Interesting Alliance

A coming together of BHA and Baroness Warsi.

Warsi [said] that while genuine, hateful religious intolerance should be confronted [and] incitement to religious hatred remains an offence in Britain, a blasphemy law once on our statute book was abolished in 2008 – in part because […] it was incompatible with the freedom of speech.

Copson […] said […] “Mere criticism of religion – even though it may always be perceived as offensive or blasphemous by some religious groups and individuals – cannot be automatically prohibited as hateful. Rather, the expression of humanist ideas, atheist and critical ideas per se must be protected.”

Warsi has previously been criticised by humanists and secularists in the UK for endorsing a greater role for Christian and other religious groups in national policy, and describing some forms of secularism as “intolerant and illiberal”. “Freedom of religion or belief applies equally to humanists, atheists and other non-religious people […] emphasis on religion or belief as – in her words – a universal right for all, rather than as a privilege for a majority religion in any given country.

Some forms of secularism are indeed intolerant and illiberal, so the real topic here is balanced freedom of expression. My one point to add here is this – it is criticism per se that is protected as a universal right, not  a right to offend. No offence, but …. has to be seen to be meant sincerely by mutual respect of human individuals.

One for engineering geeks

Never seen this effect at this scale before; Von Karman vortices formed in the clouds stretching hundreds of miles beyond two small islands off Chile. Hat tip to Milind on Linked In for sharing the link.


Interesting not least (to a geek like me) because this is an effect that works at small and very small scales too – around towers and chimney stacks, around power distribution cables, around old aircraft struts and wires, even around tiny wires in instruments, where the effect is exploited to measure flow rate. (I often hear it at audible frequencies as the wind blows past the leg of my specs.)

‘Scuse me whilst I chuckle

Racial abuse from rival supporters, in fact any kind of tribal “abuse” is a no no for me, even at any competitive sporting event, but Diouf has to be the least likely target to raise any kind of outrage. (Maybe that’s why they’ve chosen him.) Talk about water off a duck’s back – is there any bigger wind-up merchant in the game – got to admire him for it. He and Warnock were made for each other, love ’em both.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not “racist” abuse. It’s abuse, a much bigger problem. Where ignoramuses pick on least popular (most effective) members of the opposing club, and find the most abusive taunts to hurl at them, and that’s always going to attack whatever makes them different, whatever is likely to be most offensive.

I could give plenty of examples – even in the Milwall vs Leeds case there is the Jimmy Savile example. Delivered with wit and originality, there can be valid comedic value in offensive material, but, the but matters. The problem is people believing that “abusive attack intended to cause offense” is valid behaviour full stop. Right from PM’s Questions downwards. This is a much more deep seated problem, I’ve blogged about before – most obviously here.

Julie Burchill’s a Keeper

I remember Julie when she started at the NME – alongside Tony Parsons and Charles Shaar-Murray I seem to recall. You can’t help but notice she’s continued to be a contrarian in her life since, but this Desert Island Discs session is one for the scrapbook. You have to suspend disbelief, and Kirsty does a great job doing that.

Guess I need to check a few facts – became a Christian and is now ex-Christian and studying Judaism …. ? Spike interview from 2005.