Saturday, 20 February 2010

Mobile Phones and Church - The Ironic Progress of Technology

I'm old and ugly enough to remember the days when to have anything more than an organ leading worship in church was flamboyant, unnecessary and to some, satanic. Sometimes, once a year, they may allow someone with an acoustic guitar hanging off a rainbow coloured guitar strap, but anything more than that was just silly and showing off.

The concerns of many in the congregation and some in the leadership of these churches was that electric pianos, guitars, drums and (heaven forbid) electric guitars would distract from the subject of worship, that they were disrespectful (when compared to the staid and sombre organ) and would encourage worldliness.

Looking back at these heady Sundays of the 70s, 80s and (for some, the) early 90s, such concerns seem almost flat-earthish. Someone with integrity may be aware that those concerns still apply for caution, but really, we've moved on. The church leaders have moved us on and we're here in Generation Hillsong.

I heard a pastor telling his congregation recently that they must turn off their mobile phones or, better still, not even bring them to church. That's fair enough if there are people taking or making calls during the service or if text message alerts interrupt, but this guy wanted a blanket ban regardless of whether the people were using their mobile phones as Bibles and Note Taking tools.

Their reasons for forbidding such evil devices? They would distract form the sermon, show disrespect to the preacher and encourage worldliness. The exact same reasons and the flat-earthers of yesteryear.

While the now diminishing elderly argued that the organ was more godly than the electric guitar and the drum, today's equivalent argue that printed paper and pen is more godly that an electronic device.

Is it important? No, it's not. But what is noteworthy is that what the young people would call their elders a decade or two ago, these same young people, in their adulthood, are doing the same. It's the same language of respectable religion, the same language of religious legalism and the same language of condemnation of those who are less than them.

That kind of stinks, don't you think?

Monday, 9 March 2009

The Hopeless Soul

There is a cry that can come out of the heart of a man which cannot be heard by any other man, it cannot be understood by any other man and even if another man can be persuaded that the cry is there, there is no peace.

This cry, from the heart of a man or a woman, is a cry that has its roots deeper than any evolutionary leftover or primordial bubble. This cry is older than humanity and humanity has yet to understand from where it comes before it can even begin to address what it is saying.

It is a cry for completeness, a cry for company, a cry for purpose, a cry for belonging and a cry for direction. On its own, the cry achieves nothing; it emits out of everybody, every single day. Happy people, sad people, joyful people and tragic people. There is no stopping this cry, but the cry must be accompanied by a companion.

The cry of a helpless soul needs hope. A chick in an abandoned nest cries without hope. A seal, alone in the sea in the jaws of a whale cries without hope. But this ancient cry from the human heart must be cried with that very thing which seems most distant despite the attempts at solutions which confound our senses.

Hope.

A sailor in the sea can hope all he likes, but if he has no basis for his hope, his hope is merely something for him to do while he dies.

Hope isn’t always a verb. Sometimes, hope is a noun. Sometimes, hope isn’t so much what you do as it is that thing into which you put your confidence.

Sometimes, hope is a proper noun since there is nothing you can do and there is nothing you can expect to happen; but there is a Person, waiting to justify your hope, to execute the function you called, to trust the Person’s method.

It’s not enough to just cry. You must cry with hope. You must cry with confidence. Don’t let sorrow be your sole companion during the dark nights of the soul, but travel also with hope.

With hope, your cry won’t be evil, it won’t be deathly, it won’t be the end. With hope, your sorrow will become powerful opportunity. With hope, your shame will become like vapour on a hot June day. With hope, that bleak landscape which you call your future, even that can become a place of growth, clarity and joy.

With hope, your mistakes, your misunderstandings and your misplaced loyalties will become good steps in the long path of your life. With hope, you will become the person you need to be.

But hope must be accompanied by a cry. After all, why would anybody hope for anything if they have no need? Why would I hope for any single thing if there is nothing within my longing for a difference, a healing or a change?

The cry and the hope travel hand-in-hand to bring us to a place of satisfaction and peace and contentment.

You may know very well what is your cry.

But what is your hope?

Saturday, 7 February 2009

You Need a Wife, No You**Really** Need a Wife

There’s only one thing more irritating than Smug Couples, and that is Smug Christian Couples. Not all couples are smug and not all Christian couples are smug, but all Smug Couples, whether Christian or otherwise, are indeed smug.

