which probably made his supporters feel justified in defending him at first.

The handshake

On Saturday 11th February, Liverpool faced Man Utd at their ground in a League game. By an astonishing coincidence, Sky decided to switch their pre-kickoff advert run to much earlier, before the players even lined up in the tunnel (usually the players walk onto the pinch and Sky cut to commercial for several minutes, then return for the kick-off proper), which meant that the line-up and handshake could be televised live. There are some who suggest that Evra half-heartedly offered his hand or even slightly pulled it away as Suarez approached. This may be true or it might be clutching at straws. Personally, I don’t buy it: his hand is out. In contrast, Suarez made no attempt at all to shake hands with Evra and instead blanked him, continuing down the line. Evra reacted angrily, grabbing Suarez’s arm. Suarez pulled his arm free and continued on.

Now there are two ways to take this: if Suarez is innocent and was convicted on the word of another man and the reasonable certainty of a judiciary panel, his reputation has been tarnished forever. As long as he lives, wherever he plays, he will have the term “racist” hanging over him. If this was me, and I was innocent, I’d have blanked Evra too. Contrastingly, if Suarez was guilty and I was Evra, I would not shake his hand at all! I cannot understand why Evra offered his hand. If he is the victim, the innocent one, then the racist filth of another person isn’t something you should forgive and forget. Suarez should’ve been the one to offer his hand (if guilty) and Evra would’ve been fully justified in ignoring it, given that, remember: Suarez denied the charge of using racist insults, so if he’s guilty it makes him a liar on top of a racist. At the time of the handshake I was actually biased toward Suarez given how the situation played out. What I mean is, if I was one of the parties concerned, it would’ve made more sense for Suarez to not be guilty and snub Evra, than for the innocent Evra to offer his hand and then get so riled up when it was refused.

What I disliked about Evra’s reaction (and I will assume he is in the right), is that if he wanted to be the “bigger man” and offer his hand, why did he then completely lose his temper? Wouldn’t a “bigger man” have given a wry smile or shrug, and simply think “to hell with him!” with all the cameras watching? That would’ve made a bigger impression, in my opinion. His reaction, coupled with his red-mist charge into Suarez which ended up only taking out teammate Ferdinand, and his excessive post-match victory dance appeared to me, not as a man celebrating a football result nor a man celebrating a judicial verdict, but a man whose pride had been wounded and wanted to get even. Again, I could be wrong (and given the evidence I probably am), but that’s how it could look. Having said that, after months of repressed emotion and winning an important game against a fierce rival where a racist abuser tried to embarrass me in public, I might be tempted into a bit of self-righteous gloating myself, understandably.

My personal opinion is that the evidence against Suarez was satisfactory for the verdict. I personally don’t believe Evra should have offered his hand, but it was his choice and he did it. But I also think that, even for an innocent man, his reaction at the end of the game, waving his arms in circles and skipping along the touchline to his fans, inciting their anti-Liverpool venom all the more, and trying to provoke or belittle Suarez, was irresponsible. He is supposed to be a Manchester United captain. Manchester United has been the biggest team in the world for decades, and is arguably only eclipsed in its success and attractive football by Barcelona and Real Madrid – and is this the guy Man Utd fans want as their leader, their talisman, their representative on the pitch? I’m not equating his antics with Suarez’s racism and if he wasn’t the captain I’d be inclined to ignore it, but surely it was out of order and grossly unprofessional?

Speaking of which, if Suarez led his colleagues and superiors to believe he would shake Evra’s hand (which it seems he did) and then refused to – he put them in an unfair and uncomfortable situation and deserves to be punished. It was sly and dishonourable behaviour and he let himself and everyone connected to Liverpool down. He has subsequently apologised for this.

But what I have to point out is the hypocrisy of Sky: despite the presenter, pundits and commentators insisting that “we” talk about football, they did a damn fine job of talking about everything but the football. As I previously said, Sky switched their pre-match commercials to make sure they covered the handshake. They extended the post-match section of their coverage, no doubt anticipating having much to discuss. The post-match interviews glossed over the actual football so we could get to the really juicy stuff.

Reaction

Of course, everyone had an opinion on the incident. Some Liverpool fans fiercely supported Suarez to the death, simply because he is a Liverpool player. Some Manchester United fans had similar support for Evra. Extreme opinions were voiced on both sides, with many clambering to assert what Suarez should or shouldn’t have done and how he should be punished further. (Personally I think that the pre-match handshake in all football games is a farce; another example of bureaucracies having too much time on their hands to invent silly little rituals instead of being an administrative body and nothing else.)

I will always give my honest opinion and be as objective as possible: for a start, I totally reject the suggestion that footballers are responsible for the behaviour of fans, with one exception: encouraging a frenzy by running to the crowd. A hero scoring a goal and running to fans causes them to naturally rush to meet him, which is dangerous. Players are rightly booked for this. This has absolutely nothing to do with referees being “spoil sports” or politically correct or some health and safety nonsense. We have seen the injury and death that can be caused at football matches from stampedes, and they can be caused by anything from gross police negligence to something as innocent as goal scoring. That aside, if you’re a Liverpool fan who sees Evra’s post-match reaction and it enrages you so much that you find the nearest Man Utd fan and hurl a brick at him, the responsibility for that action is as follows: Evra: 0%, You: 100%. Similarly, if you’re a Man Utd fan who is incensed by Suarez’s refusal to shake Evra’s hand, you cannot use this as an excuse for beating up some Liverpool fans. Crimes are not morally transferable, and only in rare and mitigating circumstances are the motives for crimes balanced against the action. Sir Alex Ferguson said that Suarez was a disgrace and “could have caused a riot today.” Well I’m sorry, Alex, you might be right about the “disgrace” part but since when was one man morally accountable for the decisions of another? No, this piece of nonsense needs to go from football and society: you cannot use other people as excuses for your idiotic violence. We don’t accept “he made me hit him!” in the school-ground or from our children, so why is it ok for grown adults in the society to try the same?

Sir Alex Ferguson said that Suarez shouldn’t be allowed to play for Liverpool again, presumably meaning that LFC should eject him. Now, whilst I agree that a club should be picky about the character of player who wears their shirt, the simple fact is: most clubs don’t give a damn who or what a footballer is, only that he makes them successful, so it’s a little odd to start getting morally uppity now, even in the face of racism. It also exposes you to counter-assertions of hypocrisy. Let’s remember that two Manchester United captains in the last 20 years have: performed flying kicks into the necks of opposing spectators and deliberately set out to cause harm to opposing players. Roy Keane’s assault on Alfe-Inge Haaland was as premeditated and vicious an attack as you could see on a football pitch. Off the pitch, this would be treated as grievous bodily harm, carrying a fine and probable jail term. In a civilised society, we allow offensive speech and ban violence, because the former doesn’t violate anyone’s Rights and the latter does. In football, it seems to work the other way around: initiating violence against someone carries a 5 match ban; a racist slur incurs 8. Imagine if the law in everyday life worked this way! Some might say that violence is violence and happens in life but racism is a social evil that should be eliminated. Well this is my opinion: both are evil but violence is socially worse. Why? Evil opinions can (and should) be legally permitted because they can be defeated by reason and non-violent means. Violence can never be legally permitted because it destroys reason, can only be stopped by more physical force, and invariably leads to more violence. I’ll go into this in more detail later, but if you disagree, think about this: would you rather someone approach you on the street and insult you, or break your legs?

