Sunday, December 15, 2013

All I Want For Christmas Is Woo

Anatomy of a Furore

As the row over gender-segregated seating in certain university lectures rumbles towards its inevitable end with total victory for the press and campaigners, I thought it'd be worth taking a look at how such ferocious internet fistfights are made.

This particular case is an especially daft one, relating as it does to an administrator at some university body or other deciding it'd be a good idea to separate men and women at talks given by glowering, intolerant religious nutters, out of a misguided sense of "inclusiveness".

A wacky plan, but pretty much what you'd expect from the type of academic chuckler who manages events involving fundamentalists who like dressing up like Jedi Knights and arsing on at length about what God does and doesn't want you to do with your genitals.  Since academia really is pretty infamous for this kind of right-on howler, you'd think this would be a straightforward point-and-laugh story.

Not so, for nowadays we have a pre-packed plan for dealing with such treasonous criminals.  Some people pray for this kind of event and grab it with both hands whenever the chance arises, because all they want for Christmas is woo.

If you fancy a bash at this yourself, here are a few pointers on how to take some minor administrator's twatty idea and turn it into an intergalactic confrontation between secularism and The Forces Of Darkness.

Choose your opponents carefully 

The most important thing to consider when selecting a target for a massive hissy-fit is that you should never, under any circumstances, have a go at anyone who wields any actual power.

This makes academia a prime target, since it's notorious for producing vast quantities of woo, especially in the humanities, and because professors and suchlike have no real power outside of their own little fiefdoms.

Other excellent opponents are human rights NGOsallegorical feminists or even a generalised section of society, but beware - all of these people are quite capable of defending themselves, and there is a possibility that they may alert the public to any wildly overblown claims that you make.

The ideal target is one that barely exists in anything more than a symbolic sense.  Recall the way that sections of the media responded to the Rochdale sex abuse rings case: by waving their arms and screeching that they wouldn't be cowed or silenced by the PC Brigade, and that they would tell the terrible truth regardless of the certainly horrendous repercussions Tha Librulz would undoubtedly wreak upon them.

In reality, nobody attempted to silence the Times or the Telegraph or the Express - there was no barrier whatsoever to any of these vast media organisations saying whatever they liked, in whatever tones they liked, whenever they liked.  And yet, there was much back-patting and self-congratulation at the time for facing up to this non-existent, supposedly speech-strangling colossus.

The lesson here is that the best opponent to pick a fight with is an imaginary one.  After all, real people respond to your statements, but fictitious ones never do.

If you must pick an actually-existing gorgon to slay, always ensure that it's some ludicrous fanny of gargantuan proportions; somebody that no sane human being is going to pipe up in defence of.  This will assist you no end if your wails and screams amount to an uncontroversial statement of the obvious.

Of course, it always helps if your target is someone you've always despised, or if they can be said to represent people you've always hated in the first place.

Pick your issue well 

The issue itself is less important than getting yourself onto the side of truth, justice and the American Way.  In this sense, it's actually better if it's some minor procedural daftness or a dodgy statement to denounce, because these can easily be spanked up into an epic battle between secularism and religious totalism.

Remember, something like this seating plan malarkey isn't just an administrator talking bollocks - it's an urgent fight for liberty against apartheid, part of a vital battle against medievalist obscurantism and repression.  Some academic saying something cretinous is not merely a geezer talking nonsense, but the frontline in the great intellectual battle against relativism.

Stop sniggering at the back there, this is a serious matter, damn you.

You're a noble, embattled campaigner who just happens to be a well-paid columnist

All of Europe may have been crushed under the Roman sandal, but there is one village in Gaul that still holds out, and this is you.

Remember, your actual opponent may be some ineffectual tweedy dork, but he represents a great marching legion of all-powerful monsters.  You, on the other hand, are but a single voice and any victories you score are incredible feats of awesomeness.

Here's an actual comment I saw on Twitter the other day, from one of the noisier segregation wailers:

David Cameron has now come out against Uni segregation by gender. Keep pushing, folks. We may just win this.

Yes, with nothing more than your courage and determination, plus the agreement of platoons of opinion columnists and editors and the full endorsement of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, you have somehow triumphed over some daftie who had a mental idea, against all the odds.  Who could've predicted such an astounding outcome?