The problem with Smug Christian Couples (let’s call them SCCs from now on) is that they’ve forgotten what it’s like to be single, and they’ve forgotten all of the factual statements they made while they were single.

You see, when they were single, they were there with all the genuine people saying “All you need is Jesus! Jesus is all the world to me! Jesus will make you whole! You only need Jesus to be complete! Jesus loves you! Jesus can be everything to you"!”, but no sooner are they on the sniff of heat and they’ve forgotten it all; “I need a woman! I need a woman! Nggggggg! Neeeeeeee! I need a woman right now!” and before you know it, they’re in a relationship and suddenly, single people don’t exist, and if they do, everything they do is done because they’re single and therefore utterly worthless.

“You’re only saying that because you haven’t got a girlfriend” is an  message that has been implied to me a number of times by SCCs. Suddenly, my opinions on world politics, the Middle East and the economic slowdown are of no importance because I’m not in a relationship. What I need, in the eyes of these wise ones is a wife since it’s only then that any of my opinions can be taken at all seriously.

Now, I’m not saying I don’t want a relationship; I’ve met some very beautiful and intelligent women in my time and I’d be a liar if I said the thought of a relationship never crossed my mind – come on! I’m a bloke! But to be treated as a social outcast is one thing; to be treated as a social outcast by people who themselves were treated as social outcasts is another.

Suddenly, they start saying all of the things that made them go all self righteously indignant when people said these things to them. If I ever do that, please someone – shoot me! Kill me! Stick my head on a spike and hold it up for all to see!

But it’s suddenly impossible to enthuse about a woman’s beauty without being told I need a wife. Oddly, if I enthuse about a wonderful vista from a mountain top, nobody tells me ‘you need a field’ or if I gush about the beauty of a idyllic coastline, nobody says ‘you need a sea’ (no Tim, I’m not talking about you). But when you’re single, it is impossible to do or think anything of any genuine import in the eyes of SCCs.

It’s like you only have half a brain until you’re dating, at which point you are finally attributed with the ability to think… which is kind of odd because from what I see, it’s precisely at this point that SCCs appear to stop being able to think!

Try and make yourself a better human being and learn from this blog post; just because you had measles, it doesn’t make you an expert on how to cure measles, but it does mean that you should remember how it feels.

And in case you lack the common sense to understand, nobody’s asking you for sympathy, only that you keep from sticking your arrogant boot in.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

You Deserve It

I got this Nectar Card. It’s designed to give me points every time I buy something and after a bunch of time, I can use those points to buy some stuff; music, cushions, cheap holidays in a hut I’d have to build myself after carrying the goods in a dirigible powered by cow farts…. you get the drift.

Stamped on the top of my Nectar card are the words You Deserve It.

Do I? Really? How? What did I do? What did I do that made Mr. Nectar feel that he owed me something? If Mr. Nectar does indeed owe me something, what made him think that the best way to pay me back is in some kind of quasi-currency that has as much legitimacy as Monopoly money?

While we’re being sold goods, we’re also being sold a crazy kind of dream. That’s why we’re given Reward Cards. Who on earth needs a reward for buying carrots!? Is Tesco so bad that I need some kind of reward for enduring it? If there was a moat filled with crocodiles outside the door, zombie demons from Mars shooting laser cannons from the Customer desk, tigers in the magazine aisle and angry gorillas behind the bread counter with a final threat of Daleks manning the automated checkout then yes, I’d deserve a reward. So what is it that I’m giving to deserve a reward?

There’s nothing we like more than a compliment, someone to tell us we’re special and a little bit better than the rest. That’s why we fall for it when people like Mr. Nectar tell us we deserve it or Ms. L'OrĂ©al tells us we’re worth it. We get a sense of value. But out of what!?

You’d may as well go to the petrol station and pump air into the tank because that’s what we’re being given. There is nothing inherently wonderful about me that makes a big multinational want to give me something for nothing.

I had a call from the Three mobile phone network. Since I’d decided to cancel my account with them, they’ve been calling me all the time, but one particular time they called and said “The company has decided to offer you a special deal for being so loyal during your contract”. Eh? Did Kevin Russell sit in his office one day and think to himself “Y’know what? That Richard Hodges, I like him. He’s a bloomin’ good egg and I want to show him how much I like him. Tell you what, I’m going to give him 180 minutes of talk time, right out of my own pocket. My kids are going to have to do without spaghetti hoops this week because I’m going to give 180 minutes to that great guy!”?