On the subject of players representing a club, in football “we” seem to allow: violence, cheating, name-calling, unsporting behaviour and sociopaths, but a racist slur should be grounds for immediate dismissal? And I am not claiming that they are one and the same or morally equal, but let’s be clear what we’re talking about here: there are a great number of disgraceful things that football clubs happily turn a blind eye to. And if you think that a racist insult is necessarily worse than trying to hurt another human being, you should be prepared to fully justify that position, if you can.

The Government and Free Speech

The PFA Executive Gordon Taylor said “the situation is running away with us and this isn’t healthy for football, particularly with the government looking into the governance of football”, which probably explains why so many people in positions of power are worried about the situation. What no one is asking is why the government is poking its nose into the administration of a sport!  Don’t our politicians have anything better to do? I would think economic crisis and national security should be enough to be getting on with, but if they’re that bored I encourage them to please consider getting a proper job. If I were Taylor I’d politely tell the government to mind its own damn business, but that  might affect all the State parties and gatherings that FA executives and footballers get invited to huh?

The racism in football issue is another excuse for the government to extend its power over free speech. There are some well-intentioned individuals whose natural reaction to racism is to call for more laws and government action. You are not helping anyone. Before anyone objects, can we all just agree at the outset that racism is evil and should be socially unacceptable? Now that that’s over with, let’s get back to the very basics:

Why is racism a bad thing?

So many opinions float around in a vacuum, taken for granted or as self-evident truths. But it is not self-evident that racism is evil. It is not self-evident that rape is evil. Why? Because “racism is bad” is not a moral primary. “Rape is bad” is not a moral primary. Rather, racism and rape are violations of the most basic pro-human virtue: rationality. For example: “physical force” is not itself bad, as a primary. If it were, it would be wrong to lock criminals up or punish them no matter what they did. Physical force is acceptable, as long as it’s not initiated. Therefore, we are justified in locking a criminal up (or killing him), but not an innocent man. Therefore, rape isn’t evil simply because it’s physical force, but because it is necessarily the initiation of force against an innocent; it’s a violation. It is evil because it is anti-human.

Racism is evil, not because it violates Rights (it doesn’t) but because it’s anti-human. Racism is probably the most profound and stupid example of irrationality in existence, which says: “just because someone has different skin colour or was born elsewhere, they can be judged as individuals”. It is the judgement of a man’s character based on his geography or bloodline. It is irrational; it is anti-human; it is evil. But what racism is not, in itself, is a violation of anyone’s Rights. Fascists will disagree, but the government’s job is to protect Rights, not to police acceptable speech. This is why racism cannot be a crime.

The principle of freedom of speech is not to preserve or encourage popular or admirable opinions (although that is a natural consequence) but to prevent unpopular opinions from being suppressed, however ridiculous or inhuman they may be. The idea of free speech allowing everything, except the stuff we really really don’t like, is a contradiction in terms! Either everything is legally permissible to say, or none of it is. And before I get accused of creating a false dilemma: I’m not; there is no objective standard by which to determine what speech should and shouldn’t be acceptable, since any opinion in the world is potentially offensive to someone somewhere. All that truly exists is what some politician decides based on the votes he’s trying to win, or the “popular opinion” of the time, a fallacy which says that something is true simply because enough people think it is. Remember that in the past what we would consider racist was the general opinion, even from the intellectuals at the time. Even as recently as a few decades ago, the popular opinion of homosexuals and sexual equality was what we’d now call archaic.

The beauty of the “freedom of speech” principle is that it protects us all from whatever mob, whatever dictator, whatever bureaucrat, whatever despot, whatever faction, decides our opinion is a threat to them and wants to stamp it out. (It also prevents the government giving special favours to those opinions it wants to encourage.) The more ridiculous (or evil) an opinion, the more important it is to not censor it. Why? First, because trying to ban an opinion is impossible anyway. Opinions are individual matters which arise from a person’s choices and premises (conscious and unconscious). Second, because trying to blacklist an opinion (or anything) creates a black market; you drive it underground where it meets the worst of humanity. Third, you discourage honest debate. For example, if someone is truly racist and honestly believes that nationality or race plays a part in the judgement of another individual (these people are far more common than you realise), it is all the better to let them speak and offer their arguments so that they can be defeated. If someone says “it’s obviously true that black people are mentally inferior to whites”, do not silence him! Do not give him the “respect” that many a brave voice in history was met with: censorship. Do not plant the seed in another’s mind that “maybe he has a point?!” Rather, let him speak and explain himself, and then show why he is totally and utterly wrong. Blast the argument in public for all to see for all time. But do not simply ban it, or treat him like a criminal for holding an opinion (even an evil one).

(As an aside, I should mention that the only exceptions to free speech in any form are libel and slander, which are rightly illegal.)

We can already see around the world our governments taking measures to control speech and the mediums of speech, the best example of which being the internet. It is not that our governments are necessarily fascist and wicked (though some politicians are), but because they simply assume that moral evils are the remit of the government to police. And when the average citizen agrees and even calls for it, how can we expect anything else?

The government has no job banning and criminalising any speech. It is a slippery slope we are already going down, where the government penalising particularly motivated-actions over others necessarily leads to the home of motives: thoughts. And if the government bans one, it will sooner or later try to control the other.

Hate crime and hypocrisy

Today in England, a “hate crime” is treated more seriously than a “normal crime”. Presumably, if you violate someone else’s Rights you are super-duper guilty if you did it for racist reasons. Interestingly enough, what this means is that if you’re the same colour as your attacker he is less accountable for his violence than if you or he were a different colour. In other words, people of a different race are more or less guilty than others, all other things being the same. What’s that word for pre-judgment based on race again?

But the elephant in the room that no one is talking about, and which is uncomfortable to discuss for obvious reasons is: why is a cruel and irrational insult against a person acceptable for some reasons and not others? Some footballers have been treated to disgraceful abuse at football grounds, not because of their colour or character or behaviour, but their sexuality. Why is this any different to racism? Aren’t both attacks on an individual based on un-chosen and arbitrary traits? Aren’t both anti-human? Continuing this theme, why is it less frequently condemned when insults are for being: fat, thin, short, tall, attractive, ugly, butch, effeminate etc – most of the time attributes also outside anyone’s control? Of course most decent people would reply “well they aren’t acceptable either” – but the truth is we do view them differently and no matter how hurtful an insult is we are generally told “brush it off, ignore it”, unless it’s racist.

I haven’t established the difference clearly in my head, but if you seriously discriminate against another, or abuse them, what does the particular subject of abuse matter? I welcome an honest answer.

I have many foreign friends, and it’s not uncommon to hear “you Swedish bastard!”; “you Czech retard!”; “you Welsh sheep-shagger”; “you stoned Dutch idiot!”, between us. If any of these insults, albeit in jest, included a reference to colour they would probably be considered racist. But what is the difference? If a genuine light-hearted joke can include reference to someone’s race – then what difference does it make what the race is? I am not saying there isn’t a difference, but if there is I’m having a hard time seeing it. Again, I welcome an honest answer.

Of course historically race has been far more divisive with human beings than gender and other physical attributes – no doubt why it is such a sensitive and inflammatory topic. I can certainly appreciate the emotive nature of colour-related racism. But we’d all agree that racism isn’t primarily a “colour issue”, it’s an issue between any two peoples of different nationality, culture, location or language. So again: if racism isn’t necessarily a colour issue why do “we” assume it is by allowing other kinds of race-related banter, except where colour is concerned?