Strike hard, with all of your power

There's no time for pussyfooting around - strike your opponent with maximum violence immediately because if you don't, he or she may back down before you've had a chance to really get on your high horse and suck some political capital out of the situation.

Plus, if you're an opinion columnist, you'll have to file about some other issue next week, so you'll have to milk this opportunity for all that it's worth while there's still time.

Remember, your new hobbyhorse can be ridden into literally anything, so if e.g. you've been told to pretend to be horrified by a celebrity divorce, for instance, you can just wedge the fucking thing in there at right angles, however incongruous it looks.

And when your triumph arrives...

Do not be modest

Once you've chased off whatever intimidating academic or threatening NGO was menacing the populace, it'd be rude not to celebrate by the internet equivalent of cartwheels and ostentatious badge-kissing.  Whoops and hollers are mandatory, as are cries of In your FACE, you elitist ivory-tower administrator! and so forth.

This is your victory, so enjoy it.  Well, yours and all those countless hacks and politicians, but let's not quibble.

And lastly...

Eyes on the prize, everyone 

Remember, this is but one battle in an ongoing war against whatever it is you usually spend your time whining about.  We can pause for a moment, but you must also issue reminders that whatever it is you were arsing on about has not gone away, and is merely waiting for the chance to say some other damnfool thing or invent a newer, crazier rule.

Take a breath and turn a watchful eye back to the battlefield, for some prick is guaranteed to make a loopy pronouncement sooner or later and when they do, you'll be there to batter them into submission with the twathammer of truth and the lance of getting really, really sanctimonious about things.

Stay vigilant, people.


dsquared said...

relating as it does to an administrator at some university body or other deciding it'd be a good idea to separate men and women at talks given by glowering, intolerant religious nutters, out of a misguided sense of "inclusiveness".

Not even that. Some administrator noticing that university fundie groups were already providing separate seating for (fundie) men and (fundie) women, and making the questionable but hardly insupportable judgement call that fundamentalists gotta fundamantalise, and that given that nobody was attending these meetings who wasn't a fundie and who didn't agree with separate seating, that a "harm reduction" approach was more sensible than to turn them into a new Crusade.

So the outcome is presumably going to be that (fundamentalist) women aren't going to be attending the meetings at all (because they can't get the separate seating that they want), and so the fundie speakers will speak to an audience of only fundie men, plus, for the next two weeks until they get bored, a couple of non-fundie women making a point. Presumably this was an unintended consequence.

flyingrodent said...

Aye, Chris Brooke pointed out yesterday that I was making the whole thing sound far crazier than it is.

I considered editing this, but decided to let it stand, because the entire controversy doesn't get any less silly even if you take all of the OMG attack pieces at face value.

organic cheeseboard said...

It's odd that this blew up like it did - but it's allied to many earlier Decent-heavy whining about Islamic societies which always amounted to lots of Something Should Be Done and absolutely no sense of what that Something should be.

Vocal think-tankers seemed to think that all student society meetings ahould have a senior academic present and reporting on them, for instance - something totally unworkable (since SU's would not allow it and students would just meet off campus) and massively expensive at a time when Govt funding has disappeared, but that didn't seem to matter.

There have seemingly been instances of University security being a bit heavy-handed when people have protested at this, but a) it seems to have been in instances of David Toube-style 'disruption', which security are going to have to deal with by removing the disruptors, and b) considering nearly 100% of University security is outsourced and is generally useless, and that these societies tend to book rooms via 'non-traditional' routes meaning the true function might be named something else (I do this myself when booking rooms at my University since, perversely, we're not actually allowed to book rooms ourselves if it's for teaching purposes), it's really hard to see what more Universities themselves can do (aside from not outsource, which'd be good, but still).

That's why the Vice-Chancellors - people I have no time for in general - were in effect right to give the guidance as they did, because the flipside is either massive and unfunded regulation of student societies (who, aside from 'Student Rights', is actually going to check whether seating is segregated?) or it's turning a blind eye anyway, which is almost certainly what's going to happen.

On top of this, the vocal protestors are massively distorting the issue as DSquared says. James Bloodworth's "Uni segregation by gender" implies that Universities themselves are going to do it, which is totally untrue. There is no 'win' here.