Not likely. I’m not that beautiful!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Heaven

Sutlry heat vibrates everything in sight. The sea, an eternity away on a pale blue horizon gently whispers in the background.

There's nobody around as I walk from the hot sand onto the even hotter broken concrete toward the white stone building shimmering in the distance.

As I approach I see it is a cafe, shut, locked shut but I can see through the black windows the dark empty seats and unemployed ketchup bottles.

Why is this closed? Surely they would be open in a hot season like this. Along the path, there's an ice-cream shop. Also shut. No sign of life anywhere, only my shadow.

I can see the Kit Kats on the shelf and cheap joke toys hanging on a white plastic frame in faded cardboard packaging. Does anybody ever buy these toys? Not here, there's nobody here but me, the scorching sand and the sea.

The sky gently became a darker shade of blue as I sat on a step outside the little trinket shop and watched a yellow ball fall behind the horizon. As the last sliver of the blood red vanished, the sky darkened in a convulsion of silent violence. For a moment, the sea was all that existed. As distant as ever, the sea was what kept my mind from exploding in a confused bliss.

Then, directly opposite where the red sun set, a yellow sun dawned and the shimmering heat immediately returned to the sand and everything around me.

I decided to run to the sea. I don't know where I got the strength but I ran and ran toward the pale blue line. I ran without losing a breath for what could have been an hour and yet the sea seemed as far away as ever. I feared that I would be taken by this heat so I took heart at the sight of what looked like a little beach shop, on the landward horizon.

That is how I found myself here, where the sultry heat vibrates everything in sight. The sea, an eternity away on the pale blue horizon gently whispers in the background.......

For The Future Generations

One of the people behind the new multimillion dollar Large Hadron Collider said that he felt he was contributing something special and significant to humanity. On an internet forum, I mentioned that he should try saying that to someone on a run down housing estate who doesn’t know where their kids’ next meal is coming from. I was soundly corrected and put in my place by someone who pointed out that the Large Hadron Collider is going to improve things for future generations.

Future generations.

This is the unquestioned excuse for everything. If you can say that you’re doing something for future generations, you can get away with anything.

We preserve old buildings for future generations to be able to visit all the old barns of the world. We want to save fossil fuel for future generations to keep warm. We want to keep rare and endangered species for future generations to look at them and say Look at that!

We’re making people suffer today on behalf of the people who might be born, one day, we don’t because they don’t exist yet.

How do you like the idea that you might die of cancer which could be treated but because the government needs to put millions of pounds into watching replays of the Big Bang or go looking for worms in Mars, you’re going to have to die. Hey, if those future generations have to choose between you and a close look at the rings around Uranus, guess who’s not going to hospital?
Of course, it’s a price worth paying if you’re rich because you won’t need to change your lifestyle and anything you buy, you can probably get on some sort of sponsorship anyway, but if you’re poor, living hand-to-mouth and you don’t know if you can even afford to go to work next week, you got to look at it like this; it’s a price worth paying and you’ve got to look at the big picture.

Who are these future generations anyway? How do we know the future generations won't be generations of idiots? The past isn't exactly a good form! The better things are, the more people take, exploit and abuse so what's going to happen to suddenly transform humans into the responsible, caring and honest species we seem to romantically imagine the future generations to be?

No. What's happening is that today's poor are paying the price for tomorrow's rich.

There will always be economic classes because the economy requires that there are people who are poor and who don't have stuff so that those who do have stuff can have stuff that's valuable.

In fact, the only person who stands to gain from all the for future generations lark is the last human that will ever live. If that person has a crap life, then it's all a waste of time.

If you become the last human alive, rest assured, it's all for you. We're all thinking of you. You're the one we're keeping all this for, so get your ass down the museums, National Trust houses, colleges, museums and listed buildings and, if you get time, call into a graveyard to say thanks.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Jesus The Jew

There's a dopcumentary on TV tonight in the UK trying to persuade me of the offending a challenging truth that Jesus was a Jew.

Of course He was! I really am confused by this. Why has so much time been devoted to explain the obvious? Jesus was a Jew, He knew the Torah and obeyed it. He followed every Jewish law. He was a Jew in every sense of the word. He didn't improve on Judaism, He didn't abolish the law, he didn't come to wipe out Jewish ancestry.