You see, there is a danger of going too far to the other extreme. In fact, the debate is not: ‘racism is ok’ or ‘racism should be banned’, the debate is: ‘free speech of any kind should not be banned’ versus ‘some speech should be criminalised and some shouldn’t’. The danger is in fact seeing the world in terms of skin colours which is just what racism is. Like any movement to counter discrimination, it can become paranoid and see villains in every decision, enemies around every corner.

Racists see the world as a conglomeration of accents, nationalities, histories and colours – which of course it is, but that is all they see. They think of you, not as you the individual but you the white, the black, the Asian, the American etc; incidents outside your choice are relevant to their judgment of you. The politically-correct multiculturalists are so desperate to not appear like the racists, they pretend that there are absolutely no differences at all between people and insist on a “colour blind” world. Worse, they favour positive-discrimination which is just another form of racism.

But people are different! Not being a bigot isn’t ignoring someone else’s differences, it’s accepting that we human beings are a varied bunch – and not giving a damn about it: another person’s race, or colour, like their accent or birthplace, sexuality or gender, shouldn’t be something we tiptoe around but simply irrelevant in our judgement of them. Gay, straight, fat, thin, black, white, yellow, tall, short, intelligent or dumb – if you’re a monster you should be damned and if you’re virtuous you should be praised. Everything else, everything you didn’t choose, is irrelevant.

Derren Brown and Hypnosis

I was always a big fan of Derren Brown. As far as his work goes, I think he’s one of the best illusionists of all time. His stage entertainment is best described as “illusion” because almost everything he does is false. Even “effects” (to use the correct phrase in magical circles)  which he hints at being due to one thing are in truth another. Years ago, I was taken in by his ability to ostensibly pick up clues in mouth twitching or facial movements to deduce what word someone was thinking of. I’m not saying he isn’t doing this in some cases, for example – asking people a series of questions and picking out the single lie from the truthful answers has a readily-observable explanation (which he provides) and makes perfect sense. It’s not fool-proof, but it’s a nice ability that anyone could do with a bit of practice in the right setting. But most of the time, if Derren Brown is giving you an answer, or even hinting at the answer, he is almost always deceiving you.

I got into a discussion with a friend recently about DB’s latest TV show. In this episode, which admittedly I didn’t watch, he hypnotised a man into believing a bath of freezing water was mild, even having him lie in it for 8 minutes without discomfort! This supposedly demonstrated the power of hypnosis, or suggestion.

As much as I admire DB’s skill and most of the effects he achieves, in recent years my interest in him has cooled. There are two main reasons for this. One is his over-(mis)use and over-misdirection of supposedly scientific means and his own mental powers (which lessens the impact of his effects), and the other is his use of hypnosis.

Contrary to popular misconceptions and what hypnotists would have us believe, hypnosis is merely socially-learned unconscious behaviour. It is a form of reciprocal role-playing based on how the hypnotised person believes they should act, and how the hypnotist believes he should act. Both expect certain results and play their parts to achieve them. Hypnosis is very much like “speaking in tongues”; of course, the holy spirit isn’t really possessing people and causing them to utter nonsensical sounds, rather, these people are so hyped up in religious fervour they believe they are overcome with holy spirit and unconsciously act how they believe they should. They are playing a role, albeit unknowingly. This is all hypnosis is. Or in the words of Irving Kirsch, it is a “nondeceptive placebo”. In other words, hypnotised people believe they are “hypnotised” and act how they have come to understand a “hypnotised” person behaves. This behaviour can be guided or moulded by the hypnotist in more specific ways.

So, when you see DB take a young lady up on stage, ask her to look ahead, then up, then at him, after which he clicks his fingers and tells her to sleep – and she drops her head and closes her eyes – you are not observing magic or any abnormal power at work. He is doing nothing that you couldn’t do. (Consider that those who don’t believe in hypnosis can’t be hypnotised.) There is nothing going on here except the power of suggestion.

Now, the power of suggestion is very real, and is probably a testament to what the human mind can achieve when so conditioned. If anything, we should really take inspiration from it as a tool in our lives, (for example by having a positive outlook and an expectancy that we can and will achieve our goals). Hypnosis is simply an elaborate game to dress up suggestion and make it appear that something deeper is going on. Hypnosis adds a sense of wonder to the proceedings, if done for entertainment, credibility, if done professionally, otherworldliness, if done for occult or supernatural reasons.

There is no such thing as a hypnotic trance, and “hypnotised” people will not perform actions that are far removed from what their regular sensibilities will allow. For example, someone under hypnosis will not shoot themselves or jump off a cliff. The “power” of hypnosis will only go so far, and is curiously similar to what the subject is prepared to do anyway for attention, keeping the hypnotist happy, entertaining the audience, or the pressure to play along. In other words, if you really don’t want to get undressed on stage, you won’t – no matter how hypnotised you are or think you are.

But Derren Brown knows all this. He knows that hypnosis is largely convoluted, but is more than happy to perpetuate the myth because he needs people to believe it works. Even if they don’t believe it, he needs them to play along.

There is more going on with a good DB effect than the effect itself. He is perhaps most famous for being the guy who achieves seemingly supernatural effects by natural means, and is firmly opposed to the harm done by supernaturalists. He can cold-read better than most of the best “psychics” out there, levitate tables and chairs, produce coins with messages from beyond the grave, and have you subconsciously intuit dead from alive merely by looking at photographs. We know he isn’t doing any of this, but the effect is powerful, and those rational in the audience accept that it’s all done naturally. It  amazes us and baffles us, perhaps sends a shiver down our spine, and discredits the fraud and evil of the mystics all in one go. We don’t need to know how he does it, all we need to know is that it’s a trick.

But when it comes to hypnosis, this is one quasi-scientific area he’s happy to leave alone. You can’t say that we, the ones in the know, us clever people in the audience, aren’t supposed to be fooled by it, because we are supposed to be. For me it’s a bit like his “prediction” of the National Lottery numbers. It seemed impossible, and the effect was amazing. But then he went and ruined it by explaining how he did it. Not because he really explained it, but because he tried to feed us the most bullshit explanation ever, which most sane people wouldn’t buy, and which he himself would never believe! It was exactly the kind of mystical anti-scientific crap he works hard to discredit! He’d have been better off not explaining anything, or actually showing us how he really did the trick. To be fair, he admitted himself he didn’t like this stunt and wished he’d have done it differently.

But the point is, don’t take anything DB does as a performer at face value. Not even the stuff you think he’s explaining. As I mentioned earlier, a favourite trick of his is to intuit a secret word in the mind of a guest by their mannerisms or face movements. Of course, no human being in the world can do this – and I challenge anyone to guess a word I am thinking of. He drops hints that he’s picking up on subconscious clues and invites us to do the same to the subject. In reality, he is doing nothing of the sort.

Similarly, an effect he performed for his original TV show had a man separate photographs into two piles based on whether he got a superficial positive or negative vibe just by looking at the pictures. At the end, it was revealed that the “positive” pile were people who were alive, and the “negative” people happened to be of deceased. (I won’t reveal how it’s done, but this trick is very famous in its original form). But, it was a better effect by not being accompanied by some pseudo-rational explanation, which would’ve been a discredit to reason and somewhat condescending to the audience.