In all of this there's the kernel of a genuinely interesting issue - what does a Student Union do if it holds a vote on this and the winners are those who want segregation to be allowed in principle? Students are, in general, getting increasingly apolitical (most Unions are now run not by the politically-committed but by people who want easy CV points) and the only societies which flourish are religious ones.

dsquared said...

I think there is a genuine question of whether universities have some positive duty to enforce non-discrimination in university-sponsored societies, but it's the sort of debate which one would only want to have if nearly all the people who would want to take part in it promised not to.

dsquared said...

Of course, by the way, we know where the real Gates of Vienna of this struggle are to be found, and I see that, in a craven capitulation to values which strike at the heart of ourzzzzzzzzzz ... where was I - yes, they're still doing men- and women- only swimming classes.

flyingrodent said...

They have women-only swimming sessions at most of the pools in Edinburgh, as far as I can see.

This doesn't spring from a wacky attitude to sex and religion of course, but it does appear to be ubiquitous around these parts. Perhaps some kind of campaign is in order - to the Mail, and don't spare the high dudgeon!

bensix said...

...given that nobody was attending these meetings who wasn't a fundie...

I suspect that quite a lot of members of such societies go in as mild and somewhat ignorant believers and come out as fundamentalists, as, indeed, half of the students who end up as devoted activists for whatever has followed the SWP went in with no better idea of what "intersectionality" was than of how to complete a tax return. This is somewhat disturbing given that the blokes they end up listening to really tell people to marry young women, mutilate their daughters or go off and bomb Syria.

dsquared said...

Yep, and now they will be holding their meetings in private spaces where it's more difficult to keep an eye on them, and doing so with an enhanced sense of grievance. Presumably this has all been thought through, but I'd like to see the cost benefit analysis.

organic cheeseboard said...

You might have seen, but if not you'll be pleased to hear, that the Decents now have their academic bogeywoman for this - Priyamvada Gopal, who wrote a seemingly-innocuous piece on the issue but failed to be sufficiently reverent to James Bloodorth* (ie, she'd never heard of him) and thus has had a day and a half's worth of abuse on Twitter form people who intentionally misread her article, including Bloodworth who has the nerve to tell her to 'read some Orwell' because he didn't read her article properly. She then called them out as faux-liberal war-obsessives, which they are, and that didn't go down well, leading as it did to a series of people retweeting Bloodworth's, ahem, fruitier articles.

*essentially, this involved noting that the primary movers behind this focus on segregation are the astroturf group 'Student Rights', mates of Douglas 'send them all back home, brown faces = non-British' Murray, and as such doubting the sincerity of their commitment to feminism and anti-racism whose stats on the issue are heavily manipulated. This is clearly a fact, but the poor-quality, jobseeking Bloodworth clearly wants the credit hence 'we just might win this'.

organic cheeseboard said...

Amusingly enough, a lot of them calling her 'Ms Gopal' for some reason - she's got a doctorate. as they're all such fans of Professor Norm I'm sure this is just a mistake and not an intentional act of belittlement. God forbid.

flyingrodent said...

Yup, although their main complaint with PG is that her detractors don't think the issue has been "hi-jacked by right-wingers". HP Sauce even have a list of non-white women who were on board, to prove how totally not right-wing it all is.

For what it's worth, I flick through most of the press most days (non- voluntarily) and can confirm that the names of the two highest-profile individuals who have passed comment on this issue of gender segregation in UK universities are

a) Richard Littlejohn and
b) The Prime Minister of Great Britain.

But this is presumably irrelevant, for all the usual reasons.

organic cheeseboard said...

I like the 'coatsey' post on that thread. Suggests that the 'campaign against gender apartheid, whoops i mean segregation' was a long-running and impassioned movement. But his own link is to a blog post he wrote last fucking week.

The problem for them is that Gopal is right - 'Student Rights' inflated the stats on how often speakers request segregation, in an attempt to generate scare stories about evil Muslims and to force universities to design a policy - in effect setting this trap to vindicate their own existence as well as generate scare stories about Evil Muslims.

The 'Bloodworth campaign' sprung up AFTER this policy was announced.

and again the end result is nothing. Universities won't be able to properly monitor this stuff, so I have no doubt that there'll be an instance of this happening at ome point in the next few months. At which point we;'ll get Student rights followed by Bloodworth et al demanding that Something Be Done when nothing, really, can be, aside from banning any Muslim student societies - and even then they'll just meet off campus.

flyingrodent said...