As far as I'm concerned, when Jews become Christians (these are known as Messianic Jews), I don't see that they've stopped being Jewish.

Why is this supposed to shock me?

I'd have a bigger problem if someone tried to argue that Jesus was a Gentile!

I have a massive, enormous and humongous problem with those who blame the Jews for Christ being Crucified. If you care enough to know who killed Jesus, then you need to know that the responsibility rests on you, whoever you are and whatever your ethnicity.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

What Are They Fighting For?

The awkward question that nobody seems to be asking regarding the trouble in Gaza this; What are they fighting for?

Let's take a look.

Hamas
  • Target
    Israeli civilians
  • Response to innocent deaths
    Delight
  • Long term goals
    Destroy Israel
  • Action taken to protect own civilians
    None. No effort made to move anybody from any kind of military 'base'. Some might say deliberate placing of missile launchers among civilians is standarn military practice

Israel

  • Target
    Hamas military
  • Response to innocent deaths
    Regret
  • Long term goals
    Establish a viable Palestinian state
  • Action taken to protect own civilians
    Air raid shelters, alerts and ensuring civilians are kept apart from military establishments.

Why doesn't Hamas target Israel's military bases?

Israel is fighting to survive. Hamas is fighting to destroy Israel.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Atheists Need To Chill, Or Grow Up

In America, there are these atheists who foam at the mouth whenever someone uses the word 'god' in any way other than derogatory. Actually, there are many in other Western countries as well (not so much in other countries since they don't want to get shot) who are really quite the same (just look for them on YouTube, they're all over the place.

These atheists are so fragile and of such a delicate mental disposition, if you are ever so bold as to say anything even remotely positive about any god, in a public place, they'll sue you for breaching their constitutional right to not hear the word 'god'.

What really gives them palpitations is whenever they pick up a US dollar bill because, written on it are the words 'In God We Trust'. Merely buying a candy bar with one of these dollar bills sends them into months of therapy.

They need to relax and chill and learn from the theists who live in the UK! Do you hear about Christians trying to sue the Bank of England for offence against their eyes and sensibilities? Do you hear of death threats against workers of the Royal Mint because of a horrendous offence against their beliefs?

What is it that could offend the theists? Well, it doesn't actually offend the theists in the UK because they're more grown up than the photo-sensitive atheists.

Maybe these atheists should move to the UK and buy UK Ten Pound Notes because, it just so happens, a picture of the atheist god is printed on every Ten Pound Note. No, I'm not talking about Richard Dawkins or the Flying Speghetti Monster, but none other than the Reverend Charles Darwin.

Do we see campaigns, posters, complaints and documentaries about the evils of having someone who is supposed to be so offensive to a segment of a society written on currency?

Nah. Can't be bothered. Too many important things to do.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Christian Perspective?

It happens every Easter and Christmas. There's a holiday that Christians really dig and so the media put up a documentary or other 'groundbreaking' non-fiction to expose how false something is. If they don't do that, they present a series of documentaries looking at how people who don't like Christianity view the various Christian feasts.

Let's get an atheist's view of Christ's life to broadcast over Easter, let's get the Iranian Prime Minister (who happens to torture Christians and has promised to wipe Israel off the face of the map) to do a Christmas presentation. Let's get a disillusioned 'theologian' to walk across deserts while trying to pick at everything Christians hold dear right in the middle of their favourite festivals because this is what being topical is all about.

I'm not saying that there are no questions to ask about what Christianity teaches, I'm not saying that there's no debate to be had over the social imact of what Christ said, but it's funny how you don't get the equivalent. It's odd how, during the celebrations of Darwin's birthday, you won't get any of the discussions looking at the problems with evolutionary theory. You won't get so-called experts telling you why Ramadan could be a pointless festival.

Nope, the two that get the hit are Christians and Jews. Christians, because they don't try and force people to shut up on pain of death (hundreds of years ago, they did, but they don't now... there are countries where other religions will kill you for such blasphemy, but we don't mention that in the West). Jews get it because it's trendy to hate Israel with an intellectual blind-eye to the attacks it faces every day. In fact, it could be argued that Jews get a double-hit from the media because they're hated via Israeli politics and they're ridiculed when people apply flawed but ever-so-attractive logic to the 'Christian Old Testament' (which is a lot of the Jewish Bible).