In another effect, and a more light-hearted one, he identifies the “liars” from a row of people just by listening to their answers without even looking at them. It’s a great trick, and gets the audience laughing, as the dirty liar gets exposed from the most innocuous answers. His brilliant showman skills allude to being a master of reading people, when the secret behind this effect is incredibly mundane. It took me 10 seconds to figure out how he did this: there is more deception on deception taking place here, and a good example of taking everything Derren says with a pinch of salt. (By the way, I’ve been to all DB’s stage shows each year. Ironically, and unfortunately, the most powerful and beautiful effect he performed last year was also the easiest to explain. I won’t say which one it was. During the intermission, my friends and I figured it out – and I was disappointed, not because of how he did it, but because afterwards the emotion of the effect evaporated. I would rather not figure it out, or more precisely, not be able to. Once the mystery is revealed, the emotional resonance is lost. What remains, and is by no means trivial, is an appreciation for the technical skill of the illusionist. I should also mention that whilst the emotion of the effect was thereafter lost, the meaning and the accompanying message was still beautiful and true.)

Of course, it doesn’t matter that he’s lying – because he’s an illusionist. He’s supposed to deceive us spectacularly, and the delivery and style is unique and engaging. But do some of his alleged “powers” actually give a false notion of science and the human mind? My problem is not with any of his effects, but is it better to maintain total mystery than to hint at a lie? How much credibility should be given to the idea that words and truths can be plucked from someone’s head before it goes from “it’s obviously only a trick” to “it takes a special skill to do that” to “I can do that with people myself”? How healthy is it to lend credence to hypnosis, just for an effect, if people run off to buy books on it, or spend hundreds on classes for it, visit a hypno”therapist”, or worse, attempt past-life regression?

In one effect (I mentioned the girl on stage who was hypnotised after a click of the fingers), DB gets the subject to use “unconscious writing” to apparently divine a word or number she couldn’t otherwise have known. You can say that it’s not supernatural, which it isn’t. You can say that DB despises mediums and abhors the supernatural as an explanation of anything, which he does. But the effect is: ‘under hypnosis, this person achieved a feat they couldn’t have otherwise’. If that isn’t the effect, why hypnotise them? One answer is: he is recreating a supposedly paranormal effect using natural means, thereby discrediting the former. But this effect wasn’t even about the power of suggestion (like the bath tub one was). Hypnosis is here just a means to an end, and did it present a false image of hypnosis? Did it give hypnosis a rational scientific credibility? It surely misrepresents the power of suggestion and the capriciousness of the human mind. Now, one could object that what it really does (with stunts like The Heist, where people were “brainwashed” to perform an armed robbery), is show how gullible some people can be, in which case DB is providing a very important object lesson for us all. Though I’m not sure how positive or life-affirming it is to perpetuate the idea that we can all be controlled to varying degrees to act completely out of character, just with the right “programming”. This isn’t a healthy self-image, nor do I believe a correct one. It is a trick staged with purported rational and scientific credibility. Is DB doing reason and science good or harm here? And if he is painting a false picture of the world, how is this any different to some of the people he denounces? Again, you could say that he is genuinely able to achieve these results using manipulation alone (which is the implication) – but when so much of his patter is nonsense, how can we be expected to know the difference?

Perhaps my gripe, and it’s really minor I must stress, is personal instead of professional: perhaps I feel slightly let down because I think in some ways I’m being patronised. If you know for example that hypnosis is rubbish and have a good idea how DB performs his effects, a lot of the delivery and window dressing loses its impact. I’d rather be told nothing and be totally stumped on a mystery, than be offered some half-truth. DB invites us to “meet him half way”, between what he apparently achieves and what is really happening. That’s all well and good, but he isn’t really meeting us half way is he? Even his half is a deception, yet another misdirection on a misdirection, leaving us in the position of not being able to take anything he says with honesty. And when you do that, you start to scrutinise his effects more for the real answer, which in my experience dilutes the power of the illusion. A far simpler and more famous trick, like sawing a woman in half, is far more impressive to me than programming people to commit a crime.

Similarly, when one has achieved so many great things in a career, it’s natural to keep pushing the boundaries and going for bigger and more extravagant. I wonder if DB has reached the limit of what his amazing skills can achieve, without redressing an old trick in new garb. In my opinion, magic is best when it’s personal and confined, and the emphasis is on the emotional impact of the effect, not on the sheer size of the effect. That’s why the illusionist Dynamo is much better when he’s materialising a phone into a sealed bottle than walking on water across the Thames. The former is personal: my phone teleported inside a jar – impossible! Incredible! Right before my eyes! A man walking on water? Meh. There’s glass under the surface; the trick is so incredibly false and surreal it’s hollow. Predicting the lottery results? Not interested, but making this chair float? That’s magic! Hypnotising someone to forget how to be a pianist? Social role-playing. Winning a race with the losing ticket? Jaw-dropping!

The best effects are usually the simplest. But if DB is going to be a champion of rationality and oppose the mystical, like the Randis and Dawkins of this world, then perhaps it’s worth looking at what image he himself generates of it. DB is at his best when he’s performing the incredible and being honest about it. One example is using a voodoo doll on a New Age believer only to present a twist at the end. The New Age movement (and the subject) come off looking silly and undermined, whilst the power of belief and suggestion is demonstrated, and there’s a lovely little sleight of hand to go with it. But we know what we need to know about the effect. A better example is his use of cold-reading to recreate paranormal effects. We know that he can’t commune with the dead, and we could never hope to match his skill and delivery, but we know how it’s done; we understand the trick and skill involved, and we’re wiser as a result. We aren’t being fed some crap about lip movement or crowd wisdom.

Nor are we led to believe that a psychological response is anything other than expectancy-based suggestion. The power of suggestion is real, but hypnosis is elaborate garb which detracts from a very real, fascinating and potentially useful ability. The truth might be better served by not giving hypnosis more power than it really has. And if hypnosis is worthy of anything, surely it must be separated from those who misuse it, even unknowingly, like hypnotherapists and occultists? Just like cold-reading should be separated from communing with the dead, so should genuine suggestion be from the act/game/con that accompanies the field of hypnosis. If hypnosis has reasonable and practical applications, like any placebo effect, all the more reason to be clear about what it is, and isn’t. There’s a reason medicines are medicines and placebos aren’t. One could retort that by being totally straight about hypnosis, any power it has is destroyed. But isn’t that the point? If some get comfort from hypnotic treatment, despite it being superficial, and despite most practitioners being well-meaning people – how is this different than the comfort one might get from a visit to a well-meaning medium who isn’t aware they are being fraudulent?

Perhaps I’m just saying that Derren Brown, one of the great performers and showmen of all time, is at his best when he’s deceiving us honestly.

UK riots – my thoughts on who, what and why

As riots continued for a third night running in major cities across the UK, many have had their say on the animalistic slime causing massive devastation to property and lives. What should we do about it? What is an appropriate response and what is too far? Why do yobs do this sort of thing? I’ll give my thoughts.

First of all, it’s not really clear what these barely-human criminals are rioting about. There is no doubt in my mind that most of them are simply along for the ride, and enjoy the thrill and excitement of being in the mob, mindlessly ruining without consideration. Even if there was a legitimate purpose to riot, surely the cause is negated by the gross violation of the rights of innocent citizens whose lives and property are being wrecked? What cause could possibly be worth fighting for that is somehow not connected, or superior to, the legitimate rights of others?