On the Gopal stuff: entertainingly, her statement that this segregation row was coming from a bunch of basically "conservative white males with an attachment to the idea that west is best" has been met by comments boxes full of basically conservative white males making weird comments about who the real racist is, and asking what's wrong with the west, eh? EH?

Not that I have a problem with being white or male, for obvious reasons, but it is quite humourous to note that the reaction she's got has indicated that she has a pretty strong point here.

(For random passing enthusiasts for this kind of OMG politics, let me now spell out that no, you don't have to be a transgender Inuit fisherperson to take the side of oppressed TIFs on a particular issue. But you probably do have to meet accusations of being a bunch of angry white dudes with mental hangups head on which, to be fair, many are doing in the most counterproductive and hilarious way imaginable).

flyingrodent said...

And since someone unwisely invoked the name of D*****s M****y, he's cropped up with the type of sage advice we've all come to expect from him...

Shorter: People are worried about agreeing with me and my mates because we are such a bunch of fuck-awful ballbags, and this is a major problem for them.

organic cheeseboard said...

Nick Cohen is enthusiastically promoting this really rubbish 'parody' and has claimed (with no real evidence) that people thought it was real - and that somehow this doesn't prove that his own followers are borderline illterate but that 'Liberal Britain' is in some way dying, or something.

He's now being called out by his own followers who don't recognise the 'truth' which the parody is 'based on'; and even the ones who like it have failed to provide any evidence for its 'accuracy'.

Proof once again that most of the 'left-wing liberals' Cohen gets so annoyed by are in fact imaginary.

organic cheeseboard said...

Nobodt is reading this but still, without Aarowatch this had to go somewhere.

Nick Cohen's piece today is also the least functional article ever written.

Apparently Syria is exactly like the Spanish Civil War because it's, um, fascists vs left-wingers, um no actually they're fascists but hey, and we should be happy, oh no wait upset, about the modern-day international brigade (who are actually Islamists) going over there to fight Assad since they'll come back over here and wreak the same kind of carnage as the International Brigade did, um wait that's not right, or something.

Dictatorships were willing to get stuck in back in the day and also are now, and why aren't we, if only we could do things like ignore the wishes of our population who saw how much of a clusterfuck Iraq was and are wary of committing to the same thing again, we'd be much more democratic. Obama is right-wing because, er, I dunno, he doesn't want to launch unplanned wars that won't work, even though he did in Libya I'm not listening.

And if only we'd magically created no-fly-zones somewhere or other three years ago WHICH ED MILLIBAND OPPOSED (even though there's no evideence for this so I have to say he did it 'quietly') then it'd all be just like Spain in the 1930s and Fascism would be defeated, um wait, er, YOU ALL HAVE BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS AS WELL (but my ideals were pure and yours arent - h/t Profesor Norm, this logic still works).

Oh and Putin is the new Tsar - or is it Stalin - a fuck who cares, they're all Russian or something.

I'm really not overdoing the levels of logical torture here either.

flyingrodent said...

Aye, that's about right. I've lost track of how many conflicts have been the Spanish Civil War recently, although I'm never surprised when Nick finds a new one.

That piece does call the old chickenhawk question to mind, though. I'm not usually a fan of the argument (If you're so keen on war, why not volunteer?) because I can hold all manner of opinions without wanting to physically implement them myself.

Nonetheless, Nick's doing more than mere advocacy - he's declaring his own position, then calling everyone who disagrees with him cowards and worse. In that scenario, I'd say that folk are perfectly entitled to say Well geezer, if I'm a villain for not sharing your gung-ho attitude, then why aren't you yomping through artillery fire with a rifle and a pack on your back?

And that goes double if you're invoking the Spanish Civil War in particular. One thing that distinguishes that war from others the UK wasn't involved in was that lots of people - including journalists etc. - backed up their words with action, and volunteered to put themselves in harm's way.

So if Nick really, sincerely believes this is a replay of thirties Spain, why isn't he out stopping a fascist bullet with his neck or something?

After all, it's not like he even needs to fight - I'm sure the Red Cross or some other NGO would be glad to make use of whatever services he has to offer.