Will we ever get a fair balance in the media? Not likely, unless you count Songs of Praise (which, I have to admit, is good three out of five times). But when it comes to getting a message across, you'll stand a better chance if you go with the flow and resist the urge to think for yourself.

Funny, isn't it, that in order to be an individual, you have to go and find out the latest trends in individualism in order to do it in a fashionable way?

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Did Google and Apple Kill Microsoft?

Is it possible that Google and, to an extent, Apple, killed Microsoft?

Some time ago, I wrote a blog post highlighting cracks in Microsoft's armour and which could have been omens of the beginning of the end for Microsoft. Has anything changed since then?

Well, the cracks are still there; Windows Mobile sucks, Vista has terrible press and Ballmer is still a brainless babboon-boy. But a lot has changed and, it could be argued, that Microsoft has died an Old Labour death, only to give birth to a smiley and happy new Microsoft.

Microsoft seems to be opening up in many technological areas. It's developing more software on competitors' platforms than ever before and even chosing other platforms over its own at times. There are signs that innovation is taking place (Mesh) and that it is learning from past mistakes (Windows 7, though I must admit that Vista's bad press is not insubstantially unfair).

It would seem that Google et al have indeed killed Microsoft in the same way that Margaret Thatcher killed Old Labour and out of the ashes of a monolithical monster, a new Blairite regime has began to find a footing.

Was it Bill Gates that was holding everything back? Don't be fooled. Microsoft hasn't become nice, it's only become better. It has seen what others are doing and has decided to copy them, only this time, instead of copying others' technology, it's started to copy some of the methods and attitudes of the competition.

But this is a good thing. I, for one, am finding it more palletable to use Microsoft products, liking where they're going and have even subscribed to their TechNet program. It's good. I like it.

I still think that Microsoft doesn't have the criminal record it deserves, but at least now, things are beginning to look better - if not perfect.

Apple? Watch your back. Microsoft is coming.

Christmas: The Impossible Dream & The Boxing Day Solution

I am genuinely concerned by the 'spirit of Christmas'. It's like some sort of mass hypnosis that turns normally rational people into strange automatons, hell bent on being nuts and doing stupid things.

No, I'm not talking about religious zealots, but the people we all meet on a daily basis.

At no other time of year do we have such a justification to do literally anything as we do when we say 'go on, it's Christmas'.

Shall I get drunk out of my head and make a complete dick of myself? Why not! It's Christmas!
Shall I photocopy my arse and send it to my boss? Why not! It's Christmas!
Shall I be unfaithful to my wife? Why not! It's Christmas!
Shall I spend more money than I have on stuff nobody needs? Why not! It's Christmas!

We sing dumbass songs which have no equivalent for the rest of the year! We celebrate a snowman that takes a kid for a quick spin in the sky, we sing of Granny kissing Santa and dancing around a tree. Who on earth would sing of 'burgers roasting on a BBQ'?

None of it makes sense and at best, it's a shallow veneer of fake goodwill which covers up a hard surface of mediocrity and self serving judgement.

How does it happen? What is it that can take a nation and hurl it into a whirlpool of contradiction? All of a sudden, we start caring for the disadvantaged, but we hope for a white Christmas and stuff anybody who lives in a cardboard box. In fact, society romanticises homelessness and poverty, harkening back with longing hearts to the Victorian era where children were seen and not heard, unless they were orphans in which case they were not even seen.

How does this work?

Is it materialism? I think that's part of it, but not all of it since there's more to what's going on than mere materialism. I think it's a perception that we have an excuse to not care (it's Christmas after all). We turn off our immediate capacity to judge, but it isn't that we love our neighbour and show them love, we just don't give a damn what they do because we're too busy getting off our faces.

Families and individuals are trying to live an impossible dream; The Perfect Christmas.

As long as your perfect Christmas is Andy Williams, a log fire, children playing with toy trains and a little snow to decorate the window pane, you will be depressed on Boxing Day.

I've found a little secret. What many people call 'the real meaning of Christmas' is the perfect solution for Boxing Day. You should try it. You may find it works. You may find that when you find what many call 'the real meaning of Christmas', you have that 'Christmas Joy' in your blood throughout the year.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

SQL Reporting Services Reports from Multiple Databases

I've been trying to work out how to get a single SQL report to run on different databases of the same structure so that I don't have to release each report thirty times to different customers who all have exactly the same structure of database.

There are some ideas out there which I couldn't get to work properly and they wouldn't work in the report deigner anyway so were a clunky to work with.