So should the government call in the army? No. There is a reason why the army is not and should not be used to keep the law. The army defends the country from enemies of the state; the police protect the citizens and enforce the law. When the army is used against its own citizens, the enemies of the state become its own people. Government power should necessarily be heavily limited in this regard and we cannot throw away that principle when it seems expedient. So should police use lethal force against the rioters? Again, I would say no, not unless it is absolutely necessary. Whilst it is true that these rioters are degenerate insects who deserve no mercy, the law and the police derive their power from their citizens and cannot begin arbitrarily executing them when they get out of hand.

However, I should stress that the rioters have freely abandoned the rule of law and chosen to violate the Rights of their fellow citizens. The cause does not matter, if there even is one. Riot police should be deployed in full force and use water cannons, tasers, tear gas and rubber bullets. The rioters should be beaten into submission, even if it means hospitalising them. The message must be loud and clear: the government will protect the rights of individuals from any threat, foreign or domestic, and those who contravene this rule should be put down, hard. There should be no compromise with vicious thugs. Force should be met with force. Not for the purpose of hurting them, or teaching them a lesson, or quashing citizens under the boot of the government – no, for the purpose of protecting individual Rights.

One thing that also needs pointing out is the makeup of the mob: the majority are youths. The obvious question once again: where are the parents? Once again we are witnessing the result of mediocre and disinterested parenting, of a society where family and integrity is meaningless, where the mothering and fathering skills of adults have atrophied due to a government that insists on doing our thinking for us. How can you expect youths to respect the rights of others, when everywhere you look, the concept of Rights of individuals is watered down or ignored? How can you ask parents to do their jobs and regulate their children, when across the world we see parents asking the government to create yet another rule, regulation or law to restrict content on this, age limits on that, certificates on this, bans on that, censorship on this, criminalisation on that. Perhaps, just perhaps, if the government stayed out of our private affairs and parents had to actually do their job, they would raise their children in a more responsible and dignified manner? Which brings me to my next point: the parents of any youth found convicted in these riots should be forced to make reparations to the owners of damaged property. Your kids, your problem. They smashed, stoned, defaced and burned it? You will pay for it.

I’m not excusing the rioters at all, but I am hardly surprised by their actions. Our culture is warped and sick. In almost every article I write I talk about philosophy, and how it’s a vital part of everyday life, whether people realise it or not. But look at the “intellectuals” of today; look at the philosophy that pervades the world: we are told that reality isn’t real, that there are no moral truths, that there are no real whites and blacks, that morality is subjective and uncertain, that our senses are weak or useless, that the good is whatever the majority commands, that the purpose of life is to sacrifice it, that property is greed, that Rights are “selfish”, that intelligence is sad, that power is all that matters, that dedication and determination are a waste of time, that fame for fame’s sake and beauty for beauty’s sake and money for money’s sake is the lifestyle to pursue, that scientists and businessmen are fools and whores, but celebrities and sportsmen should be objects of idolatry and role-models to follow. This might not be the culture the intellectuals and the philosophers and the bureaucrats wanted, but it’s the one they deserved. This is the inevitable result of an evil and flawed worldview from Christianity to Socialism, from Islam to Communism, from Fascism to Humanism, from Libertarianism to Anarchism, from Hume to Kant, Christ to Mohammed, Nietzsche to Plato: the rejection of moral truths in this world; the denial of morality as useful to the individual in his everyday life. In essence it is this: the rejection of reason.

To those of who you say there is no such thing as morality, that truth is ambiguous, that reality isn’t real, that good and bad are just matters of opinion, that man is just an animal in shoes, that we carry original sin or instead are merely slightly-evolved apes, I say: this is the world you wanted. Well you have it. You wanted a world where reason didn’t matter, where good and bad were just opinions, where truth was both sides of the coin – well this is what happens in such a world. People blow each other up, they fly planes into buildings, they commit holy wars, they rob and pillage in the name of “welfare”, they set fire to buildings, destroy livelihoods, and they riot for the sheer thrill of rioting. Because they don’t know any better, because you told them there was no better, and if there was, there was no way to know it, and so it didn’t matter what they did, because nothing was right or wrong anyway and no one alive could ever know it.

To those who believe that truth and morality are subjective, I say I hope you’re happy with the results of your philosophy. These riots across the UK are just one symptom, but they aren’t the disease itself.

My Top 10 Most Annoying Things

They aren’t my Top ten to be honest, they are just the first ten that sprang to mind. In no particular order:

Parents who blame everyone, except themselves

It’s the teachers. It’s the other kids. It’s the other kids’ parents. It’s the TV. It’s the radio. It’s the footballers. It’s the celebrities. It’s the government. It’s everyone, except you.

Is your child staying out late? Not doing their homework? Has unsavoury friends? Causes trouble? Gets into fights? Takes drugs? Spends too much time behind the TV or computer? You sort it out. You decided to have the child. You brought it into the world. You raised it. You taught it your values. You reap what you sow. Do your job and stop bitching at everyone else for your parenting failures.

Shopping bags that you can’t separate

We’ve split the atom, landed on the moon, established the internet, peered into the origins of the universe itself, created antimatter, and unlocked the human genome. We even invented self-serve checkouts in supermarkets, so why can’t we create a carrier bag whose sides don’t stick together? Yes, I am that post-lobotomy patient standing there for five minutes holding up the queue.

Can’t there be little plastic lips at either ends and opposite sides of the bag to facilitate easy opening? I hate having to waste five minutes of my life picking and scratching and licking the bag all the time hoping no one is watching before I think ‘bollocks, I’ll just carry everything.’

Hip-hop /  R&B

It takes a rather broad and generous definition of music to include these two modern monstrosities of popular culture into the concept of music. If anything 50 Cent does is music then so is my car alarm.

Worse than the bland tuneless repetitive tripe that radios vomit over the airwaves is the semi-criminal underground “gangsta” lifestyle portrayed and glorified to youngsters of lazy parents. No, when you grow up you will realise that being a criminal or part of a gang, or stealing, robbing, shagging around, selling your soul for popularity is not cool or fun. It’s pathetic and parasitic. The best music humanity has to offer will not be found on commercial radio. Until then, it would be great if you just pointed and laughed at the Emperor and switched that trash off. Here’s the thing: no one really likes this “music” – everyone just pretends to because everyone else pretends to like it too!

Animal “Rights” Activists

Some humans will stop at nothing to defend the supposed “Rights” of thoughtless amoral beasts that will continue eating the grass and pooing today and tomorrow and for the next hundred thousand years, as they have done the last hundred thousand years. They’ll even go as far as hurting other humans who actually do have Rights and destroying their property, in the name of animals.

Sure, animals can be killed for a few benefits like: testing drugs, developing medicines, food, clothing, shelter, vermin-control etc. But there’s also the downsides of…wait, oh I can’t think of any.

If animal “rights” activists really care so much about not disturbing animals in any way, shape or form, they should go to a place where their continued existence doesn’t depend on the exploitation of the world around them, i.e. some other planet or reality than this one.

Do you wear leather? Do you eat meat? Do you live in a house? Do you use wood or chemicals? Errrr…stop right there. If animals have rights to all these things then you don’t. Strip naked and head off to the Antarctic (just don’t travel there by bus or plane, of course).

Insects

I know I get in a flap about this a lot, but it really bugs me. My friends know I’m liable to fly off the handle whenever one of these little three-torso’d six-legged bastards enter the room. It doesn’t matter if they crawl or fly or hop, they are all disgusting and should be exterminated. I’ve heard the religious say “ah but they’re part of nature’s balance – they all have a purpose.” Let’s swat this myth right out the sky: insects have NO purpose. If it wasn’t for rotting food and animal poo half of them would be dead – some design flaw there, God, cheers. I can’t wait for the day when we invent waste-atomisers and the insect population starves to death. If I could afford it, I’d have one of those blue electric light thingies at every entrance and exit in my house.