Or possibly, he's talking shite again.

And the Putin/Obama stuff is just a retread of precisely the same thing Nick has been writing since approx. 2009, with the word "Syria" replacing his previous Spain-proxy, Georgia.

Otherwise, it's just the usually silly bullshit, laid out with the usual care and attention.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys why not just skip all the hype and endless agonizing hair-pulling (is this right/wrong) and just call the UK the Islamic republic of Britain (just drop the 'great'). Except if the queen agrees to wear a veil and get on her knees five times a day, then you could call it a monarchy.

A french laic (+ expat)

KBPlayer said...

Surely you must see the comedy of Gopal. Goes on the Rationalist Association saying, in a whisper, perhaps we might, just might, have a very nuanced (her favourite word) debate about gender segregation.

When it is brought to her attention that it's been rudely and loudly demonstrated against by women and other persons of the correct ethnic minority, she flies into a total snit and starts shouting on Twitter, My NUANCES, My NUANCES I tell you.

Then when Laurie Penny writes her own piece, researched by a quick glance at Gopal's, and is pulled up, Penny is apologising all over Twitter and has to add a couple of paragraphs which in fact contradict the main thesis of her article - that those opposing gender segregation are just a bunch of white man islamophobes.

So Gopal tells her not to be apologetic with liberal bullies who for all their protestations, don't like to hear non-European feminists speak nuance.

I don't really think you should go around shouting about your nuances. It's uncool, like saying you're too zany for words.

(Hope I've achieved the dismissive, sneering tone that is required on this site.)

flyingrodent said...

Maybe I wasn't clear enough about this in the post, but I mainly wasn't moved in any way by the Gopal skree because I think the entire issue of gender segregation at universities has been ludicrously overblown, and intentionally so.

I don't think it's a great battle of any kind; I don't think that any great issues of gender equality or freedom in the face of religious totalism are at stake. I think the entire thing is a bunch of grandstanding, tubthumping guff.

I don't have any particular problem with people feeling differently, and I fully understand why this kind of thing alarms many.

Nonetheless, while it's true that we shouldn't dismiss an issue just because a cavalcade of hooting cranks have jumped on it, I also think that an issue doesn't gain unstoppable merit via support of various laudible activists. I don't think Gopal is entirely right, but neither is she entirely wrong.

I'm also not moved much by Gopal's many "nuances" and generalisations because I'm aware that columnists commit huge, honking errors to print on a daily basis without anyone banding together and charging around the internet telling people how angry they are about it.

I've spent years drawing attention to the countless ludicrous generalisations and whacking errors intentionally spread by many of the people who have spent so much time swooning in horror over this particular incident, so I'm not inclined to give a damn now that somebody else has misrepresented them or their allies.

It's unfortunate, if principled activists find themselves being pigeonholed with a bunch of bloody horrible warmongers and racial obsessives. On the other hand, the rest of us have been putting up with this for quite some considerable time now, from many of the most public faces of this campaign, so I don't find it particularly surprising.

Given some of the sources I've seen complaints about misrepresentation coming from, I'm almost inclined to admire the gigantic titanium testicles required.

And no, I didn't think you were particularly dismissive or sneering, but I hope I've made up for it with my own contribution.

organic cheeseboard said...

I don't fully agree with everything Gopal wrote in that article, but it was nuanced in the sense of her using words like 'often' and 'most'.

That undoubtedly raised the hackles of people like Nick Cohen and James Bloodworth whose default setting is to avoid the use of that kind of language, in the misguided belief that to use it is to be 'non-Orwellian' (Bloodworth genuinely did end his exchanges with Gopal saying 'read some Orwell' - touche indeed). Witness their ultra-frequent screeds against 'the left' per se (Cohen's column last autumn on Owen Jones is worth looking at in this context, containing uniform denunciation of every single left-winger in Britain as a result of a truly tedious will-you-sign-a-petiton-from-a-month-ago-a-thon which Bloodworth started and Cohen himself hadn't actually signed until the morning his article was published, wherein he attacked Jones for not having done so).

Almost nobody screaming about the segregation row via Twitter had actually read Gopal's artcile properly - the main point is to encourage women from Asian backgrounds to reject the 'with-us-or-against-us' approach which genuinely does characterise most (but not all) who vocally protested the UUK decision.