What I've come up with is a procedure to build a report and, either add the filters at the end so that design is much quicker (I hate having to type usernames and password every time a test a flippin' report), or will work from within the designer as you wish.

I start off with a regular shared DataSource and a report that's pretty much complete;

  1. Add a single string Parameter called DatabaseName
  2. In the data designer, click the properties button to the right of the current Data Source
  3. In the window that opens, click on the properties button to the right of the current Data Source
  4. Untick Use shared data source reference
  5. Type the following as the Connection String:

    ="Data Source=RCOPEH2K3VS;Initial Catalog=" & Parameters!DatabaseName.Value
  6. Click on the Credentials tab and select Prompt for credentials then type in a prompt (if you want)

You're now ready to roll! Close all those windows with Ok and then click on the Preview tab.

First, you'll be asked for a username and password and then you'll be asked for a database. The same happens if you run the deployed report from a web page.

If you have any other parameters for your report, you'll have these requested on the same window as the Database name (though, if you're a developer, there's every chance you'll be able to pass this parameter anyway).

The only drawback I can see from this is that you're using built in SQL Server accounts and not standard AD accounts.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Was Microsoft Waiting For Such a Time As This?

There's a Santa Claus movie where an elf invents a machine that can make super-sophisticated toys at breakneck speed. This machine makes him better than Santa and almost puts him out of business, but it becomes apparent after time that great though the elf's machine looked and wonderful though it seemed, it couldn't handle the load of work which was demanded of the North Pole and it fell apart. Santa came back and fixed the whole Christmas market thing.

I wonder if this is what Microsoft has been counting on during Apple's 'I'm a PC and I'm a Mac' commercials for, since the beginning of those rather clever and funny ads by Apple, Microsoft has said nothing. Not a word. Not a reply. Nothing.

Microsoft has form when it comes to pretending that an opponent doesn't exist. Just look at Symbian and how Microsoft, for years, just couldn't say the S-Word (Symbian) and just pretended it wasn't there (and this is true to some extent). But is this what Microsoft has done with Apple, or were they just wise?

Symbian has only gone from strength to strength, but these last few months have been rather bruising for Apple. it started off with evidence of proof-of-concept viruses, moved on to the disaster that was MobileMe, then the iPhone 2.0 firmware stank like a decaying badger with a good release only coming out this weekend just gone. Now, we hear of Apple blocking applications from the iPhone (a fart machine and a podcast player) because they serve no purpose and duplicate built in functionality, despite there being all manner of pointless joke apps which serve no real purpose and calculators which replace that which is already in there.

All in all, Apple has started to look like a company that's all talk and no trousers, plenty of style but not enough content. In fact, I fear that Apple is starting to look like that elf I mentioned at the top of the story.

So, what better time is there for Microsoft to start its new advertising campaign!? The commercials may not be particularly easy to decipher in regard to what they're actually saying (even the full length ones), but they are good and could well be saying "look, Apple has had a go and they can't handle working with the misters. Come back to old faithful."

Is this what's happening? I don't see any evidence that this is what's happening, yet, but I can see a situation where the tide of growth could be coming to a premature end for Apple as Microsoft comes in like the big brother who allowed his little brother a go at batting and shows him how to do it like a grown up.

It pains me to write all this because I'm what many might call an Apple Fanboy, but I have to call it as I see it here and while I believe that Microsoft has gotten off lightly for its lack of innovation (what they call innovation, I call shopping for others' ideas) and its criminal activity, it has shown that it can handle the traffic of a large customer base.

I think that Apple's opportunity to shine may be short and if it doesn't sort it out soon, it may have had its day as the premium technology provider.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Being Told What To Think

I know that there are many causes in this world which need to be fought for. The greatest cause for which any group can ever fight is that of equality. No matter what someone's position is on a matter, equality is essential to ensure all humans are given the respect they deserve by virtue of the the fact that they exist.

But just because a cause names equality as its essential motive, there is never an excuse to try and limit people's thought, to police their opinions or to fence in their facilities to express themselves. I don't care who you are, what you stand for or why you're fighting, the moment you start to tell me what words I can and can't use, on the grounds that you think they're bad words, you lose me.

Never, ever, ever try and remove words from my dictionary in an effort to limit my right to debate, question or challenge.

The page that wound me up like this was one that took me right back to the NewSpeak of 1984; Stonewall's Dictionary of Equality Language.