You know how it is: you’re trying to sleep and you hear a whine in the room. You give her a slap and listen for the other noise: some mosquito is whirling around looking to bite you and (this actually happens) when you turn the light on it stops flying and waits. Or one of those big furry bluebottles that just can’t seem to find its way out the window you’ve opened in front of it, the window 6017 times its size. Flies are stupid.

They say your average housefly lives about 20 days – that’s 20 days too long in my opinion. Any insect that violates my property rights dies. They are ugly and intrusive and have no respect. Did you know that insects are responsible for 980 million deaths a year? I can’t back that up but why take the risk?

Chain e-mails

The internet has been around for long enough now for everyone to know that if you forward it on to X number of people, absolutely nothing will appear on your screen. Luck is a metaphorical concept that can’t be transferred, certainly not by browser-based mail clients.

Chain e-mails come in many varieties, whether it be “Microsoft wants to know who is using Hotmail otherwise they’ll delete your account”, or “for every fifty people who forward this picture of a random sick baby plucked off Google Images, [Insert Big Corporation Name here] will donate 10 [enter local currency here] to [enter charity here]”, or “send this on within 5 minutes and have great sex forever” (I happen to know this is definitely false) – they are all deeply stupid. And no, it’s not “a bit of harmless fun”, it’s the perpetuation of irrational and pernicious notions. If you want to support a good cause, say so. If you want to share a joke, send it on. Drop the damn emotional blackmail or insults to our intelligence.

Blatant spelling mistakes

Ok, no one can always write perfectly, grammaratically or otherwise, but there are some errors that are truly shocking and unforgivable. I’m not talking about typos, I’m talking about the wrong freaking words!

Defiantly” does not mean “definitely”; it doesn’t sound the same, it doesn’t look the same, and it doesn’t even mean the same thing! And it’s “could have” not “could of“. And “you’re” means “you are“; it is not the same word as “your“. Could you bear being attacked by a bare bear? Was it where you expected it, or were you dreaming of wearing no clothes? Maybe there was no one else there and it’s all not their fault.

Advertisements

I am defiantly not against the nature of advertisements, I’m against the content: it is criminally lame. As the late Bill Hicks said: “if you work in marketing, kill yourself!” Radio jingles, movie ads, TV commercials – only a tiny proportion are actually clever or make sense. 99% of them are just annoying.

I really wonder what goes on in the head of the people who script, cast, act and approve advertisements. It’s like “what were you thinking? How in any way did that promote your product? It didn’t even make sense! What part of you thought ‘yup, we nailed that! Now let’s wait for the sales to flood it!’?” Perhaps they think “if we piss enough people off with this, they might buy our product hoping we’ll go away!

Relativists

Nope, not talking about Einstein here, I’m talking about the subjectivist types who either
a) explicitly think there’s no such thing as objective right and wrong, or
b) implicitly suppose that since everyone’s different, everyone’s opinion is fair and worthy of merit.

They are both wrong. If I say I can fly, or the moon is covered in gravy, or god made the earth in six days, or there are 72 virgins waiting in the afterlife – I am of course welcome to believe it. I might really really believe it. Hell I might be utterly convinced it’s the absolute truth. Does that make me right? If 6 billion people say the sun orbits the earth but I know the earth orbits the sun, who is right? Right and wrong are matters of objective reality. They are facts accepted by consciousness. It doesn’t matter how far removed the fact is from the sensory input, eventually the chain of evidence stops at someone somewhere being able to point at something and say “this is it.”

Just because everyone has a different opinion, doesn’t mean everyone is right. There are an infinite number of ways to be wrong and only one way to be right. I hate it when people are afraid of being wrong. But fear of being right is worse.

The most annoying thing about the subjectivist position is that it’s inherently contradictory. The subjectivist position basically goes like this: “all opinions (or cultures, or beliefs) are equally valid.” Err, there’s one problem with that: what if my opinion is that all opinions are not equally valid. Therefore, for your position to be true it must entail the validity of my opinion which denies your position. Subjectivism is therefore either false or invalid.

“There are no absolutes”. Grrrr. Are you absolutely sure of that??

Football commentators

Being the most popular sport in the world has its drawbacks. It means that every man and his dog has an opinion on it. That’s fine. The problem is when they give any man a microphone on a huge stage to talk about. It’s worse when they let the dog speak too (although quite frankly anything would be more coherent than John Motson). Sport commentary should be a fine skill: a commentator must assess the entire match before his eyes, the atmosphere, the implications, the talents and strategies on show – isolate the relevant concepts and dismiss the irrelevant details, and bring those points home to the audience in an engaging and unique manner. Basically, a commentator should be doing what most of us couldn’t or would find exceptionally hard to do. A commentator should not prattle on endlessly about statistics or the synchronicity of this match on this day with the wind blowing in this direction.

Football commentators are the worst of the lot. With most of them their job consists of having an enormous list of stats on each player to fire off whenever he touches the ball – irrelevant trivia that the mind glosses over and forgets a moment later – this isn’t commentary; it’s someone reading a database out to you. Others simply do “radio commentary” for TV and tell us exactly what we can see with our own eyes:

“Gerrard with the ball. Passes it to Kuyt. Kuyt crosses to Carroll. Carroll mis-controls. Opposition get possession.”

Due to the miracle of light waves impacting on my retina and being interpreted by my brain as images, I was already of that. In fact, I was aware of it in 1/10th of the time it took you to repeat it back to me after it happened.

Almost all of them avoid making firm conclusions or stating a definite opinion of their own:

“Hmm, that looked offside didn’t it?”

What? Are you asking me?? You’re the supposed expert, you tell me!

From bad puns to awful (and mixed) metaphors, to dreary or grating voices – the entire commentary industry needs a makeover in football. Perhaps that’s (yet) another law UEFA could come up with when they’re done with their racist quota systems? Which brings me too…

UEFA

No, I jest. No 11th item. Besides, this monster deserves a post of its own someday.

Airbrushed photos petition belies deeper problem with society

It’s no surprise, what with all the rubbish that the All Knowing Government has decreed is necessary to teach in “free” schools, that rational philosophy has been left behind.  Without it, the overwhelming majority of people in society see democracy as some noble if imperfect ideal that the West has achieved.  What they haven’t been taught is what the real power of government actually means.

This is what the power of government is: a gun.  Nothing more, nothing less.  It is the power to use force against people to achieve some end.  The only question is whether that force is used against innocents, i.e.: those who haven’t initiated force against others, or against criminals, people who have initiated force against innocents and need to be restrained.

It’s bad enough when an “evolved” western power like France makes certain types of clothing on private citizens illegal, a throwback to the Nazi occupation of the same country that needed so many foreign lives to liberate it. But you know something is very sick in the world when young girls are being taught the “beauty” (read: power) of modern democracy; the power to point a gun at someone else and make them do what you want. And better still: have it endorsed as empowerment or the wonders of democracy in action.

I refer of course to this.  Of course, our vote-whoring politicians are behind the move and the fascist Advertising Standards Authority is watching it carefully.

There are only two ways to make someone agree with you: reason and force.  Force is most appealing when you can’t convince someone you’re right, which usually happens when you aren’t right but merely want to win the argument.  As an example of this, I offer any socialist.