It's also worth noting that the frequently-cited lists of women who voiced opposition to the ban included almost no Muslims (the only ones seem to be Lejla Kuric, an unknown, and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown) and very few even from Muslim backgrounds, but it did include a fair few outright anti-Islam figures (Maryam Namazie and Ophelia Benson), to the extent of the quite frankly extremist Anne-Marie Waters being named as a comrade.

Part of Gopal's point was that although segregation should be challenged, the debate being shaped (manipulated) by British right-wingers (as well as the above people, who she should supposedly have named even though they themselves said they'd not publicised their actions at all well) follows the old Empire narrative of Westerners trying to impose belief systems onto people they consider inferior thinkers, and I really can't see how she's wrong here if one of the people she was meant to deferentially praise and thank was Anne-Marie Waters.

More generally this highlights a problem in what Cohen for instance terms 'the battle agaisnt Islamism' - that there are incredibly few Muslims whose views are 'correct' enough for him, and who are thus 'on his side'. He's been paid recently to attend nutjob counter-Jihad film screenings and praises anti-Islam bigots in print. And he's one of the people whose 'with me or against me' views Gopal was right to expose.

organic cheeseboard said...

Not sure if my last comment came through, but I was just looking over the Twitter timelines of people 'involved in the anti-segregation demonstration'.

rodent is here right to say that a lot of them saw this not as a Femnism issue but as an issues in some wider move against wither 'moral relativists' or 'the left' in general. See Nick Cohen's "Who are the leftwingers doing this apart from Universities UK" for instance - I really don't see how any VCs (who the UUK represent, though their staff is seemingly all from other business admin) can be called left-wing. See also Gopal being called a 'moral/cultural relativist' when she really isn't - see KB Player's own mudlisinging at Hizb types as 'postmodern' when they're defiitely not.

Also the protest garnered 100 people, all of whom are seemingly hardline secularists and many seemingly oppose Islam in all its forms (not that I'm not a secularist - just that this is a very particular ideological position).

It's not hard to miss something as small as that (when one of your highest-profile speakers is a PhD student at the LSE and another is James Bloodworth, you might need to expand your networks a bit), and I'm willing to bet a fairly large sum of money that many of those condemning others for failing to take part weren't there themselves.

organic cheeseboard said...

a final thing to clog this up. am I the only one who noticed Nick Cohen saying that Denis MacShane made 'one mistake'? Absolutely crazy. For someone who likes to throw the word 'fraduster' around Cohen's noticeably kinder on his embezzlement-happy friends (8 laptops a year, office in a garage etc, on top of the actually criminal fraud).

flyingrodent said...

Apologies for the delay in publishing there Cheeseboard, you got spam-filtered.

I don't have much to add there - DSquared usually points out here that a full and in-depth discussion on this should take place, preferably without the intervention of a lot of well-known cranks shoving their "and a pony" obsessions into the issue.

It's just made me recall the Pope's visit to Scotland as well, when I got a lot of complaints for suggesting that folk who want to get Catholics on-side with modern liberalism should probably try to sound a bit less like Ian Paisley than they were at the time.

IIRC I pointed out that nobody was more pissed off about e.g. the abuse scandals than Catholics, and that many of them constantly get blazing lectures and denunciations on that stuff from mad sectarian types in dismissive "You are all brainwashed, priest-riddled idiots" tones. I suggested that you can catch a lot more flies with honey than battery acid, and suggested speaking to Catholics as if they were humans with brains, rather than superstitious goat-herders who needed to be shouted into 100% acceptance.

It didn't go down very well with quite a few regular commenters, who thought it was tantamount to letting the church off the hook.

Which I thought might be relevant here.

flyingrodent said...

Oh aye, and I think we can all guess what reception a MacShane-style prison sentence would get if it was a less on-message politician who had been caught.

I particularly liked the "Denis didn't profit personally stuff", which somewhat missed the point that MacShane was using public funds to finance a wee personal thinktank industry.

Still, it's also true that if you pinched £13,000 to set up a donkey sanctuary rather than fund trips to Europe, you'd still get prison. And a donkey sanctuary would be a damn site more useful than Denis's actual crime.

puss wallgreen said...