I want to look at some of their definitions and question the motives behind them;

Gay agenda: A homophobic term used to denigrate the LGB equality movement. It suggests a conspiracy to promote 'homosexuality' while threatening the 'norm' of heterosexual society.
Hang on a minute, how is it a bad thing to recognise that organisations like Stonewall have an agenda? Of course they do. Everybody has an agenda. Everybody has an objective. What, do the members of Stonewall just sit around and look into blank space, not saying anything just in case they find a direction?

Of course they have an agenda. At best, it's equality. At worst, who knows? But the fact is this, they have an agenda but we're not supposed to know it. That's why it's homophobic to say Gay Agenda.

Why wouldn't they want us to consider their agenda, their objectives, their goals?

Gay sex: A derogatory term used to define gay men by the sex they have, and ignores the emotional aspects of being gay. Often used in the media to imply a certain sleaziness to a story.
Nope, it's not to define the men, it's to describe the sexual act.

So far, we have a movement (Stonewall) where we're not allowed to consider its agenda and we're not allowed to talk about what people in the community do because they don't like the words.
Homosexual: Considered by some in the LGB community to be a derogatory and offensive term. It was used when same-sex attraction/relationships were construed as a mental illness. Use gay, lesbian, gay man/woman, bisexual, bisexual man/woman or the acronym LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual).
How can I keep up with what I can and can't say? I was always taught that using the term Homosexual was a respectful term. Never, in school or outside, was the term homosexual considered negative or derogatory. In fact, the term gay was considered to be as rude and disrespectful as poofter.

Now I'm told it's an insult despite the fact that someone who is homosexual is actually homo-sexual. How long before the word gay is considered denigrating because youngsters have started to use it to mean bad, boring, pathetic and horrible?

Well, at least I have the web page to tell me what words I should use.
Homophobia: literally defined as fear of 'the other'. The beliefs and actions of people who hold these views and act upon them are based around a hatred of, or intolerance for, and/or a refusal to accept or acknowledge the equal rights of any lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
Now we're cooking! This one word covers the entire spectrum, from refusal to accept right through to hatred. That's one helluva sweeping statement and talk about clipping the intellectual wings of someone who wants to think and understand!

But consider this loaded text; refusal to accept or acknowledge the equal rights of any lesbian, gay and bisexual people. I know people who believe that there is a moral issue in gay-ness (I'm not allowed to say homosexuality, remember?) but who also openly believe in equality for all people. Are people like this, homophobic? Experience tells me that if you disagree with any issue raised by the gay community (remember, there's no agenda so it's probably something that someone said when they forgot they weren'a allowed to say it), no matter how small, you're homophobic.
Prejudice: many people have prejudices or a faint dislike of people or groups. However, being prejudiced against a person or persons becomes very serious if that prejudice has an effect on the way that person is treated. Once a prejudicial thought is translated into a deed it becomes an act of discrimination.
So don't have the thought. Get it? Don't even think it.

Think about this for a minute, you've just been told that the word 'homosexual' is insulting, that there's no such thing as the 'gay agenda' and if you think there is, you're homophobic. Now, with this latest one, if you're in any doubt as to whether you wanting to ask a question could be an act of prejudice, you're probably better off not asking the question. it could turn into an act of prejudice so hey, let's not think about it - just in case.
Stereotyping: Stereotyping occurs when a person or organisation has pre-conceived ideas and notions about an individual or a group of people. For example, 'All gay men are camp' or 'All lesbians wear DM's and shave their heads.'
Maybe they could add to that 'everyone who uses the term 'homosexual' is a homophobe'?

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As I said at the top, equality is a must for everyone. Nobody should be the underdog who suffers at the selfish greed or insecurity of another. Nobody. No exceptions.

That essential need for equality does not justify the removal of the the tools of thought; words. For, by removing words from the vocabulary of the people, those doing the removing are exalting themselves above everyone else and, guess what? There's no equality.

No doubt, this blog post is going to be considered by some as proof of an anti-gay agenda or some kind of homophobic scheme. Sadly, the stupid people who will conclude that I hate gays based on this blog post will not be driven by evil motives but actually, by good and well-meaning motives. I say 'sadly' because as well-meaning as many of these people may be who hate what they think I've written, they'll be too stupid to see beyond their blinkered NewSpeak noses to understand what I'm saying.