The problem, young girls, insecure attention seekers, and lazy couch potatoes claim, is that they feel depressed because they can’t look like the supermodels they see on TV or magazine covers.  If you need a disclaimer put on a professional photograph to tip you off that some doctoring might have occurred, you have more serious problems than your looks.  You do, in reality, have a severe case of stupid.  But I’m here to tell you that rather than take responsibility for your looks, by maybe accepting that genetics does not grant everyone equality in body or mind, or getting your diet in order by cutting out simple sugars, fatty foods, or exercising more than once a month – there is (yet again) someone else you can blame: your parents.  Because if your parents are allowing you to, a mere child, to read magazines of this sort and wear adult clothing and makeup, and base your aspirations in life on superficial physical appearance instead of lifelong virtues like rationality, self-esteem, productiveness, honesty etc – then they are just as stupid as you.

One could just as well counter with the claim that showing how people who take care of themselves look like, should inspire, rather than depress, those who want to achieve the same look.  Newsflash: all the disclaimer labels in the world, expensive makeup, and quick-fix diets are no substitute for cutting out junk food and exercising regularly.

It’s important to have pride in your body, just as it’s important to have pride in your mind and the efficacy of both.  But true pride in performance or polish doesn’t come from the lucky hand life may or not have dealt you.  It comes from what you actually achieve yourself.   A woman who works herself down to a respectable size 12 or 14 will have more confidence and pride in her femininity and sex appeal than a lifelong size 8 to 10 who craves to be something she isn’t.  Or the woman who works hard to earn the money to pay for surgery to fix a feature she dislikes about herself; it’s perfectly healthy and moral to do so.  Never settle for second best if you believe you can change, but do so on the principle that the goal is to improve yourself, not make yourself into what you think society is telling you should look like.  And don’t, under any circumstances, avoid the responsibility to think for yourself, blame others, ask the government to pull a gun on them, and threaten to pull the trigger unless they compensate for your idiocy and feeble emotional state.  Oh wait…

What is Objectivism?

It’s October 2008, and that is significant for two reasons.  Firstly, it marks exactly 12 months since this time last year, and secondly, it marks almost one year on from when I first started to study Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

 

Objectivism has many critics.  Why?  I will offer my personal opinions on that later.

 

Firstly, why Objectivism?  How did I come across it and why did I bother to learn more?

 

Many years ago, I used to be a moderator on IIDB, and encountered my first Christian Presuppositionalist.  I am not ashamed to say I was out of my depth arguing with him (Theophilus, I believe his handle was).  The only poster who I saw debate and destroy (in my opinion) his arguments was an Objectivist (I can’t remember their handle but I distinctly remember the words “existence exists” – something only an Objectivist would say).

 

Up until 2007 I wouldn’t come across any memorable mention of Objectivism or even the name Ayn Rand.  Last year I would spend hours on YouTube watching lectures by my favourite atheist intellectuals Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins; Hitchens is not a fan of Rand at all and mentioned Objectivism from time to time.  But again, I thought nothing of it.

 

Something was bothering me though.  My interests have never been confined to just atheism and science, which for me involved criticising religion and espousing the wonders of evolution.  I’ve always been very opinionated politically, but as I paid more attention to politics, I realised how incredibly ignorant I was.  Where did I stand politically, left, centre, or right?  And why?  What was the difference between communism and capitalism?  Was I right to think of myself as a socialist?  During this spell of questioning myself, I wondered which political party I should align myself with.  The idea of partial state-ownership of land seemed reasonable, and making the world a more unified and collective state meant I favoured joining the EU.  However I also strongly agreed with Christopher Hitchens and supported the war in the Iraq (something many internet atheists do not).  I favoured the war in Iraq because I thought it was a noble ideal because 1. it was intended to remove the threat of terrorism and 2. more importantly, freed the Iraqi people and promised to bring democracy.  Needless to say, I was also a strong proponent of democracy.  (Also needless to say, the two reasons given for the war in Iraq I have cited here are fundamentally flawed, because 1. the war was NEVER intended to remove the threat of terrorism despite the claims of our leaders and 2. spreading unlimited majority rule is neither noble nor moral, but I digress…)

 

And then in September 2007 a good friend of mine (you know who you are) sent me a link to another WordPress blog, to an article entitled Richard Dawkins is NOT an Atheist, which happened to be written by an Objectivist, Ergo.  My very first words were “I disagree.”  (My comment is number 35 on this post).  You will notice Yours Truly having, to put it in scientific terms, his arse handed to him.  Fortunately, I pride myself on intellectual honesty, and I like to think I always have (otherwise I would never have deconverted in the first place) – which means if I am shown to be wrong by objective rational standards, I will admit it and change my opinion.

 

In the coming weeks, I exchanged e-mails with the blog-owner, Ergo, initially just concerning moral dilemmas.  I remember asking his opinion on the Prisoner Dilemma, and his response was to my mind, unprecedented!  Rather than get bogged down by which is the best percentage game to play to ensure the best for all concerned, he simply explained the following: “where force is present, morality is impossible”.  Which basically means that the Prisoner Dilemma is in fact a false dilemma, and an absurd situation in which to formulate a moral code.

 

Sometime prior to this (last year), I had gotten myself into a debate with several theists also regarding moral dilemmas.  I was rude and impolite from the start of this debate and not wishing to promote a fundamentalist blog is the only reason I haven’t linked to that discussion either.  I was responded to with equal and abrupt rudeness by a fundamentalist, but most importantly I was unable to justify my position philosophically, which was also quite embarrassing.  The problem is that atheism itself is not a philosophy, and none of the New Atheists (like Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris etc) had an objective basis for their positions.  Modern philosophy, like science, is rooted on the empiricists’ notion that certainty is impossible and degrees of probability are all we can hope for.  I knew this wasn’t good enough.  Just as I knew politically I was weak, I saw a philosophical weakness in myself.  Just as we all do, I needed objectivity.  Of course, many atheists claim to have it and virtually everybody recognises the NEED for it, but no one and nothing I had read provided it.  The best I could hope for was Ebonmuse’s Universal Utilitarianism, which for a time, provided an “objective morality” for me.

 

Then I started to ask Ergo about Objectivism itself – what it meant, what was different about it, and its consequences.  I am very appreciative of the time and patience he took to exchange long e-mails with me.

 

The discussions got onto politics.  Politics is the social extension of one’s morality.  That is to say: only when one understands what is right or wrong, can one begin to ask what should be allowed in society, when force should be used, and the proper role of government.  (This post is about my learning Objectivism; I will not be explaining the philosophy here).  Objectivism necessitates laissez-faire capitalism, which for me led to the immediate question: without taxes, who pays for all the things that taxes do?  And who cares for the disabled.  After fruitful discussions, Ergo even posted the following:  http://ergosum.wordpress.com/2007/11/12/who-cares-for-the-disabled/.

 

Rather than spoon-feed Objectivism to me, Ergo helped me understand the principles and suggest I apply my reasoning process to take me further.  I ordered several of Rand’s books immediately, the first of which I read was The Virtue of Selfishness (TVOS, incidentally I would always recommend this book to any beginner with Objectivism).  Next I read “Philosophy – Who Needs It?”  I now own nine of her books and I still haven’t finished reading them all!  The point I wish to make is this: I was committed to having a rational and objective philosophy, and I took the honest steps necessary to arrive at it.  I looked to the scientists, to the empiricists, to the physicalists, to New Atheists, and even to the fundamentalists, and none of them had it.  Ayn Rand did.