As I recall, Decents are not habitually impressed by the argument that a particular campaign or initiative could not be anti-Semitic because Jews were involved in it. Incidentally, have the usual suspects had anything to say about the ongoing debacle in South Sudan? They used to care so much about those people.

Organic cheeseboard said...

The Decentpdia WWGGD seems appropriate to bring in (not quite in its same corns t but still) here - if good old gorgeous George had done the same thing, am sure Decents would be equally kind. And yes, the whole "he didn't personally profit" thing is ludicrous - the proceeds went entirely towards his own self-promotion. He also very clearly misused his expenses to fund himself personally too.

Your point about the Pope is a good one - in fact one of the things that united almost all those involved in the protests against gender "apartheid" (their term, lest we forget', and who wouldn't want to join such a right-on group eh. I mean nick and his mates are so kind when others use that term in other contexts) was that they had campaigned against allowing the Pope to visit this country. As you say, they were all talk about how broad their church was, but in reality it was really very narrow and made up of a lot of objectionable people.

The name Tariq Ramadan is lurking in my mind here. He seems to be the kind of Martin Luther style reformer the Decents and their chums claim is essential for Islam - yet he's off limits for various poorly-argued reasons, whereas their shining hope is, um, the atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In the end, they aren't really prepared for any kind of compromise, and that is Gopal's point.

Organic cheseboard said...

Also I saw you asking who I am on twitter - give us an email to write to and I'll spill.

flyingrodent said...

have the usual suspects had anything to say about the ongoing debacle in South Sudan? They used to care so much about those people.

Nothing that I've seen and yes, it was an issue for them back in the day, but it doesn't appear to be now. That's not really very surprising, given it involves neither of the Abrahamic faiths that really get their goat.

I imagine we'll start to hear about it if it becomes useful for one of the interminable rounds of Why are you so obsessed with this issue which is politically inconvenient for us? Why not talk about something we couldn't give a shit about instead

The name Tariq Ramadan is lurking in my mind here. He seems to be the kind of Martin Luther style reformer the Decents and their chums claim is essential for Islam - yet he's off limits for various poorly-argued reasons, whereas their shining hope is, um, the atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Yup, this has been very noticeable for a long, long time - there are two types of approved Muslims and they are a) Atheists who talk smack about their ex-religion and b) People who are being oppressed, right up until the point they start saying inconvenient things.

For evidence of the former, I offer the blinding speed with which "Everyone must support Lebanon" during the Cedar protests turned into "Anyone who doesn't think bombing fuck out of Beirut is a cracking idea is significantly worse than Hitler".

And my email address is the obvious one at All one word, no capitals.

flyingrodent said...

Pardon: I meant "evidence of the latter", not the former.

I'm also reminded of Ed Husain, one of those "I used to be a fundamentalist nut who believed in extreme violence, but now I am a democratic nut who believes in extreme violence" types.

I can't find a link so it may have been a Twitter fight, but I recall he went from superstar to hated relativist untermenchen in about six seconds when he voiced some inconvenient opinions on the Palestinians.

organic cheeseboard said...

no other fucker is reading this, but still - have been reading a bit more on it via alex Gabriel whose article is pretty good i think

Anyway. The real meat is via the comments which link to another comment:

It turns out that the nutjob counter-jihadi film screening, starring special guest star Tommy Robinson, which even Nick Cohen was a little bit worried about being a part of, was actually organised by the arts side of the 'one law for all' campaign - ie the people protesting this gender segregation. They're also hyper-defensive of Anne-Marie Waters, who seems a total crank and certainly an EDL apologist. Of course she's Nick Cohen's idea of a principled feminist.

Gopal's case gets stronger by the day. and it's funny to see Nick Cohen, he of 'isn't it shameful how teh left gets in bed with teh far right', doing exactly the thing he accuses others of doing eh.

flyingrodent said...

To be fair, there is a fair amount of toss in there - anything that cites Jimbo as evidence of anything is likely to be - but it does underline just how much the row was driven by the wacky right, whiffy race-baiters and the war-happy left.

You can imagine just how well any campaign with a similar cast of characters would be received, if it wasn't lining up against the crazy Islamics and the liberal relativist whatevers.

Organic cheeseboard said...

I hadn't come across Denham prior to this, but surely Gabriel is citing him in order to make a point about his being misguided (ditto KB Player)?