Je Suis Charlie

January 7, 2015

I had an interesting discussion on a forum earlier this evening regarding the dreadful terrorist attack in France on the offices of French satirical magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’.

It started off easily enough with a friend merely posting the hashtag of support “Je Suis Charlie”

To which I replied:

Je Suis Charlie too … although I despair at people who deliberately provoke others (and put the lives of innocent people in danger in the process) in order to make a point.

My friend took this to mean that I was condoning, or at least excusing, the actions of the fanatics who had carried out the attack. I felt that I needed to clarify my position: I am certainly not excusing, or condoning, the actions of the terrorists.  But, if you poke a bear with a stick and it attacks you, most people would stop poking the bear. 

I will not change my view that the publishers were acting irresponsibly. That might well be a sad indictment on the way the world is or, at least, my view of it, but there you go.

Apparently, it was I who was poking the bear as I got the response:

“So it is nearly ok for a bunch of terrorists to wreak havoc and terror in a country where freedom of expression is regarded as one of the pillars of their democracy….as is ours.
If this is an example of your “religion” then I’ll stay agnostic thanks.”

Well, no, that is not what I was saying at all. I sought to clarify once again:

That’s not what I said but if that’s how you wish to interpret it,  I can’t stop you. Nowhere did I say it was ‘nearly ok’ for the terrorists to do what they did. But take your argument to its logical, if pedantic, conclusion. The moronic terrorists were merely using their own freedom of expression… which you would not deny them.

I have no problem with people lampooning, by whatever means, extremists of any religion, creed, colour or opinion. Indeed, one of the Charlie Hebdo front pages was aimed squarely at the terrorists and not at the prophet. But others were aimed at the Prophet (along with other faith leaders).

ALL Muslims will have been offended by cartoons lampooning the Prophet, just as all Catholics will have been offended by the cartoons lampooning the Pope. Most have enough sense to complain about it rather than go on a murderous spree. Many will have just shrugged their shoulders and thought ‘sod it, it’s not worth the bother’. The Charlie Hebdo publishers WANTED a reaction. They got one. And I feel desperately sorry for all those involved. But they deliberately baited an insane, murderous bear.

If you think it’s ok to say, do or draw what you want in a deliberate attempt to provoke someone and then say “it’s free speech and you can’t stop me” then I disagree with you. To be deliberately hurtful and spiteful is wrong, is it not? Maybe you disagree and think it’s ok.

I get hurt when people make assumptions about me and throw insults at me (or those things I believe in, or am) because I’m white, middle class, have a faith and come from Liverpool. Does that mean it’s ok for people to carry on doing it cos it’s ‘free speech’ to say/do what we like about/to whom we want and what they may believe in (even if those beliefs have been sadly radicalised).

And, if you think only people of faith (even misguided faith) are violent extremists then, I hate to break it to you, but you’re wrong. Agnostics and atheists have their extremists, too.

So, yes, lampoon the terrorists but not the prophet. Because that is childish, stupid, infantile and pathetic. In my opinion. Which might well be wrong – but it’s mine and you can’t deny me the right to have it. Because that would be an infringement of free speech, too :)

End of conversation… but not of thinking.

Will self summed it up quite well, I think:

will self
It is impossible to condone, or seek to condone, the actions of the terrorists in Paris. But when your choice leads to harm coming to others, should you really have freedom of choice? In Child Protection issues, we teach that you should never offer unconditional confidentiality, that confidentiality is conditional on what we are told not leading to harm continuing to be done to the teller or others.

There is a risk that this might be interpreted as “they got what they deserved”. But that is so very much NOT what I mean.Clearly, they didn’t deserve to be murdered in cold, or rather, hot, blood. I’m not sure where I’m going with this…

The cartoonists, of course, provided the best responses – but the comments underneath say all that you need to know about the world in which we live and some of the idiots with whom we share it, as does this small selection of responses to a Muslim tweeter who had the temerity to say that the terrorists were not representative of the vast majority of Muslims:


I Am Charlie – as long as Charlie isn’t deliberately intending to be offensive to those who don’t deserve it.

2014 in reviewh

December 30, 2014

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 480 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 8 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Christmas Charity Gifts – a rant

December 24, 2014

Over the last few years I* have provided a goat for a family in Kenya, books and pens for a classroom in Malawi, chickens for a family in rural India and a provided funding towards training a vet in Mozambique. Apparently.

I know this because I have received Christmas cards telling me that I have done so and, as such, I should feel extra good about myself and full of the spirit of Christmas.

The thing is, of course, I didn’t. So I don’t.

Somebody else did. So presumably they do.

Obviously I have no problem with people donating to charity – and they are all worthy causes but when I choose to donate to charity, I’d like to choose what charity I support.

These AREN’T Christmas presents, at least not to me – they are a way of giving yourself a present by pretending you’ve given a present to me.

By all means carry on donating to your chosen charity – but not on my behalf. I’d rather have socks.

Thank you.

*somebody else

Consistency would be nice.

July 15, 2012

I am waiting (although not with baited breath) for the FA to charge Terry with the same offence of which they found Suarez guilty last season. If they use the same burden of proof (i.e. none) then Terry will also be banned for at least 8 games.

Anton Ferdinand cannot be charged by the FA as Patrice Evra, in his evidence to the Suarez commission, admitted using abusive and insulting language but was not charged…

Rio, on the other hand, clearly needs to be charged following his agreement with the ‘choc ice’ comment on twitter. He can pretend all he likes that it is not a racist comment but we are not as stupid as he seems to think we are…. Not so long ago Ryan Babbel was charged, found guilty and fined for retweeting a photo of a ref wearing a Man Utd kit… He was charged. Ergo, so should Rio Ferdinand.

All that we need is for the FA to act with some consistency. Maybe it would be best for my health if I didn’t hold my breath….

Job Opportunity – Children and Young Families Worker (Altrincham United Reformed Church)

April 11, 2012

One of the most satisfying aspects of my role is helping churches work through the process of whether a paid employee would benefit their mission to children and young people.

Altrincham URC

Altrincham United Reformed Church are nearing the end of that process and below are the details of the post.

The Children and Young Families Worker post is, initially, a three year contract and salary is in the range £18-21K (depending on experience/qualifications)

To apply, or to find out more details, click the link for an Application Pack (right click, Save Link As – to download a copy of the document to your computer.)

2011 in review – why I must try harder with blogging!

January 1, 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Guitars for Palestine

July 15, 2011

Regular readers of my blog (yes, both of you) will be aware of the initiative started by some friendly strangers on the AcousticLife forum on which I lurk to enable me to buy a couple.of guitars for the Jerusalem Arc children and youth camps.

With their donated money in my wallet, I walked up Jaffa St (guitar shop closed) and into Ben Yehuda St to its intersection with King George St to the second shop I had been told about.

Through the security barriers and down the stairs led me to my destination. With my 2 (non-guitarist) colleagues looking on, I then played every acoustic they had (apart from the Martins which were a teeny bit above my budget!)

Eventually, I settled on a Washburn D10S as the “main” guitar and a lovely, but cheap, Cort AD880. These will be added to at camp by a cheap, but not very nasty, nylon string guitar in blue (!)

Then the bargaining begins. The two guitars alone use up my budget but I want gig bags, spare strings, plectrums (plectri?), capos… well I ended up with all of those plus a joyo tuner and a string winder 🙂 I even got a free set up on the Washburn to lower the action a bit.

To be fair, the guitars picked themselves but it took an hour or so because the shop was air-conditioned and, outside, it was 32 degrees!

I hope my friends in the forum are happy with my choices…

Oh, and then we went to Papa Andrea’s for lunch 🙂