Many people cling to emotionalism and their preconceived beliefs.  This is true for atheists as much as theists.  The idea that the redistribution of wealth is evil and animal Rights are non-existence is RADICAL in today’s culture.  I know from experience that a person who is very emotional when it comes to animals WILL NOT listen to reason.  A person whose family member is living off state hand-outs doesn’t want to hear why the welfare state is a gross moral crime.  But as I have said, an intellectually honest person accepts reason.  Objectivism starts with necessary axioms of existence and (then) consciousness, and proceeds from there.  I was totally won over by Rand’s rational logical approach from start to end, and once one accepts the next chain in the link through the flow of the argument, one must accept a conclusion.  To put this in literal terms with an example: I COULD NOT accept that animals have Rights once I understood the correct nature of Rights, which are an extension of  MORALITY, with morality being a guide to man’s actions, based on his IDENTITY and relationship to REALITY.  And Reality is Existence, Existence is Identity, A = A. 

Another example: if one accepts that man’s property is his own, then NO circumstances EVER violate this principle.  That means that the welfare state is wrong; taxation is wrong; the redistribution of wealth is wrong.  No amount of “what if?” scenarios change this.  Because I understood this, it was not very difficult for me to “get” where Ayn Rand was coming from.

 

Have you ever read a book and found yourself smiling and nodding and saying to yourself, even out loud: “yes!”; “of course!”; “that makes so much sense!”?  Such was my reaction to TVOS.  And I maintain that John Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged is the finest passage of text I have ever and will ever read.  For a long time as I was studying Objectivism and challenging it, I found myself unable to disagree or disprove any of its conclusions, because they logically follow from its foundation, which is reality itself.  And who can argue with reality?

 

I refrained from calling myself an Objectivist for many months because I wanted to be totally sure that I could reasonably understand and defend the philosophy to myself before I spoke from that position.

 

When I did finally call myself an Objectivist I was embracing a philosophy.  We all need a philosophy.  We all have one, whether we realise it or not.  The question is: is my philosophy logical, rational, self-consistent, complete, and founded upon reality?  If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, the philosophy is useless.  Objectivism explains epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, politics, and aesthetics.  As an Objectivist, I can justify my knowledge base and I can account for my metaphysics.  I have an objective rational morality.  I have a precise and consistent ethical political ideology.  I know what is right or wrong, and I know how to decide this for myself.  I know where I stand politically, and why.  These are the things everybody needs and most people crave, myself included.  Objectivism fulfils them.

 

So the obvious question I asked others including myself is: why aren’t more people Objectivists and why do many people object to it?  I won’t attempt to answer the first question but I will attempt the second: why do many people object to it?

 

Obviously the religious would object to Objectivism because Objectivism is a rational reality-based philosophy that rejects anything supernatural.  But many of the people I used to identify with, atheists, and those who follow Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett etc (The Big Four, like I used to) that I shall refer to as the New Atheists, are not Objectivists and disagree with Rand.  Disagree is a weak word.  I have encountered positive bile and venom towards Objectivism from the same people who accuse theists of it.  The same people who would applaud me for criticising religion and theism would spit hatred when I criticised THEIR cherished political beliefs, such as the welfare state.

 

This is why I do not identify myself as just an atheist or think of myself in the same group as other blog-writing secular atheists or Humanists.  For me, there are far too many of these New Atheists out there who’ve read the works of the Big Four, understand a bit of evolution, and fancy themselves intellectuals.  Unfortunately, they are totally philosophically ignorant.  Some of them are even explicit subjectivists, a position I hope I don’t need to explain the ridiculous stupidity of.

 

The problem with these atheists is that they think calling themselves an atheist makes them rational; as if they have left the irrationality of religion behind and are now free rational beings.  Some of them then become so sure of their new-found “rationality” that they become obstinate to change and develop an emotional commitment to their new beliefs: do you think there is a difference in rationality between a fundamentalist Christian and a mixed-economist?  There isn’t.  Are Muslim terrorists more irrational than socialists?  Not necessarily.  All these positions are fundamentally irrational and immoral.

 

And that is the fact that many people do not want to admit.  And that is why they don’t like Objectivism.  The problem is that most people hold their beliefs in a vacuum with no reference to reality.  They have no philosophical basis on which to draw conclusions so they hold a mass of opinions and notions together without noticing that most of them contradict the others: they want all the benefits of capitalism as long as everything is subject to state control.  They want to give animals the Right to not suffer but take away their Right to NOT be eaten for food.  They want the government to moderate food, drink, speech, decency, until it conflicts with their notions of acceptable food, drink, speech, and decency.  They want people to freely help other people, but then hold a gun to your head and demand your money for the welfare state when you “freely” choose not to.  They want to make as much money as possible for themselves, but take money away from those who have “too much”.

 

We live in a culture that refrains from moral judgment, where anything goes, where multiculturalism is encouraged, where the wealthy are the object of envy, where firm definite statements are laughed upon, and ‘objective reality’ is said tongue-in-cheek.  Objectivism is the antithesis of all these positions, and that is why some people will not accept it.

 

We live in a culture which tells us that morality is a “grey” issue.  With Objectivism, there is no grey issue.  Because morality is based on objective fact, there is always a right and wrong thing to do, although that doesn’t mean it’s always EASY to tell which is which.  But if you want to believe morality is grey, and someone tells you that there are definite objective moral truths, you will most likely be hostile.  It’s the same with Objectivism.

 

Now, there is only one other philosophy that tries to offer a complete self-consistent objective worldview: religion.  Religion fails (spectacularly).  But unfortunately, when the New Atheists see something that claims to be a complete self-consistent objective worldview, in a world that says that such a thing is impossible, what do they think?  Cult.  Objectivism has been called a cult before.  Anyone who understands Objectivism can appreciate how divorced from the truth this accusation is.  A cult is precisely what Ayn Rand would NEVER approve of, despite how some misguided fanatical “followers” of her have acted.  Just as all religions claim that only their religion is the right way to live your life, I would also claim that Objectivism is the only right philosophy by which to live.  That is the sort of claim that would make many Atheists dubious, and even aggressive, to Objectivism.  But is that fair?

 

So the truth is, I can see why some people might see Objectivism the way they do.  I do understand why some people don’t like it.  And I definitely understand why some people don’t understand it.  But this is not the failing of Objectivism.  In my opinion it is the failing of others to be honest with themselves and rational; in short, it is the failing of those who put emotion over reason.

 

In a society where emotionalism and “doing whatever you feel like” is the norm, this is hardly surprising.  In a society where objectivity is avoided, Objectivism is like a silver stake to a vampire.  In a society where altruism is the moral ideal, rational egoism is the epitome of evil.

 

*

 

It was early this year that I decided I could honestly call myself an Objectivist.  And although my articles have dried up of late, I am still very passionate about philosophy and politics.  I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the past year that has probably been the biggest intellectual progression for me since I deconverted.  And I also wanted to express a few thoughts I’ve been having for a while about other atheists, Ayn Rand, and why I think her work evokes some of the reactions it does.

 

If you’re curious about Ayn Rand’s philosophy, by all means read the blogs of Objectivists (see my blogroll for suggestions), but the best thing I can recommend is to buy and read her books yourself.  Although I can’t predict your reaction I can guarantee that if you are honest and rational, what she has to say might just change the way you see the whole world.